The Differences Between Sex and Love
by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.
Love is an Act of the Will
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)
Satisfaction of Sex
Heart includes the Rational Thought Process (Intellect/Will)
of the Soul and the Bodily Emotions that influence the
Love is an Act of the Will.
Sex is a Wedding Present from God.
Love is Primarily in the Will,
not in the Emotions or the Glands.
The Will is like the Voice; the
Emotions are like the Echo. The Pleasure associated
with Love, or what is today called "Sex",
is the Frosting-on-the-Cake; its purpose is to make us Love the Cake, not ignore it.
The Greatest Illusion of Lovers is to believe that the Intensity of their
Sexual Attraction is the Guarantee of the Perpetuity
of their Love. It is because of this Failure to distinguish between the
Glandular and Spiritual -- or between
Sex which we have in-common-with Animals, and Love
which we have in-common-with God -- that Marriages
are so full of Deception. What some people Love is not a Person, but the
Experience of being in Love. The First is
Irreplaceable; the Second is not. As soon as the
Glands cease to react with their Pristine Force, couples who identified Emotionalism
and Love claim they no longer Love one another.
If such is the case, they never Loved the other Person in the
First Place; they only Loved being
Loved, which is the Highest Form of Egotism.
Marriage founded-on Sex Passion alone, lasts
only as-long-as the Animal Passion lasts. Within Two (2)
Years the Animal Attraction for the other may Die, and when it does, Law
comes to its rescue to Justify the Divorce with the meaningless words "Incompatibility," or
"Mental Torture". Animals never have recourse to Law Courts, because they have
no Will to Love; but Man,
having Reason, feels the need of Justifying his Irrational
Behavior when he does Wrong.
God is Love
via His Holy Will
God is Pure Spirit
Capable of Love
(in-common with God)
Capable of Sex
(in-common with Animals)
Incapable of Love
(no Rational Soul)
Capable of Sex
There are Two (2) Reasons for the Primacy of
Sex over Love in a Decadent
One is the decline of Reason. As Humans give-up
Reason, they resort-to their Imaginations.
That is why Motion Pictures and Picture Magazines enjoy such popularity. As Thinking
fades, Unrestrained Desires come to the Fore. Since
Physical and Erotic Desires
are among the easiest to dwell-upon, because they require no Effort and because they are Powerfully Aided by
Bodily Passions, Sex begins to be all-important. It is by no Historical
Accident that an Age of Anti-Intellectualism and Irrationalism, such as our own, is also an Age of
The Second Factor is Egotism. As belief in
a Divine Judgment, a Future Life,
Heaven and Hell, a
Moral Order, is increasingly Rejected, the Ego
becomes more-and-more Firmly Enthroned as the Source of its Morality. Each Person becomes a Judge in his own case. With this increase
of Selfishness, the demands for Self-Satisfaction become more-and-more Imperious, and
the Interests of the Community and the Rights of Others have less-and-less Appeal. All
Sin is Self-Centeredness, as Love
is Otherness and Relatedness.
Sin is the Infidelity of Man to the Image of what he ought to be in his
Eternal Vocation as an Adopted son of God;
the Image God sees in Himself when
He contemplates His Word.
There are Two (2) Extremes to be avoided in discussing
One is the Refusal to recognize Sexual
the Other is the Giving-of-Primacy to Sexual
The First Error was Victorian; the
Second is Freudian. To the Christian,
Sex is Inseparable from the Person, and to Reduce the Person to
Sex is as silly as to Reduce Personality to Lungs or a
Thorax. Certain Victorians in their Education, practically
denied Sex as a Function of Personality; certain
'Sexophiles' of modern times deny Personality and make a
god of Sex. The Male Animal is attracted to the Female Animal, but
a Human Personality is attracted to another Human Personality. The attraction of Beast-to-Beast is
Physiological; the attraction of Human-to-Human is Physiological,
Psychological, and Spiritual. The
Human Spirit has a Thirst for the Infinite
which the Quadruped has not. This Infinite is really
God. But Man can Pervert that Thirst, which the Animal cannot, because it
has no Concept of the Infinite. Infidelity
in Married Life is basically the Substitution for an
Infinite, of a Succession of Finite Carnal Experiences. The
False Infinity-of-Succession takes the place of Infinity of
Destiny, which is God. The Beast is
Promiscuous for an entirely Different Reason than Man. The False Pleasure
given by New Conquests in the Realm of Sex is the Ersatz (inferior substitute) for the
Conquest of the Spirit in the Sacrament! The
Sense of Emptiness, Melancholy, and
Frustration is a Consequence of the Failure
to find Infinite Satisfaction in what is Carnal
and Limited. Despair is disappointed Hedonism.
