The incarnation of marital love

Affectionate young husband and wife with sleeping baby embracing and kissing in bedWe are about to, once again, celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. The Incarnation is a wonderful gift we have been given: God became man to make Himself known to us. His birth was the necessary start to his mission to redeem the world and reconcile us with God. He came and taught us that God is…love.

So why is it, then, that so many people take exception to the Church having something to say about sexual love? Who hasn’t heard that the Church needs to “stay out of my bedroom!”? And yet, what better place for him to reign? The world has sadly lost touch with the deeper meaning of sex. It has been reduced to something largely recreational and defined primarily by misguided passions.

As I was growing up my understanding of profanity was limited to the use of bad words. My understanding widened during a college etymology class when I learned that the Latin root of the word was profanus, or literally, before (outside of) the temple. To profane means to treat something sacred with irreverence or contempt, or to violate its sanctity. When I swear at someone, my profanity violates their dignity as a person created in God’s image. Likewise, the profanity of pornography lies in its reduction of an individual to something to be used, whereas they are actually someone to be loved.

When we move away from God’s design for sex, we profane it. Ephesians 5:31-32 tells us that the two shall become one flesh, and that “this is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” Marital love is designed by God to reflect Christ’s love for his Bride. Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body asserts this means our acts of marital love should be free, total, faithful and fruitful. When they are not, including when we use contraception, we profane the meaning of our love.

Through learning more about TOB, I came to appreciate the value we have as human persons in the eyes of God. I used to have the impression that the angels were better than us because they were spiritual beings like God. But as human persons, we have the immense honor of being co-creators with him. Animals and plants reproduce, but they don’t have souls. Angels cannot co-create because they do not have bodies. As humans we are the only ones called to participate in God’s ongoing creation of souls whose destiny is eternal life with him in the joy of Heaven. This is precisely why the Church has something to say about the very act that carries the potential of procreation. Left to our own imperfect passions, we would fall into profanity every time.

But the Incarnation is God’s declaration that He would not leave us alone. His Son entered our world to show us what true Love is, including what it means to offer a complete gift of ourselves to our spouse. As His presence in our world led to our redemption, may His presence in our bedrooms redeem our marriages through sanctifying our sexual love.

— Ann Gundlach
Director of Marketing and Communications