Catholics, Sex, and Marriage: The Elevator Pitch
Sex is good. It isn’t dirty or naughty or some kind of half-hearted concession to our fallen animalistic nature…it is good, just as it was good in the beginning. Be fruitful and multiply, He said. And so we are, and we do.
And we absolutely have to teach our kids that. Early and often. There’s no such thing as “the talk” in good Christian parenting; rather, it must be a series of talks, spanning childhood into early adulthood, continually drawing children into the beauty and the truth of human sexuality. If you’re waiting until your little snowflake starts middle school to say anything positive or informative about sex and the human person, well, I’m sorry to say it, but you’re about 3 years too late.
We live in a sexually saturated culture, and our children’s eyes and brains are bathed in provocative, violent, and sadistic images of a sexual nature at every turn. It’s our job to combat that with beauty, and goodness, and above all, the truth of who and why they were “created, male and female.”
Marriage is also good. For the majority of people, it’s not only good, but it’s the means of our salvation. If you are called to the Sacrament of Marriage, it is through those graces (and crosses) that you’ll make your way to heaven, leading and alternately being led by the spouse you choose.
Marriage and sex go together. You might even say that attempting to separate them is at the root of almost every problem facing our society. We reserve sex for marriage not out of prudishness or repression, but for the same reason you wouldn’t build a nuclear bomb in the garage: that kind of power demands respect. Mishandle plutonium and you’re going to have a disaster, because you are violating the stuff’s nature. You can’t change nature. You can ignore it, or deny it, or repackage it as something of your own creation, but the stuff is still radioactive.
That’s the reason the Church will never change her position on marriage: she doesn’t have the power to. Marriage is the union between one man and one woman, designed by the Creator of plutonium, etc. to produce brand spanking new humans. We can tinker with the definition and broaden and rewrite all we want…but we can’t alter nature. Even if the State does. Even if every country on earth proclaims marriage to be “an open ended living arrangement featuring a rotating cast of 4 or more adults featuring occasional collaborations with domesticated animals.” Or something. Even then, the Church will not alter her stance on what marriage is, because it isn’t hers to alter.
The Catholic Church’s teachings on sex and marriage are profoundly freeing, which is a shocking claim to make on a libertine, pleasure-worshiping culture. But it’s true! There is such freedom in chastity and fidelity and wild abandonment and trust. And while there’s never a guarantee for happiness, it sure makes sense to stack the deck in your favor when it comes to matters of the heart.
If you think you know what the Catholic Church teaches about sex and marriage, make sure you’ve actually read and learned what the Catholic Church teaches about sex and marriage.
Sex is good. Marriage is good. Life is very, very good. Now let’s go live it like we believe it.
As a guy I really like was fond of saying,