The First of Institutions
For the Christian to think about questions of sexuality as they arise today, he or she must first think about the biblical and ecclesial teaching of marriage as “an image of what is truly ultimate.” In this Audio Reprint, Gilbert Meilaender argues that notions of sexual fulfillment that ground themselves in self-expression and emotional satisfaction, or in the mutual exchange of love cannot adequately account for the historical, spiritual, communal, and bodily dimensions of sexual union. Although the challenge to establish Christian norms of behavior while avoiding additional conditions for salvation is perennial for the Church, failure to undertake this challenge stimulates a dangerous dualism between body and spirit within the Church itself. By emphasizing that the body is the place of spiritual and moral significance in our lives, Meilaender points out the need for the Church to uphold and enforce normative behaviors of chastity, in order to practice the pastoral role of showing compassion and acceptance with integrity.
This article was originally published in Pro Ecclesia, Vol. VI, No. 4 (1997). Read by Ken Myers. 40 minutes.