New Zealand particpants will be sending posts from the Synod on Marriage and the Family in Rome this month. Here is a post from Dr John Kleinsman
Last week I mentioned to one of the Synod Bishops, rather flippantly, that if I had not already been aware that there was a link between families/marriage and sexuality then I would certainly not have become aware of it from either reading the Synod working paper (Instrumentum Laboris) or from listening to the interventions in the plenary sessions! There has been virtually no expression of the goodness of the gift of sexuality and its importance in people’s lives over the last two and a half weeks.
That Bishop sought me out again the following day and we had a further and more serious conversation which led to him making a ‘free intervention’ to all of the Synod attendees on that very topic. That, in turn, got me thinking a bit more and so last Sunday evening I sat down and decided to write a ‘modus’ (written intervention) which I then presented to the small group I am a participant in. The text follows:
Within the sacrament of their marriage a couple experience and enable God’s tenderness in a special way through their sexual loving. In giving themselves to each other faithfully, joyously, generously and exclusively through the gift of their sexuality, their love is nourished and they become open to the possibility and miracle of new life: in the form of their children who are the fruit of their sexual self-giving; by moving towards ever greater self-transcendence in ways that seek the good of the beloved and which involve a real discovery of the other, (Deus Caritas Est, n. 6); by delighting in each other (Song of Songs 7, 6) so that they confirm and are confirmed in their commitment to each other; by forgiving and being forgiven; by healing and being healed; by constantly nourishing the well-being of each other so that they are sustained in their networks of familial, social, ecclesial and vocational relationships and commitments; by developing an attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude for the goodness of their bodies and the world created by God; by growing in their ability to move beyond their relationship and to work for goodness and justice in the world; by growing in their faith and love for God who is present wherever there is genuine love (1 Jn 4, 7).
At a time when the rich Christian vision of sex and sexuality has increasingly been replaced by a much narrower and impoverished understanding for many, Christian couples are called to witness more than ever to the beauty, joy and richness of human sexuality and the proper place of sexual loving in a committed, exclusive and permanent relationship. The sexual expression of love within marriage thus has the potential to establish itself as a special expression of Christian evangelisation.
After a positive discussion the modus was accepted by the group and has now gone forward for consideration by the writing party working on the final Synod document. Will it get in? I don’t know. I do know that the final document of the Synod will be all the poorer if it does not in some way affirm the goodness of sexuality that goes back to the Creation story in Genesis – and God saw it was good.
Whether the final document does or does not ultimately pick up and positively affirm the gift of human sexuality, the task nevertheless remains for all of us to witness to it in all of its dimensions in and through our lives. It is an important part of our vocation and mission to the Church and to the world.
Ora pro nobis
Dr John Kleinsman is the Director of the Nathaniel Centre, the Catholic Biethics agency. He is married with three adult children.