The Natural Law is the law that every person knows by instinct from birth. It is planted by the Creator in our heart, and everyone – even pagans who have never heard about God or the true Catholic religion – receives this gift from God. Examples of sins against the Natural Law that are easy to recognize are: murder, rape, theft, pedophilia, slander and lying. The conscience always convicts a person who commits such sins and thus, there can never be an excuse for people who commit them. As the Haydock Bible and Commentary correctly explains about The Natural Law and Romans 2:14-16: “these men are a law to themselves, and have it written in their hearts, as to the existence of a God, and their reason tells them, that many sins are unlawful...”
The Natural Law that God has imprinted on every person’s heart teaches that some sexual acts, touches and kisses are inherently evil, unnecessary, selfish, unnatural, and shameful, while others are not. Some people, however, have hardened themselves in their sins and do not heed this warning or reproach from their conscience. But this is their own fault since they have rejected God and smothered their God given conscience through deliberate sin. This is testified to in the Bible in the following verses: “And Pharaoh seeing that rest was given, hardened his own heart, and did not hear them, as the Lord had commanded. … And the magicians said to Pharaoh: This is the finger of God. And Pharaoh heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had commanded. … And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, so that neither this time would he let the people go.” (Exodus 8:15,19,32)
In the marvelous Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden, Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks about the “hardening” of a sinner’s heart by using the example of the Pharaoh found in The Book of Exodus, chapter 8, in the Old Testament Bible.
Fifth question. “Why are some people exceedingly hardened, while others enjoy wonderful consolation?”
Our Lord Jesus Christ answer to the fifth question. “As to why some people are hardened, I [Jesus] answer: Pharaoh’s hardness of heart was his own fault, not mine, because he did not want to conform himself to my divine will. Hardness of heart is nothing other than the withdrawal of my divine grace, which is withdrawn when people do not give me, their God, their free possession, namely, their will.
“You can understand this by means of a parable. There was a man who owned two fields, one of which lay fallow, while the other bore fruit at certain times. A friend of his said to him: ‘I wonder why, although you are wise and rich, you do not take more care to cultivate your fields or why you do not give them to others to cultivate.’ The man answered: ‘One of the fields, no matter how much care I take, does not produce anything but the most useless plants that are seized by noxious animals that ruin the place. If I fertilize it with manure, it only insults me by growing wild because, though it does produce a small amount of grain, even more weeds spring up, which I refuse to gather in, since I only want pure grain. The better plan, then, is to leave a field like that uncultivated, since then the animals do not occupy the place or hide in the grass, and, if any bitter herbs do sprout, they are useful for the sheep, because, after tasting them, the sheep learn not to be fastidious about sweeter fodder.
“The other field is managed according to the nature of the seasons. Some parts of it are stony and need fertilizer; other parts are wet and need warmth, while still others are dry and need watering. Thus I organize my work according to the different conditions of the field.’ I, God, am like this man. The first field represents the free activity of the will given to man, which he uses more against me than for me. Even if man does do some things that please me, yet he provokes me in more ways, since man’s will and my will are not in harmony. Pharaoh also acted in this way when, although he knew my power by means of sure signs, nevertheless he set his mind against me and continued on in his wickedness. Therefore, he experienced my justice, because it is only just that a person who does not make good use of small things should not be allowed to rejoice proudly in greater ones.
“The second field represents the obedience of a good mind and the denial of self-will. If such a mind is dry in devotion, it should wait for the rain of my divine grace. If it is stony through impatience and hardheartedness, it should bear chastening and correction with equanimity. If it is wet through carnal lust, it should embrace abstinence and be like an animal alert to its owner’s will. I, God, can proudly rejoice in a mind like that. The human will acting in opposition to me causes people to be hardhearted. I desire the salvation of everyone, but this cannot come about without the personal cooperation of each and every person in conforming his or her will to mine.
“Furthermore, as to why grace and progress are not granted equally to all – that belongs to my hidden judgment. I know and measure out what is beneficial and appropriate to each one, and I hold people back in their designs so that they do not fall more deeply. Many people have received the talent of grace and are capable of working but refuse to do so. Others keep themselves from sin out of fear of punishment, or because they do not have the possibility of sinning, or because sin does not attract them. Thus, some are not given greater gifts, because I alone understand the human mind and know how to distribute my gifts.” (The Revelations of Saint Bridget, Book 5, Interrogation 13)
The description of a sinner “hardening” himself through sin that the Holy Scripture and spiritual writers often use to describe such people is indeed a most perfect description for this process of a sinner’s evolution in wickedness. Indeed, the more a man is of bad will, the less will also his conscience rebuke him for his sinful activities, so that a person hardened in habitual sins will many times totally cease to hear the rebuke of his God given conscience.
