In the second chapter of his Theology of the Body (TOB) catechesis,[i] Pope St. John Paul II underscores the special value of TOB for men and women seeking to understand the teachings of the Church in the area of sexual morality (TOB 59:5). The ultimate conclusion of these teachings is that, in order to conform to the demands of human dignity, a sexual act must be procreative and unitive in the context of genuine marital love. The full impact of this conclusion calls for careful reflections on each of the values in play. The special value of TOB rests in giving a basis for these reflections that allows people to see the interpersonal significance of each of these values in light of the personal dignity of the body.
More to the point, TOB helps people see why the sexual act must be a marital act, open to life, monogamous, free of lust, and so on because it helps people understand the profound difference that each of those points makes in the sexual life of a couple. In turn, this helps people understand how radically different certain sexual acts can be in terms of affirming the value of the person and expressing the heartfelt recognition of someone’s dignity and worth.
This installment of the series begins exploring the relationship between TOB and the central questions of sexual morality by applying the TOB paradigm to the procreative aspect of human sexuality.
[i] John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them, trans. Michael Waldstein (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006)