The Catholic Church teaches that there are two purposes for marriage, and that these two purposes have equal weight. The two purposes are unitive and procreative—or, stated simply, (1) growth in mutual love between the spouses, and (2) the generation and education of children.
This is so obvious, so self-evident, one is tempted to say, “Well, duh….” Of course marriage is about sex and babies!
But in today’s sex-saturated society, with contraception and the hook-up culture and abortion and in vitro fertilization and same-sex “marriage,” that second purpose is often all but obliterated. Sexuality—that’s just for fun, right?
Such would seem to be the message from a Baptist pastor and his wife who held a highly promoted 24-hour “bed-in” last weekend on the roof of their Texas church. Ed and Lisa Young, pastors at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, staged the rooftop event to promote the release of their new book “Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse.”
No doubt, the Youngs got the idea from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who during the Vietnam War era staged two highly publicized “Bed-in’s for Peace” in Amsterdam and Montreal. “Make Love, Not War” was their mantra.
Somehow, Pastor Young has gotten the impression that culture has kicked the bed out of church, and God out of the bed. In “Sexperiment,” Ed and Lisa talk about God’s purpose (note the singular) in marriage—not only personal pleasure, but connection to each other and to Him. “The bed-in,” Ed says, “is about empowering couples to experience the relationship and recreation that God has for them every day of their lives!”
Perhaps he should talk to the Catholics!
Thinking Boldly, Thinking Bigger
There is an all-too-prevalent misconception that religious people, especially Catholics, somehow think sex is “wrong” or “dirty.” In actuality, the Catholic Church respects and honors (and protects) sexual expression in marriage because it is one of God’s greatest gifts. The Church teaches that just as Christ (the Groom) gives his love (the gift) to the Church (his Bride), so in marriage the man freely and faithfully gives himself as the gift to his wife; she freely and faithfully receives his gift, and freely and faithfully returns the gift, and if it is God’s will the couple will have a child (bear fruit).
Psalm 127 speaks of the great gift of fertility:
Certainly sons are a gift from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.
So God, blessing the union of two spouses, gives them the gift of a child, a precious new life which will go with them into eternity. But faced with this great gift, in a contraceptive society which has emphasized monetary success and personal pleasure and has downplayed the importance of family, some people simply say, “Uh… no thanks.”
Pope John Paul II, in his Wednesday Catecheses in St. Peter’s Square between September 1979 and November 1984, presented a series of messages which he titled “Human Love in the Divine Plan” or “The Redemption of the Body and the Sacramentality of Marriage.” More recently, the collected teachings have become known as “The Theology of the Body.”
What Blessed John Paul offered was a compelling, positive proclamation of the Gospel in response to a sexual revolution that has resulted in the degradation of both human love and sexuality.
The Youngs’ publicity stunt on the rooftop shines the spotlight on the unitive purpose of marriage. It falls far short of recognizing the second of God’s intended purposes for marriage, the procreative.