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Sex Speaks: True and False Prophets — Part 4 of 6 [Open] ^ | August 1, 2008 | Christopher West

Posted on 08/04/2008 11:40:10 PM PDT by Salvation

Sex Speaks: True and False Prophets — Part 4 of 6

August 1st, 2008 by Christopher West

July 25th marks the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s famous re-affirmation of the Church’s constant teaching on contraception. In commemoration, we continue our reflections on this critical issue [Part one, Part two, Part three].

I ended my last column by asking: How healthy would a marriage be if spouses were regularly unfaithful to their wedding vows? On the other hand, how healthy would a marriage be if spouses regularly renewed their vows with an ever increasing commitment to them? Then I stated, if you’d prefer the latter type of marriage, you have just accepted the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

This is what is at stake: fidelity to the wedding vows; fidelity to love. At the altar, the priest or deacon asks the couple: “Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage? Do you promise to be faithful until death? Do you promise to receive children lovingly from God?” The bride and groom each say “yes.”
In turn, spouses are meant to express this same “yes” with the “language of their bodies” whenever they become one flesh. Sexual intercourse, then, is where the words of the wedding vows become flesh. Or, at least, it’s meant to be.

Everything the Church teaches about sex begins to make sense when viewed through this lens. The Church’s teaching is not a prudish list of prohibitions. It’s a call to embrace our own “greatness,” our own God-given dignity. It’s a call to live the love we so ardently desire. It’s a call to embrace divine love and share it with one’s spouse bodily.

John Paul II goes so far as to describe the body and sexual union as “prophetic.” A prophet is someone who speaks for God, who proclaims his mystery of love. This is what the marital embrace is meant to proclaim. But, as the Pope adds, we must be careful to distinguish true and false prophets (see TOB 106:4). If we can speak the truth with our bodies, we can also speak lies.

rings.jpgAs a sacrament, marriage not only signifies God’s life and love, it really participates in God’s life and love. However, for sacraments to convey God’s life and love, the physical sign must accurately signify the spiritual reality. For example, through the physical sign of cleansing with water, baptism truly brings about a spiritual cleansing from sin. But if you were to baptize someone with mud or tar, no spiritual cleansing would take place because the physical sign is now one of making dirty. This would actually be a counter-sign or an “anti-sacrament.”

All of married life is meant to be a sign of God’s life and love. But nowhere do spouses signify this more profoundly than when they become “one flesh.” Here, like no other moment in married life, spouses are called to participate in God’s life and love. But this will only happen if their sexual union accurately signifies God’s love. Therefore, as John Paul II concludes, we can speak of moral good and evil in the sexual relationship based on whether the couple gives to their union “the character of a truthful sign” (TOB 37:6).

Insert contraception into the language of the body and (knowingly or unknowingly) the couple engages in a counter-sign of God’s mystery, a kind of “anti-sacrament.” Rather than proclaiming, “God is life-giving love,” the language of contracepted intercourse says, “God is not life-giving love.” In this way spouses (knowingly or unknowingly) become “false prophets.” They blaspheme. Their bodies still proclaim theology, but not Christian theology; not a theology of the God who reveals himself as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. Contracepted sex, whether we realize this or not, attacks our creation in the image of the Trinity at its roots. From this perspective we can see that contraception is actually a sly betrayal of the deepest truth of our humanity.

The language of the body has “clear-cut meanings” all of which are “programmed,” John Paul II observes, in the vows. For example, to “the question: ‘Are you ready to accept children lovingly from God …?’ the man and the woman answer, ‘Yes’” (TOB 105:6, 106:3). If spouses say “yes” at the altar, but then render their union sterile, wouldn’t they be lying with their bodies? Wouldn’t they be speaking against their vows?

Why, then, does the Church accept the practice of natural family planning? We’ll see in the next column.


[Editor’s note: Please enjoy regular features from this and other enlightening authors discussing Catholic teaching on sexuality in CE’s Theology of the Body channel.]

This column first appeared as part of Christopher West’s Body Language series for the Catholic press (

Christopher West is a fellow of the Theology of the Body Institute. His books and tapes on the “theology of the body” are available from our online store.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; contraception; morals
For your information and discussion.
1 posted on 08/04/2008 11:40:11 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

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2 posted on 08/04/2008 11:41:50 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

Looking at marriage vows.

What do they mean to me?

What did they mean then? (When we first got married.)

What do they mean now?

3 posted on 08/04/2008 11:44:47 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
Sex Speaks: True and False Prophets — Part 4 of 6 [Open]
Contraception and the Language of the Body — Part 3 of 6 [Open]
Does Contraception Foster Love? — Part 2 of 6 [Open]
Contraception and Cultural Chaos — Part 1 of 6 [Open]

4 posted on 08/04/2008 11:45:58 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

Priests still suffering from effects of Humanae Vitae dissenters, Vatican cardinal says (Must read!)
"Provoking reflection" (Contrasting views on Humanae Vitae)
Humanae Vitae The Year of the Peirasmòs - 1968
Catholics to Pope: Lift the Birth Control Ban

[OPEN] The Vindication of Humanae Vitae
Catholic Clergy Challenge Colleagues to Reacquaint Themselves and Their People with Humanae Vitae
White House proposes wide "conscience clause" on abortion, contraception
“A degrading poison that withers life”
Australia Study: 70 Percent of Women Seeking Abortions Used Contraception

[Fr. Thomas Euteneuer] In Persona Christi: The Priest and Contraception

A Challenging Truth, Part Two: The Day the Birth Control Died
A Challenging Truth, Part One: How Birth Control Works
Ten Challenges for the Pro-Life Movement in 2008
The concept of the "intrinsically evil"
Pope Tells Pharmacists Not to Dispense Drugs With 'Immoral Purposes'

Massive Study Finds the Pill Significantly Increases Cancer Risk if Used more than Eight Years
Birth Control Pill Creates Blood Clot Causing Death of Irish Woman
Seminarians Bring Church’s Teaching on Contraception, Sexuality to YouTube
Abortion and Contraception: Old Lies
History of Catholic teaching on Contraception

Pope: Legislation "Supporting Contraception and Abortion is Threatening the Future of Peoples"
Contraception: Why It's Wrong
On Fox News Fearless HLI Priest Takes on Sean Hannity (may be indebted for saving his soul)
The Early Church Fathers on Contraception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus

Pope on divine love vs. erotic love
Conjugal Love and Procreation: God's Design
Being fruitful [Evangelicals and contraception]

5 posted on 08/04/2008 11:52:52 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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