The reason behind why people fall into heresies of all kinds, is that they sin against the Natural Law concerning one or more of the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. Anyone who commits a single one of these sins sins mortally against nature, and damns himself. If people would only keep the Natural Law, the devil would never be able to conquer and damn their souls. However, of all the seven mortal sins, lust is especially powerful in inducing a man to fall into heresy. A great reason why the people who commit sexual sins are so “hardened” in their sins, and so hard to be converted, is because sensual lusts (both for the married and the unmarried people alike) actually “gives rise to blindness of mind, which excludes almost entirely the knowledge of spiritual things, while dulness of sense arises from gluttony, which makes a man weak in regard to the same [spiritual] intelligible things.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II:II, Q. 15, Art. 3) Indeed, this “blindness of mind” and “dulness of sense” is undoubtedly the main reason why most people, however much evidence is provided against their heresies, refuse to convert. It is therefore true to say that “The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools [and damned people] is infinite” (Ecclesiastes 1:15) because of their own bad will and lasciviousness, according to God’s Holy and infallible Word. Their short moment of pleasure in this perishable world blinds them to the truth about God and the Natural Law, precipitating them into an eternal hell fire and torment. This fact also requires married people from not indulging too often in the marital act. For all who overindulge in the marital act will always experience a “blindness of mind” of spiritual things. So young as well as old must be kept away from impurity and gluttony, since both of these sins are very powerful in getting a person to abandon the faith, and the moral life, since the “blindness of mind” and “dulness of sense” undoubtedly will effect the minds of both young and old in a very detrimental way. Since the Holy Bible itself infallibly tells us “the number of fools is infinite” and that “The perverse are hard to be corrected” we should not wonder or find it hard to believe or accept that Our Lord’s words in the Gospel that most men are damned, are true.
Then there is the matter that sexual arousal feels good. We tend to not only repeat the things that make us feel good, we often look to prolong the feeling. The problem is that repeated exposure dulls our sensitivity. It takes longer exposure or new things to fan the flames again. If you have ever ridden a roller coaster, you know the first ride is a major thrill; but part of the thrill comes from not knowing what to expect. Hence, after repeated rides, the roller coaster becomes mundane. It hasn’t changed, but we become calloused to its thrills. That is why people search out new roller coasters to ride. When people chase after sexual thrills, one of the things that lends excitement to the act is the newness of the feelings. But after a while, you will know just what to expect but you want those feelings you had when it was new. Hence, you engage in it longer or you go further toward intercourse because it adds new dimensions that you haven’t experienced before. Just because you haven’t gone too far in the past doesn’t mean you won’t gradually creep up to too far in the future. This is why it is absolutely imperative for married spouses to never allow their lusts or desires to gain control over their wills, and why they must be obedient to the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Bible which tells spouses to practice chastity from time to time in order to be better disposed for prayer and other spiritual works. In truth, when we indulge our sensual appetites, we forge and make our own chains, binding ourselves to the World, the Devil and Hell. “Out of a forward will lust had sprung; and lust pampered had become custom; and custom indulged had become necessity. These were the links of the chain; this is the bondage in which I was bound.” (Confessions of Augustine, Book VIII, Chapter 5)
It is of course necessary for salvation that all men should strive to conform to the divine and natural plan, “and since man cannot hold in check his passions, unless he first subject himself to God, this must be his primary endeavor, in accordance with the plan divinely ordained.” And how this is to be done in marriage, Pope Pius XI explains, is by restraining the unlawful, “unbridled lust, which indeed is the most potent cause of sinning against the sacred laws of matrimony.”
Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (#’s 96-100), Dec. 31, 1930: “In order, therefore, to restore due order in this matter of marriage, it is necessary that all should bear in mind what is the divine plan and strive to conform to it. Wherefore, since the chief obstacle to this study is the power of unbridled lust, which indeed is the most potent cause of sinning against the sacred laws of matrimony, and since man cannot hold in check his passions, unless he first subject himself to God, this must be his primary endeavor, in accordance with the plan divinely ordained. For it is a sacred ordinance that whoever shall have first subjected himself to God will, by the aid of divine grace, be glad to subject to himself his own passions and concupiscence; while he who is a rebel against God will, to his sorrow, experience within himself the violent rebellion of his worst passions.
