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Title: The beauty of sexuality : a gift and a challenge
Authors: Pulis, Matthew
Calleja, Carlo
Keywords: Sexual ethics
Christian ethics
Natural law
Sex -- Religious aspects
Theological anthropology
Sex -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church
Issue Date: 2015
Citation: Pulis, M., & Calleja, C. (2015). The beauty of sexuality : a gift and a challenge. SEX 360°: the Multidisciplinary Approach to Sexuality.
Abstract: This study aims to help recover the beauty and goodness of sex whilst breaking the shame screen through a Catholic Anthropological Theological outline. God Himself inaugurated sexuality. First the beauty of sexuality is studied as expressed in the Bible especially in the creation story. The theology of becoming one is rooted in such text. Through becoming one, the Church understands both the physical and metaphysical dimension of sex. Through a new understanding of the word Adam, the relationship between male and female is retrieved: a duality presented as unity. Individuality and complementarity of the sexes is key. A reflection on the “I-Thou” proposal of Barth is offered. Developments in the understanding of the morality or otherwise of the sexual act will then be presented, starting from Natural Law, followed by New Natural Law Theory (NNLT) and finally Holistic Complementarity. Natural Law shows that any sexual act must coincide with the law deduced from nature itself, flowing from the design of the creator God. A more recent understanding of the Natural Law, called NNLT proposes three steps in favour of an exclusively heterosexual marriage and marital act. These are: heterosexual marriage as a basic good; marital acts defined in terms of this basic good; all other sexual acts which are non-marital and are therefore unnatural, unreasonable and therefore immoral. Here, complementarity is central to this schema: both biologic as well as personal. This movement has lead to a third way of looking at sexuality, called Holistic Complementarity. The focus here is not the genital-biological complementarity as proposed by NNLT but complementarity of the sexual orientation of the entire person, thus integrating the whole self: biological, relational, psychological, emotional and spiritual. The basis of this theory is the complementarity of the sexual orientation of the person and more specifically that the relationship is just and loving. Through this study we would like to present a fourth approach to evaluating a sexual relationship, which lies somewhere between these three positions, and which recently has been given attention also within the Church. This particular approach affirms the importance of a man-woman relationship within sacramental marriage without neglecting important decisions taken by the couple such as faithfulness to one another, the desire for lifelong commitment and other life-giving actions. Finally, the study will consider the beauty of sexuality as expressed by contemporary Christian authors. The act of self-giving itself is studied as a communicating, healing, showing gratitude, affirming one’s identity, sustaining relationship. The five functions of sexuality as proposed by Jack Dominion, a Christian psychologist, are reviewed in detail. The act is suggested to be a foretaste of heaven itself. In this light one can understand the sexual act as a prophetic act: the couple proclaiming to each other through their physical union God’s own love towards each of them. The study concludes by reflecting on the sexual act not as a mere way of begetting biological life but rather as an enrichment of society itself.
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