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The Holiness of Human Sexuality
The Holiness of Human Sexuality

A Sexual Morality Based on Love

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Holiness of Human Sexuality

A Sexual Morality Based on Love
Monday, June 7, 2021

In the area of sexuality, we all seem to have our sacrosanct areas that cannot be touched. Liberals will find some way to say that it is always good, and conservatives are determined to enforce rules and regulations. Both seem to be nervous about nuance. Idols with clear shapes and explanations seem to be easier to live with. Our job is to keep working to enjoy, to respect, to reverence, to honor, to love, and to listen to our bodies—before we start controlling or judging our sexuality. We must not picture God sitting up in heaven with a list: “These kinds of things I get really happy about; these kinds of things I get upset about. Uh-oh—you touched that! I’m upset with you now.”

The wisdom from the Christian tradition is that whatever God is doing, it is certainly beyond cultural fears, fads, and social taboos. Open and prayerful people will likely discover a very intuitive and almost common-sense wisdom about what is real and what is unreal in regard to our sexual relatedness and the many ways it allows us to move and discover our true bodily and spiritual selves.

The Catholic Theological Society summarized it well when it stated that our sexual actions must aim to be “self-liberating, other-enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving, and joyous.” [1] That is certainly the task and journey of a lifetime, but it is no more or no less than what Jesus said when he taught the greatest commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. The two loves “resemble one another” (see Matthew 22:37–39). They are each the school of the other. We will learn how to be properly sexual as we understand the properly passionate relationship that God has with us. And we learn how to be properly spiritual as we come to understand the true character of human longing and affection.

Finally, the only biblical mandate that matters is to copy and allow the pattern of God’s love in you. If this sounds too soft, perhaps it means that we have never loved “all the way.” We have never let it carry us through all its stages, all of its internal ecstasies, loneliness, and purifications. To attain a whole and truly passionate sexuality is hard and holy work.

God’s way of loving is the only licensed teacher of human sexuality. God’s passion created ours. Our deep desiring is a relentless returning to that place where all things are one. If we are afraid of our sexuality, we are afraid of God. Nor should we equate sexuality with unadulterated lust, which is far too egocentric to care about anybody else.

My desire in this week’s meditations is to initiate a healthy and holy dialogue within your own spirit and perhaps between lovers and would-be lovers. In such an interchange, I hope that you will catch sight of that one Holy Spirit, who enlightens and assures us that it is from our flesh that we shall look on God (Job 19:26).

[1] Catholic Theological Society of America, Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought (Paulist Press: 1977), 186.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace (Orbis Books: 1993), 32–33; and

Gate of the Temple: Spirituality and Sexuality, disc 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 1991, 2006, 2009), CD, MP3 download.

Story from Our Community:
As a gay man, I believed I was damned and there was nothing I could do about it. Raised in an evangelical denomination I was welcome, but not accepted. I found the United Church of Canada, their affirming ministry, and a wonderful pastor who led me to CAC. I have found the Immortal Diamond and Franciscan Way courses to be life changers. I have learned that God created us all equal in God as one. There is so much more to learn, but now, with joy in my heart. Thank you CAC and Fr. Rohr.
—Richard P.

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Impressions (detail), 2020, photograph, Bellingham.
Image inspiration: In its rainbow of colors, human sexuality can be many things: delicate, powerful, mysterious, beautiful. How might we foster a healthy relationship with the holy gift of sexuality?
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