Food and Sex are Different Things

From the Family Foundations archives


I have never had sex. I do not plan on ever having sex. Our culture today leads many to believe that a man’s appetite for sex is like his appetite for food — it needs to be satisfied or he will wither. As a celibate man, I assure you, you can live without sex.

I freely choose and joyfully embrace celibacy as a part of my priesthood. But as a priest, I have been invited into the struggle with abstinence of dozens of couples, especially in the sacrament of confession. For many, it can be very difficult.

Success in chastity requires the same approach for both the celibate man and the married man: a small ‘no’ to sex at this time for a greater ‘yes’ to love. Denying yourself is hard and can hurt. If you don’t deal with it in a healthy way, it is easy to take out that stress on others. When that happens, marriages can suffer.

Marriage, though, is more than sex — it is about the exchange of love. While sex is a privileged expression of love, the most powerful expression of love can happen when sex is not possible, like when a spouse is seriously sick or injured. Such love requires maturity, sacrifice, and many little no’s — denials of self — along the way. The greater ‘yes’ to love can only be done with Gods help and by keeping the big picture in mind. Sex is a part of marriage, but not the most important part. Unlike food, you will not die if you don’t have sex. But you will have to die to yourself. (Matthew 16:24)

— Fr. John P. Floeder serves as the dean of seminarians at The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minnesota.



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