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Human Survival & Reverence for Sex

By John Mallon
© 1994, 2005 By John Mallon

It seems that we have dissociated sex as far as possible from our hearts, when at the core of our hearts is where it belongs--integrated. Nowhere are we more disintegrated today than in our sexuality. Sex is used to sell products, to gain power, control others, take revenge--everything but what it was intended for: to consummate and sustain a committed exclusive union between two people freely given to each other. The mad rush to use sex to solve the fundamental problem of human loneliness has left us lonelier than ever.

No one denies that sex is very special, but we no longer treat it as special. We want to deconsecrate it, separate it from ritual, community, God and family, and are surprised at that point to find ourselves very, very lonely: two ships colliding in the night, and limping on our separate ways. As opposed to sailing off together forever.

Suppose there is an order to things, a design, of how things fit together, a design put together by a loving Creator. How does sex fit into that? The Catholic Church makes an outrageous claim. She claims that this order has been revealed to Her, and that She is charged with articulating it. Let's examine this claim. The Church claims to have the solution to the loneliness and distortions our world is so obviously suffering under. If this claim is true, we all ought to be beating down the door to hear it out--even to just find out if it's true. Many people of our present generation view Catholicism and sex like oil and water--things that do not mix--under pain of the almighty guilt-trip.

But is that a true understanding? Could it be that the Church sees sex as a very precious thing? A divine gift, sacred and sacramental in character, but also delicate and easily broken or desecrated? Or is it we who are easily broken when it is desecrated? Is it not something that touches human beings in the deepest core of our deepest needs, and therefore something to be handled with extreme care? Something lovely, lifegiving, capable of producing extreme joy when used properly, but with the potential for producing great harm and devastation when used carelessly or improperly?

It is a gift so delicate that it must be used in union with the Giver and not separate from Him; because through this act new life can come into being--something human beings can not do on their own. It is a three-way partnership. God demands that a spiritual union be formed in Him (What real lover would not want this?) because without it the physical union entails great risk. Emotional risk, as well as psychological, spiritual, and physical risk to the couple and the new life that may be formed.

Marriage is the velvet-lined case in which the jewel of sex is kept lest great damage be done; kept precious by the faithfulness of the two entrusted with exclusive rights to open this box. If this precious box is stolen, or opened by another, the loss is profound. We feel it. Its safekeeping is a terrible responsibility. The case containing this precious jewel must be itself enshrined in love, which provides the motivation and will to be vigilant against enemies and thieves that prowl about our souls looking to gain entrance.

These security measures provide a healthy environment for new human beings to be born and develop in. Without it they may grow deformed--bent and bruised reeds. This healthy environment is called family. This family is the extension of the parent's love which creates a home. A home must be nestled in the Bosom of God.

The family interacts with other families forming a community. Communities together form societies which together form a world. All of this radiates from this precious jewel of sex. Upon how much love, care, and reverence we treat this jewel depends the state (and safety) of our world. If we are careless with sex it will necessarily follow that we will be careless with human life.

If we are careless with human life our world is doomed. Our world does not consist of a "mankind" which we love; it consists of individual human lives, each one of whom is equally precious, and whom we must love. We must love in order to survive.The recovery of human dignity lies in the reverence in which we hold sex, since the sex act is the very sowing of the seed of life. Without reverence for sex, the lack of reverence which we now see toward the unborn, the old, the infirm, and the less-than-perfect will invent new categories of people which society deems inconvenient until no one is left.

The inversion of "be fruitful and multiply" is "be sterile and disappear." Self-destruct. If we do not turn outward, spread, and expand, We will turn inward, wither and wilt. We have received the gift of life. "What you have received give as a gift" says Jesus. To do otherwise is to bury our ten talents. The Master in this parable is a hard man who would rather see us invest and risk all than hoard. We do not exist for our own sake or the sake of our rights. We were created in order to give Glory to God by our love, but love we must if we are to survive.


This article originally appeared in June 19, 1994 issue of The Sooner Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City,

And from the unpublished collection by John Mallon, "For the Real World, Volume I: Essays & Commentaries on Being Catholic at the 2nd Millennium's End" (pdf file available from the author for $25.00)

-- John Mallon is contributing editor for Inside the Vatican magazine
-- An Archive of some of Mallon's articles may be found at: And his Blog, Mallon's Media Watch may be found at:


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Sexual ethics, Dating, Catholic, Reverence, Catholic singles, Dating

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