“And how wisely this has been decreed St. Augustine thus shows: "This indeed is fitting, that the lower be subject to the higher, so that he who would have subject to himself whatever is below him, should himself submit to whatever is above him. Acknowledge order, seek peace. Be thou subject to God, and thy flesh subject to thee. What more fitting! What more fair! Thou art subject to the higher and the lower is subject to thee. Do thou serve Him who made thee, so that that which was made for thee may serve thee. For we do not commend this order, namely, ‘The flesh to thee and thou to God,’ but ‘Thou to God, and the flesh to thee.’ If, however, thou despisest the subjection of thyself to God, thou shalt never bring about the subjection of the flesh to thyself. If thou dost not obey the Lord, thou shalt be tormented by thy servant."
“This right ordering on the part of God’s wisdom is mentioned by the holy Doctor of the Gentiles [St. Paul], inspired by the Holy Ghost, for in speaking of those ancient philosophers who refused to adore and reverence Him whom they knew to be the Creator of the universe, he says: "Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves;" and again: "For this same God delivered them up to shameful affections." And St. James says: "God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble," without which grace, as the same Doctor of the Gentiles reminds us, man cannot subdue the rebellion of his flesh.
“Consequently, as the onslaughts of these uncontrolled passions cannot in any way be lessened, unless the spirit first shows a humble compliance of duty and reverence towards its Maker, it is above all and before all needful that those who are joined in the bond of sacred wedlock should be wholly imbued with a profound and genuine sense of duty towards God, which will shape their whole lives, and fill their minds and wills with a very deep reverence for the majesty of God. Quite fittingly, therefore, and quite in accordance with the defined norm of Christian sentiment, do those pastors of souls act who, to prevent married people from failing in the observance of God’s law, urge them to perform their duty and exercise their religion so that they should give themselves to God, continually ask for His divine assistance, frequent the sacraments, and always nourish and preserve a loyal and thoroughly sincere devotion to God.”
St. Paul teaches us of God’s purpose on marriage and sexuality, saying: “May marriage be honorable in all, and may the bed be undefiled. For God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4) Haydock Commentary explains this teaching of God in the Holy Bible: “Or, let marriage be honorable in all. That is, in all things belonging to the marriage state. This is a warning to married people, not to abuse the sanctity of their state, by any liberties or irregularities contrary thereunto. (Challoner) --- As marriage is a great sacrament, (Ephesians 5) married persons should be careful to honor and respect it, by chaste and prudent behavior; (see 1st Peter 3, and 1st Thessalonians 4) but it too often happens that by criminal incontinence they change a great sacrament into a great sacrilege.”
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication; That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor: Not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God… because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before, and have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification.”
No good Christian can doubt that all selfish, unnatural or non-procreative sexual acts must be totally excluded from a marriage that is “honorable in all” that the apostle spoke about, and that all selfish, immoderate or unnatural sexual acts “that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.” (Ephesians 5:12)
1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 15-20 “Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. … [Know you not that] the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Now God hath both raised up the Lord, and will raise us up also by his power. Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. Or know you not, that he who is joined to a harlot, is made one body? For they shall be, saith he, two in one flesh. But he who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit. Fly fornication. Every sin that a man doth, is without the body; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body. Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.”
Haydock Commentary explains: “Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ....and the temple of the Holy Ghost. Man consists of soul and body; by baptism he is made a member of that same mystical body, the Church, of which Christ is the head: In baptism both the soul and body are consecrated to God: they are made the temple of the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as the spirit and grace of God inhabits in men, who are sanctified. Christ redeemed both our souls and bodies, both which he designs to sanctify, and to glorify hereafter in heaven; so that we must look upon both body and soul as belonging to Christ, and not as our own. --- Shall I, then, taking the members of Christ, make them the members of an harlot, by a shameful and unlawful commerce? --- Such sins are chiefly to be avoided by flight, and by avoiding the occasions and temptations. Other sins are not committed by such an injury done to the body, but by an abuse of something else, that is different from the body, but by fornication and sins of uncleanness, the body itself is defiled and dishonored, whereas the body ought to be considered as if it were not our own, being redeemed by our Savior Christ, consecrated to him, with an expectation of a happy resurrection, and of being glorified in heaven. Endeavor, therefore, to glorify God in your body, by employing it in his service, and bear him in your body by being obedient to his will. (Witham) --- We know and we believe that we carry about Jesus Christ in our bodies, but it is the shame and condemnation of a Christian to live as if he neither knew or believed it. … Whoever yields to impurity, converts his body into the temple of Satan, glorifies and carries him about, tearing away the members of Jesus Christ, to make them the members of a harlot.”
