DOI: 10.1177/00243639231197759 ISSN:

The Personalist Basis of the Church's Teaching on Human Sexuality and the Natural Law in the Work of John Paul II. Part II

Maria Fedoryka
  • Health Policy
  • Philosophy

Responding to Pope John Paul II's call to give the “ethical grounds and personalistic reasons” behind the Church's teaching on sexual morality, this reflection written over the span of two articles analyzes the norms of the natural law related to human sexuality from a personalist perspective. The key ideas of this study are drawn from two passages: one from Gaudium et spes which states that “The sexual characteristics of man and the human faculty of reproduction wonderfully exceed the dispositions of lower forms of life”, the other from Humanae vitae stating that “Conjugal love reveals its true nature and nobility when it is considered in its supreme origin, God, who is love … and it is of supreme importance to have an exact idea of these.” (9) Drawing on the analysis of parts I and II shows, first, that the spousal act is in its original structure an “embodying act” intrinsically fashioned to embody spousal love: the self-donation, the intimacy, and the fruitfulness proper to the spirit's act of love animates the bodily act of sex from within, so that the spirit and the body form “one thing” in the spousal act. Secondly, this truth about the spousal act as structured by spousal love will mean that the norms governing human sexuality are not based on biological laws, but on the laws of love. Finally, Part II culminates in a reflection on the individual norms of sexual morality, showing how each of them follows the nature of spousal love. The precepts of the natural law are our guides to properly reverencing the sacred sphere of human sexuality, which is a condition for our flourishing as human persons.

More from our Archive