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What is the meaning of sex? | Love Digest

Julian Paparella

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash
In many ways, we could say that our society is “obsessed” with sex. But rarely is the question asked: what is the true role and purpose of sex in our lives?
Sex outside of a loving relationship with another person doesn’t make sense. Outside of the context of love, sex cannot fulfill us, no matter how hard we might try. This is because it is love that satisfies our longing hearts, and sex is an expression of love – not its substitute.
Today, sex is often seen as a starting point for a relationship, a rite of passage, a spark to light a flame, or the fulfillment of a social expectation. But none of these express what sex is really about.
We may think of sex as the foundation of a loving relationship. But even here, we haven’t yet found its true meaning. In reality, sex is a seal to a relationship of love. And not just any kind of seal! It is not a temporary seal to show that I care about you tonight or this week or this month or even this year. It is a seal to last forever. That is how our hearts see sex, even if our minds may think otherwise.
Sex is certainly not the guarantee that a relationship will indeed last forever. We may come to realize this painfully. Loving relationships require solid foundations of being committed to the other person, giving of ourselves, and building a life together, day by day and brick by brick.  Sex comes as a beautiful expression of the love that a couple shares on a deeper level, strengthening this love, sealing it through the body. But sex cannot strengthen love that is not already there. Otherwise, sex is a superficial counterfeit: it is saying with the body what I cannot say with my life.
This is why the “natural habitat” of sex is marriage. Marriage is where the foundation has been set for sex to come and strengthen the bond that has been made between the couple. Seeing sex as the foundation for a relationship is like seeing a graduation cap as a qualification for being qualified in the workplace. We can wear the cap as much as we want, but its meaning is hollow if we have not developed the knowledge and skills that it is meant to represent and signify. So too, sex is empty if it is not the sign of a deep love that is shared and strengthened through uniting sexually with one another. How can our bodies be united if our lives are not?
God is the source of love that is strong enough to be sealed by our sexuality. God comes to inhabit our commitment and gift of self to one another. He gives us sexuality as a gift to express this loving faithfulness in our bodies, bringing unity of life in body and soul.
Let us ask God to bring healing where we need it, to warm and enlighten our hearts with the fire of His love, and to let that love unite us deeply with one another.
Julian would be happy to hear from you, with any questions, insights, or suggestions you may have regarding this blog series. He can be reached at [email protected].

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