God Loves Giving Life

by Fr. Justin Huang

A/N: We’re continuing our series on theology of the body, that is, God’s plan for human sexuality. I thank everyone for your feedback and questions, because I’ve tried to approach this series without overwhelming anyone, but slowly giving principles and clarity so that we all have a chance to think these matters over.
• Today we’re going to talk about the connection between sex and life. The main principle is how God loves giving life, and this will be our lens for viewing sexuality as life-giving, and how this relates to contraception, and the hope is that we grow in respect for sex as the power to create a new immortal soul.
S: When we look at the Gospel, Jesus says, “‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (Jn 20:21-23). This is Jesus’ sending the apostles on their spiritual mission, and giving them the ability to forgive sins. We know that this is a life-giving action, because it says ‘he breathed on them.’ Scripture scholars tell us that this deliberately echoes the Book of Genesis, when God creates Adam: “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). So, when Jesus breathes on the apostles, it’s a new creation, with spiritual life, and He’s commanding them to give this life to others through Confession.
• The First Reading is also a life-giving moment: The birth of the Church. As soon as the Holy Spirit comes down upon the 120 disciples, He gives life to the Church. This is the second time St. Luke talks about the Holy Spirit coming down. The first time was when He overshadowed Mary and she gave birth to Jesus’ physical body. Now He gives birth to His mystical body (https://tobinstitute.org/are-you-ready-to-burn-with-the-divine-inferno-of-pentecost-nuptials/)!
• The fundamental truth is that God loves giving life. He creates us, and so many different species, and though we have no idea how many angels there are, it’s reasonable to assume there is as much variety as we see on earth! Today, we celebrate Pentecost, about the Holy Spirit, whom we call the ‘Lord and giver life’ in the Nicene Creed!
And so we come to four reflections on human sexuality. 1) The purpose of sex isn’t pleasure. The purpose of sex is procreation and bonding between husband and wife. Pleasure is a by-product of sex, and is good. But it’s not the purpose. In the same way, the purpose of eating is not pleasure but nourishment. Pleasure incentivizes us to eat, so that we survive. If we eat only for pleasure and without any guidelines, we become unhealthy and can harm ourselves.
• And if we can think philosophically for a minute: If the main purpose of sex were pleasure, people who have as much sex as possible and therefore maximize the pleasure would have something that increases their happiness. But, we know that having sex only for pleasure doesn’t increase happiness. People who have sex just for pleasure hurt or use people; they’re so focused on it that they don’t think about the good of others. And they themselves get hurt. It’s so intimate and bonding that we say, “I thought you loved me. I thought we were more than friends.” They also have to keep on increasing the dosage to get the same effect.
o Finally, they don’t treat sex as something sacred; because it’s for pleasure, they do it when they want to. For Christians, every act of making love between husband and wife isn’t just about pleasure, but it’s meant to be an encounter with God, where the husband and wife are united in their bodies, minds, and souls. So, Christianity says sex is sacred, and only truly good when it’s within marriage, and open to God’s plan for procreation.
2) That brings us to the miracle of human procreation. Dr. Janet Smith makes a beautiful theological observation (https://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/courses/264/contraception-whynot.htm). Every human person has an immortal soul. We know from the Bible that every person is sacred because they’re made in the image and likeness of God. No matter the race, sex, level of development, or if that person has disabilities, the Church says that person is sacred because God has placed an immortal soul in that person that will live forever. But Dr. Smith points out: sperm doesn’t have an immortal soul, and eggs of a woman don’t have an immortal soul. But, once there’s conception, there’s an immortal soul. And, because a soul is not physical, it can’t come from a physical cause and cannot be given by the parents’ bodies. It must come from a spiritual source, which must be God. At the moment of conception, God chooses to create an immortal soul.
• If we think about that, we realize the wonder of procreation: God chooses to respond to human action and create something new that will never stop existing. The entire universe is now changed because something new exists that never did before. That’s a miracle: Something, or better, someone, is created out of nothing and is holy.
o And the love between husband and wife is the setting in which God has chosen to cooperate with us in performing this miracle. He doesn’t create new human life without us; we cooperate with Him. And contraception says that we’re going to use God’s setting of procreating life while trying to stop Him from possibly creating life.
o God could have chosen to procreate life in other ways, but He chose the love between husband and wife, and our actions should respect His design. We shouldn’t say to Him: We want the bonding effect of love but we don’t want You to perform Your life-giving effect.
3) What is our gut reaction to new human life? You know, in sitcoms, whenever the wife is pregnant, the husband always faints. I grew up watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Simpsons, etc., and whenever the family has a new child, it’s not great news. Having a child can certainly be overwhelming and being a parent is the most demanding role in life, but I wonder if we, as a parish and as a society, should re-evaluate the way we look at new human life.
• If people celebrated the miracle of human life, they wouldn’t abort girls just because they’re girls, and wouldn’t abort children with disabilities. As we pointed out before, Iceland has almost no more children with Down’s Syndrome because they’re all aborted (https://thejustmeasure.ca/2021/01/31/we-get-to-choose-our-anxieties/). Thank God that Jesus offers us His forgiveness, and every sin can be forgiven if we turn to Him, but this wouldn’t happen if we saw each child as a miracle, and all of them are.
4) Contraception isn’t about preventing pregnancy. There’s already a 100% safe, effective way of avoiding pregnancy called abstinence. “Contraception was invented to indulge sexual instinct” (Dr. Christopher West, The Good News about Sex & Marriage, 110). Contraception means we can have sex whenever we want, without responsibility. This is why all Christians, every single denomination (Lutheran, Anglican, etc.), all rejected contraception until 1930. Gandhi, the great Indian leader, rejected contraception because he feared men, in their lust, would take advantage of women. And Sigmund Freud, no friend of the Catholic Church, also felt that people shouldn’t separate procreation from sex (Patrick Coffin, Sex au Naturel, 77-78).
A: Please realize that God is not telling everyone to have as many children as physically possible, and it’s always up to husband and wife to discern with God how many children they have.
• Next week, we’re going to combine these ideas with what we said last week about giving of ourselves as Christ did, and we’re going to delve deeper into what it means to give ourselves fully.
V: For now, we continue to ponder the truth that God loves giving life.

Source: God Loves Giving Life