How Can We Experience True Catholic Sexuality?
I have read multiple blog posts in the past week talking about sex and Christianity in ways I find appalling. I no longer feel I have a choice but to speak up for a healthy, balanced way for Catholic Christians to approach their sex lives.
I will readily admit that this is something I have wrestled with since puberty. Starting out by deciding to forgo men until age 16 and frequently considering that my calling might lead me to a convent, I denied myself any connection to my genitals. Through a series of equally graceful and clumsy experiences, I now understand more fully than most others I know what the Church’s teaching on sexuality has always been trying to get us to understand.
The Church never intended for all of us to deny our bodily pleasures, She simply wanted us to give them the respect they most truly deserve. Our bodies are a gift from our Divine Creator and as such so is our sexuality. Our sexuality is the most profound way in which we are made in God’s image. It is through this aspect of ourselves that we can become co-creators with God.
In various Church documents our sexuality is recognized by the Church as the aspect of our beings that connects our bodies to our souls. The Catechism states this with remarkable clarity,
Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. (CCC 2332)
Meaning, any way in which our bodies are united with our souls, therein lies our sexuality.
Benedict XVI, in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, goes so far as to say,
In short, each of us has a responsibility to both our bodies and souls to not deny our sexuality but to grapple with it until we have settled into a place where our sexuality is integrated into every aspect of our lives.
Further, John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae that sex should be Unitive and Generative. I have frequently heard priests say that anything can be a sexual experience so long as it is Unitive and Generative. If we are truly living the way we ought, with our bodies and souls fully united, then every experience will be a sexual one, meaning every experience will be Unitive and Generative.
Thus the answer to finding true meaning and depth to the use of our sexuality and ultimately the use of our bodies is not to focus so much on the ideas of what we can and cannot do with our romantic partners, or “how far is too far?” but rather to cultivate a more full understanding of how each experience can be more Unitive and Generative. How can every experience we have be one drenched in true Catholic Sexuality?