Symbolon Sundays: A Love thats Lasts – Gods plan for sexuality

Hey Guys! Happy week so far! Last session we had 3 priests in our midst! They blessed us with their presence and wisdom when answering questions. See below our summary of part 2 of the Symbolon episode: A love that lasts.


We learnt about the Catholic view on sexuality – it is a marital act that is God’s gift to husbands and wives, enabling them to give completely and totally of themselves to each other. In this intimate act, the couple expresses with their bodies what God means when he says “Two shall become one.”

“Jesus Christ revealed the fullness of love – a love that is free, total, faithful and fruitful. In marriage, we reflect Christ’s fullness of love (CCC 1617).”

In the sexual act, a couples physical union is meant to express a profound personal union. Through the act, the couples say with their bodies, “I give myself to you totally and faithfully, holding nothing back…I give myself to you spiritually, emotionally and physically.” (CCC 2360 – 2361)

There are many ways we can engage in sexuality that keep us from total self-giving. We can engage in sex without lifelong commitment or withhold our fertility. When this happens, sex is no longer a total gift of self. It instead becomes a using of the other person.

Chasity and self mastery create the foundation for lifelong, lasting love.

We are all called to live chastely, whether married or single, because chastity involves the self mastery needed for the proper use of sexuality.

If we sinned in our sexuality, Jesus wants us to heal and forgive us and help us move forward in life with him. He does this especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

  • Our sexuality affects all aspects of our person in both body and soul. It especially concerns our capacity to love and to procreate (CCC 2332).
  • The Union of man and woman marriage is meant to be a reflection of Christ’s love (CCC 2335).
  • In marriage, a couple’s physical union is meant to express a profound personal union (CCC 2360).
  • The spouses’ union is for both the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two cannot be separated without harming the couple’s spiritual life (CCC 2363).
  • Various forms of sexual expression keep us from total self-giving such as
    • Lust (CCC 2351)
    • Masturbation (CCC 2352)
    • Pre-marital Sex (CCC 2353)
    • Pornography (CCC 2354)
  • Conjugal love is intended to be fertile and procreative (CCC 2366)

Discussions:

How is total and self-giving love at the very heart of our sexuality?

  • Authentic love and the love of marriage is a total self-gift.
  • Sex is not just a physical act, but should express the total giving of ones self – personally, emotionally, spiritually – to the other person.
  • Our bodily self-giving is an expression of our complete gift to the other in accord with Christ’s own gift to the Church.

What are some of the differences between how the world views sex and how the Church views sex?

The world….

  • …views sex through the lens of eros, as we discussed in previous session: Sex is primarily for one’s personal pleasure, and the procreative and unitive aspects are no considered important.
  • ….often considers sex as something fun and pleasurable, but not as the deepest expression of love and self-gift. This can cause a lot of emotional pain and broken relationships.
  • ….Separates sex and marriage, which leads to a distorted view of sex. This can lead to the acceptance and even celebration of such thins as promiscuity, masturbation, pornography and contraception. For example, Shows sex as  ‘Sex and the City’ are celebrated as cool and a fun way for women to live their lives.

The Church….

  • ….sees sex as a great gift through which a man and woman come to the deepest expression of love and a complete gift of self – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  • ….recognises the marital act as part of the free, faithful and fruitful union of husband and wife that reflects Christ’s love for the Church.

Why is I.V.F bad? Contraception vs Natural Family Planning

The church teaches that one can never separate the two meanings of sex – the unitive and procreative meanings. Contraception not only separates but also violates both of these meanings of sex while the practice of Natural Family planning honours and preserves the unity of the unitive and procreative meanings of sex.

St John Paul II reflects upon this:

“When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they act as ‘arbiters’ of the divine plan and they ‘manipulate’ and degrade human sexuality – and with it themselves and their married partner – by altering its value of ‘total’ self-giving.

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.

