RCIA CLASS 23 – THE SIXTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENTS
"I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem coming out of heaven for God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Revelation 21:2
are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
I. Man and woman reflect God's love and creative goodness in complementary ways. "The respective perfections of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfections of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband." Catechism of the Catholic Church 370. "God created man in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and female, He created them." Genesis 1:27.
A. One's expression of masculinity or femininity is an essential part of the person's response to this role of reflecting God's creative love. "Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns the capacity to love and procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude to form bonds of communion with others." Catechism of the Catholic Church 2332
- The way in
which a person lives out his masculinity or femininity either reflects
God's creative glory or blurs it. "Do you not know that your
body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?"
1 Cor. 6:19.
B. One's vocation (e.g.,
married couples, priests, nuns, brothers) is a most basic way in which
one lives out that call to show forth God's love. "Strengthened
by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever
their condition or state are called by the Lord . . . to that perfect
holiness by which the Father Himself is perfect." Vatican
II Council, Lumen Gentium (1963) 11.
II. Likewise, sexual expression brings about a spiritual effect, whether one wants it to or not. It brings a couple into a union and symbolizes the total joining of two lives together.
A. Sexual expression is meant to symbolize and brings about the total giving of oneself.
1. The complete
physical joining reflects a complete spiritual joining, for body and
soul are connected.
2. Openness to
fertility is a part of that total openness to the other; to reject fertility
is to reject a part of the other person. Likewise, to exclude
fertility is to avoid total self-giving.
B If sex is used outside of marriage, it is dishonest; it symbolizes the total joining of two lives, but that reality is not there. As Pope Paul VI said, "To use this divine gift (i.e. sexual relations) destroying, even if only partially, its meaning and its purpose is to contradict the nature both of man and of woman and their most intimate relationship and therefore it is to contradict also the plan of God and His will." Paul VI, Humanae Vitae (1968) 13.
1. That fundamental
contradiction is one reason why so much dishonesty, with oneself and
others, surrounds lustfulness.
2. Experience (e.g.
college, bars, entertainment) indicates that perhaps nothing except
politics causes more dishonesty than lustfulness.
C. When a couple lives together before marriage, they are pretending to be married without the reality; there is again dishonesty. Furthermore, the effect of that symbol is diminished. In a similar fashion, the effect of other symbols (e.g., flags, uniforms) is diminished if used outside their rightful context.
to "test driving car" or the like do not work, for not only
are people not objects, but also one gets rid of products after a certain
number of years or when something better comes along. Likewise,
analogies to internships or similar employment situations are inapplicable,
for spouses are not employees, marriage is not a commercial event, and
employment can be terminated by either side (and usually is when a better
prospect comes along.)
from the University of Rutgers and University of Denver both found that
couples who are chaste before marriage have a divorce rate about two
thirds that of couples who are unchaste. See 2003 University of
Rutgers Marriage Project and 2009 University of Denver Study on Cohabitation.
D. Homosexuality likewise leads to a fundamental imbalance, which in turn leads either to a skewing of the human person (making the man unmasculine or woman unfeminine) and/or to a relationship that does not reflect complementarity, that is not open to the other gender. While one may be compassionate to people who suffer from this tendency, compassion should not lead to moral laxity here, any more than it would for any other flaw.
- It will not
do to argue that homosexuality must be accepted because people are "born"
that way for at least two reasons. First, there is no evidence
to that effect, as even the American Psychological Association, which
has desperately tried to argue for the normality of homosexuality, recently
admitted. See APA, "Answers to Your Questions about Sexual Orientation
and Homosexuality" (2009.) Second, even if a person is born with
a psychological flaw (e.g., a tendency to alcoholism, drug addiction,
depression etc.), we do not for that reason say that the tendency is
E. In addition, artificial contraception or even more so sterilization removes a crucial part of the human person, namely fertility, from intercourse, and replaces that with artificiality.
1. Artificial contraception
says to the other, "I love you, but not all of you." I want you
to change something natural to you to satisfy myself.
contraception also introduces artificiality into the most intimate act
of marriage. Things (e.g., cars, desks, computers) can be made
artificially, but if love is artificial, it is not love. Other
expressions of love, such as letters, words, compliments, are worthless
if artificial. Surely the act of love is all the more so.
3. Because it
excludes the fertility of the other person, and because it uses mere
technology, rather than self-discipline, to prevent conception of new
life, artificial contraception is gravely contrary to conjugal love.
