In order to prepare our hearts for the World Meeting of Families and the anticipated visit from Pope Francis to the United States, we as a team are reflecting on a catechism on family life entitled, Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive. Each week we will reflect on one chapter from this catechism. You can learn more about the World Meeting of Families at WorldMeeting2015.org.
WEEK 3: The Meaning of Human Sexuality – Reflection by: Thomas and Christina Yep
ALL SEX NEEDS IS A LITTLE CONTEXT.
Over the past century, numerous Vatican leaders have cooperated with artisans and experts to restore Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Since it was completed by the great Master in 1481, the innovative frescoes have suffered from candle soot and fading colors, and the intricate detailing and former glory was lost to time and age…or so they thought.
LA VITA E BELLA.
Life in this world can be so beautiful. And the things found in it are also beautiful…good. Creation’s beauty is designed to give God glory, and as the best part of Creation, WE get to experience the best of it all and seek joy. We get to experience created things, we get to experience each other through relationships and romance, and even experience relating with God Himself. Lived this way, life can be so beautiful.
On sex, our culture has it right; sex really IS great. It’s fun and feels indescribable.
We all know we should “be sexy”. We’re pressured to judge ourselves and others by external assessments of sex appeal. Today, it’s taken even further when each of us is forced to identify ourselves by what we believe about human sexuality, as if that were all there is to the essence of being human. We’re immersed in an age of unprecedented global communications and technology, where conscious and subconscious messaging doesn’t stop. Some messages contain more truth, some less. Sex is one of those topics our culture openly embraces, yet barely understands, offering colorful, confused, conflicted messages. Messages packaged in glamour and “beauty” – but falling short, resulting in an over-sexualized culture that is at the same time strangely prudish. Human sexuality, a keen and indivisible part of our being, taken out of relationship context, is turned into a sales tool. A one night stand. A figurative rape of a very beautiful gift. Instead of one beautiful color in a great artistic masterpiece, it becomes the one, glaringly highlighted attribute about individuals. What ought to be a source of joy becomes not only devoid of fulfillment, but potentially the most vulnerable wound of our life. Why? Because we know are so much more.
SEX GIVES US GLIMPSES OF WHAT WE ARE CREATED FOR.
Whatever you are doing right now, stop. Repeat to yourself, “I was created to BE wildly happy, passionately loved, to experience deep inner joy, for a purpose that fulfills me.” We’re always going to enjoy the pleasures that give us fleeting moments of joy. Like eating gourmet, or the thrill of sailing or surfing… Like a sunset or that one song that elevates our mood… Like sex! Everyone wants all the joy/happiness/fulfillment we can get, because we are created for it. Ultimately, however, “having” or “doing” great things (even sex) isn’t enough to make happiness last. How do we capture our own fulfillment in this beautiful, yet troublesome world where sometimes having and doing more leave us paradoxically with less of anything – or anyone – that really matters? How do we learn the art of BEING?
Most would agree sex is best if you’re also emotionally and stably entwined in a great relationship, because sexuality is so much more than just one quick act (no matter how impressively long some people can prolong it!). It is a way of relating, both to yourself and to others. You don’t need religion or even morality, really, to get that if it’s understood in the right relationship context, sex is way more than just fun. It’s deeper. It’s personal. It reveals something more. There is actual love expressing that happens there. But that’s still not enough for sex to contribute to lasting fulfillment.
The purest experiential form of fulfillment can only be found in one place: love, both for ourselves and for others, and never individual things or actions. For things and actions to have meaning, they need Persons controlling them. It is within the context of our relationships that we learn how to know others, love them, and give ourselves to them in love.
Love always takes sexuality to the next level: from a physical act, even within a committed, romantic relationship; to the deeply fulfilling dimension involved in relating to things, others and our Creator in the right, loving way.
The greatest romance of our lives is our soul’s search for God, or, better put, God’s constant searching us out. He is the only One being whose presence fulfills us permanently, more lastingly than any other, let alone a single, fleeting moment. That romance leads us ultimately to discovering The Greatest Love.
YOU AND I ARE A MASTERFUL WORK OF ART.
Along with this awesome universe we live in, we too are Created. Everything in creation reveals God’s love for us – because we as human beings are the best thing out there. Now take a minute and stop and repeat this to yourself “I am WORTH loving, and I am worth being loved.” Sometimes we think we are not, and this flawed thought process leads us awful directions. God IS love and as the first principle of creation, He is the greatest Lover. And HE loves us. The word ‘sex’ unfairly distills sexuality into one act. Today it’s even sadly used as an interchangeable word for ‘love’. But human beings are supernaturally sexual and relational beings. There is more to us than our ability to act. Who we are, and therefore, what will fulfill us, is tied to understanding that the beauty of sexuality as an intimate experience of God’s love, an act which in and of itself is good.
OUR SEXUALITY IS SO GOOD, SO THEN HOW MUCH MORE AWESOME ARE WE IN ALL THAT WE ARE?
As the master craftsmen worked through the years restoring the Sistine Chapel, their work began to spark whispers and intrigue throughout the Art and Religious world. The colors unveiled underneath the soot were vibrant and otherworldly, far ahead of their time. The detailing and perspective of each person and being were found intact – a clear testament to the gift of a Master. They found evidence that many of the human bodies which had been painted by Michelangelo with expert detailing to muscle tone had been covered up over the ages, and they were directed to restore the original work. You and I are a much greater masterpiece than even the Sistine Chapel- and I know the great Master himself would agree. So take time to understand yourself and each person you meet – and practice finding the magnificence of beauty wholly contained in each of us, not just one of our attributes.
Thomas Yep serves as the Chief Operating Officer for My Saint My Hero.
Read More –
Week 8 A Home for the Wounded Heart
Week 7 Light in a Dark World
Week 6 All Love Bears Fruit
Week 5 Creating the Future
Week 4 Two Become One
Week 2 The Mission of Love
Week 1 Created for Joy