CI: Introduction to Theology of the Body 6

Recorded on May 24th.

The final session is a reflection upon Chapter 8 of our book, “Theology in the Bedroom”.

The author continues his reflections upon marriage reflecting the love of Christ as free, total, faithful and fruitful, and focuses on the dimension of fruitfulness, and the issue of contraception. He notes that the sexual revolution of the 20th century would not have been possible without contraception, which separated sex from its most natural consequence.   He points out that Pope Paul VI in 1968 wrote the Encyclical Humanae Vitae to reaffirm the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching against contraception, and that Pope John Paul considered his Theology of the Body to be “an extensive commentary on the doctrine contained precisely in Humanae Vitae.”

CI – Theology of the Body 6a

The author demonstrates in various ways how the use of contraception – acting in a way to render sterile an act of intercourse – is contrary to the full vision of sexual union as manifesting the fullness of the love of Christ and the mutual self-giving of husband and wife.

See especially Humanae Vitae n.10 on ‘Responsible Parenthood’ which contains the core of the argument in that Encyclical (on the Session 6 Handout).

The author goes on to say that contracepted intercourse not only attacks the procreative meaning of sex, it also ceases to be an act of love. Furthermore, it is a rejection of the creative and life-giving presence of God.

Finally, the author stresses the value of the Theology of the Body in the New Evangelization, bearing witness afresh to the truth of the Gospel and the Catholic faith.  He connects this to the desire for a genuine communion with others which is in the human heart. Pope John Paul II points out that the Gospel is a call to communion, and that the Church should be the ‘home and school of communion’. Contrast this to the concept of ‘structured separateness’ which dominates our society, and has often dominated Catholic spirituality too. See again the Session 6 Handout.

A final reflection: In the first session we read some quotations from St. Augustine’s work, On the Good of Marriage. We looked at that once again to see how far we have come since then – how much of St. Augustine’s teaching remains in Catholic teaching on sex and marriage, and how much has changed,

“For intercourse of marriage for the sake of begetting has not fault; but for the satisfying of lust, but yet with husband or wife, by reason of the faith of the bed, it has venial fault: but adultery or fornication has deadly fault, and, through this, continence from all intercourse is indeed better even than the intercourse of marriage itself, which takes place for the sake of begetting. But because that Continence is of larger desert, but to pay the due of marriage is no crime, but to demand it beyond the necessity of begetting is a venial fault.”


CI – Theology of the Body 6b


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