Ours is not an age of change, but a changing of the ages. (Pope Francis)
One of the most important, if not obvious, ways in which this change has taken place is in the realm of sexuality. Our world now echoes with the dogmatic, though exhausted, screech that sex and sexuality does not mean anything. And sadly, the toll this has taken on our peers and predecessors is quite evident. But why is this realm of our existence so important that it affects people so dramatically? What is the big deal of calling sex ‘meaningless?’
Let’s attack this question from the opposite angle. What truth does sexuality speak; what does it say to us that we so severely need to hear? To answer that, we must begin here:
Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. (CCC 2332)
Sexuality… is by no means something merely biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. (Pope St. John Paul II)
Our sexuality as human beings is not reducible to simply sexual intercourse. It’s the reverse – sexual intercourse is simply a part of a much bigger reality. Sexuality concerns our whole self and even touches the whole cosmos. This is attested to by almost every language (except English), in which nouns like the sun, moon, land and sea are either masculine or feminine. We are not strangers; the whole universe is part of this Great Dance too. So if sexuality is all around us (i.e. much bigger than us) and, in a more condensed, exalted occasion, in us – what does it say and what does it point to?
First, it reveals a tension in the heart of humanity. We are not one, we are two: man and woman. In all of creation there is this yin and yang, wavelike, giving-and-receiving property we call masculinity and femininity (cf. pg. 171-173, CS Lewis), which is crystallized and placed on center stage in man and woman.
This reality tells us that we are not whole in and of ourselves. Just look at any man’s body or any woman’s body – it makes no sense by itself. Rather, it points to the fact that we are made for another – we are made for union. Our bodies tell us that, against all odds, this tension, this difference, this apparent division in the heart of humanity makes life-giving union possible and thereby testifies to a power that is stronger than division.
Indeed, the cosmic dance of sexuality that entangles the heart of humanity gives this witness: that the ultimate reality, the ultimate foundation, the ultimate power or energy at work in everything is love. And not just any love, but one whose fruit is ecstatic union. Sexuality whispers sweet reminders that, despite all evidence to the contrary in a dark world ruled by death and division…
…there is a power that can win a passionate merging not merely for a short duration or an episode, but for all time. (Josef Pieper, paraphrased)
The very existence of masculinity and femininity (this yin and yang, this polarity, this ocean wave in the heart of humanity) gives witness to the fact that love is the face of being, that love is what is (i.e. the Trinity). This is not some chick-flick, feelings-obsessed conception of love, but a fertile, fecund and generative love that bursts and overflows with life! At the heart of all things is a unitive, life-giving love that has no rival.
Far from meaningless, sexuality is the incarnation of ultimate meaning. Division does not have the last word, but the power of Love wins and brings a rapturous, ecstatic union (of which the highest sexual union of a husband and wife is only a glimpse) that can’t help but explode with life.
This is what makes the sexual revolution so tragic, because it says that all the above is an illusion. It says union is not what we are made for; nor is there a love that could accomplish it. Instead, it says, “I am made for myself.” If sexuality doesn’t exist or mean anything, if out bodies don’t inherently tell us that we are made for another, then we are islands; we are ghosts passing each other in the night just trying to survive. The sexual revolution has embraced “the principle of isolation on which ‘the whole philosophy of hell rests’” (Josef Pieper, CS Lewis). Unfortunately, the consequences of this living-by-oneself and living-for-oneself are all around us.
Without the light of the truth, we walk in darkness. We need a guiding light to save us from inhumanity. And so we badly need the healthy witness of real sexuality. We need the constant reminder of what reality is and who we are.
In a world filled with death and division, we need the powerful testimony of sexuality that proclaims to us, “Union is what you are made for and love is stronger than death!”
So, as a sexual being, launch out into the world hungering for union – the ultimate union that is coming through Jesus. Be confident in living out your sexuality as a man or a woman and be encouraged that you give witness to a love that is, in the final reckoning, the only power that exists, and which crackles, sparks and beams with life. Be a life-giving, generative lover in all things. Go participate and get lost in the divine power that is perpetually ‘making love’ around us, in us and through us.
Be at peace, division has lost. Love wins.