Monday, January 16, 2006

Warming Up for JPII's "Interpretation of the Sexual Urge"

Where JPII is headed in his book Love & Responsibility is toward a thorough, philosophical analysis of sexual morality in regards to male-female sexual union. He has just told us that justice and love are interconnected. It is just to love and affirm a person because that is what persons are designed for. Also, in loving someone, wel naturally treat them justly . . . because we love them.

JPII warns now that "in the sexual context what is sometimes characterized as love may very easily be quite unjust to a person" (43). Because sexual intimacy is usually pleasurable, our sensuality and sentimentality will greatly tempted to turn toward a quest for pleasure "for its own sake" (43). And eventually it is possible that one will begin to view the pleasure-seeking approach to male-female relationships as "the proper basis for a norm of behaviour" (43).

When it comes to a sexual relationship, there are two mindsets upon which we can choose to base our interactions: the utilitarian principle or the personalistic norm. JPII refers here to Saint Augustine's way of defining these two different mindsets. Seeking pleasure "for its own sake, with no concern for the object of pleasure" is what Augustine calls uti. When a person "finds joy in a totally committed relationship with the object precisely because this is what the nature of the object demands," (44) Augustine calls this frui.

When Christ commands us to love one another, He is calling us to frui. This personalistic, deeply human approach to love is also how we must approach sexual love . . . that is if we really want to experience to fullness of our gift of sexuality.

Stay tuned! Next time we will launch into JPII"s "Interpretation of the Sexual Urge."

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