Saturday, July 28, 2012

This Post is About Sex

I’m away this week doing ministry at a family camp not affiliated with Madonna House. As I did when I was at Cana Colony, I am re-posting some good old posts from my first month of blogging, before anyone knew I was here. Hope you enjoy these voices from the distant past of July 2011.
The Prophets, particularly Hosea and Ezekiel, described God's passion for his people using boldly erotic images. God's relationship with Israel is described using the metaphors of betrothal and marriage; idolatry is thus adultery and prostitution. Here we find a specific reference—as we have seen—to the fertility cults and their abuse of eros, but also a description of the relationship of fidelity between Israel and her God. The history of the love-relationship between God and Israel consists, at the deepest level, in the fact that he gives her the Torah, thereby opening Israel's eyes to man's true nature and showing her the path leading to true humanism. It consists in the fact that man, through a life of fidelity to the one God, comes to experience himself as loved by God, and discovers joy in truth and in righteousness—a joy in God which becomes his essential happiness: “Whom do I have in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you ... for me it is good to be near God” (Ps 73 [72]:25, 28).

Deus Caritas Est 9

Reflection – “The Church should get out of the sex business.” I still remember one of the MH staff quoting that to me years ago, words spoken to her by her brother. The Church’s teachings on sex and marriage have never been easy to obey; in the past fifty years they have become for many incomprehensible, unacceptable, even ridiculous. Since no one (hardly) even is willing to entertain the Church’s teachings on these matters, why doesn’t the Church stop making itself ridiculous (religulous?) and just drop the whole subject? The gross and widely publicized infidelity of a few of the Church’s priests and bishops doesn’t help the cause.

This we all know. In this passage from the encyclical, though, we see a glimmer of why the Church just cannot do it. We can’t get out of the ‘sex business’ for a simple reason: sex is not a business!

It is not a commodity, a good to be used and abused, a unit of exchange among human beings, a bargaining chip in relationships, a field of the endless power struggle between men and women and all variations therein. Sex as a business is a depressing reflection of how we fallen human beings actually think of it and what we do with it, though, isnʼt it?

Sex is in truth a reflection, we learn from the prophets, of the very nature of God, and his disposition towards humanity. It is a deeply theological reality in its essence. The nuptial imagery of Hosea, Ezekiel, Isaiah is not a tangential, secondary reference in the Old Testament. Rather, it is a deepening of a theme introduced in Genesis 2 – the nuptial joy of Adam and Eve mirroring God’s joy in his creation, a joy which finds its summation in his making man and woman ‘in his own image’.

This nuptial joy, this erotic theme of the Bible, finds its summation and glory in Christ, revealed as the Bridegroom, the one in whom the union of God and the human person is consummated – made complete, brought to its deepest realization this side of paradise.

And this is why we just cannot relax our sexual ethos into the modern laissez faire attitude. Sex is this stubbornly incarnate element of our humanity which is supposed to reveal to us, in our most deeply fleshly experience of life, something deep about the truth of God.

Sex, therefore must occur in a faithful covenantal relationship that is open to life. Otherwise it does not communicate the truth of God and becomes a sort of incarnational heresy. And this is the great tragedy of our modern age – the very place where we are meant to enter into the deep truth of God’s love has become a place of business, of selfishness, of something else, anyhow – some kind of extension of egoism or self-will. God made us, and it, for something better, something much, much better.

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