Sex as a Gift

“Sex is the secret of every human being, the delivery of it to another human being is a unique self-surrender, a gift of the whole person.” (Following Christ in the World by Anne W. Carroll, Seton Press, Front Royal, Virginia, copyright 2008, p. 103 .)

Perhaps one of the reasons why sex has become devalued in our society is because we have lost sight of one of the facts about sex: it is a total gift of self. It is not just something fun to do on Friday or a recreational activity—it’s serious, because the gift of sex has two purposes: “a unitative purpose (love-giving) and a procreative purpose (life-giving).” (Ibid., p. 94) Put it another way: if you give someone you love a gift, do you usually want to give them a used gift that’s been rewrapped several times, or do you want to give them something new and in perfect condition? The same applies to sex. If you have sex with several people, you’ll be giving an incomplete gift, while if you save sex for your future spouse, you’ll be giving yourself fully to one person, and one person alone, until “death do you part”—a priceless gift. Not only is sex a gift—it is also a communion of two persons. In the sexual act, two persons are united so that they become one flesh: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” (Genesis 2:24) This is basically why sex is such a special and serious gift. It can only be given once, so we should make sure that we give it to someone that will not take advantage of it, someone who will truly respect us for making the choice to save this gift for his or her only. It will be a gift that will bring many other gifts, such gifts as trust, respect, and total commitment, a gift that will keep getting better over the years—a gift that keeps on giving, not taking, and is worth saving for the person God has ordained to be your future spouse. Such a special gift needs total trust and commitment—that is why it is often so devastating, whether initially or later on, when someone gives his or her whole self to someone that sometimes ends up not being there. I’ve heard time and time again a truth that makes a lot of sense: Every time you have sex with someone, you give away a piece of yourself. It’s a gift that once you give it away, it can’t be fully recovered. Chastity is also necessary in the single state, and if you choose to enter the religious life, then the gift of sex is given to God: “The professed religious places this gift in the Hands of Jesus, never to be disclosed to a human person. It represents the supreme self-surrender of the entire person. The professed religious is raised and set free, absorbed into a spiritual love, becoming the highest expression of the nuptial relationship between Christ and the individual soul.” (Ibid., p.103) However, if you had sex previously, you can commit again to living a pure lifestyle and refrain from sexual activity until marriage or else remain celibate. To sum up, take these words of St. Francis de Sales (Introduction to the Devout Life, translated by John K. Ryan. Doubleday: New York, copyright 1950, 1952, 1966: p.234):

“Virgins, if you hope to enter into a temporal marriage, guard jealously your first love for your first husband. In my opinion it is very deceitful to present him with a heart quite worn our, spoiled, and weary with love instead of a whole and sincere heart.”

This can also apply to guys if you change the words “husband” to “wife” and “him” to her. He also tells women a great truth about Jesus, whom some women choose as their “divine Spouse”: “He is purity itself and loves nothing as much as purity.” (Ibid.) God has given each of us this gift of our sexuality, and it is up to us how to use it. Are we going to save it for the right person or use it for the glory of God, or are we going to let unworthy people open it? For each of us, the answer to this question will depend on whether we decide to start seeing sex as what it is—a wonderful gift with serious responsibilities—total, complete, and un-refundable.

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