In many of the contemporary debates around sexual morality, it seems as though the conversations always begin in the middle. Instead of jumping into one of these debates, I want to explore the good news that the Catholic Church proposes about human sexuality. This teaching is both beautiful and illuminating, bringing clarity into the human condition in ways that transform our existence. Instead of simply rehashing what others have written, I want to have a little fun and make my own attempt at formulating the perennial wisdom of the Church.
At the center of our teaching is that the human person is made for love.In this context, love cannot be reduced to pleasant feelings or nice sentiments, but rather is a disposition in which the individual is drawn out of themselves and brought into communion with the other. In a sense, the human person is made for communion and this communion does not stand in contradiction to human biology, but rather forms an intimate harmony with it.
In this context, marriage is a form of communion that draws its vitality from its connection with the formation of the family. The family is a unique kind of communion in which man and woman come together in a bond which moves beyond into the realm of divine creativity. In their life giving exchange, man and woman not only connect with each other in intimacy and affection, they generate the family through the procreation of human life. This gives a radical refinement to a definition of love that reduces it simply to pleasant sentiment. Human love participates in God’s creative power, and thus it generates new life.
The physical aspect of human love has two interdependent elements which give it vitality and dynamism. Human biology points to the complementary nature of men and women. Unlike many contemporary views, biology is not a blind force that lacks meaning or purpose. Human biology is ripe with meaning, a meaning that should help form and nurture our contemplation of reality. From human biology, we can see two features in particular. First, man and woman are united in their bodies. Second, this union between man and woman is intimately tied to the creation of new life.
We are made for love, but love must be understood in all its richness and meaning.
Ultimately, sin should be understood as the variety of ways in which humans have sought to reorder the unity of this beautiful picture. Similar to our care for the environment, our technological progress and our ability to impose ourselves on nature must constantly be tempered by a need to work in harmony with the intrinsic meaning of the universe. Sin is a kind of pollution of the human person which destroys the delicate balance that leads to human flourishing.