Male and Female: The Sexual Significance

Author: William May


Because human sexuality participates in the mystery of the human person, the last word on this subject can never be said. Moreover, precisely because it is so rich in intelligibility that its meaning can never be fully exhausted by any one person or group of persons, it is only reasonable to expect that there will be differences of opinion concerning it, differences that are not only complementary but, quite frequently, contradictory. Still this does not mean that we do not really know anything at all about the meaning of human sexuality.1 My purpose here will be to develop an understanding of human sexuality and of the significance of the fact that the human species is sexually differentiated into male and female. This understanding is, in my judgment, true; and while it is open to ever deeper and richer development, its truth is of critical importance to human persons and human societies.

Before reflecting on the meaning of human sexuality, however, I want to make some brief observations about the significance of being human and to show why a grasp of what it means to be human is centrally important in evaluating any understanding of human sexuality.

To be a human being is to be, first and foremost, a being of moral worth or person, a bearer of transcendent value, the subject of a dignity and a sanctity that ought to be recognized by others and protected by society. This proposition, I believe, can be defended philosophically on the grounds that a human being, i.e., a living member of the human species, is a being radically different in kind from other kinds of living beings of which we have experience, and that membership in this species is, therefore, of crucial moral significance, conferring a status on a human being that is not enjoyed by other beings that we know.2 Religiously, this proposition is rooted in the belief that a human being is a living image or icon of God Himself, a "word" uttered by God, the created "word" that His Uncreated Word became.

All human beings are by virtue of their membership in the human species beings of moral worth or "persons."3 Included in this species are many who are "not" consciously aware of themselves and capable of relating to other selves in a "meaningful" way. Still all of these human beings are beings of moral worth, "persons," and as such equal in dignity and value.

To be human, then, is to be a person. But the human person is not a spirit person; it is a "bodied" person, an animal person. A human person is a living human body, and so long as we have within our midst a living human body we have present to us an irreplaceable, priceless human person. The developing living human body within a pregnant woman is a person, not a mass of genetic materials; a comatose, but still living human body, is a person, not a "living vegetable."

Since human persons are body persons, they are inevitably sexual persons. In creating human persons, God created a biological species of a unique kind, but a species sexually differentiated into male and female. To be a human person, therefore, is to be a sexual being. There are no asexual members of the human species; rather all of us are either male or female. I believe that any true understanding of human sexuality must take seriously the bodily character of our personhood, recognizing that our bodies are not subpersonal tools of a "conscious subject" distinct from them but are rather integrally personal dimensions of our existence.4

"Sexuality," Pope John Paul II reminds us, "is by no means something purely biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such.5 The fact that one human person is a "male" and that another is a "female" is not something merely incidental to their being, a matter of sheer facticity, a purely biological "given" that the person is called upon to "transcend."6 "Maleness and femaleness" are not mere anatomical differences but are different modes of "being" human. A man and a woman are different not only anatomically and culturally but psychically and ontologically. One contemporary writer, Mary Rosera Joyce, puts it this way:

"Man and woman are different in the very depths of their existence. Their more apparent anatomical differences are not . . . mere attachments to their common human nature; differences in the body are "revelations" of differences in the depths of their beings.... The idea that sex is biological only is a serious affront to the unity of the human person."7

Another contemporary, Pope John Paul II, expresses this by saying that male and female "are, as it were, two 'incarnations' of the same metaphysical solitude/that man, male and female, is as a unique being in creation/ before God and the world--two ways, as it were, of 'being a body' and at the same time a man, which complete each other."8

This truth about human persons, although difficult to express clearly and unambiguously, is crucial, for it shows that human persons are not sexless intelligences but are rather irreplaceable and unrepeatable men and women of flesh and blood. A human person is not an immaterial substance or subjectivity that simply happens, as the authors of the CTSA report on human sexuality put it, to be "embodied in either a male or a female bodystructure."9 Rather a human person is a bodily being whose person is that of a male or female, a sexual being.

Men and women, therefore, differ not only physically and anatomically but metaphysically. They sense differently, they feel differently, they think differently, they love differently.10 This deeply rooted difference between male and female is perhaps the reason, as George Gilder, Stephen Clark, Lucius Cervantes and others have so richly documented,11 why a woman more easily discovers her sexual identity in being herself and why a man must go out of himself in deeds to establish his sexual identity.

