Amoris Laetitia 151: Sex as Language

amoris laetitia memeIn the following section, Pope Francis continues his citation of St John Paul:

151. To those who fear that the training of the passions and of sexuality detracts from the spontaneity of sexual love, Saint John Paul II replied that human persons are “called to full and mature spontaneity in their relationships”, a maturity that “is the gradual fruit of a discernment of the impulses of one’s own heart”.(Catechesis (12 November 1980), 2) This calls for discipline and self-mastery, since every human person “must learn, with perseverance and consistency, the meaning of his or her body”.(Ibid., 4) Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment; it is an interpersonal language wherein the other is taken seriously, in his or her sacred and inviolable dignity. As such, “the human heart comes to participate, so to speak, in another kind of spontaneity”.(Ibid., 5) In this context, the erotic appears as a specifically human manifestation of sexuality. It enables us to discover “the nuptial meaning of the body and the authentic dignity of the gift”.(Ibid., 1) In his catecheses on the theology of the body, Saint John Paul II taught that sexual differentiation not only is “a source of fruitfulness and procreation”, but also possesses “the capacity of expressing love: that love precisely in which the human person becomes a gift”.(Catechesis (16 January 1980), 1) A healthy sexual desire, albeit closely joined to a pursuit of pleasure, always involves a sense of wonder, and for that very reason can humanize the impulses.

What struck me is what was not cited by Pope Francis: the notion that sexual expression is a form of communication, of language between lovers. Not, as our modern culture expects, gratification or entertainment. You readers: are you seeing anything notable here?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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14 Responses to Amoris Laetitia 151: Sex as Language

  1. Adam Scott says:

    Im not married Im not allowed to have sex.

  2. Atheist Max says:

    “Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment…”

    I really hate to break it to you but….this is nonsense. I can think of countless ways in which sex is gratifying and entertaining. And so can you.

    “…. sexual expression is a form of communication, of language between lovers. Not, as our modern culture expects, gratification or entertainment.”

    That is a false dichotomy: “communication between lovers” vs. “modern gratifications or entertainment (read superficial & selfish) as if sex is either an intense heavenly conversation or date rape. Why reduce sex to such a bifurcation? Sex between consenting adults is usually a complex celebration of affection, mutual exploration and satisfaction not only of physical pleasure but of emotional reaffirmation – one of the great joys of life. Sex is for every adult – not to be cordoned off for only those who have checked the right boxes on some faith documents.
    Love and its kaleidoscopic variety of expressions are too wonderful to be contained by a dogma of a narrow pin hole which has only the most missionary objectives in mind.

  3. Todd says:

    “I really hate to break it to you …” Actually, Max, this is an untruth. You love to interject, to “break” things as you say. No, I think sexuality is a language, not unlike music.

  4. Dick Martin says:

    Sex is God’s idea. Outside of marriage it is sin. If you are Born again the MARRIAGE BED is undefiled. meaning it’s not only for procreation but for enjoyment also. Undefiled means that there is no Law forbidding any thing between married couples.
    1 Peter 1:3-5(NKJV)
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
    who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
    Hebrews 13:4(NKJV)
    Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

    • Todd says:

      “Undefiled means that there is no Law forbidding any thing between married couples.”

      This would be an example of a personal interpretation of the Bible, Dick. But certainly there are moral and ethical boundaries in the marriage bed. Imposing one’s will. Untruthfulness. And the like. You are welcome to comment, as long as you lean to the personal commentary and minimize your out-of-context ctrl-v of Bible passages. Cite a Scripture, but say it in your own words. God gave you that.

      • Liam says:


        As an illustration of how ctrl-v is not self-evident: “Undefiled means that there is no Law forbidding any thing between married couples.” presents the problem of being interpretable as to permit marital rape by recursively defining the rape away, because it’s permitted. We might be shocked at that possibility now, but our shock is relatively new in the timeline…

      • Todd says:

        And yet, such things are seen through the lens of white male privilege. Women cutting off penises and such things: those evoke horror, don’t they?

      • Liam says:

        Though I suspect, on-white women might see the “white” in that one as misleading.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “(perhaps the most dangerous parable ever written)”

      This comment was meant for Luke 19:27 not Luke 12:46 which is not a parable.

  5. Liam says:

    non-white, that is.

  6. Dick Martin says:

    Todd: Hebrews 13:4 is a direct quote from the bible . It’s not an interpretation . You give a definition of undefiled and then disagree withl Webster’s interpretation. I see why your followers go along with your verbalizations over God’s and Webster. In God’s sight only the righteous have an inheritance. Our sins and faults are not put to our account.

    • Todd says:

      Actually, it’s more that fundamentalist men taking the Bible literally would use this passage to abrogate basic decency. Please don’t say I have followers. I am a follower and disciple of Jesus. My purpose here is not to gather followers, but to simply present ideas for intelligent and spiritual discussion.

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