Father Jones: church teachings on sexuality
By RENEE WEBB
Content and Design Coordinator
A presentation by the parochial vicar of Divine Mercy Parish in Algona laid out the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality and the human person.
Father Zach Jones gave a talk on Dec. 4 titled Sex: Full, Free, Fruitful and Faithful to help parishioners not only understand the church teachings on sexuality but the beauty of these teachings.
“There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about what the church teaches,” he acknowledged, noting he selected this topic because there are so many questions that need to be answered or clarified. “Especially when you look at the culture today, the modern culture offers a very different understanding of sexuality than the church does. The church has something to offer that is vastly superior to what the culture has to offer because it is given to us by our Lord who made us and understands the human person better than we do.”
It is important, he stated, that parishioners understand why the church teaches what it does and the fruit that can come from it. Through the presentation, Father Jones hoped to reinforce the importance of knowing where the church stands on a variety of topics related to sexuality.
“We offer something drastically better than what the world offers,” stressed Father Jones, who completed graduate studies in June earning a licentiate in moral theology with an emphasis in bioethics. “Withholding the conjugal act to a man and a woman in the marital union is a beautiful thing that the world sets aside.”
Giving of self
Various topics were addressed during the presentation but four main parts focused on sexuality as giving of self fully, freely, fruitfully and faithfully.
The four themes, he noted, come from Pope St. Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae and Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
“Those are the four goals of how to use and understand sex well,” said Father Jones. “Sex has to be given fully to each other by the husband and wife, freely given and fruitful so that it includes the possibility of children and is faithful – they will be together forever in marriage.”
He also gave some examples of ways these areas can be attacked in society.
“When a husband and wife give of themselves in the conjugal union, they are giving their entire person to each other – body, soul, spirit and mind,” he explained.
While Father Jones noted that this concept is fairly understood in today’s culture, it is not always practiced. The speaker pointed to the pervasive hook-up culture which he described as “very psychologically damaging.”
He also explained that when giving of oneself fully, it includes fertility. Contraceptives block that, so it does not allow for the giving of oneself fully to their spouse.
Relating to giving of oneself freely, without coercion, Father Jones spoke of situations such as harassment, assault and even rape where the conjugal union is not given freely but is taken by force.
“Sadly, this is something that is continually rising in our culture. I think a lot of this is interconnected. Once we start degrading the sexual act and don’t give it its proper dignity then it’s degraded elsewhere and leads to these things,” said the speaker.
Father Jones referenced the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI who cautioned what would happen if society started to separate the procreative and unitive act of sex – babies and bonding – by the introduction of such things as contraceptives.
“Pope Paul VI said we would see a rise in domestic violence, sexual violence, objectifying women, abortion,” said the speaker.
Fruitful and Faithful
“The fruit of the sexual act is children,” said Father Jones, who noted that even in the marriage ceremony they speak of being open to children. “Not that every conjugal act leads to procreation but couples must be open to it and not use contraception and sterilization to counteract it.”
In addition to contraception and sterilization, the speaker addressed other issues such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) and surrogacy, which are counter to church teaching as it takes away the unitive act of procreation.
While there are good desires to have children, he noted when it is done in a way that is outside of natural law and God’s design then it can have some negative consequences. The priest gave some examples of what is and is not acceptable in relation to church teaching.
“Faithful is probably the easiest to understand. We understand the marital act happens within marriage and that a marriage is faithful and lifelong. The husband and wife are committed to each other throughout their lives,” said Father Jones.
Attacks in this area include adultery and other abuses of marriage. He again referenced Pope St. Paul VI’s encyclical that cautioned about the use of contraception causing a degradation of the sexual act. Father Jones said society has seen that played out for the last 50 years.
“As we look at that and see the damage that has been done in a lot of ways by the degradation of the moral standings of sex, the church offers a really beautiful goal to strive for and a beautiful understanding of sexuality of the human person,” said Father Jones. “It offers a more faithful, fruitful, joyful, fulfilling understanding of sex, not something to be manipulated and utilized for your sole pleasure but something that is a gift and in it you give yourself to someone else.”
This was the second presentation of a three-part series to be given by Father Jones. His first presentation was on death and dying. Both of these talks were recorded and are on the Divine Mercy Parish Facebook page; look under videos.
His third presentation on Jan. 22 will focus on gender and transgenderism coupled with the Catholic understanding of gender identity.