“When, instead by means of recourse to periods of infertility, the couple respects the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings of human sexuality, they are acting as ‘ministers’ of God’s plan and they ‘benefit from’ their sexuality according to the original dynamism of ‘total’ self giving, without manipulation or alteration.” (Familiaris Consortio, 32)

 In short, I.V.F

  • Is not unitive
  • It is invasive (there is a third party involved during insemination)
  • It encourages Masturbation which keep us from total self-giving
  • It sacrifices so many lives (embryos) in order to make a child. This violates the 7th commandment: thou shall not kill
  • It means humans play God, making their own will priority (the will of the couple) as they can now choose the sex of their child and other things such as the child’s’ susceptibility to cancer.
  • Gives birth to a human market where sperm, eggs etc are traded and humans trade their bodies for surrogacy and sperm.
  • “Abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, for example, risk reducing the human person to a mere object: life and death to order, as it were!” – St John Paul II.

In the case of ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy in which the foetus develops outside the womb, typically in a fallopian tube, is it a sin for the baby to be aborted?

Father Anthony explained: Firstly, lets define two things;

  • An act of man is an involuntary act i.e. an action the human can’t control. For example, sneezing.
  • Human act however is a deliberate act by the human, something he or she can control. 

For a something to be considered a sin, 3 conditions must be examined; the intention, the circumstance and the action itself. The Catholic church defines abortion as the willful act of killing an unborn child. Therefore, in the case of ectopic pregnancy, the intention is to save the life of the mother, not to kill the child. So it isn’t a sin.

However, the example of Saint Gianna Molla was given who became a saint for making a personal sacrifice for the life of her fourth child regardless of the fact that she was diagnosed with a large fibroid. Although some of her colleagues had advised her to terminate the pregnancy, Gianna never considered the possibility of abortion. Being faced with two morally acceptable options in the early stages of her pregnancy, she freely chose, with great generosity on her part, to proceed with a higher risk pregnancy for the benefit of her child. A typical therapy offered in Gianna’s day for a woman with uterine cancer or a tumor of uncertain type would have been hysterectomy which would have terminated the pregnancy. 

The heroic part of what Saint Gianna did was to choose life for her child under these difficult and uncertain circumstances, no matter what the consequences to herself. It is in this sense that Pope Paul VI could state that Saint Gianna “was a mother who, in order to give life to her baby, sacrificed her own life in deliberate immolation.” Towards the end of her pregnancy, when talking to her brother, she seemed to have a premonition that trouble lay ahead. She said, “The greater part has yet to come. You do not understand these things. When the time comes, it will be either he or I.” And again when speaking to her husband Pietro on another occasion, she said in a firm voice and with a penetrating gaze, “If you have to decide between me and the child, do not hesitate; I demand it, the child, save it.” Such was her generous attitude throughout her pregnancy. 

What does the Catholic Church have to say about the concept of a soulmate? Is it real?  

A soulmate is a term used by those who have experienced great love to describe that love. Time and experience in sacrificial love is what brings about/develops a ‘soul mate’. It is not an instant feeling or attraction but something that is built on over a long period of time. It also is not necessarily a romantic relationship, soul mates could be siblings or friends. Above all God gave us humans our free will and choice. Therefore, there can be many choices of ‘partners’, what is important is loving the person the way God wants you to love them, i.e. Sacrificial love (agape love).

How does a single and Catholic youth engage in courtship?

Courtship is encouraged by the church. There’s no set of rules per say as each persons experience will be different however, one must look out for certain things:

  1.  Truth: How consistent is the person in their words and actions? Are they truthful and honest?
  2. Sacrifice: How much does the person willingly and happily sacrifice for God, for the good of others and for you? Is it genuine? 
  3. Discernment: Above all develop the virtues (cardinal and theological) and stay in communion with the church and its teachings as it would keep your heart open the Holy spirit.

How do you explain the Church’s view on sex to a gay person?

First know and understand the church’s view on sexuality. Present the truth of that gospel to him or her, pray for them and have no hatred towards him/her. The fact that you follow the Church’s teaching and disagree with their way of life shouldn’t mean you hate him/her, always approach with love but don’t loose your own identity to accommodate another. Remember God loves the person and not the action and so we are called to love the person as Christ does. However, love as we have learnt doesn’t mean being always in agreement, it is the courage to tell the person what is wrong and demand better for their lives and if so in the process, lay down ones life for him or her.

Other Advice:

  • What ever space you control or command, make sure the truth  of the gospel and tolerance must be priority. Both must be true – do not sacrifice any of them. 
  • Pray the rosary for peace in the world.
  • Pray this prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

    “Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
    he courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Further reading:

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