Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sexual Wisdom. . . From the Pope?

In recent years, Molly and I have made a fairly comprehensive study of the late pope’s Theology of the Body, and it has really enriched our marriage, especially our sexual relationship. Perhaps it seems counter-intuitive that theology (and perhaps Catholic theology all the moreso) could improve anyone’s sex life, but that has definitely been our experience.

I touched on the Theology of the Body in this previous post, and Molly gave her perspective in this post. Today, I wanted to give you all a fascinating quote from Love and Responsibility, the philosophical foundation for the Theology of the Body, which the late pope wrote in 1960, when he was the auxiliary bishop of Krakow, and still went by the name of Karol Wojtyla:

“Intercourse must not serve merely as a means of allowing sexual excitement to reach its climax in . . . the man alone, but climax must be reached in harmony, not at the expense of one partner, but with both partners fully involved. . . Love demands that the reactions of . . . the sexual ‘partner’ be fully taken into account. . .

“There exists a rhythm dictated by nature itself which both spouses must discover so that climax may be reached both by the man and by the woman, and as far as possible occur in both simultaneously. . .

“Non-observance of these teachings of sexology in the marital relationship is contrary to the good of the other partner to the marriage and the durability and cohesion of the marriage itself. . . There is a need for harmonization, which is impossible without good will, especially on the part of the man, who must carefully observe the reactions of the woman. If a woman does not obtain natural gratification from the sexual act there is a danger that her experience of it will be qualitatively inferior, will not involve her fully as a person. . . Frigidity. . . is usually the result of [selfishness] in the man, who failing to recognize the subjective desires of the woman, and the objective laws of the sexual process taking place in her, seeks merely his own satisfaction. . .”

The language is a tad ‘clinical’ and ‘high-falutin’, but bishop Wojtyla is telling men not to be sexually selfish, to be considerate of the sexual needs of their wives, and to work at seeing that she comes to climax; if not, your marriage will suffer. Not the sort of thing that one necessarily expects to encounter from a Catholic bishop, let alone the future pope, but there you have it.

And good advice, too, as far as it goes. . .


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