It is particularly important to realize that our sexuality is not to be identified with our sexual organs. Our sexual organs are indeed integrally personal and are not simply tools that persons use, now for one purpose and now for another.12 Still, these organs, though revelatory of our being as men and women, do not exhaust our sexuality, our maleness and femaleness. Our sexuality, in other words, is not only genital but is a modality or dimension of our existence as sentient, affective, body persons who are capable of coming into possession of ourselves as sexual beings through acts of understanding and of love.

What this means is that sexuality--and with it our sexual desires and powers--is not in and of itself integrative. Rather it needs to be integrated within ourselves by the virtue of chastity, which Pope John Paul II describes as precisely the aptitude to master the movements of sexual desire or concupiscence, so that we can thereby come into possession of ourselves as sexual beings and not become possessed by desire.13 A human person is capable of becoming fully himself without expressing himself in acts of genital coidon. It is not, in short, necessary to experience orgasm in order to be fully male or fully female.14

The claims made in the foregoing paragraphs are, in my judgment, true. Yet they need to be substandated, and the evidence in support of them needs to be marshaled and developed. This I hope to do in the following reflections. One of the most important sexual differences is that the male can never become pregnant (and knows so), whereas the female can (and knows so), and she can become pregnant not by taking thought but by taking into her body the body person of the male and receiving from him his seed. At the same time, one of the most important similarities between the male and the female is that they both need to touch others and to be touched by others. They need to do so because they are body persons. They also dread offensive touches, invasions of their privacy, violations of their body person. They can reach out and touch others in many different ways, but there is one sort of touch that is unique and by its very nature bears on differences between male and female, and this is the touch of genital coition.

This is a unique sort of touch for two special reasons. It is unique, first, because it involves a way of touching significantly different for the male and the female. She can not, in the act of genital coition enter into the person of the male, whereas he can personally enter into her, and she is uniquely capable of receiving him. What this indicates, as Robert Joyce has noted, is that in the male sexuality is a giving in a receiving sort of way, whereas in the female sexuality is a receiving in a giving sort of way.15 This way of touching is unique, second, because it can and sometimes does lead to the female's becoming pregnant, a bearer of a new human life.16 This touch, in short, is unique because it is unitive and procreative.

The facts noted in the foregoing paragraph support the view that human sexuality includes, somewhat differently for each sex, affective and genital dimensions. These two dimensions are inseparably linked in the "one" human person, a sexual being who is either male or female. Moreover, the genital component is both a way of being affectionate (unitive) and the only way in which males and females can be life-giving (procreative)."

Today many people believe that the fundamental "human" and "personal" significance of our sexuality is its affective component, in particular its coital-genital union, and that its procreative component is simply a biological function. These people, among them a number of prominent theologians, propose therefore an ideology of affectionate, relational, creatively interpersonal, and nonprocreative sex.18 Their understanding of human sexuality can properly be called "separatist," for they sever the bonds between the unitive/amative/affectionate dimension of human sexuality and its procreative dimension, deeming the former alone as personal and human and the latter as merely a biological function, of itself subpersonal in character and of human and personal significance only when consciously willed and chosen.19

In company with many others, including George Gilder, Paul Ramsey, and, significantly, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II,20 I believe that this separatist ideology is a serious misunderstanding of the significance of our existence as sexual persons. There is something of paramount human significance in the fact that one special kind of touch, the touch of coital sex, not only requires for its exercise a difference between male and female but also expresses in its own inherent dynamism an intimate, exclusive sharing of life and love. Moreover, this touch, open to the transmission of life, is capable of communicating that life and that love to a new human being, a new body person of priceless and irreplaceable value.

The generating of a new human life is not an act comparable to the making of a table or a car; it is not an act of "reproduction"--as many of the advocates of the separatist understanding prefer to call it--and it is not this sort of an act because a human person is not a product inferior to its producers but rather is a being equal in dignity to and one in nature with its parents. A human person is the image or word of God, and like the Uncreated Word a human person is to be begotten, not made. Furthermore, the newly formed and developing human person is one of the most helpless and dependent of all beings. The best way--God's plan for human beings, as the Church has consistently taught21--to provide this new human person with the love it needs to develop the powers it possesses is to give it a mother and a father who are willing to share their life and love with a being who comes into existence through the same act whereby they express their own deep, intimate, and exclusive love for one another.

