Sex is based on union and marriage, not on lust

Last week, I introduced the Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II, a series of writings based on sacred Scripture which reveal God’s plan for human sexuality. I left off by explaining how, according to Theology of the Body, “man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” To put it simply, we find ultimate fulfillment by giving of ourselves completely in relationships with others.

But why is sex such an integral part of our human nature? In order to understand our sexuality, it’s important to know why sex exists in the first place.

In addition to having a desire for friendships, we (and when I say we, I mean all people) also have a desire to be in a unique union with one person; to know that person and be known by that person; in giving of ourselves in love to them and, in return, receiving their love. Hence, the reason we’re all interested in relationships. We find fulfillment in that union with another.

According to God’s plan as explained through Theology of the Body, God created marriage as a way to live out that union from the beginning. The creation account of Adam and Eve in Genesis explicates God’s original plan before sin entered the world.

First, it’s important to know that God made man (and when I say “man” I mean mankind) in his image. “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1: 27). Because we are created in his image and “God is love” (1 John 4:16), we are called to love in his image.

God’s love is total and complete in that he gave his own life for us through Christ, who commissions us to love as he does when he says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). So this means we are called to love others totally, even as far as being ready and willing to give up one’s life for another.

This is lived out in everyday relationships with other people, but particularly in the sacrament of marriage.

Spouses are called to give of themselves entirely to one another. This is what they vow at the altar on their wedding day. And this is what makes marriage a holy vocation.

In marriage, spouses give of themselves emotionally, spiritually, but also physically. And here is where the power and mystery of sex is revealed. Christ says, “This is my body, which will be given for you.” When he says “you,” he means mankind. He offers his body on the cross.

In marriage, spouses are called to say the same thing to each other. But they do this through sex. In sexual union, they renew their wedding vows through the language of the body. This act of giving their bodies to one another is an outward sign of their inward love for one another. This, in a nutshell, is one of the main concepts of Theology of the Body: our call to love as God loves is imprinted right in our bodies. He created us male and female for a reason; the complimentarity of man and woman reveals this call to love.

But God’s love is not only total, but it is life-giving as well. What’s so beautiful about his plan for sex is that life can be conceived through it. So not only does sex renew a couple’s wedding vows, but it can also bear new life.

This profound love that husband and wife share can be seen in the birth of a child nine months later. Love and life go hand-in-hand. Talk about amazing.

Thus, provided that spouses’ act of sex is rooted in selfless love; they are loving as God loves, which is the ultimate purpose of marriage. Don’t people always say they want “good sex”? God’s plan for sex is the best because he created it!

The whole purpose of sex is for us human beings to experience, in a physical form, what it means to love as God loves.

But for those of us who are not married, you may wonder what any of this has to do with you. Well, first of all, it’s important to understand why God gave us all this sexual energy. It’s meant to be the energy that drives us to love as he loves. This is God’s original plan.

But, sadly, because of sin in the world, God’s plan has become less and less clear. Sex has become less about love, less about marriage and more about lust. And we’re all subject to this tendency to lust; to use people for our own gain.

But we’re meant for more. We’re meant to overcome this tendency and replace it with loving God with our whole hearts and loving others as God loves us. We’re meant to give of ourselves to others for selfless reasons rather than using them for selfish reasons. It means looking at people in the eye and loving them for who they are.

It means, by the grace of God, getting back to that original plan of love. If we could all get back to this plan of love, I promise that we would experience a deeper fulfillment than we could have ever imagined. We would experience that deep joy we’re all looking for.

Send comments to Lauren Walter at [email protected]