Sex and the Human Person: Part V

Couple In Love
July 9, 2017

This series has made its purpose to demonstrate that human sexuality is rooted in the order of creation because both creation and the human person derive their very order from Trinitarian love.  The human person is constituted, in part, by his sex differences.  Sex difference is integrated into almost every aspect of the human person from one's physiology, psychological, and emotional structure, to his very soul.  Sex differences are in their very essence, complementary.  Both men and women have everything that it means to be human but they possess it in different, complementary ways.  

Masculinity is primarily eccentric, meaning a man first goes out of himself in an act of before secondarily accepting into himself from the outside.  Femininity is primarily actively receptive, meaning a woman first receives in order to give herself in return.  The human person's sex establishes the manner in which he approaches his interactions with God and with the cosmos.  The form of authentic, flourishing human interpersonal relations are determined by the fact that we image the trinitarian total-self gift and that we are persons structured by complementary sexual differentiation.  What this means is that a relationship of communion is authentic to the degree it is lived by a disinterested gift of self.  

The manner in which one gives himself is dependent upon the kind of relationship.  What they all have in common is that self-gift means that selfish motivations for the relationship are eliminated.  In every relationship, sex differences are normative for the manner it is lived out.  In interpersonal relationships, the masculine manner of giving himself in love is as primarily an initiating love, and the feminine is first an active, receptive love in order to return love.  This complementarity is the sole basis for the most intimate of relationships--conjugal union.  The body testifies to this metaphysical reality.  Conjugal union is authentic only in the context of a lifelong, total, and exclusive self-gift in the marital covenant.  The cosmic structure of this union is the complementarity found in sex differences.  Again, authentic conjugal union is only possible in the marital covenant and here only when the union is one of total self-gift; that is the giving entirely of one person to the other in an openness to fruitfulness.

While complementary sex differences are a necessary precondition for marriage, this is not sufficient for an authentic conjugal union.  Openness to fertility rules out any active attempts to squelch the procreative aspect of the conjugal union.  This is requirement that the marital act be open to procreation is not so much a demand by God but a description of the order of the human person reflecting trinitarian love. To do otherwise is to destroy the order of self-gift and so the sexual act necessarily devolves into the selfish taking of the other for self-benefit, rather than the giving of self and receiving of the other as a gift.  This is true even if both parties are in agreement about the selfishness of the act; for example, in the case of contraception or any other act that is by its object, closed to precreation.  

Contraceptive sex becomes the taking of the other's body for the purpose of sexual pleasure.  Even if the motivation is not initially, solely for the sake of pleasure by suppressing the fruit of a child, contraceptive intercourse is still necessarily a selfish act.  Contraceptive sex is always taking rather than receiving because it is the misguided attempt to take the fruit of marital intercourse that one desires (i.e. bonding, communion, and/or pleasure) and the unjust suppression of a possible gift of a child.  If one attempts to take part of a gift and reject the other, this destroys the very structure of giving.  Love is gift, and so if one’s act is to destroy the gift, one is reducing the love of one’s spouse to the “use” of her! 

Contraceptive intercourse is a tacit rejection of the whole person because it rejects his fertility and the possibility of a gift of a third person, a child.  The ill fruits of this mentality bear this out.  When the contraceptive pill became available in the U.S. in the early 1960's the divorce rate soon shot up and a decade later the nuclear family went into "free-fall."  The astronomical increase in the abuse of women and children has tracked this societal disintegration.  This is exactly what Blessed Pope Paul VI, in Humanae vitae, predicted and given this anthropology it is clear why he was right.

Male friendship with other men and female friendship with other women must necessarily be of a different order than the conjugal relation if there is to be an authentic gift.  Between members of the same sex there is no possibility of the fruit of a child as the product of spousal love.  There is none of that sexual complementary structure that is required for the total self-gift.  Any attempt at simulating conjugal union will, therefore, necessary fail.  It fails because it is sterile, there is no possibility of the bodily aspect of fruitfulness.  This impossibility is obvious from the anatomy of both.  However, it can also be understood at the psycho-emotional level and, in fact, at the level of spiritual essence.  

