I was too young to know much about the scandals surrounding Bill Cosby the first time around. Then, as time went on the media storm subsided and Cosby emerged as someone still able to find affection in the public eye. He was, if not The American Father, at the very least in the running for it. I remembered him as Dr. Huxtable, as the guy on the Jello commercials, and as the host of Kids Say The Darndest Things.
I saw him live with my family to watch his comedy routine in person- it was a fun, family friendly night.
But, when the accusations burst forth again in 2014, I was old enough to pay attention. Even without a conviction, and with only the knowledge of what Cosby has admitted to doing, there is something we as a whole find incredibly disturbing about his conduct.
Then, as name after name of male celebrities comes into the public eye, and similar, equally disturbing stories are told, we have to wonder… what is it exactly about this behavior that we know is wrong? Lack of consent? Yes. Abuse of power? Yes. A distorted sense of immunity? Yes. These and a myriad of other things.
But, I suggest, there is also a deeper underlying issue at the core.
Let’s Talk About Sex
What’s the point of sex? Well, it is the means by which we continue our species. But procreation is not the only purpose of sex. The other point of sex is that it is for the good of the spouses.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
“Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death”
And how is that aim of benefit to the spouses achieved? Here’s the Catechism one more time:
“The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude”
Sex as Self-Giving
Jesus gave his body fully for us. He sacrificed himself for our good. And that is exactly what sex is meant to be. It is meant to be a husband giving fully of himself for the good of his wife, and a wife giving fully of herself for the good of the husband. It is an ultimate appreciation of the dignity of our spouse, through a total gift of ourself to him/her.
Anytime we do something other than that, we turn sex from a self-gifting act to an act of self-seeking. From giving to taking. From whole to broken.
Marriage and Church/Marriage and the Trinity
Marriage is often referred to in the Bible as a reflection of Christ and the Church. Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom, and the Church as the bride. If we play that relationship out to its logical conclusion, we see the beauty in Christ’s sacrifice for us, and realize our job within marriage is to reflect the beauty of what Christ did for us as a witness to the world.
Marriage is also reflection of the Trinity.
God is a burning inferno of love, and that love between the Father and the Son ushers into being a Third, the Holy Spirit. And when a husband and wife love each other, it has the potential to bring about a Third. That love becomes so real and so tangible that another life is brought into existence from it.
Sex is powerful stuff. Not because we have a right to indulge for our own sake or pleasure, but because we have the ability to give the gift of ourselves wholly and fully to another human being.
When that gift is profaned and becomes a selfish act, it undermines the dignity of the humans involved and can cause great hurt and pain. People feel used, something inside us becomes broken.
Sex is meant to be a total gift of self. Nothing about it is meant to be selfish.
The Distortion of Sex In The News
That’s partly why the news stories coming out about famous celebrity males taking advantage of females in incredibly disturbing ways hits home. Those behaviors are the result of a myriad of things. Privilege, a hunger for power, pride. But they also stem from the view of sex as being something that ultimately we deserve. Sex is for us. Pleasure is something we take instead of something we mutually give. Sex becomes a carnival house mirror instead of a pure and true reflection of God and his love for humanity. A cracked and distorted facimile of beauty.
We can see so clearly in those examples that something, and yes, many things are broken.
But a distortion of what is meant for good can occur even within a Christian marriage. All Christians would benefit greatly from an exploration into Theology of the Body and diving deeply into the power of the purpose of human sexuality. If our marriages are meant to be a living reflection of the Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitful love of God, then it is vitally important that we know what we are being asked to reflect, and that we take seriously the responsibility and honor to live as Gift to our spouse.
If you are interested in learning more about the foundational Christian views on sex and marriage, please check out:
And, when we see these examples when good is perverted, let us know why it is we know, at the root of it all, that selfishness in any expression of sexuality, in any situation at all, is harmful and wrong.