1 Samual chapter 3; 1 Corinthians chapter 6; John chapter 1, verse 35
When we consider today's scripture readings, we see, in the first and third, accounts of people being drawn toward God. These are texts, which shed valuable light upon the nature of vocation. The call of Samuel to be a prophet... the first calling of disciples by Jesus.
There is a sense of serenity in these narratives... a feeling of gentleness as the heart of man responds to the urgings of his creator. But, in the midst of this calm, we are jolted by the angry voice of Paul denouncing sexual immorality within the Christian community of Corinth. It would be so nice to be able to push Paul to one side and to concentrate on the pure innocence radiating from the other two readings. But Paul must be heard! For the Lord has called us all in soul and in body. There is more to being a Christian than the raising of the mind and the heart to God. We who are baptized into Christ are temples of God. Our bodies are sacred... they are divine property. We are but caretakers. In other words, we do not own our bodies, God owns them. We are commissioned to use them, but only within the framework of His purposes.
In today's reading, Paul speaks particularly about improper use of our sexual faculties... faculties through which we are permitted to share in God's role of lover and creator... faculties, which because of their creative nature, are ordered to purposes beyond our own. Ordered to the creator's purpose, which purpose is to express that unique loving oneness and permanence between a man and a woman who are joined in that union of mind and body which is the ideal, I repeat, the ideal... of marriage.
Male and female He created them. With a desire for permanence and stability... He created them. With the ability to hear His word and to respond to it... He created them. With a drive to reproduce themselves and to rejoice in their consequent union, as well as in the fruit of that union... He created them.
Free, to serve or not to serve... to listen or not to listen... free to conform or not to conform... free to respect their natures or to degrade them... free to sanctify others or to corrupt them. With these freedoms, he also created them. Why?? Because within the total context of our freedom is found the basis of our dignity and the value of our love and sacrifice.
But this freedom also makes possible perversions limited only by human imagination.
"Pleasure without responsibility." "Do your own thing with whoever is willing." "A woman has the right to rid herself of unwanted life." All slogans and ideals which you will never find in Sacred Scripture... never hear from the lips of Jesus.
"You are not your own property," says Paul. You are not your own property. You must use your body in union with your soul according to the mind and will of your designer and for His eternal glory.
To all of you who are perplexed and challenged by popular immorality, especially those of you who are parents of growing children, to you I humbly say... teach them that their sexual faculties are essentially "other" orientated. That they are designed to speak to another of permanence... of complete trust and commitment, of heartfelt giving to that one person who makes you whole and complete, physiologically, as well as psychologically. It is my conviction that the complete essence of humanity is generally to be found within the context of that unity which results from a woman and a man freely choosing to become two in one flesh according to the design of their creator.
Try as we may, we can never successfully trivialize our sexuality. We can never validly reduce it to being the focus of our recreational life. We can abuse it and sell it short, but sooner or later, we will pay the price. Nature always has the last word with those who persist in dehumanizing themselves and others. We are temples of the Holy Spirit... and yet we are also vessels of clay. None of us is perfect. No marriage is perfect. Sometimes we must compromise and settle for less... perhaps much less. Sometimes compromise is out of the question and we must endure all of the pain and uncertainty, which comes with dissolution. But let us not reject or repudiate the ideal simply because for this person, at this time, in this place, it is, for all practical purposes, unattainable. Just be grateful that God our Creator and designer judges us not by how well we conform to his design but rather, by how deeply we respect it and how hard we try to conform to it.
In the final analysis, in your own lives and in the instruction of God's children... trust in your own informed consciences. The voice within you is the voice of the Spirit... listen and pray.
Morality, sexual and otherwise, is not up for grabs. Fundamental principles do not change. Their application to specific circumstances is, however, sometimes less clear, especially where real conflict between apparent goods seems to exist. Seek counsel and support from within your Christian community and even if some doubts remain. Go in peace... the Lord asks no more.