“As an incarnate spirit, that is a soul which expresses itself in a body and a body informed by an immortal spirit, man is called to love in his unified totality. Love includes the human body, and the body is made a sharer in spiritual love” (Familiaris Consortio, 11).
What does the slang term “going all the way” mean if not a recognition that there is a totality involved in sex? There is an implicit idea that you can’t do more, you can’t give or receive more, from a bodily standpoint. I will spare you the plethora of songs I could name where this “give it all to me, baby” idea is present. But there is often a disconnect between the passion and desire for physical connectedness and the deeper yearnings expressed in the need for a love that is exclusive and everlasting.
In 1999, The Bloodhound Gang sang out “You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals / So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” It’s not like we expected more. The album is called Hooray for Boobies, the song is “The Bad Touch” and they are dressed in monkey suits in the video. And the truth is, they are completely correct — if indeed humankind is “nothin’ but mammals.” Truly human love, though, transcends merely animal love. So does, or should, human sex. It doesn’t take long for people to learn the hard way that they deserve more than a mating ritual.
Human body language is human language. It is “words unspoken.” And what do those words, those human words, say? “I’m the only one” is what Carole King was hearing. Sex says “You. And only You. Forever.” If that is not what you meant say when you have sex, then you are lying. Straight up.
“Consequently, 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 this very fact he or she would not be giving totally.” (Familiaris Consortio, 11).
So much for “Hips Don’t Lie.” They apparently can and sometimes do. When you set up the dominoes like that, you can see that the Church’s teaching on so many issues is a constant affirmation of the “You. And only you. Forever” that sex is supposed to be saying. Masturbation? Nope, there’s no gift if there’s no other person. Homosexual sex? Nope, because it isn’t a total human self-giving if one’s fertility is not being offered. Contraception? Nope, the totality of your gift means your fertility can’t be shut down or blocked.
Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” takes the cake as the most theologically correct song about childbirth this side of Christmas carols. “We have been heaven blessed / I can’t believe what God has done / Through us he’s given life to one / But isn’t she lovely made from love.” The album, one of pop music’s best, is 1976’s Songs in the Key of Life, and the song’s original version starts — and ends — with the cries of his newborn child whose name, Aisha, means “life.”
Now, we are all weak and sell ourselves short at times. The yearning to belong, even to feel that for a short time, may lead us to want to be lied to. “Lie to me. I promise, I’ll believe. Lie to me but please don’t leave” (Sorry, Sheryl Crow, anyone who does that is not “Strong Enough” to be your man). And letting oneself be lied to cuts across both genders. “Right now if you don’t love me baby — lie to me” (I had to get some Bon Jovi in there).