The most Depressed Spirits are those who seek
God in a false god!
Definition of Personality - from the Catholic Encyclopedia
|A Man's Personality is that of which he has Cognizance under the Concept of "Self". It is
that Entity, Substantial, Permanent, Unitary, which is the Subject of all the States and Acts that Constitute his
If Love does not Climb, it
Falls. If, like the Flame, it does not burn upward to the Sun,
it burns downward to Destroy. If Sex does
not mount to Heaven, it descends into Hell.
There is no such thing as giving the Body without giving the
Soul. Those who think they can be Faithful in
Soul to one another, but Unfaithful in
Body, forget that the Two (2) are Inseparable.
Sex in isolation from Personality does not exist! An Arm living and gesticulating
apart from the Living Organism is an Impossibility. Man has no Organic Functions
isolated from his Soul. There is
involvement of the Whole Personality. Nothing is more Psychosomatic than the Union of
Two (2) in One (1)
Flesh; nothing so much alters a Mind, a
Will, for Better or for
Worse. The Separation of Soul and
Body is Death. Those who Separate
Sex and Spirit are rehearsing for
Death. The Enjoyment of the other's
Personality through one's own Personality, is Love. The Pleasure of
Animal Function through another's Animal Function is
Sex, separated from Love.
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)
Love as an Act
of the Will
Sex is one of the means God has
Instituted for the Enrichment of Personality. It is a Basic Principle of Philosophy that there is
nothing in the Mind which was not previously in the
Senses. All our Knowledge comes from the
Body. We have a Body, Saint Thomas tells us, because of the
Weakness of our Intellect. Just as the Enrichment of
the Mind comes from the Body and its
Senses, so the Enrichment of
Love comes through the Body and its
Sex. As one can see a Universe mirrored in a Tear on a Cheek, so in
Sex can be seen mirrored that wider-world of Love.
Love in Monogamous Marriage includes
Sex; but Sex, in the Contemporary use of the
Term, does not imply either Marriage or Monogamy.
Every Woman instinctively realizes the difference between the Two (2), but Man comes to
understand it more slowly through Reason and Prayer.
Man is driven by Pleasure; Woman by the Meaning of Pleasure.
She sees Pleasure more as a means to an end, namely, the Prolongation of
Love both in herself and in her child. Like Mary at the
Annunciation, she accepts the Love which is presented to her by another.
In Mary, it came Directly from God through an
Angel; in Marriage, it comes Indirectly from
God through a Man. But in both instances, there is an Acceptance, a Surrender, a
Fiat: "Let it be unto me according to Thy Word"
(Luke 1:28). The Pagan Woman who has not consciously thought of
God is actually Half Woman and
Half Dream; the Woman who sees Love as a
Reflection of the Trinity is Half
Woman and Half Spirit,
and she waits upon the Creative Work of God within her
Body. Patience thus becomes bound-up with her Acceptance. Woman accepts the
Exigencies of Love, as the Farmer accepts the Exigencies of Nature, and waits, after the
Sowing of the Seed, the Harvest of Autumn.
But when Sex is Divorced from
Love there is a feeling that one has been stopped at the Vestibule of the Castle of Pleasure;
that the Heart has been Denied the City after
Crossing the Bridge. Sadness and Melancholy
result from such a Frustration of Destiny, for it is the Nature of Man to be
Sad when he is Pulled Outside himself, or Exteriorized without getting any nearer his Goal.