Thus, despite the current ideology of nonprocreative relational sex, we find that sex takes on a new centrality and depth in relation to our capacity to share life with a new generation of human persons. Our power to do this, our procreative power, is thus by no means subpersonal or subhuman, a mere biological function. It is, rather, a significant human or personal power inherently and intimately linked to our very being.22 As Pope John Paul II has put it, human fertility "is directed to the generation of a human being, and so by its nature it surpasses the purely biological order and involves a whole series of personal values."23

It is now necessary to examine more closely the significance of our sexuality as affectionate, passionate beings, who long to touch and be touched by others. Among the ways in which we can touch another person, the genital sexual touch is, as we have already seen, unique. In and through it, the man and the woman are able to manifest what John Paul II has termed the "nuptial meaning of the body," that is, its meaning as a gift from God, an expression of His life and love and a reality that is, of itself, open to life.24 It is, moreover, not just any kind of life and love that is meant to be shared through this deeply personal deed; through this act each comes to "know" the other and to be "known" by that other in a unique way. The kind of love meant to be expressed by this sexual touch is aptly called "spousal" or "wedded" love, a love different in kind from ordinary friendship love the kind of love we are meant to extend to all.

This love, so richly described in "Gaudium et Spes," the Pastoral Constitution on the Modern World of Vatican II, in Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae vitae," and in the writings of Pope John Paul II both prior to and subsequent to his election as Pope,25 will be taken up at more length in Chapter 3, below. Here I would like to note how this love is analyzed by the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand and by the psychologist Erich Fromm. Von Hildebrand says that spousal love "aspires to a union which extends much further than that of simple friendship, filial love, or parental love. It desires bodily union.... Spousal love aspires to the bodily union as a specific fulfillment of the total union, as a unique, deep, mutual selfdonation."26 Spousal love, obviously, is the kind of love intended to characterize the love between man and woman in marriage, the kind of love symbolizing and inwardly participating in the love of Christ for His bride the Church.

It is important to note, however, that Von Hildebrand says that spousal love "aspires to" a unique and total self-donation. He recognized that spousal love, as an aspiration or desire, can and does arise in persons who are not married, and who, possibly, can never become married because of tragic circumstances. His point is that spousal love is the kind of love that is ordered to marriage, promised in marriage, and meant to characterize marriage. Indeed, as we shall see in Chapter 4, it is marriage itself that makes spousal love, as an actuality and not merely as an aspiration and desire, possible.

It is instructive, in my opinion, to note that this notion of spousal love seems to be precisely the type of love to which the psychologist Erich Fromm refers when he speaks of "erotic" love and distinguishes it from all other kinds of love. For Fromm erotic love is a distinct type of friendship love and its difference arises from its "exclusive" character, a character that needs to be carefully and properly understood. The exclusivity of erotic love is by no means a type of jealous possessiveness, nor does it mean that erotic or spousal love for one particular, unique person excludes warmth, affection, and friendship love for others. Fromm puts it this way:

"In erotic love there is an exclusiveness that is lacking in brotherly love and motherly love. The exclusive character of erotic love warrants further discussion. Frequently the exclusiveness of erotic love is misrepresented as meaning possessive attachment. One can find two people "in love" with each other who feel no love for anybody else. Their love is, in fact, an "egoism a deux".... They have the experience of overcoming aloneness yet, since they are separated from the rest of mankind, they remain separated from each other and alienated from themselves; their experience of union is an illusion. Erotic love is exclusive, but it loves in the other person all of mankind, all that is alive. It is exclusive in the sense that I can fuse myself fully and intensely with one person alone. Erotic love excludes the love of others only in the sense of erotic fusion, full commitment in all aspects of life--but not in the sense of deep brotherly love."27

There is, then, a very special kind of human love, one that is thematically sexual in character, aptly termed "spousal" or "conjugal" love. It is "this" kind of love, one that is exclusive yet nonpossessive, that gives human significance to the genital sexual touch, to the act of human coition. It is important to see why.