"The innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving
of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectivity
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." Catechism
of the Catholic Church 2370; John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio
4. Studies by Nona
Aquilar, published in the book No Pill No Risk Birth Control
showed less than a 5% divorce rate among couples who use natural family
planning after 20 years. In Divorce Rate Comparisons Between
Couples Using Natural Family Planning & Artificial Birth Control,
a 2001 study by Mercedes Wilson and Dr. Robert Lerner of the University
of Chicago, showed a 0.25% divorce rate in eight years.
5. Christianity has
historically disapproved of artificial contraception. The Didache
from about 100 did so, as did Martin Luther and John Calvin. Not
until 1930 with the Lambeth conference did any Christian denomination
approve of it under any circumstances; and even then, it was supposed
to be only for emergency situations.
F. Natural family planning involves the openness to the other person and the self-sacrifice called for by love.
1. Basically, if a couple prayerfully discerns that having another child at the present time would not be helpful, they refrain from conjugal relations for the few days, about 5, per month, when the women may become pregnant.
- With knowledge
developed in the last 40 years, it can be ascertained with almost complete
certainty which days of the month a woman can become pregnant.
The former rhythm method was mostly accurate, but not completely so.
2. The couple
should be open to children in general. The choice to defer having
children should not be selfish, or involve a cowardly unwillingness
to take risks. But, as has been understood in the history of the
Church, there are situations in which deferring having children may
be a good idea. Natural family planning is a natural means of
doing so, and thus consistent with love.
3. Even on the level of reason, when there is a natural and unnatural means of accomplishing an end, the natural one is preferable. For example, one would prefer dietary changes to drugs. It is natural to use scientific knowledge of exercise, nutrition, etc. for an athlete to build muscles; unnatural recourse to steroids would be wrong. It is natural to try to do better on an exam by study; use of drugs to stimulate thinking would be wrong.
- If one
weeds a garden, it remains fertile; by contrast, pouring poison on it
to prevent unwanted growth destroys it.
4. Natural Family
Planning does involve more sacrifice, but then again so does love.
Artificial contraception is easy, but that makes it less like love.
Natural Family Planning encourages discourse and mutual understanding.
Artificial contraception hands off this important decision to a thing,
a barrier or a pill; even the language (barrier, protection) implies
G. In vitro fertilization basically creates a whole human artificially, not in love, reducing the person to the level of a product. The expression is that I created you as I would a computer or a car. Love becomes irrelevant.
- By contrast,
medical procedures that restore fertility that is natural to the human
person are a legitimate form of medicine, whose purpose is to maintain
and restore the human body to its natural state.
H. Purity gives love space to grow and leads to a greater vision of the other.
1. One learns
the virtue of sacrifice, which will be important in different ways in
III. The call to chastity, and thus to freedom to express love in a masculine or feminine fashion, involves, not only actions, but also thoughts.
C. As a result, we must be very careful of the influences that we let into our imagination.
1. The imagination
is a gift enabling us to comprehend things we do not see. As
Even secular fields, such as history and science, must use the imagination
to sense things not directly experienced. Likewise, as Pope John
Paul II pointed out in his 1993 Letter to Artists, all people
involved in culture try to express what cannot be seen in technical
fashion. "Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark
which is the artistic vocation—as poet, writer, sculptor, architect,
musician, actor and so on—feel at the same time the obligation not
to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service
of their neighbor and of humanity as a whole."
D. It is thus crucial to feed our minds with better images and avoid the thoughts that tend to lead to temptation. Good culture in general and Catholic culture in particular, is helpful to fulfill St. Paul's injunction, "Whatever is true, whatever honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, whatever has any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things. . . . And the peace of God will be with you." Phil. 4:8-9.
IV. There are many resources for understanding the Church's teachings on sexual ethics and the call to purity and holiness.
A. Some of the leading Church documents include:
1. Casti Connubi
(1931) by Pope Pius XI, which defended the traditional Church teaching
on marriage and chastity in response to calls to change it, especially
with regard to artificial contraception.
Vitae (1968) by Pope Paul VI, which sets forth a wholesome vision
of marriage and childbearing in the context of the universal call to
holiness, reiterating the Church's teachings distinguishing artificial
contraception (which is immoral) from natural family planning.
B. Some theological discussions of the Church's teachings include:
of the Body a series of talks by Pope John Paul II from 1979 –
1984, which set forth the personalist background to the Church's teachings,
and in particular, how they promote each person's value and ability
to love. In Theology of the Body Explained (2003) Christopher
West presents these talks in a simpler fashion and thus explains Catholic
moral theology in the context of truth and love as expressed through