There is a closer Correlation between Mental Instability and the Animal View of
Sex than many suspect. Happiness consists in
Interiority of the Spirit, namely, the development of Personality in relationship to a
Heavenly Destiny. He who has no Purpose in life is
Unhappy; he who Exteriorizes his life and is Dominated, or Subjugated, by what is Outside himself, or spends his Energy
on the External without Understanding its Mystery, is
Unhappy to the point of Melancholy. There is the feeling of being
Hungry after having eaten, or of being Disgusted
with Food, because it has nourished not the Body, in the case of an individual, or another
Body, in the case of Marriage. In the Woman,
this Sadness is due to the Humiliation of
realizing that where Marriage is only Sex,
her Role could be fulfilled by any other Woman; there is nothing Personal, Incommunicable, and therefore nothing
Dignified. Summoned by her God - implanted
Nature to be ushered into the Mysteries of Life which have their source in
God, she is Condemned to remain on the
Threshold as a Tool or an Instrument of Pleasure alone, and not as a Companion of
Love. Two (2) Glasses that are empty cannot Fill Up one another.
There must be a Fountain of Water Outside the Glasses, in order that they may have Communion with one another. It takes
Three (3) to make Love.
Every Person is what he Loves.
Love becomes like unto that which it Loves. If it
Loves Heaven, it becomes Heavenly; if it
Loves the Carnal as a
god, it becomes Corruptible. The kind of
Immortality we have depends on the kind of Loves
we have. Putting it Negatively, he who tells you what he does not Love, also tells
what he is. "Amor pondus meum: Love is my Gravitation", said Saint Augustine.
This slow conversion of a Subject into an Object, of a Lover into the
Beloved, of the Miser into his
Gold, of the Saint into his
God, discloses the importance of Loving the
Right Things. The Nobler our Loves, the
Nobler our Character. To Love what is Below
the Human, is Degradation; to Love what is
Human for the sake of the Human, is Mediocrity; to Love the Human for the sake of the
Divine, is Enriching; to
Love the Divine for its own sake is
Light of the World - by William Holman Hunt . . . .
Love is Trinity (3);
Sex is Duality (2). But there are many other
differences between the Two (2). Sex
Rationalizes; Love does not.
Sex has to Justify itself with Kinsey Reports,
"But Freud told us", or "No one believes that
today"; Love needs no
Reasons. Sex asks Science to defend it;
Love never asks "Why?" It says, "I
Love you". Love is its own Reason.
"God is Love". Satan asked a
"Why?" of God's Love in the
Garden of Paradise. Every Rationalization is farfetched and never discloses
the Real Reason. He who Breaks the
Divine Law and finds himself Outside of Christ's Mystical
Body in a Second Marriage, will often Justify
himself by saying: "I could not accept the Doctrine of Transubstantiation". What he means
is that he can no longer accept the Sixth Commandment (Thou shall
not commit Adultery). Milton wrote an Abstract and apparently a Philosophical Treatise on
"Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce", in which he Justified the
Divorce on the grounds of Incompatibility. But the real
Reason was not what he set-down in the Book; it was to be found in the fact that he
wished to marry someone else while his wife was living. What is important is not What
people say, but Why they say it. Too many assume that the reason people do not come to
God is because they are Ignorant; it is more generally True that the reason
people do not come to God is because of their Behavior. Our
Lord said: "Rejection lies in this, that when the Light came into the World men preferred
Darkness to Light; preferred it, because their doings were Evil. Anyone who Acts Shamefully hates the Light"
(John 3:19, 20), It is not always Doubt that has to be overcome,
but Evil Habits.
From another Point of View, Sex seeks the Part;
Love the Totality. Sex is
Biological and Physiological, and has its Definite Zones of
Satisfaction. Love, on the contrary, includes
all of these but is directed to the Totality of the Person Loved, i.e., as a Creature
composed of Body and Soul and made to the
Image and Likeness of God. Love seeks the
Clock and its purpose; Sex concentrates on the Mainspring and forgets its Mission to Keep
Time. Sex eliminates from the Person who is Loved
everything that cannot adapt itself to its Carnal Libido. Those who give Primacy to
Sex for that reason are Anti-Religious. Love,
however, does not concentrate on a Function, but on Personality. An Organ
does not include the Personality, but the Personality includes the Organ,
which is another way of repeating the Theme: Love includes
Sex, but Sex does not include
"Egotism/Vanity" - by Piola, Domenico -
from a private collection . . . .
