Archive for the ‘Marriage Covenant’ Category

6. Natural Family Planning and Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

In Familiaris Consortio Pope John Paul II has asked theologians to illustrate “ever more clearly the biblical foundations, the ethical grounds, and the personalist reasons” behind the teaching against marital contraception. Furthermore, he said, “Thus it will be possible, in the context of an organic exposition, to render the teaching of the Church on this fundamental question truly accessible to all people of good will” (emphasis added). I believe that “an organic exposition” means treating the morality of birth control in the context of other sexual behaviors such as fornication, adultery and sodomy.

The covenant theology of human sexuality is 1) almost identical to the papal “theology of the body” applied to the marriage act.  In addition, the covenant theology of sexuality fulfills the requirements for a useful theology as noted by the Pope (biblical, ethical, personalist).  In the rest of this chapter I will address each of these criteria plus several others that I think are necessary for a theology to be useful today. In short, I propose to show, very briefly in most cases, that the covenant theology of sexuality is 2) simple, 3) biblical, 4) ethical, 5) personalist, 6) theological, and 7) ecumenical. Furthermore, it lends itself to “an organic exposition,” and thus 8) it distinguishes between marital and non-marital sex. 9) It provides a key for understanding not only the evil of contraception but also the evil of adultery, fornication, sodomy and other sexual behaviors condemned as objectively sinful by the Catholic moral tradition. I believe that the covenant theology of sex is also 10) realistic. That is, it provides a terminology that avoids the sometimes-austere quality of previous theological terms, and it also avoids the subjective mushiness and inaccuracy of much of contemporary talk about sex, love and marriage. 11) It provides both a norm and an ideal.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

5. Natural Family Planning and Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

In summary, we have seen that God has revealed that sexual intercourse is a good act only within marriage, and we have seen that out of the will of man and woman to marry God creates a oneness which makes it good for them to express that oneness in the one-fleshness of honest sexual intercourse. What can we conclude except that God intends for their sexual union to be a unique sign, a symbol of their marriage union?

The next question which arises is this: “Once they are married, is the marriage act intended to reflect the caring, self-giving love the couple promised to each other?” To put it another way, “Can a husband demand sex from his wife no matter how harshly he has treated her? Does the teaching of St. Paul that a wife is to be submissive to her husband (Eph 5:22) and that she should give him his conjugal rights (1 Cor 7:3) mean that he is entitled to marital relations even if he should be drunk and abusive?”

The answer is to be found in the context of each of the passages above. St. Paul also commands that husbands are to love their wives “as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). Is that not both a beautiful and yet very forceful statement that husbands are to love their wives with a self-sacrificing love? Furthermore, in the passage of First Corinthians, Paul taught that “the husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights and likewise the wife to her husband” (1 Cor 7:3).

In the strict sense of conjugal rights that are necessary for the validity of marriage, such rights are limited to honest sexual intercourse. That is, the lack of kindness and affection do not nullify a marriage, but the refusal to engage in sexual intercourse—ever—would provide grounds for nullity.

However, in a looser sense we can say that conjugal rights extend beyond sexual intercourse. Spouses also have a right to affection from the other spouse and at a bare minimum they have a right not to be abused. When one spouse acts against these rights, his or her claim to the right to sexual intercourse is correspondingly reduced.

The point I am making is that within marriage the spouses are called to keep alive the faith and the self-giving love, a caring love, they promised when they married.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

4. Natural Family Planning and Sex and the Marriage Covenant

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

The answer is that when they married, they freely entered into a covenant of God’s making. They solemnly promised before God and their fellow man that they would exercise caring love for each other from that time until death separates them. They gave themselves, each to the other, totally, without reservation. This is what makes marriage so wonderful. Each person knows his or her own sins and imperfections; each knows that the other has his or her sins and imperfections. Yet they give themselves, each to the other, in caring love, totally and without reservation, for better and for worse, for life. They become “two in one flesh.” This is why the language of the Church generally refers to marital sexual intercourse as “the marriage act.”