Sacred Scripture uses the term fornication in a more general sense that encompasses all sinful sexual acts. The argument is that God is Holy and that we also must be holy. “Because it is written: You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) The body of each and every Christian is a part of Christ, and is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are joined to the Lord with a unity of heart and mind that makes us one in spirit with our Savior, who is God Incarnate, who Himself has a human body and soul. Therefore our bodies, as well as our souls, should be treated as a holy means to glorify God. This understanding of the body is incompatible with the use of the body for mere sexual pleasure or mutual sexual gratification, in any situation, even within marriage, and is directly contrary to the Divine and Natural Law.
Unnatural, immoderate and non-procreative sexual acts within marriage are in fundamental conflict with this call from Scripture to “be holy” and to avoid all sexual sins because the body is a part of the body of Christ and is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. Did Christ teach His disciples to commit such acts within marriage? If you think so, then you do not know Christ. Would the Holy Spirit guide a married couple to commit such acts within the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which is bestowed on the couple by the Holy Spirit? If you think so, then you understand neither the Spirit nor the holiness of the Sacraments. You have been bought at the great price of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Do not sin against Christ, the Natural Law and against the Sacrament of Marriage by committing unnatural or excessive lustful sexual acts.
The entire moral law is found implicitly in the single act of Jesus Christ dying on the Cross for our salvation. Look at a crucifix and consider the self-sacrifice and selfless love with which Christ lived and died for you. Do you really think that, within the Sacrament of Marriage established by this same Savior, Christ would permit unnatural, shameful or immoderate sexual acts of any kind, at any time, under any conditions whatsoever? Are such sexual acts compatible with the pure, holy, selfless, self-sacrificing love, which encompasses the entire moral law as well as our salvation? Certainly not.
Putting forward the question concerning sexual pleasure and the Natural Law: “Can a husband use his wife only for delight or principally for delight”, St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) shows us a response or defense that lustful and wicked husbands commonly use in order to excuse their sexual sins, saying: “Why can’t I take delight in my own goods and my own wife?” St. Bernadine, however, answers the wicked man that the wife is not the husband’s but God’s and that it is a sin (by implication mortal sin) to have sexual intercourse too frequently, with inordinate affection, or with dissipation of one’s strength (Bernadine of Siena, Seraphic Sermons, 19.3).
So contrary to what most deceived people think today, spouses are not married or given to each other to live out, increase or excite their shameful, sexual perversions, but they are married for the purpose of chastity, procreation and honorable companionship, and for the honor and glory of Our Lord: “For she was espoused to her husband to be his partner in life, and for the procreation of children, not for the purposes of indecency and laughter; that she might keep the house, and instruct him also to be grave, not that she might supply to him the fuel of fornication.” (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Homily V, 1 Thessalonians iv. 1-8, Ver. 8)
All the Saints in the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church as well as the Catholic Magisterium of the Popes (as we have seen), taught that the seeking of pleasure only in natural intercourse, as well as seeking pleasure in unnatural or non-procreative sexual acts, was a selfish insult to God, the “Supreme Lord of our body” and an abuse of the generative power (and thus an abuse of the natural law) in the private parts.
“As the Apostle says (1 Cor. 6:20) in speaking against lust, ‘You are bought with a great price: glorify and bear God in your body.’ Wherefore by inordinately using the body through lust a man wrongs God Who is the Supreme Lord of our body. Hence Augustine says (De Decem. Chord. 10 [Serm. ix (xcvi de Temp.)]): ‘God Who thus governs His servants for their good, not for His, made this order and commandment, lest unlawful pleasures should destroy His temple which thou hast begun to be.’” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I:II, q. 153, art. 3, obj. 2)
In truth, “If it is a sin for a man to be intimate with his wife except through a desire for children, [when these spouses are still performing the normal, natural and procreative marital act] what can men think or what hope can they promise themselves, if being married, they commit adultery? By this means they descend to the depths of hell, refusing to hear the Apostle when he says: ‘The time is short; it remains that those who have wives be as if they had none’; [1 Cor. 7:29]