True Love (small Angel) is being crushed, as a Rose is being accepted from
the Dark Angel representing Ego/Vanity/
Love concentrates on the Object; Sex
concentrates on the Subject. Love is directed to someone else for the sake of the other's
Perfection; Sex is directed to Self for the
sake of Self-Satisfaction. Sex flatters the Object not because it is Praiseworthy
in itself, but rather as a Solicitation. It knows how to make Friends and influence People. Most sound
Minds Resent Flattery because they see the Egotism behind the Screen of
Altruism. The Ego in Sex pleads that it
Loves the alter Ego, but what it
Loves is really the possibility of its own Pleasure
in the other Ego. The other Person is necessary for the return of the
Egotist upon himself. The Egotist finds
himself constantly being encircled by Non-Being, Purposelessness, Meaninglessness; he has the feeling of being
Exploited. Refusing to be related to anything else, he soon sees that nothing is
for him: The Whole World is against him! But Love, which stresses the Object, finds
itself in Constantly Enlarging Relationships. Love is so Strong it surpasses Narrowness by
Devotedness and Forgetfulness of Self. In history, the only Causes that Die are those for
which Men refuse to Die. The more Love grows,
the more its eyes open to the Needs of others, to the
Miseries of Men, and to Compassion. The
Remedy for all the Sufferings of the Modern Brain lies in the Enlargement of the
Heart through Love, which forgets itself as
the Subject and begins to Love the Neighbor as the Object. But he who
lives for himself will eventually find that Nature, Fellowman, and
God are all against him. The so-called "Persecution Complex" is
the result of Egotism. The World seems Against him who wants
everything for himself.
Sex is moved by the Desire to
fill a Moment between having and
not having. It is an experience like looking at a Sunset, or twirling one's thumbs to pass the time.
It rests after One (1) Experience, because Glutted for the
Moment, and then waits for the Reappearance of a new Craving or
Passion to be Satisfied on a totally different Object.
Love frowns upon this notion, for it sees in this nothing but the Killing
of the Objects Loved for the Sake of Self-Satisfaction.
Sex would give Birds Flight, but no Nests; Hearts
Emotions but no Homes; throw the Whole World into the experience of Voyagers at Sea,
but with no Ports. Instead of pursuing an Infinite which is fixed, it Substitutes
the False Infinity of never finding
Satisfaction. The Infinite then becomes not the Possession of
Love but the Fruitless Search for Love,
which is the basis of so many Psychoses and Neuroses.
The Infinite then becomes Restlessness, a
Merry-go-Round of the Heart which spins only to spin-again.
Real Love, on the contrary, admits the Need, the Thirst, the Passion, the Craving, but it also admits an Abiding
Satisfaction by Adhesion to a Value which transcends Time-and-Space.
Love unites itself to Being and thus becomes
Perfect; Sex unites itself to Non-Being and thus becomes
Irritation and Anxiety. In
Love, Poverty becomes Integrated into Riches; Need into Fulfillment; Yearning into Joy;
Chase into Capture. But Sex is without the Joy of
Offering. The Wolf offers nothing when he Kills the Lamb. The
Joy of Oblation is missing, for the Egotist
by his very Nature seeks Inflation. Love
Gives to Receive. Sex
Receives so as not to Give.
Love is Soul Contact with another, for the
sake-of Perfection; Sex is
Body Contact with another, for the sake-of Sublimation.
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)
Supernatural Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Divine Love is the Unitive
(1) Force of a Person.
The Supernatural Resides within the Soul.
A Body can Exhaust itself, but it cannot Nourish itself. If Man
needed only Nourishment, he could Devour Love as he Devours Food. But having a
Spirit which needs the Divine Love as a
Unitive (1) Force, he can never be Satisfied by Devouring the
Love of another Person. A Potato has a Nature; a Man is a Person. The former can be
Destroyed as a means-to-an-end; the Human may not.
Sex would turn Man into a Vegetable and reduce a Person to an Animal. Sex
makes-hungry where most-it-satisfies, for the Person needs the Person, and a Person is a Person only when seen in an
Image of God.