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  A Christian Faith Magazine February 2005, Volume 10, Issue 7  
Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci Saints, Sex, and Theology
Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci
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When those of the secular mind think of the arrival of February, an image is fashioned of a diminutive Cupid shooting his passion-tipped arrow into the heart of the object of one's amorous desire. There were arrows of a different kind and there was love of the highest kind that marked the honored martyrdom of Saint Valentine (three martyrs of that name are revered) for remembrance and celebration. The depth of a martyr's love touches on the divine. The love expressed by cards and candy, expensive jewelry and romantic dinners is more variable. Whether it is the steeled devotion of a martyr or the awkward feelings of a teenager, Saint Valentine's Day commemorates the dominance of love within human nature.

How is love doing in these early years of the twenty-first century? A valid question in a time when commonly the quest of couples for the depth of love, commitment, unity, and all of the other ingredients of a solid marriage are arrested at the point of something called a relationship. This pretense of marriage rests upon a flimsy and fluid foundation. Based on lust rather than love, fun rather than joy, escaping rather than persevering, this current model of togetherness reminds one of the words of the character named Taylor in the movie, Planet of the Apes: "There's a lot of love-making, but very little love."


At the risk of being dismissed out-of-hand for speaking contemptuously about what has become the conventional approach to love, I judge this practice to be an obstacle to true love and a dangerous deception. Do I dare call it... sin? Admittedly, the general devaluation of the meaning, value, and significance of sexual intimacy and its disregard as an expression of the deepest commitment of a couple belonging properly and solely within the marriage covenant has influenced even those otherwise appearing mature, responsible, and, yes, God-fearing to adopt this mode. Although the consumption of alcohol is legal, ubiquitous, and usually benign, its abuse has been the cause of incalculable misery throughout human history. In like manner, disrespect for the effect and the power of sex on the human psyche has led couples to desperation, despair, and even death. Too often, the news media report the murder of a woman and her child. It seems that the vast majority of these cases result in the crime being committed by either a live-in or an estranged boyfriend. The shallowness of feelings between the man and woman comes to the forefront with the birth of a child. The mask of the make-believe marriage is torn away and exposes the selfish motives behind the relationship. A child creates a new set of responsibilities and demands. If one party begins to expect more from the other regarding the needs of parenthood and family, the other, who only wanted a fun-and-run relationship, balks at the idea. Often, violence ensues. One can hope that a time is approaching when ears are lent toward God's teaching and hearts are open to welcome a grace that proclaims the sacredness and seriousness of love in all of its manifestations.

Sexuality as a game or as a drama, sexuality as an expression of mere will or mere personality, as a sign of power, or prestige, or autonomy: in short, an impersonation and an insincerity.
- Criticism from D. H. Lawrence

The return, or the advent, of an understanding of love as a commitment of the wholeness of two people to one another implies a multitude of cultural permutations. Somewhere near the center of these transformations must be an awareness of a personal sense of dignity and charity that needs to be extended to others. When the teachings of Jesus command us to love others with the same care that we love ourselves, we find a spiritual and natural prohibition toward denying or trivializing the innate worth of another human being. Thus, we are led to a renewed appreciation of the power we possess in affecting our lives and that of others either for good or ill. Applying this truth to sexual morality provides a clearer view of the sinfulness of sex as a source of entertainment, self-aggrandizement, manipulation, coercion, or its many other distortions. The pursuit of a Theology of the Body is also one for a theology of the soul, of the mind, and of love itself.

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