Love and Procreation

Stanley J. Grenz’s article, “What Is Sex For?” [June 12], is, on the whole, sympathetic to positions taken in the recent Vatican document on respect for human life in its origins. But he seems seriously to misunderstand the teaching of the Catholic Church. My wife and I are “beyond the childbearing years,” but the church in no way holds that we must abstain from the marital act, nor teaches that couples seeking to be responsible in the regulation of conception must forgo this beautiful expression of married love. It does teach that the procreative and unitive meanings of the marital act are, by the will of God, inseparably connected and not necessary for the marital act to be good and holy and symbolic of the union between Christ and his church.

When human life comes through the marital act, it is as a “gift” from God crowning the act and giving permanent embodiment to it. But when life comes outside it as a result of artificial insemination, even when the sperm are from the husband, the child is the end product of a process managed and carried out by persons other than the spouses. Human beings are to be “begotten” in an act of marital love, not “made” by technological procedures.


The Catholic University of America

Washington, D.C.

Grenz’s rejection of the Roman Catholic position leads to automatic rejection of the premise on which the position is based—the “inseparable connection … between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning.” This premise is not exclusively Roman Catholic, but is the historic Christian position.

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