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Posted September 26, 2010

Book: In Pursuit of Love: Catholic Morality and Human Sexuality
Author: Vincent J. Genovesi, S.J.
The Liturgical Press. Collegeville, MN. 1996. Pp. 429

An Excerpt from the Preface:

This book has grown out of my experience as a professional educator working mainly with Catholic university students and with Catholic adults interested in furthering their understanding of what impact their Christian faith might and should have upon their efforts to live morally. Clearly, then, the book is meant for nonspecialists in the area of theology. It is not presented as a standard textbook on Catholic moral principles or teaching but rather as an aid to provoking analysis, discussion, and further investigation.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Committed Love as the Context for Genital Expression

For James Gaffney, sexual intercourse is an act that embodies both mutual self-giving and acceptance of another. But Gaffney suggests further that the mutual giving and receiving of selves that occur in sexual intercourse physically symbolize a spiritual achievement, the essence of which “consists in the uniting of two human personalities by mutually assuming an unconditional responsibility for one another.” The practical meaning of a couple’s mutual self-giving lies precisely in their assumption of this unconditional responsibility for each other. If sexual intercourse proclaims a two-way gifting of selves, then, in effect, two people, through this action, are expressing a mutual commitment that says something like this: Not only do I care for you, but I also want to take care of you. Not only do I respond sensitively and physically to you, but I also want to be responsible for you unconditionally. In this way sexual intercourse unites not only two bodies but also two spirits and two persons. The situation is quite otherwise, however, when intercourse does not embody a true commitment of love, for then, as Christine Gudorf remarks, “the baring of one’s body, the offering of the pleasures of one’s body, symbolize something less than the opening and offering of one’s entire self to the other. What comes back to us as reward is almost always proportional to what we extended as gift. Sex without love and commitment can be pleasurable physically. . . .But it cannot offer the same degree of reward, of pleasure, as if we had risked our very selves in self-disclosure.”

Table of Contents:

1. The meaning and spirit of Christian living

2. The magisterium and the role of conscience

3. A radical theology of sin

4. A context for the meaning of morality of sexuality

5. The issue of premarital sexuality

6. Contraception and marital sexuality

7. Morality and homogenital expressions of love

8. Masturbation

9. Abortion