Episode 53: Sexual Desire — Good or Bad?

Episode 53: Sexual Desire — Good or Bad?

Episode 53: Sexual Desire — Good or Bad? 1920 1080 Catholic Parents Online

Episode 53: Sexual Desire — Good or Bad?

Sexual desire is powerful. And throughout human history, it seems to have gotten many people into trouble.

Why do we have sexual desire? What is it for? What should we do with it? Suppress it? Indulge in it? Or is there another way?

We discuss God’s plan for sexual desire, and how we can direct it in a way that helps us find true love and happiness.


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Sexual desire is powerful. True or false? I remember after I hit the prime time of puberty, I used to ask God, “Why did You give me this thing?”

Sure, it felt good sometimes, when I developed crushes on girls, and especially when I first met my wife. But there were times when I struggled to avoid doing things I knew would lead to serious trouble and worse still, serious sin.

I am sure our children or the younger parents among us will have this desire too.

Why do we have sexual desire? What is it for?  What should we do with it? Suppress it? Indulge in it? Or is there another way that is much better?

As mentioned, I used to wonder why God planted such a strong desire within me when I was told at the same time: “You cannot do this. You cannot do that.”

Then what was I supposed to do with it?


It was only much later when I came across Pope St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that I finally found the answer, an answer that was truly liberating, and helped me understand what it means to love with true freedom.

Given my human weakness, my love for my wife and the people around me is still far from perfect, but at least I know the direction I need to take, and I follow it, with God’s grace.

By the way, the Theology of the Body is not only about sex, but contains the awesome truth of what it means to be human – who are we, whose are we, and how are we to live out our life in a way that will lead us to our ultimate destiny – Heaven.

A very brief summary of the Theology of the Body that is relevant to this topic:

  1. We are made in the image and likeness of God;
  2. Since God is love, and we are made in His image, we are made by love, for love, to love.
  3. Because God is an eternal communion of love in the Holy Trinity, we too are made for loving communion;
  4. This call to loving communion is stamped right here, in our male and female bodies. The fruitful love of husband and wife in the union of their bodies is meant to help us see and understand Trinitarian love better. That is why we are also given a desire for that union, a desire for that communion of persons.

Perfect Love

To understand sexual desire even better, let us turn to what Pope St John Paul II described as original nakedness, one of the original experiences of man — male and female, that is — before the Fall. He was referring to this verse from Genesis “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25)

Why were they not ashamed?

Because, before the fall, Adam and Eve looked at each other as God would look. They saw His plan for life-giving love inscribed in their male and female bodies.

As such, they looked at each other “with all the peace of the interior gaze.” (TOB 13:1)

Why? Because as they looked lovingly at each other as God would look, they were not afraid of the other’s gaze, because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

This is how our first parents experienced sexual desire before the Fall; how they experienced eros, as a desire to love the other as God loves, in and through their male and female bodies. It was a desire to be a sincere gift of self to the other in a communion that was free, total, faithful, and fruitful.

In fact, St John Paul II said that the “fullness of ‘eros’… implies the upward lifting of the human spirit to what is true, good and beautiful, so that what is ‘erotic’ also becomes true, good and beautiful.” (TOB 48:1)

Fallen Love

What is the opposite of love? Many of us would think it is “hate”, wouldn’t we? But for St John Paul II, the opposite of love is not so much hatred, but lust, a disordered state of experiencing sexual desire.

Before the Fall, we saw how our first parents experienced sexual desire as a desire to be a total self-gift to the other. But after the Fall, instead of experiencing it as a desire to be gift, to love as God loves, they experienced lust – a desire to use the other, to grasp the other, for their own gratification.

Now isn’t that what we so often experience today, myself included? Where we continuously have to struggle with, and battle for, the purity of our hearts? It is an uphill battle, isn’t it? But as Pope St John Paul II often tells us, “Be not afraid!”

Invite Jesus into our lives, our Redeemer and Saviour. Invite Him to change our hearts, and to purify our desires. When we allow Him to do this, we will find liberation, liberation not just FROM our weakened nature, but also liberation FOR greatness – to love an other as God loves.

Is sexual desire good or bad? God created it, so it has to be good, because it was designed to draw us to love as God loves according to the state of life we are in. As with so many other gifts, we get into trouble when we misuse it, when we abuse it, when we misdirect it and move ourselves in the opposite direction, which is lust.

Let us ask ourselves this important question: “Do we want to invite Jesus into our lives to heal our brokenness? To heal our often misdirected sexual desire? Will we?”