Tag Archives: sexual morality

Why is the Church so strict about sex?

PETER KREEFT: Sexual sins bring misery and destroy our relationship with God . . .

Peter Kreeft

Peter Kreeft

by Peter Kreeft

We should not expect the Church’s teachings to coincide with “the wisdom of the world” (1 Cor 1:20) in any age or culture, for her teachings do not come from man but from God.

Man has gone off the track set for him by God — “sin” means separation from God — so God’s track has always appeared to fallen man as “a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall” (1 Pet 2:8).

Living according to God’s laws makes us holy, happy and healthy. Violating them makes us unholy, unhappy and unhealthy. This is as true of sex as of anything else. First, sexual sin is sin, and it separates us from God.

Second, since God loves us and wants our happiness, disobedience to his plan for us will necessarily bring us unhappiness. Worldly statistics confirm this heavenly logic: Every one of the sins that adulterate sexual love brings with it a catalog of miseries.

Divorce, for instance, means the destruction of society’s most indispensable foundation, the family. It will stamp the same destructive marks on society at large as it already has on its immediate victims, millions of children: a hard, cynical spirit; the death of security, of trust, of faith in persons and promises; and in the adventure of self-giving love.

Third, sexual sin has obvious and radical health effects: the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, now affecting over half of all sexually active people, the fear of AIDS, and the rising infertility rate. But the most notable physical effect of the Sexual Revolution is death. The human victims in just one generation of the abortion holocaust in most Western nations already vastly outnumber the victims of all the wars in their history. It’s high time to turn our attention to God’s alternative.

Controversies have a way of narrowing our vision. They are usually resolved only by backing up and enlarging our perspective, especially by looking at foundations. The foundations of Catholic sexual morality include:

• God as the creator and designer of sexuality;

• the centrality of love (the very nature of God);

• procreation and sexual love as an image of divine love;

• the primacy of the family;

• the divinely designed intrinsic purpose of sex as procreating new eternal souls for God’s family;

• and above all, sex as a sign of the goodness of life. Every baby conceived is a sign that God has not given up on man. It’s not a mere product of automatic nature, but a deliberate act of God. God makes a soul when we make a body. He is not forced to do this; he chooses to.

PETER KREEFT is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church” (Ignatius Press, 2001).

Catechism 101

Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter — appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility.

In a word, it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1643

Is the Church obsessed with sex?

Karl Keating says that, rather, it’s the world that is obsessed with sex  . . .

Karl Keating

Karl Keating

The Church has always shared her Master’s holy unpopularity. But never before the “Sexual Revolution” did her (and his) unpopularity center almost exclusively on sex.

In all eras and cultures, fallen man has never been very good at obeying any of God’s commandments. Man has always failed to practice what he preaches. But today he denies the preaching, the ideal itself… but only when it concerns sex.

A cross-section of popular movies and TV will reveal that most other areas of traditional morality are still assumed to be rightful and attainable ideals. But traditional sexual morality is almost always assumed to be unhealthy and unattainable — and the Church is usually portrayed as obsessed with sexual morality.

This obsession with sex is not the Church’s but the world’s — though the world often projects it onto the Church, its critic. We should not expect the Church’s teachings to coincide with “the wisdom of the world” (1 Cor 1:20) in any age or culture, for her teachings do not come from this world but from heaven, not from man but from God.

Man has gone off the track set for him by God, so God’s track has always appeared to fallen man as “a stone that will make men stumble” (1 Pet 2:8), just as Christ himself did. We should expect that. G.K. Chesterton said, “I don’t need a church to tell me I’m wrong where I already know I’m wrong; I need a church to tell me I’m wrong where I think I’m right.”

There are three things we need — holiness, happiness, and health — because there are three levels on which we live: spirit, soul, and body; our relationships with God, with ourselves and others, and with the material world.

Living according to God’s laws makes us holy, happy, and healthy. Violating them makes us unholy, unhappy, and unhealthy. This is as true of sex as of anything else.

First, sexual sin is sin and separates us from God. Second, since God loves us and wants our happiness, disobedience to his plan for us will necessarily bring us unhappiness. Worldly statistics confirm this heavenly logic: Adulterate sexual love brings with it a catalogue of miseries. Divorce, for example, means the destruction of society’s most indispensable foundation, the family, and it will inevitably stamp the same destructive marks on society at large as it already has on its immediate victims, millions of children.

Third, sexual sin has obvious and radical health effects. But the most notable physical effect of the Sexual Revolution is death. The human victims in just one generation of the abortion holocaust in most Western nations already vastly outnumber the victims of all the wars in their history. It’s high time to turn our attention to God’s alternative.

KARL KEATING is the founder of Catholic Answers. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “What Catholics Really Believe: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith” (Ignatius Press, 1995).


Catechism 101

Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

Lust is disordered desire for — or inordinate enjoyment of — sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2337, 2351