Love, Sex, and the Cross

Being chaste until and within marriage, committing day in and day out to the self-giving and self-denial that lifelong marriage and child-rearing require of us, being open to God’s gift of new life in a generous and responsible way, and in this day and age, even carrying to term an unexpected child — these are difficult tasks, and our fallen nature rebels against them.

The world recognizes this natural rebellion, our desire to express human love in sexual intimacy, to seek pleasure and run from pain, to fulfill our own needs and desires while giving ill-attention to the needs and desires of others — in a word, to live our lives for ourselves.
Mistaking these desires for human nature — rather than fallen human nature — the world’s response is to laugh at Church teaching, to make a mockery of the Church and her seemingly archaic rules on sex and marriage, because they are so difficult, because they require so much of us.
Yet those who seek to follow the way of Our Lord understand that much is required of us. This is precisely the point. God calls us out of our fallenness, out of our self-centeredness and pleasure-seeking, to follow the way of perfection, to live in a way that is, by natural means, difficult — at times, even impossible. Many complain that Church teachings on sex and marriage are unrealistic, that the Church is out of touch. If we were meant to live by human means alone, to follow these teachings on our own strength, I would say the world’s complaints were absolutely right. Indeed, by my own strength, I failed at almost every one of them.

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