Male and Female he created them
by Fr. Peter deSousa
"So God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male
and female he created them." God blessed them and said to them : 'Be
fruitful and increase in number' (Gen 1:27f)
"Yahweh God said, ' it is not good for man to be alone; I will give him a
helper who will be like him.' .. Then Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to
come over man and he fell asleep. He took one of his ribs and filled its
place with flesh. The rib which Yahweh God had taken from man, he formed
into a woman and brought her to the man. The man then said, 'Now this is
bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because
she was taken from man.' That is why man leaves his father and mother and
is attached to his wife, and with her becomes one flesh. Both the man and
his wife were naked and not ashamed." ( Gen 2: 18, 21-25 )
Man and woman becoming one is God's plan for marriage. This union is
life-giving to both of them as helpmates and companions. It is also fruitful
and open to life. Let us reflect on sexuality and conjugal union in the plan
We live today in a world where there is a lot of confusion about marriage
and sexuality. Many couples today live together before marriage. Some see no
need to get married. There are same sex unions who consider themselves
spouses. There are couples who do not want to have children at all. In many
countries, couples cannot conceive, for a variety of reasons. Contraception
is widespread and if it fails, children that are conceived are often
aborted. Deep feelings of guilt lead to depression and escape into drugs.
Some children are conceived outside the womb by artificial means. Donors
supply the egg and the sperm, using a surrogate mother's womb. AIDS is
spreading at an alarming rate and wiping out so many families and
communities. The inequality of the sexes still remains a problem. How does
this tie up with God's plan as revealed in the Bible and upheld by the
tradition of the Church for two centuries?
A person is either male or female in every aspect of his or her behaviour
and physical make up. No doubt women are men's equal.There is no
superiority or inferiority, but complementarity. They do not have to compete
with each other. Each one contributes to the relationship and to parenting
as father or mother.
The Church has always taught that the sexual union of man and woman is for
life and meant to be loving and life-giving to both spouses. It embraces all
the dimensions of their union, physical, emotional, intellectual and
spiritual. But it must also be open to conceiving new life. We know now how
to recognise the fertile part of the cycle through certain symptoms of
ovulation, so that a couple can determine when they want to conceive a
child. There may be times when they decide to abstain during the fertile
part of the cycle, but when they are still called to love one another as
husband and wife.
The act of love must always be a human act, in which there is respect and no
force. It is not detached from the rest of their lives. A woman needs to
feel loved the whole day in order to receive her husband later on. She
cannot switch on suddenly. Man and woman must recognise each other's need
for love, affirmation, encouragement, comfort and forgiveness in the
totality of their relationship, but expressed more perfectly in union.
It is up to the couple to generously decide about spacing their family. But
let them remember that God is the life giver who will never leave them in
the lurch. Sacrifice is part of love. The union of man and woman in married
love, can continue well beyond the child bearing age. They are always
helpmates and companions.
A woman needs to educate her husband about her body and her make up as a
woman person. She must also understand her husband's needs which may differ
in intensity and frequency from hers.
She on the other hand is capable of much more sexual satisfaction than him,
if he knows how to love her. So it is necessary for them to trust each
other, by sharing vulnerably and also praying together.
There are physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological needs of these
two persons who enter into holy wedlock. When one is tired, sick, depressed
or stressed, the other needs to understand and reach out to accompany,
comfort and heal the one who is hurt. One can find fulfilment in being
life-giving and showing concern at such times.
Where there is good self-esteem, a sense of belonging, a sense of
achievement and autonomy as a person, there will be a more satisfying sexual
relationship. But when these psychological needs are not met, one may use
the other as an object. As a result there may be resentment and frustration.
They are equals. A woman was not taken from man's head to hen-peck him. Nor
was she taken from his feet for him to stamp all over her. She is taken from
his side, close to his heart, so that he may treat her as his equal and
We need to have a custody of our senses, especially today, when we are
bombarded by explicit pictures meant to tease and seduce us. Not everything
is good for us, however mature we may think we are. Pray to Mary who was a
virgin yet also a very loving, life-giving mother to us all. Ask her to
intercede with her son to change the water of your married love into wine
again. Spiritual needs are important to having a good, fulfilling sexual
relationship. The Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of life. A husband and
wife, who daily surrender to him and allow him to be their spiritual
director, will be able to be a sacrament of God's love and presence in the
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For Better or for Worse copyright © 2004 Fr. Peter deSousa. All rights reserved.