Where do the church’s guidelines about sexuality come from?

The teachings of the Church about sexuality come from the same sources that the church consults to develop teachings on other matters like economics or liturgy, i.e., scripture and tradition.  What the church teaches about sexuality is rooted in understandings of what it is to be a human person in relationship with oneself, others and God.  Ultimately what the church teaches about sex is that we should be chaste.  Chastity is “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man (sic) in his bodily and spiritual being” (CCC #2337).  Jesus became one of us “so that we might become God” (CCC #460).  In loving one another as Christ has loved us, we should realize that all our choices, sexual choices, economic choices, religious choices, are forming us as men and women who are becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  All our relationships and choices should be integrated with the fascinating transformation we are called to in Christ.

Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, fisherman and author.  He is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and serves as a Chaplain at the college.  His book, A Faith That Frees: Catholic Matters for the 21st Century, (Orbis Books 2007) examines the relationships between the practices of faith and the cultural currents and changes so rapidly occurring in our ever more technologized and globalized world.