05 September 2011

"God be praised, if I know my own heart at all, I am free of this stupid passion the world calls love." --Methodist George Whitefield

It is a Puritan error to claim conjugal love is solely for procreative purposes. The Catholic Church has never taught this. Love is always and ever the fundament and crown of marital love--and the procreative aspect simply flows from this. Conjugal love is not justified purely by its procreative purpose; this is why those who suffer sterility are not kept from marital intimacy, and can still be, if not physically fruitful, then spiritually fruitful in their love. Dietrich von Hildebrand, whose own marriage remained childless, wrote:
[T]he physical union between man and woman still retains its subjective significance and its intrinsic beauty. Is conjugal love in itself not sublime enough to sanctify and justify this union? Is not the reason for the creation of woman stated in Genesis: "It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a help like unto himself." Can a childless marriage be regarded as a failure, as something that did not fulfill its meaning? Can we justly assert that it would have been better if such a marriage had not been brought to pass? Can it not have its full divinely-appointed meaning simply as the highest communion of love, and glorifying God by this very fact? Is not the ideal of marriage fulfilled to an even higher degree when both partners, even though childless, belong to each other in the most perfect conjugal love, in unchangeable loyalty to one another, in imitation of the union of the soul with God, than in the case of a marriage with perhaps many children, where the partners are unfaithful to each other and desecrate the sacred tie by lack of love and loyalty?...Is this not a clear indication that marriage is a symbol of the union of the soul with God, that it possesses, as such, a sublime importance and that it exists in the first place for its own sake and not exclusively for the sake of any result that it produces?