God's Plan for Human Life
(Easter Season)

Matthew Habiger
May 2001
Reproduced with Permission


We are now in the first Easter Season of the New Millennium. After the great Jubilee Year of grace, we are still reflecting upon the significance of Easter and all that God has done for us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. We know that remarkable things lie in store for us. With six billion people alive today, and with the advantages of education, science and technology, we have every reason to believe that the 21st Century will either be a time of heightened religious experience or a time of great peril.

God's Plan for Human Life Reaffirmed by Easter:

The events of Holy Week and Easter reaffirm God's original plan for us. Jesus came into the world to overcome the damage caused by our sin, the damage caused by our choosing evil over goodness, by preferring our ways over God's ways. We had fallen into a pit out of which we were unable to climb. This necessitated that the Son of God Himself come into our world as one of us, that He teach us how to live this life well, that is, to live the Christian life, and eventually that He lay down His life for us. Remember: Jesus died for our sins once and forever. Christ's body was important for him in His Resurrection and in our Redemption. This tells us something about the importance of our own bodies.

We Are Bodied Persons:

As human beings, we need to understand our condition as a person who has a body. Our bodies are very important. By means of our body, we are present to the world, and the world is present to us. There was never a time when we were absent from our bodies. Our bodies have a definite life cycle which everyone experiences.

We also know that our bodies are gifts to us from God, just as is human life and good health. We are expected to understand our bodies, our bodied condition as a bodied person. We must learn how to respect our bodies and cooperate in allowing our bodies to assist us in living our lives in this world well. We are talking here about God's plan for human life, human love and human family.

The Gift of Taste and Eating:

We usually take good health for granted, and then begin to abuse it. Take, for example, the gift of taste and eating. We know that we must eat in order to nourish our bodies. Eating is also a very social event. Mealtimes are times when families and friends come together to strengthen their bondedness. Tasty, succulent food enhances the meal.

But if the pleasure of eating becomes an end in itself, if we eat just for the sake of eating, then very soon we do real damage to ourselves and to our bodies. Obesity abuses the body. Wealthy nations have a real problem with obesity. God's plan for eating is that we eat a well balanced diet and use moderation. Eat for a purpose; don't make the purpose of life mere eating.

The Gift of Fertility and Human Sexuality:

In a similar way God has a plan for our fertility and human sexuality. It is important to remember that our bodies are God's gift to us, and all that they contain. We had nothing to do with the designing of our bodies; it was strictly God's plan. Parents have relatively little to contribute to the design of their child's body.

God most assuredly has a plan for our fertility and human sexuality. It is a very good plan. As intelligent and responsible human persons, we are able to know God's plan, to appreciate its goodness, and then to freely choose to live by it.

God's plan includes allowing us to be co-creators with Him, and to provide a means of close bonding between a husband and wife. Although our sexuality provides great pleasure, pleasure is a "companion good" and not the chief focus. Like eating, or drinking, or any other physical activity, sex can be abused. And if the conception of a new human person is involved, a person endowed with our own human dignity, then terrible harm can be done. If a person can be hurt badly by being used as an object for someone's gratification, then there is nothing trivial about sexual behavior.

Our world is very confused about God's plan for fertility and human sexuality. Some people think that they can make up their own rules and define sex anyway they want. It is just a matter of preference or choice. Something like ordering items from a menu in a restaurant. They think this, despite the fact that the human person is the only thing God created for its own sake. "In His own image He made them male and female" (Gen 1:26). Only a person lives forever. Only a person can love and be loved. Only for the sake of a person with such dignity would God send His only Son into the world to atone for our sins by his own suffering and death.

God's Plan for Love, Life and Family = Chastity:

My brothers and sisters, as we move into the new century we are encouraged to be a people of hope and expectation. We know that we have the potential of doing great good. We know that we have received many blessings from God, and that He expects great things from us -- even difficult things.

We know that most of the problems on this earth of our own making, and that we can both correct what is wrong and build up what is good and helpful to others. This requires that we learn God's plan for love, life and the family. It means the total gift of self by a man to his wife, and the total gift of self by a woman to her husband. This means no sex before marriage, and total fidelity within marriage. It means no abortion, sterilization or contraception. It means acquiring the virtue of chastity.

St. John Chrysostom suggests that young husbands should say to their wives: I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itselfÉ I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you (CCC 2346).

Pope John Paul II speaks of fertility as part of the mutual self-gift in Familiaris Consortio 32. It is also a dimension of enhancing the dignity of the human person. "The innate language (of the marital embrace) expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife. Contraception is an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality" (FC 32) (CCC 2370).

God wants what is best for His sons and daughters. He never asks the impossible -- just the plain difficult. Chastity is the difficult virtue; it always was. Chastity always benefits our marriages, our families, the wider culture and us. The absence of chastity always brings great harm and misery to everyone it affects.

I encourage you, as you enter the first year of the new century and the new millennium, read the encyclical Humanae Vitae. It has a clear formula for happiness and well being for everyone.

Easter means that we are called to be a people of hope and expectation. We have every right to be optimistic about the future. Indeed, we can be victorious in the struggle between good and evil. We can live a life pleasing to God and beneficial to ourselves. We can keep the Commandments and live the Christian life. This means everyone, since God's call to holiness is universal. His call to holiness is given to everyone, to every culture and to every walk of life. In short, we are all called to become saints, a people who are very close to God.