The Truth and Beauty of Our Sexuality

By Edward Mechmann, Esq.

One of the great gifts or our Catholic faith is our positive and beautiful view of sexuality. We don’t buy into the world’s view of sexuality, which focuses almost entirely on the physical and leaves people feeling empty and used — and aware deep in their hearts that something is missing.

Our Catholic understanding of sex looks at the entire person, and at God’s plan for our lives and our love. To help you understand the truth and beauty of our sexuality, here’s a quick overview:

1. It is not good to be alone

We can’t live without love. Our lives are senseless and lonely if we don't experience love, if we don’t participate in it intimately. Every human person has been given a vocation to love by God. We are all drawn to relationships where we can experience genuine love — first of all friendships and romantic relationships, but ultimately in the vocation of marriage. We know this from our own hearts, which long for love.

2. The language of our bodies

To break out of our loneliness, we have to listen to the language of our bodies, and to the meaning God has put within them. Remember, we’re persons, not just bodies, made in the image and likeness of God.

However, our bodies can tell us about more than the physical — they can tell us about our spiritual side as well, and about the nature God built into us. When we look at our bodies, they clearly tell us that men and women are made for each other, and are made to join together in the sexual act that unifies us and brings new life into the world.

This link between love and life is a necessary part of our sexuality, and of marriage — it’s the truth about who we are and what our love is meant to be. Essentially, our bodies tell us that we are made for the life-long covenant of marriage, and for bringing new life into the world. This is called the “nuptial meaning of the body,”  and it’s the starting point to living the truth and beauty of our sexuality.
 
3. One flesh

Think back to the passage from Genesis about the marriage of the first man and woman:

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh.”

Can you imagine a more powerful image of unity and intimacy than becoming one flesh with your spouse? This is the way we experience true love — by giving ourselves fully to our spouse, with no conditions or strings attached, nothing between us and nothing held back.

When a husband and wife make love in this sense, it is the ultimate expression of their “one flesh” unity, and we’re able to be “naked without shame” with one another — fully open and intimate, trusting each other and open to our spouse’s gift of love.

This is God’s plan — for us to become “one flesh” in the life-long, life-giving communion of persons. This is what our sexuality was made for.

4. Use and misuse

All too often, unfortunately, we don’t live according to God’s plan for our sexuality. We misuse this gift by using others for our own pleasure, or by deliberately sterilizing our sexual acts. We become self-seeking and manipulative, and act out of lust instead of love.
Whenever we do these things, we’re no longer giving ourselves fully in life-giving love, we’re not building true intimacy and unity with our spouse, and we’re not speaking the truth about our sexuality. That’s surely not where God wants us to be, and we suffer the consequences — loneliness, frustration, and feeling used and empty.

5. Redeemed sex
 
Fortunately, there’s hope — we’re not stuck in this trap of use and misuse. Jesus himself, who became truly human, has redeemed us and our sexuality. How did He do it?

First of all, by speaking the truth about marriage, sex and love, and showing us God’s plan for marriage. Most importantly, when he gave himself fully and completely to his spouse — to us — on the cross, he freed us from our selfishness and gave us new life.

Thanks to Jesus, and with his help, we can become truly “one flesh” with our spouse by embracing God’s plan for our sexuality in the life-long, life-giving communion of marriage.

Edward Mechmann is involved in the marriage preparation program for the Archdiocese of New York. This article is reprinted with permission of the Family Life/Respect Life Office, Archdiocese of New York.