Earlier I stressed that our sexuality includes both affective and genital components--and in saying this there was no intent to sever the two; far from it, for the genital dimension of our sexuality is intended to be an exceptionally intimate mode of expressing affection, of touching and being touched by another human person. As males and females, we can reach out in friendship to touch all of the persons with whom we live. But, as men and women who lovingly and intelligently order our lives, we are to reach out and to touch in genital sexuality only that person with whom we will share conjugal or spousal love. There are many reasons why this is true and why this truth has much to tell us about ourselves and our existence as sexual beings; I shall now attempt to explore some of these reasons.

We body persons are unique among the living beings of our experience not only in our capacity to share and communicate life and love to others but also in our vulnerability and in our ability to wound others. We are the most woundable of animals, and in sharing our person (and this is precisely what we "are" doing in acts of coition, of genital touching) we are exchanging vulnerabilities, we are risking our lives--and we are risking the life of the person with whom we are sharing our own.

Life entails risks, of course; but the person who seeks to come into possession of himself and to integrate his sexual humanity does not risk his life or the life of another irreplaceably precious human person wantonly. We are, in brief, to come into possession of ourselves and not let ourselves become possessed by our desires. And precisely because of our vulnerability we should choose to touch another and to be touched by another in the act of genital coition only when, together, we are ready to share spousal love; for it is only this kind of love that rightly respects the intrinsic worth, the unique irreplaceability, and vulnerability of the human person.

I realize that at times there may be tender and affectionate acts of genital coition between persons who are unable to give each other spousal love. Fornication need not be brutal. Nonetheless the tenderness and affection present are so not because those engaging in such actions are unmarried, but despite the fact. And there is present an element of tragedy, of poignant sadness, and this precisely because something of crucial human significance that ought to be present is missing: the ability to give spousal love, an ability that is made possible only by the covenant of marriage. But because of this the action in question is deprived of what ought to be integral to it, and this deprivation of the good that ought to be present makes it evil. "Bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu."

Moreover, and this is something that cannot be concealed from the human mind, even in this contraceptive age, genital coition is genital: that is, it, possesses a procreative dimension, one rooted in the procreative sexuality of male and female. The act whereby a man and a woman can express and are meant to express in a unique way the special kind of friendship known as spousal love is an act that is open to the transmission of life. It is an act that of its own inner dynamism is open to the generation of a new human person, a child who has the right to be wanted, to be touched, to be given a home where he can take root and to be loved. The affective/unitive and genital/procreative dimension of human sexuality are, as Pope Paul VI stressed in "Humanae vitae," inseparably connected.28

The touch of genital sexuality, the "sex act," is a touch that is meant to participate in the love-giving and life-giving covenant of God's awesome plan for Man, whom He created "male and female." The touch of genital coition is fitting, appropriate, and of truly human significance only within the covenant of marriage, a human reality inwardly receptive to the covenant of God's grace, a reality that has indeed been integrated into this convenant by the redemptive death and resurrection of Christ. Within the reality of marriage, which is, as the Fathers of Vatican II teach, "rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent" and an image of and participation in "the loving covenant uniting Christ with the Church,"29 this touch itself becomes a covenantal and sacramental reality.

Everything said in this chapter is summarized by Pope John Paul II in "Familiaris Consortio," and it is fitting to conclude this chapter with this passage from his inspiring apostolic exhortation:

"Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is by no means something purely 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 a woman commit themselves totally to one another until death. The total physical self-giving would be a lie if it were not the sign and fruit of a total personal self-giving, in which the whole person, including the temporal dimension, is present: If the person were to withhold something or reserve the possibility of deciding otherwise in the future, by the very fact he or she would not be giving totally.

This totality which is required by conjugal love also corresponds to the demands of responsible fertility. This fertility is directed to the generation of a human being, and so by its nature it surpasses the purely biological order and involves a whole series of personal values. . .

The only "place" in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage, the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God himself, which only in this light manifests its true meaning. The institution of marriage is not an undue interference by society or authority, nor the extrinsic imposition of a form. Rather it is an interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God, the creator."30


1. On this question see the development by Bernard Lonergan of the distinction between categorical and transcendental questions and of the movement, within the human person, from experience to understanding to critical reflection and responsible action. His thought on this matter is briefly summarized in the first chapter of his "Method in Theology" (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972).

2. See the important book by Mortimer Adler, "The Difference of Man and the Difference it Makes" (New York: Meridian Books, 1968).