Such sex fails because there is an inherent conflict by which both persons are either initiating, receiving, or one attempting to deform his personal-sexual structure to try to be who he cannot.  The result of trying to live in contradiction to the cosmic order, in contradiction with one's personal-sexual structure, is interior and interpersonal conflict.  The faux attempt at consummation results in consumption.  Consumption is sterile; it is self-enclosed.  Consumption isolates those who engage in it and leaves them empty.  This sexual activity is not a total self-gift; it is not open to the possibility of the gift of a third person, and so it ends up objectifying the other person and deforms an act meant to be one of disinterestedly giving into an act of self-centered taking.

In the act of self-gift, we are satisfied because we enter into Trinitarian love.  We experience joy and pleasure simultaneously.  In the act of selfish taking, experiences only pleasure but it only momentary and empty.  Because it is an act that turns one inward, one is deprived of the fruit of joy and is left alone, depleted and in despair.  The pleasurable euphoria is quickly replaced by an empty despair; there can never be fulfillment or personal satisfaction.  And so that is not the end; the need for taking increases and some are tempted into a downward spiral in trying to satisfy the need for increasingly perverse acts of selfish taking that are more and more separated from the natural order of creation.  As selfish taking becomes increasingly perverse, the person experiences less and less satisfaction and becomes increasingly disturbed.  One might recall here, Uncle Screwtape.  Toward the end of The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape finally reveals his true self and describes his demonic motivation to consume his protégé, Wormword.  

Consumption of other persons is a manifestation of a disordered attempt to consummate, to complete oneself in another.  But interpersonal completion--consummation--is only possible if it is in accord with the trinitarian structure that man images.  Consummation is only possible when the gift is total, complementary, exclusive, irrevocable, and open to the fruitful bringing forth of a third person.  This trinitarian anthropology is very strongly supported by the empirical data of the medical and sociological sciences.  While some like the American Psychiatric Association considers it "unethical" for any of its members to even look into such things, this clearly dogmatic/ideological response comes at the expense of those that the APA should be helping.  Nevertheless, the evidence is clear that same sex attraction is a disorder which manifests itself in myriad physiological and psycho-social disorders.

Here are some stats again which demonstrate this: ...homosexuals are four times as likely as their peers to suffer from major depression, almost three times as likely to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, nearly four times as likely to experience conduct disorder, five times as likely to have nicotine dependence, six times as likely to suffer from multiple disorders, and over six times as likely to have attempted suicide.  An extensive study in the Netherlands (published in the Archives of General Psychiatry) undermines the assumption that so-called homophobia is the cause of increased psychiatric illness among those who self-identify as gays and lesbians.  The Dutch have been considerably more accepting of same-sex relationships than other Western countries since the mid-20th century.

A whitepaper from the Catholic Medical Association, Homosexuality and Hope, also shows that compared to control groups who had no homosexual experience in the 12 months prior to the interview, males who had any homosexual contact within that time period were much more likely to experience major depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder.  Females with any homosexual contact within the previous 12 months were more often diagnosed with major depression, social phobia or alcohol dependence.  In fact, those with a history of homosexual contact had higher prevalence of nearly all psychiatric disorders measured in the study.  Also, a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health has shown that 39% of males with same-sex attraction have been abused by other males with same-sex attraction.

...physical illnesses associated with homosexual sex include the diseases that come as a result of abnormal homosexual behavior, and these are at an alarming rate.  They include: anal cancer, chlamydia trachomatis, cryptosporidium, giardia lamblia, herpes simplex virus, human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, human papilloma virus (HPV) or genital warts, isospora belli, microsporidia, gonorrhea, viral hepatitis types B and C, and syphilis.  Sexual transmission of some of these diseases is so rare outside the those active in the same sex attraction population, as to be virtually unknown.  While others of these diseases are found among those engaged in complementary sexual activity, they clearly predominate among those involved in homosexual activity.  Men who have sex with men account for the lion’s share of the increasing number of cases in America of sexually transmitted infections that are not generally spread through sexual contact.  These diseases, with consequences that range from mere annoyances to life threatening, include hepatitis A, giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, Epstein-Barr virus, Neisseria meningitides, shigellosis, salmonellosis, pediculosis, scabies and campylobacter.

Those who commit themselves to violating the natural order become slaves of their own passions.  Instead of giving themselves and receiving the other as gift, they end up objectifying and selfishly taking the other as an object.  They damage themselves, others, and the entire social order because they set out in the direct opposite direction from that for which they are really searching, the completion, satisfaction, and peace--true consummation--that only can come by entering into a selfless, giving communion with God.

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