Malankara World

40 Questions Answered

By H.G. Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios

QUESTION 38. Tell me something about sex-ethics of Christianity

We live in a world where we are surrounded by the so called civilized people living in what is called a permissive society. The old immorality is now called new morality. Any one who speaks of sexual discipline is called Victorian, puritanic and even old-fashioned. There are even some psychiatrists who blame the sex ethics for much of the guilt complex, though such psychiatrists are out-weighed by those who are more learned than they who see the need of sex morality taught by religions. History itself shows that all the major cultures and civilizations have fallen after the interior weakness of the citizens in living a loose moral life. The Fall of the Roman Empire was after its fall in sex morality. Arnold J. Toynbee's Study of History is sufficient to prove my point.

The difference between animals and man is in the image of God in man alone. The sex life of animals is periodical and purely instinctive, but man's is different. Animals do not have a sense of shame when they mate in the public, but man has a God-given sense of shame and so he mates in secret. Conscience is partly God given and partly the Creation of the influence of society in each individual. The sense of guilt experienced in breaking the sex morality has a universal relevance though the gravity may differ from one person to another and from one society to another. One man for one woman is the order of creation. "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen. 2: 24). Monogamy and monoandry are the ideal and not polygamy and polyandry. Jesus quoted the above verse from Genesis and added, "what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mt. 19: 6). Mind is a photographic plate to be reserved in the matter of sex to be exposed after the marriage with the only partner of one's life. Loose sexual life and frequent divorces go together.

The practice of punishing the adulterer with murder was (Lev. 20: 10) perhaps stopped by Christ pur Lord Who said, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn. 8: 7). Our Lord was not being lenient to the woman caught in adultery to permit her return to a sinful life. He told her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again." Christ wanted one to be moral not out of fear of punishment, but out of love to the Lord. He did not abrogate the seventh commandment, but made it deeper by saying, "everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt. 5: 28). He knew that thought proceeds action and so wanted us to harbor pure thought and keep away from tempting atmosphere.

The sanctity of sex is in keeping its sanctity. It is a God-given mighty force that can be sublimated for innumerable noble purpose like art, religion, philosophy, scientific discoveries etc. Sublimation is always better than suppression and repression of sex. When sex is expressed it must be within the wedlock of marriage. Premarital and extra marital intercourses have no Christian sanction. Sexual perversions like homosexuality and masturbation must be understood as perversions and overcome with the grace of God.

Mother Teresa has said that the most precious gift you can give to your spouse on your wedding day is the gift of your virginity. Think about that. Isn't it true that you are the only person in the whole world who can give this gift? It is such a special gift, more precious than jewels, so you want to cherish it and protect it with all your might. You can only give this gift one time, so your future husband or wife is surely the only person in all the world who deserves this total and complete gift of yourself.

If young men and women would make the decision at an early age to remain a virgin until marriage, they would not be faced with spur-of-the-moment decision making. They would know their goal and be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that high standard. They would be cautious of the company they keep and their areas of entertainment. They would be aware of temptations and difficult situations and better prepared to avoid them. They would be free to grow and mature and learn and discover God's wonderful plan for their lives. They would not have to worry about "late" periods, pregnancy, abortion, "birth control," venereal diseases, AIDS and all the other physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional consequences of premarital sexual intercourse. They would have real respect for themselves and their friends, and they would be confident that they were living in a way that is pleasing to God. They would be protecting and saving themselves for the one and only special person God has chosen to be their lifelong husband or wife if marriage is their vocation.

Do young people think about such things? Do they ever hear the words "virginity," "chastity," "purity," "modesty" or "self-mastery?" Do these words sound as if they were part of a foreign language because no one ever uses them anymore? Is this beautiful gift of total self giving not worth saving for their one and only marriage partner? God thinks it is. He has told us this is precisely what He expects of us because He loves us. And, He gives us all the grace we need to be able to do it.

It is very important for parents and schools and churches to teach these truths clearly and to reinforce each other. Otherwise, our young people will never hear the words or learn God's truth because the TV, movies, music and the world do not love the children or care about them. So many young people have lost their virginity and self respect because they believed the lies of the world. We must offer them the hope and freedom of "secondary virginity." They can ask for God's forgiveness and be forgiven. They can "start over" and make their commitment to remain chaste until their wedding day. They need this opportunity and encouragement to begin again and to change with God's grace.

If we recognize marriage and conjugal love to be a sacred part of God's plan, then we can understand the importance of chastity. Chastity protects. It strengthens. It builds character. It encourages self control. It inspires reverence. It guarantees freedom. It guards against selfishness, and it applies to every human person. Chastity is not always easy, but it is always possible with God's help. Chastity reaffirms marriage and the sexual relationship between a husband and wife as very good, very special and very holy. The sacredness of cooperating with God in His creation of a new human life is so powerful and so awesome that this precious gift should only be shared in the security of a loving, generous and committed marriage relationship. This is God's way, and it is definitely worth waiting for because the total, complete gift of pure love that the bride and groom give to each other on their wedding day is truly a precious gift.

Source: Pamphlet - Diocese of Memphis NFP Center: Mother/Daughter & Father/Son Programs

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