3. The term "person" is a philosophical one, and many contemporaries use it in the sense of an entity aware of itself as a self (e.g., Michael Tooley, "Abortion and Infanticide," "Philosophy & Public Affairs" 2 (1972) 37-65. Such an understanding of "person" excludes a great number of human beings. The term in its Boethian sense, namely as an individual of a rational nature, is applicable to all members of the human species. In the sense of a "being of moral worth," person is, in Christian faith and, in my judgment, in philosophical truth, a predicate of all members of the human species. For a good philosophical study of person" and of the reasons why all human beings, including tiny unborn ones, are persons and must be recognized as such, see Robert Joyce, "When Does a Person Begin?" in "New Perspectives on Abortion," ed. Thomas Hilgers, David Horan, and David Mall (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1981), pp. 345-346.

4. Pope John Paul II has developed, both as pope, and prior to his election as pontiff, as Karol Wojtyla, a magnificent understanding of the human person as a bodily being. See in particular his "The Acting Person" (Boston: Riedel, 1979) and his Wednesday conferences on the body, sex, and marriage. The first cycle of his talks on this subject have been published under the title "The Original Unity of Man and Woman: Catechesis on Genesis" (Boston: St. Paul Publications 1981). A fine summary of his three cycles of addresses on this subject is provided by Richard M. Hogan, "A Theology of the Body," "Fidelity" 1.1. (December 1981) 10-15, 24-27. The integral humanism of Pope John Paul II, like that of St. Thomas Aquinas, is in striking contrast to the dualistic view of man so common today, one that separates the person from the body and regards persons simply as conscious subjectivities attached to bodies.

5. Pope John Paul II, "Familiaris Consortio," n. 11.

6. The attitude that sex is simply bodily and that the body is subhuman, a matter of sheer facticity, is, of course, Gnostic and Manichean in its roots. It is despite all the talk about the centrality of sex and the reality of the body the view evidenced in the report, "Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought" by Anthony Kosnik et al. (New York: Paulist, 1977). See in particular p. 84, where the authors of this work speak of the facticity of our bodily structure, a facticity that we, i.e. the personal subjects, are to transcend. For further criticism of this view, so widespread in our culture, see the booklet I co-authored with John Harvey, O.S.F.S., "On Understanding 'Human Sexuality'" (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1977); see also Chapter One of my "Sex, Marriage, and Chastity: Reflections of a Catholic Layman, Spouse, and Parent" (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1981).

7. Mary Rosera Joyce, in the book co-authored with her husband, Robert, "New Dynamics of Sexual Love" (Collegeville, Mn.: St. John's University Press, 1970), pp. 34-35. Although I agree with the Joyces that sexuality is a being-ful difference and is by no means simply anatomical or even psychological, I believe that it is rooted in our being as corporeal, bodily entities who must touch others physically in order to communicate and share life. If we were to use Aristotelian categories, I would suggest that sexuality is an entitative habit, modifying the entire being of male and female. Male and female are not, of course, different "species," but their differences are entitative in that they permeate their being I fear that the Joyces' view, if pushed, would make male and female "different in species." Despite my concern over this aspect of their work, I believe that their phenomenological analyses of the differences between male and female are superbly insightful and of tremendous value. Roben Joyce has further developed the ideas he and his wife set forth in this book in his "Human Sexual Ecology" (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1980).

8. Pope John Paul II, "Marriage: One and Indissoluble in Genesis," in "The Original Unity of Man and Woman," p. 79.

9. Kosnik et al., p. 84.

10. On this question see the following: Stephen C. Clark, "Man and Woman in Christ" (Ann Arbor: Servant Books, 1980), in particular the initial chapter of Part Two; Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse, "Male and Female Sexuality Compared," in her "Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion" (New York: Seabury, 1977), pp. 62-76, and her essay. "On the Differences Between Men and Woman," in "Male and Female: Christian Approaches to Sexuality," ed. Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse and Urban T. Holmes, III (New York: Seabury, 1976), pp. 3-16.

11. See George Gilder, "Sexual Suicide" (New York: Quadrangle Books, 1973; reprint, New York: Signet, 1975), in particular chapters I and 2. See also Carle Zimmermann and Lucius F. Cervantes, "Marriage and the Family: A Text for Moderns" (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1956), pp. 137-292 (By Cervantes). It is interesting to note the similarity between the debates going on today and those that took place in the late 1940's and 1950's about the differences between men and women. On reading Cervantes (published in 1956) and then on reading Gilder (who is reacting to the rhetoric of such militant feminists as Germaine Greer, Susan Brownmiller et al.) and also in reading Clark (see note 10) (who is reacting to the claims of Rosemary Reuther, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza et al.) one has the experience of "deja vu."

