Sometimes something is so big that we don’t notice it, especially when it has always been there. The issue of procreation is one of those major realities that we often don’t take in completely.
Procreation is the great gift of God in which we can assist Him in creating new eternal beings (i.e. children). If we are indeed made in the image and likeness of God, then we must be creative beings in the manner of God. While we do this through Art and Science, we can preeminently do it through the creation of children, our children. This implies both the beginning of the existence of a new human being as well as the rearing and education of that being through an early life of learning and growth.
God has ordained that this begin with the coming together in desire and ecstasy of two beings that complement each other yet are different: man and woman. Through the mutual exchange of passion and purpose, new life comes forth.
To make sure that this desire is always foremost in the manner of these two types of being created by God Himself, He made the mutual exchange of essence to be the most pleasurable experience in the life of both beings. And since the rearing of these new beings be done with commitment and painstaking effort, a commitment of permanence would be required of these two very different beings. Hence the need for the mutual and longstanding desire and craving for the other that creates a stable environment for the young ones to grow to maturity.
To give names to this process is now necessary. The two beings are called Male and Female. The process of creation begins with the exchange of essences and the uniting of those essences in what has become known as the sexual union. Furthermore, the commitment necessary to bring this not only to fruition in creating an albeit immature and needy being (a baby) but to educate and help grow to maturity this new being, a new institution named the Sacrament of Matrimony has been established by which the two beings commit themselves to each other and to the new life they have created with the special blessing of God. And so has God ordained this to happen.
But then the deceiver appeared and sin made this process a drama. Because of the intense pleasure that surrounds the act of procreation, this soon became the reason for seeking sexual union. Fornication, adultery, and other acts that are not the will of God, since they do not accomplish the purpose of sexual union, spread like an epidemic. Soon people sought the act merely because it felt good. The responsibility and meaning that God intended were either ignored or openly vilified, as adults attempted the sexual experience with the young who had no idea of the power and the consequences of being used in this way.
Thereby, the act that was meant by God to pass on the gift of life itself became the transmitter of the original sin of disobedience to God committed by our first parents.
This misuse of the pleasure that God has given the act of procreation is so omnipresent in our culture that the pleasure has become the meaning of the act. The exchanges of the essences of a man and a woman in a committed relationship open to God’s will in engendering the creation of new eternal beings has been abandoned by this world as the true meaning of the action. It’s pleasure, which was meant to be a strengthening of the need for the action (based on its importance), has become the central point of the action. This is a twisted misunderstanding of the very nature of the sexual union. By abandoning the procreation of a human being in the essential marital act, the modern mind has corrupted the meaning of this most sacred act and thereby committed a great sin against the purpose of out God in giving us this privilege of engendering life, a life that will live forever.
Hence the Church, through her teaching (most especially in the document Humanae Vitae) has tried to keep the meaning and purpose of the committed marital act intact. Sadly, she has been vilified for this, as is the usual action of the deceiver when confronted with a reassertion of God’s plan.
As the reader can see I have avoided the loaded use of the word s-x. This is the same as the false god that has claimed the lives and meaning of millions of people. The worship of this god is spreading fast throughout the world.
God has placed enormous power into the act itself. It is very attractive and, in the wrong hands, it is very addictive. It is thus the bringer either of true, faithful and responsible love, or of a very real danger. It is like a loaded gun that could either protect oneself and one’s family or, when mixed with anger and violence and nihilistic lack of purpose, it can kill.
The Church has a very exalted view of the marital act. The severity of its sanctions for its misuse is justified given its importance to the future of the world.
Msgr. Fernando Ferrarese is the pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Astoria, NY. This essay originally appeared in the Immaculate Conception Bulletin, October 9, 2022, and is reprinted with the author's permission.