Archive for July, 2020

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.”

3. Natural Family Planning and sex and the Marriage Covenant

Monday, July 20th, 2020

Marriage is the key

The Catholic faith teaches that sex is a gift from God even though that gift is frequently misused. Any reading of the Bible or even secular literature quickly shows how frequently and in how many ways men and women have misused the gift of their sexuality.

There is no direct biblical statement that sex is intended by the author of creation to be a renewal of the marriage covenant. However, we can arrive at that core statement by deduction. As will be shown in Chapter 17, “Biblical Foundations,” Sacred Scripture condemns adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, contraception, masturbation, and bestiality. Thus the only form of sexual intercourse not condemned by Sacred Scripture is non-contraceptive intercourse between a man and woman who are married to each other. I will use the term “honest sex” or “honest sexual intercourse” to designate the sex act taught by Scripture and Tradition to be good: mutually voluntary, non-contraceptive intercourse by a validly married couple.

That leads to an obvious question: what is there about marriage that makes morally good the same physical act that is morally evil outside of marriage? Or to put it the other way, if honest sexual intercourse is (or can be) a moral good within marriage, why is it evil for those who are not married to each other? Certainly God knows that the degree of emotional love felt by unmarried persons is sometimes much stronger than that felt by many married couples. Let’s sharpen the focus a bit more. If Jim and Jane love each other, why is it the grave matter of mortal sin for them to have sexual intercourse on the day before they marry but morally good for them to celebrate their marriage with honest sexual intercourse after they have married?

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant