Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Gift of Self is Worth the Wait

This semester I had the privilege of taking a Theology of the Body course at Seton Hall University. I had a great instructor that was very passionate about the material and made the content easy to understand. We read from Blessed John Paull II's work Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. Since late January the book and the course have absolutely rocked my world. I wrote a paper at the end of the semester, I chose to write about pre-marital sex. Here it is....enjoy!

In a country that continues to grow further and further from the roots in which it was established, one of the most common questions amongst teenagers and young adults is, “Why should I wait until I get married to have sex?” Our culture strives to make things bigger, better, and faster and our culture loves giving gifts that we will be remembered for. What are the gifts that we fail to recognize, give, and receive? Our sexuality is a gift meant to be given and received after marriage.
Why were we created? Weren’t we created to be in relationship? We arrive in this world after we have developed a relationship with our mother while in the womb. Then we are raised by our parents, and we have siblings or go to school and make friends. Our entire life consists of relationships. We continue in life and begin our own family. The first step in that process is to meet someone of the opposite sex, get married, and begin a whole new set of relationships. Am I forgetting a relationship? What about the first relationship known to man? When man was first created he was created in the image and likeness of God Himself. What did the first relationship on earth look like? Man, Adam, was created to be in a relationship. There was a problem; Adam had no one with whom he could be in relationship. God gave Adam the duty of naming all the animals. Can you imagine the torture Adam must have gone through in naming the animals and looking for someone with whom he could be in relationship? Yet there was no one. Finally God realized Adam’s need to be in relationship, so God gave Adam Eve. God created both of them in His image and to be in relationship with Him! Today, being human, like Adam and Eve, we too are created for relationship with Someone beyond this earth. We were created for relationships beyond those that we have physically; we were created for relationship with our Father, the Creator and His Son – our Savior. Without a relationship with Them, who embody Love itself, how could we possibly love anyone on earth? Unless we truly experience the Love we were created for we cannot love another being on this earth. This is one gift we too often choose not to receive.
When we love someone, whether it’s a parent, sibling, relative or friend, we try to express that love by doing nice things for them and we serve them; we give of our very selves. We give and become a gift. Is there a greater meaning to giving of ourselves within marriage? Yes. God does nothing without purpose, he meant for sex to be used for much more than pleasure. Just like no person was created by God without purpose - anything or any action given to us by God is meant to be used for a specific purpose. Before Adam had Eve he realized that he was more than just a body, he knew that he also had a soul, he knew that he could not simply exist to serve himself physically, he longed to give himself to another in every way that he could and unite himself with her bodily and spiritually.
If a man is to give himself completely to a woman what does it mean, how does a couple give themselves to each other completely? There are several things that a couple can do to serve one another by giving of themselves. One could do chores for the other, buy something, compliment them, give up something so the other can have it, cook a meal, etc. Those are all wonderful things and most good spouses would jump at the opportunity to do one of them to please the other. But what if there was an experience spouses could share that would unite them body and soul, allowing them to experience a deep communion in which they freely give of themselves. That’s what marriage is about right? Uniting with another in a way that bonds and unites the couple in a deep and meaningful way?
The act of sex is that way that spouses can give of themselves completely!  Instead of viewing sex as merely a way of experiencing pleasure we need to think about the meaning of the act beyond the way that our culture portrays it. The act of sex is meant to be enjoyable, but it is also to be used as a means of giving ourselves completely to our spouse and to unite us to that person in a way that we are not united with anyone else! As explained in Theology of the Body by the late Great Blessed John Paul II; “The conjugal act, the marital act, “means” not only to love, but also potential fruitfulness, and thus it cannot be deprived of its full and adequate meaning by means of artificial interventions. In the conjugal act, it is not licit to separate artificially the unitive meaning from the procreative meaning, because the one as well as the other belong to the innermost truth of the conjugal act. The artificial separation of these two meanings of the conjugal act, a real bodily union is brought about, but it does not correspond to the inner truth and dignity of personal communion.”[1] The only way to become the person we were created to be – fully and truly, is through a sincere and complete gift of self. Many people think that using a form of contraception is heroic because they’re avoiding pregnancy. There is actually nothing less heroic than contracepting. It’s cowardly, immature, and irresponsible. The contracepted act, before or during marriage, is only about what one person can get from the other, “love” is basically eliminated, the contracepted act is one of mutual use. The consummating act on the night of marriage is a memoralizing or remembering of the covenant of marriage. In every marital act a couple is renewing this covenant. This reflects how we memorialize the consummating act of Jesus in the Church. By Christ giving Himself for the Church in the Eucharist at every Mass, we are remembering how Jesus freely and fully gave of Himself to us; we remember that consummation in every Eucharist.
Sex is worth the wait. As humans it takes a lot for us to exercise self-control. At times, we are good at it. Someone on a diet will exercise and change their diet. Someone shopping sees something they like but does not buy it. But sexually we choose not to exercise self-control, we lower the bar, we choose to use contraceptives, we choose to be a victim of our intuition, instead of using our intellect. Jesus Christ raised the bar for over 30 years while He was man on earth, He expects more of us. The only way we can avoid falling into sexual sin is by relying on His grace. If you want your wedding night to be memorable get on your knees and ask for the grace to be pure and chaste!
Earlier I talked about people today wanting to give the best gift imaginable to another. The greatest gift you can give someone is yourself. The greatest gift you can give on your wedding night and entire marriage is yourself. What gift do you want to bring to your wedding night? An un-opened, never been gifted, incredible gift? Or a re-gifted, used, and tired gift?

[1] Man and Woman He Created Them, p. 632

Blessed John Paul the Great, PRAY FOR US!!!!