12. This is the view definitely set forth by Joseph Fletcher. See in particular p. 211 of his "Morals and Medicine" (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960). It is also the view set forth, in my judgment, in the so-called majority report of the papal commission on the regulation of births. See the text of this report in "The Birth Control Debate," ed. Robert Hoyt (Kansas City: National Catholic Reporter, 1968) and the critique of this report in my "Sex, Love, and Procreation" (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1976).

13. For discussion of the virtue of chastity see Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), "Love and Responsibility" (New York: Farrah, Straus, Giroux, 1981), pp. 143-173; also my "The Nature and Meaning of Chastity" (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1976); and Albert Ple, O. P., "Chastity and the Affective Life" (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965), truly a superb work.

14. It ought to be evident I believe, that our Lord Jesus Christ was a fully sexed male and that His Blessed Mother was a fully sexed female.

15. On this see Robert Joyce, "Human Sexual Ecology," Chapter 5.

16. For a development of this idea see below, Chapter 8.

17. It remains true to say that human procreativity is possible only through the "spousal" touch of sexual coition even in this age of artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, etc. As will be shown in a later chapter, when married persons engage in in vitro fertilization and other modes of laboratory generation of human life their capacity to do so is not rooted in their being as spouses but simply in the fact that they are producers of gametic cells. Such generation of human life is not a procreative act but is rather one of reproduction.

18. Exponents of this view include, among others, the following: Michael Valente, "Sex: The Radical View of a Catholic Theologian" (New York: Bruce, 1970); Robert and Anna Francoeur, "The Ethics of Man Made Sex," in "The Future of Sexual Relations," ed. Robert and Anna Francoeur (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. 1973); Kosnik et al., "Human Sexuality;" John McNeill, "The Church and the Homosexual" (Kansas City: Sheed, Ward, McMeel, 1977). A very sophisticated and urbane presentation of this view so widespread today is given by Ashley Montagu in the first chapter of his "Sex, Man, and Culture" (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1969).

19. For further criticism of this view see Chapter One of my "Sex, Marriage, and Chastity."

20. Pope Paul VI, "Humanae vitae;" Pope John Paul II, "Familiaris Consortio," nn. 28-35; Gilder, "Sexual Suicide," Chapters One and Two; Paul Ramsey, "Fabricated Man" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), Chapter One. While Professor Ramsey is clearly opposed to the dualistic, separatistic understanding of human sexuality, he does, unfortunately, accept contraception. He uses an argument similar to one of the arguments developed by the authors of the "majority report" namely, the distinction between the marriage as a whole and individual acts within the marriage, an argument that is quite specious. For a critique of this argument see Chapter Four of my "Sex, Marriage and Chastity." Nonetheless, Ramsey definitely rejects and submits to penetrating criticism the dualism and separatism so dominant today and reflected in the works cited in note 18.

21. It is always to "God's plan" that the Church refers in speaking of marriage and the sexual order. This is constantly reaffirmed in the magisterial documents and runs like a refrain through Pope Pius XI's "Casti Connubii," the paragraphs devoted to marriage in "Gaudium et Spes," Pope Paul VI's "Humanae vitae," and Pope John Paul II's "Familiaris Consortio."

22. For a development of this idea, see below, Chapter 3, "Fertility Awareness and Sexuality."

23. "Familiaris Consortio" n. 11.

24. On this see in particular Pope John Paul II's Address of January 9, 1980 "The Nuptial Meaning of the Body," in the "Original Unity of Man and Woman," pp. 106-112.

25. "Gaudium et Spes," nn. 49-50; Pope Paul VI, "Humanae vitae" n. 9; Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), "Love and Responsibility" pp. 73-100; "Familiaris Consortio," nn. 18-27.

26. Dietrich von Hildebrand, "Man and Woman" (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1965), p. 18.

27. Erich Fromm, "The Art of Loving" (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), p. 55.

28. Pope Paul VI, "Humanae vitae," no. 13.

29. "Gaudium et Spes," nn. 49-52.

30. "Familiaris Consortio," n. 11.