Sex and Saints by John Cali

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Interesting title, isn’t it? Bet it got your attention.

John Cali

Many years ago I graduated from a Jesuit (Roman Catholic) college. Since I was thinking of becoming a Catholic priest, I had four years each of theology and philosophy. All of which I enjoyed. One of my favorite subjects was Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas was born in Aquino, Sicily in 1225. He studied for the priesthood and was eventually ordained in the Dominican order. In a relatively short lifetime (49 years) he became a widely known and respected theologian and philosopher, rising to prominent positions in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The church ranked Thomas’ work, Summa Theologica, right up there with the Bible.

Thomas’ doctrines were adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, which still adheres to many of them today.

One of Thomas’ most interesting (to me) doctrines was about sex. He said there were three purposes of sex — within marriage, of course. Sex outside of marriage was unthinkable in the Roman Catholic Church of that day, and today too. Well, maybe no longer unthinkable, but certainly unacceptable.

Here are Thomas’ three purposes, in descending order of importance:

First and always is the procreation of children.

Second is what’s somewhat cryptically called “the mutual allaying of concupiscence.” (You can probably guess what that means. If you can’t look it up in the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary.)

Third is the fostering of love between husband and wife. (As I just said, you’d damned well better be married if you were having sex.)

I was always intrigued by Thomas’ order of priority here. Making babies was the first and making love was the last.

Here’s Spirit.


As John said, he’s chosen an interesting subject for us to discuss today. Love, relationships, sex — these are always popular subjects among humans, primarily because they are such wonderful vehicles for spiritual growth.

None of you could exist without your relationships. You define who you are through your relationships.

You don’t need us to remind you relationships span the whole spectrum of human experience, from absolutely blissful and ecstatic all the way to depressing and awful. It is precisely because of that wide spectrum that relationships are such powerful opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.

None of you can live in total isolation, though some have tried. Even if you lived alone in a dark cave you still would not be completely isolated. You are all connected — or to use that overworked phrase, you are all one.

It purely practical terms, Thomas’ first purpose of sex (within marriage, of course) — the perpetuation of the human race, makes logical sense. Without sex the race would have gone extinct long ago.

We won’t address the second purpose here today, though in our view it also serves a good and useful function.

At the bottom of Thomas’ “totem pole,” if you will, is love. Love comes last. We do not mean to criticize or offend anyone here, but that’s absolutely backwards.

Love comes first and last. It matters more than any other human experience, including having babies and getting your sexual desires satisfied.

Love is all there is. It’s all that matters. Love binds your relationships together, whether it’s your relationships with yourselves or with others. Love literally does make the world go round. Where there is a lack of love you have those events such as in Arizona last weekend. (Spirit is referring to the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and the killing and wounding of others.)

Love can and does heal all wounds. It can heal all of you, even those among you such as that misguided young man from Arizona.

Love is certainly, in our view, the primary purpose of sex in any romantic relationship, within marriage or not. It’s the primary purpose in any relationship.

Love truly is all there is. It will heal your wounded world. Nothing matters more than love. Nothing.

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