Physical Sex Attraction
by Fr. Gerald Kelly
The third type of sex attraction is physical attraction. This, as the word indicates, is an attraction of body to body. It seeks the other sex as a means of stimulating and satisfying physical passion; and it urges one, therefore, to such acts as will afford this satisfaction, chiefly to intimate and passionate embraces and, finally, to sexual intercourse.
Considered as merely physical, this attraction is something we share with the animals. Animals have the same urge, can perform the same acts, and obtain the same pleasure. The fact that it is animal activity, however, does not mean that it is beneath the dignity of a human being. Eating is also animal activity, but it is not beneath our dignity. But to act like an animal, that is, to be guided by blind impulse in these things, is beneath our dignity. If God should forbid us to eat a certain thing, it would be beneath our dignity to violate His law by eating it.. The ancient practice of eating to satiety, then vomiting, in order to get the pleasure of eating more, was certainly beneath the dignity of a human being. So it is with physical sexual activity: it is not beneath human dignity; it is not sordid, but it can be put to sordid uses. Yet the holiest things in the world can be put to sordid use. The Blessed Sacrament, for instance, has been put to the most sordid uses imaginable by impious men. Sexual activity i, put to many sordid uses by men, but it surely is not sordid when used according to God's plan.
It is not sound science to consider sexual relations merely in their animal aspect. They must be considered from all sides, if their true beauty is to be recognized. Psychologically, sexual union is intended as the expression of the noblest kind of human love; morally, it should be the consummation of the most solemn contract possible between two human beings. It is an act which Almighty God has decreed to be the normal prerequisite for the greatest event in the natural order, the creation of a human soul. In the supernatural order, it is not only a necessary condition for the increase of God's adopted family, but it has attached to it a most sacred symbolism. In the Old Testament (The Canticle of Canticles), the intimate acts expressive of conjugal love symbolize the love of God for the soul; in Catholic theological treatises on Marriage, the bodily union of husband and wife is said to signify the indissoluble union of love between Christ and His Church. These ideas show the full beauty that can and should be present in physical sex activity exercised according to God's plan.
This concept of physical relations also shows the depth of the meaning implied in the expression, conjugal love. For the love of married people for each other is not merely spiritual, nor mere emotion, nor certainly mere passion; but it crosses through all three spheres--the mind, the heart, the body--and is thus a distinctive type of love. Theirs is a love of the mind, a union of mutual esteem and appreciation which enables them to achieve harmony in the vast community of interests that make up married life; a love of the heart, affectionate and tender and exclusive; and a love of the body, through which they mutually find great joy in the utter self-giving which makes them "two in one flesh" and enables them to bring forth children as the fruit of their love. With this three-fold bond of love they are able to achieve the fun perfection of marriage. The physical provides for procreation; the exclusive attachment of the heart provides for fidelity; and the spiritual union of souls keeps them together unto death.
God's Plan for Sex Attraction
We can now have a clear view of the meaning of sex attraction in God's scheme of things. It begins normally with the dawn of adolescence, and during the formative years immediately afterwards general sex attraction serves the purpose of uniting boys and girls together in wholesome social activities and enabling them to get a proper appreciation of one another. During that time the impulse of personal and physical attraction should be held in cheek. Once sufficient maturity is achieved, then personal sex attraction, guided by, reason, can be used as the preparation for marriage. But this is not yet the time for physical impulses, so these must be controlled. After marriage physical attraction has its place and is the full blooming of the human sexual instinct. When these three steps are made in an orderly way, according to the law of God, sex is an aid to human perfection and a means of saving and sanctifying one's soul. This is, in outline, a psychology of sex attraction that fits into the Christian philosophy of life.
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Copyright © Gerald Kelly. Reproduced with permission of Fusion International. All rights reserved.