- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

America’s culture war, says Catholic scholar Christopher West, has one issue at its root: sex.

“Human history is defined by sexual choices,” Mr. West said during a recent Capitol Hill lecture. “The task of the 20th century was to rid itself of the Christian sexual ethic.”

An instructor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Mr. West emphasized the “theology of the body” doctrine, developed by Pope John Paul II, which holds that the human body has theological significance.

The biblical call to imitate God extends further than some realize, Mr. West said.

“Traditional theologians have said we image God through our rational soul,” he said. But John Paul II took that view to the next level, arguing that the physical “communion” men and women establish through sex also has eternal significance.

“There is a raging spiritual warfare going on,” said Mr. West, “and it is focused precisely on the mystery of human sexuality.”

One of the most important ways American culture has deviated from God’s design for sex, said Mr. West, is its widespread approval of the use of contraception. He said the idea that “happiness will come when we separate sex from the most beautiful and natural fruit of the sexual union — the child,” is the flawed product of a culture that views sex as “one more contact sport.”

Although Catholic doctrine has long condemned the use of artificial contraceptives, some Protestants — including Sam and Bethany Torode, authors of “Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception” — have voiced similar concerns.

“Our culture needs to relearn the obvious: Sex leads to babies,” Mr. West said. He added that Christians are called to love others as Christ loved the church — described in the Bible as God’s “bride” — and asked, “Would Christ ever render his bride sterile?”

Comparing the divine design of sex with a banquet, Mr. West said, “We are so starved for love in our lives that too often we are willing to eat out of a dumpster” by engaging in non-biblical sex.

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