When I did my training in spiritual direction, attendance to talks would fade away to about 50 per cent attendance towards the end of term, however worthy the subject. A talk on sex was announced and there was full attendance. For the prurient the talk was a disappointment. Watching the film Yentl last night the old priest asks ‘where does strength come from? The student replies- from controlling his passions.’
Teaching on sex in the Western Christian tradition seems to range from the unhealthily repressive to the down right libertine. St Augustine, the wisest of men, does get a bit self punishing on the subject after the excesses of his youth ( blimey they were not that bad!! )
St John Chrysostom, from roughly the same time, seems far more balanced. He stresses the importance of remembering the human nature of Christ ( and the Church at his time was riven by heresy that did not. )
We know that at times life becomes a battlefield as the spiritual and the physical aspects struggle for supremacy. Yet it would be wrong to say that the spiritual aspect should defeat and destroy the physical; rather we want harmony between the two. Our physical wants and desires should not be ignored; rather they should be satisfied within the framework of morality which the spirit dictates. We should understand Christ in a similar way. It is not a question of his divine nature conquering and destroying his human nature; rather he revealed how human flesh and blood can live in perfect harmony with God.