The meaning of sex

By Tom Quiner

Two views on sex compete in our culture.

Saint John Paul the Great

Saint John Paul the Great

One view looks at sex as all about giving. The other sees it as all about taking.

Do you know who the foremost expert on human sexuality is? Masters and Johnson, the legendary sex researchers from the 50s and 60s?

No way.

One man, a celibate, stands above all others on helping us understand the meaning of sex, and that would be Saint John Paul the Great.

His writings and public talks on human sexuality were compiled into a watershed work titled “The Theology of the Body.”

He spoke eloquently to youth around the world on the beauty of chastity and human sexuality. Here are his words:

“Essential to preparing for marriage is your vocation to chastity. I know that young people reject hypocrisy. You want to be honest with yourselves and others.

A chaste person is honest.”

What a provocative idea. What does chastity have to do with honesty? The Pope explains:

“When God created us he gave us more than one way to ‘speak’ to each other. Besides expressing ourselves through speech, we express ourselves through our bodies. Gestures are like ‘words’ that tell who we are.

Sexual actions are ‘words’ that reveal our hearts.”

What can be more intimate than that?

“The Lord wants us to use our sexuality according to his plan. He expects us to ‘speak’ truthfully. Honest sexual ‘language’ requires a commitment to lifelong fidelity. To give your body to another person symbolizes the total gift of yourself to that person.”

And a gift is all about giving, not taking!

“But if you are not married, you are admitting that you might change your mind in the future. Total self-giving would then be absent. Without the bond of marriage, sexual relations are a lie … Do not be deceived by the empty words of those who ridicule chastity or your capacity for self-control.”

Human sexuality is all about giving. It’s all about creation, it’s all about truth, illuminated by the light of chastity.

“Genuine love is demanding,” acknowledged the late Pope, “but its beauty lies precisely in the demands it makes. These demands … are precisely capable of making your love a true love.”


  1. Mark Armstrong on August 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Excellent, sir.