Like all choices, good sexual choices must conform to the truth, if they are to be morally good and enable men and women to give to themselves the dignity to which they are called from the depths of their being.
This means that Good sexual choices must respect the inviolable dignity of human persons as made in God’s image and to this they must respect the real goods of human persons.
The Goods at Stake in Sexual Choices
What goods are at stake in making good sexual choices?
What goods come into focus (or ought to come into focus) when one is thinking about exercising his or her genital, sexual capacity and exercising his or her good sexual choices?
They are the following:
(1) The good of life itself in its transmission, or the procreative good;
(2) The good of intimate human friendship and relationship;
(3) The good of marriage itself;
(4) The good of personal integrity, a good intimately related to what Pope John Paul II calls the “nuptial meaning” of the body.
The good of life and the good of intimate human relationship in making good sexual choices
The first two of these goods are obviously at stake when one considers engaging in genital sex. That the good of life itself in its generation is “in focus” in the exercise of one’s genital sexual powers is clearly indicated by the fact that the powers in question are called “genital.”
The act of sexual coition is the sort or kind of act intrinsically apt for the generation of human life. The practice of contraception confirms this, for a person does not contracept if he or she is about to go fishing or read a book or shake hands, etc., for one realizes that acts of these kinds are not intrinsically apt for generating human life.
One contracepts only when one:
(a) Chooses the kind of act, genital coition, which one reasonably believes is the kind of act intrinsically apt for generating life and
(b) Chooses to make it to be the sort of act through which human life cannot be given.
As is easily seen, (b) is the contraceptive choice. Contraception makes no sense otherwise.
That the good of intimate human friendship is also at stake in genital coition is evident from the fact that genital coition is possible only between two persons, one male, the other female.
In short, when one chooses to engage in genital coition, the goods at stake are those identified as the “unitive” and “procreative” goods of human sexuality.
Even if one chooses to exercise his or her genital sexuality solitarily, as in masturbation, or in sodomitical or non-coital acts (anally or orally or what have you), one realizes that one is exercising a personal sexual power that has inherently both life-giving (procreative) and person-uniting (unitive) dimensions.
Also at stake in genital or good sexual choices is the good of marriage itself. Marriage is truly a basic human good, complex in nature. The good of personal integrity entails one’s own bodily integrity, for one’s body is integral to one’s being as a human person.
Hence this good of personal integrity is basically an aspect of what John Paul II calls the “nuptial meaning” of the body.
The human body is the “disclosure” of the human person, the revelation of the person. And since the human body is inescapably either male or female, it is the revelation of a man-person or a woman-person.
Precisely, because of their sexual differences, revealed in their bodies, the man-person and the woman-person can give themselves to one another bodily in the act of genital coition.
The bodily gift of the man-person to the woman-person and vice versa is the outward sign of the communion of persons existing between them.
The body, therefore, is the means and sign of the gift of the man-person to the woman-person. This capacity of the body to express the communion of persons existing between the man-person and the woman-person constitutes its nuptial meaning.
Human choices and actions, including good sexual choices, are not morally good and in conformity with the truth and dignity of the person if they fail to completely respect the perfect goods of human persons.
Examples of such goods are life itself, friendship, marriage, and personal, bodily integrity.
If one acts contrary to any of these human goods, one violates personal dignity and closes one’s heart to integral human fulfillment.