The incredible reality of the Incarnation reveals even further how our bodies are meant to be a manifestation of God’s love. Jesus shows us that the purpose of our bodies is to make an authentic self-gift. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were an outpouring of love for humanity. His death and resurrection enable us to live the truth of our bodies and to recognize how, even through difficult experiences, our gift of self to others is a reflection of God’s love for humanity. The paschal mystery especially is our model of love, because on the cross Jesus manifests the height of a free, total, faithful, and fruitful gift of self. The resurrection reveals that the gift of self leads to new life. In our desire to exemplify Christ, we too must accept suffering and be willing to sacrifice ourselves for others. Our hope of the resurrection spurs us onward in our efforts at true love despite every setback.
Actualizing the true gift of self that is based on the cross requires a daily growth in holiness. We therefore need to develop a mature understanding and presentation of the beautiful truth about our bodies. God created us as sexual beings with an intellect and free will, designed for a life of love that reflects the Trinity, but it is all too easy for us to forego any effort at becoming mature in our knowledge and expression of the truth. We often dislike the growing pains and frustration that come from trying to live an integrated sexuality. We frequently run away from the discipline needed to view ourselves and others as persons instead of as objects for self-gratification.
We see from our faith that a disintegrated sexuality, a sexuality devoted to pleasure instead of gift, leads us away from true human flourishing. Disordered sexual behavior is inhuman because it fails to focus on self-gift as the true purpose of our bodies. We become something less than human when we have a skewed understanding that leads to degrading behavior. We can see how such immoral behavior has negative consequences in so many spheres of life. Our society is filled with people suffering from the emotional pain and loneliness of one-night stands or pornography addiction, the physical pain of sexually transmitted infections, and the spiritual pain of being lost without knowing how to find their true identity. In only emphasizing momentary pleasure, a flawed perspective on human sexuality disregards the truth that a person “cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium Et Spes, 24).
Even from outside the perspective of faith, we can be aware enough about God’s design for human sexuality because of the natural law. It is likely the natural law that caused so many people of different faith backgrounds or no faith background at all to express outrage and disgust at the scandalous conduct of Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus. People who might usually have little problem with promiscuous and selfish expression of their sexuality still have a longing for real intimacy. All the attempts to eclipse the natural law does not exterminate the presence God’s light within our hearts, for God made everyone in His image. It is through the natural law that people first realize their desire to truly know others and to be known by others. No one wants to be used or treated as an object. The public display of sexual immaturity by Thicke and Cyrus has seemingly awakened people to the deep desire for truly human relationships and for a sexuality rooted in self-gift and authentic knowledge.
Even while disliking the pain of discipline and the suffering of self-sacrifice, everyone still longs for something far more lasting, life-giving, intimate, and powerful than the fleeting pleasure manifested on stage by Thicke and Cyrus. Let us pray that, as people dedicated to receiving grace and living a cruciform life, we will manifest to everyone the joy and peace of God’s design for the human person.
- Brendan Dudley, Honorary Member of UCSSP