Human Sexuality, Marriage, and the Pursuit of Beatitude

Human Sexuality, Marriage, and the Pursuit of Beatitude

The last several decades have witnessed a relentless disintegration in the moral fabric of human society, especially in Western countries. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of human sexuality and marriage, where permissiveness for sexual hedonism, under the banner of freedom, equality, and non-discrimination, has become, as it were, the law of the day.

The harmful consequences on men and women caused by the widespread moral disintegration in human sexuality are self-evident, as attested by the increase in divorce (even among Catholics), broken families, poverty, and sexual exploitation of women, among others. Part and parcel with such moral disintegration is that young people, in addition to being exposed at quite an early age to a culture oversaturated with sex, are not taught (whether at school or at home) the values that make marriage and parenthood possible. Will they, as adults, be able to embrace the lifetime commitment of marriage with steadfast faithfulness?

For those of the Catholic faith, however, there is a powerful “tool” to avert the harmful influence of the contemporary hedonistic culture. It is none other than the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage – a teaching which, being grounded in Sacred Scriptures and having evolved organically over the centuries, offers a solid and holistic vision of the beauty of human sexuality and marriage.

This course is specifically designed to help Catholics (especially young adults) to rediscover the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage. It is hoped that this will help married couples live out their marriage as a love-flourishing and life-giving reality, and as a common journey to holiness.

Course Lecturer


Doyen Nguyen, OP, M.D, S.T.D. is both a moral theologian and an academic hematopathologist. A graduate of Temple University Medical School (Philadelphia, USA) and a scholar of the Leopold Schepp Foundation, she is a lay Dominican who, in addition to having worked (and taught medical residents) at various university medical centers, was also a professor of theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome (Italy) where she obtained her doctorate in moral theology, with a special focus on end-of-life ethics. She has authored books and articles both in medicine and in moral theology/bioethics. Among her recent publications is the 600-page monograph The New Definitions of Death for Organ Donation: A Multidisciplinary Analysis from the Perspective of Christian Ethics (Peter Lang, April 2018. ISBN 978-3-0343-3277-4).

Course Overview
  1. What is Beatitude? Christian Moral-Spiritual Life is Teleological (Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Veritatis Splendor)

  2. Basic Principles in Catholic Moral Theology (Human Acts, Conscience)

  3. How Did We Arrive at the Current Situation? – The Sexual Revolution

  4. Human Sexuality in Sacred Scriptures – An Overview

  5. Human Sexuality in the Catholic Tradition – A Brief Survey

  6. Human Sexuality in the Contemporary Magisterium (part I)

  7. Theological development (von Hildebrand, Wojtyla)

  8. Human Sexuality in the Contemporary Magisterium (part II)

  9. Defense of Humanae Vitae against the Attacks from the „Right“

  10. Defense of Humanae Vitae against the Dissension from the „Left“ – Teleological Organicity

  11. Synthesis: a Holistic Understanding of the Church’s Teaching on Human Sexuality – Marriage, a Love-Flourishing and Life-Giving Reality, and a Common Journey to Holiness.

  12. Homosexuality (part I) – Physical and Mental Dimensions of Sexual Development

  13. Homosexuality (part II) – Theological and Moral Considerations

  14. Concluding Remarks – Chastity in Sexual Education

The lectures are in continuous and in sequential order. This means that if the students want to understand lecture no. 3, they need to follow lectures no. 1 and 2 first. The course lasts 12 weeks and takes place every two weeks. Up to 100 participants can participate. During the first three weeks, the course is free of charge and without obligation. After that, the course fee is 250€.

Send a mail to: bexten[a]

Academy for Philosophy and Theology (APT)

at the Gustav-Siewerth-Akademie - state-approved private scientific institute of higher education

Objectives of the APT

Our study & further education offer is aimed at all those who, according to Edmund Husserl’s maxim „back to the things themselves“, are interested in truth and reality in a realistic sense. Realism assumes that things, reality, and objective truth exist independently of the thinking human being. We are therefore scientifically searching for answers to the great philosophical questions concerning man, the world, and God (in the sense of Kant’s four basic questions „What can I know?“). - „What should I do?“ - „What can I hope for?“ „What is man?“ (Cf. Kant, Logik, Einleitung, Ak 25)). It is therefore not about doxography or the history of philosophy, but about systematic research and argumentation, which is also open to „ultimate justifications“.

As far as philosophy is concerned, the APT is in the tradition of the Philosophia perennis but is not bound to any particular philosophical school of thought. Theologically, the APT is Christian / Catholic-traditional. The APT wants to set accents in matters of apologetics and new evangelisation.

Simply register by mail: bexten[a]

Organization and Method

We offer lectures, seminars, and disputations in small groups via video conference and learning platform. One hour of lectures and Q&R are offered per course in each study week. The courses can be accessed via our learning platform. Anyone interested can participate in two events without obligation and free of charge. Individual tutorials can also be offered on request. Every interested person can create an academy for philosophy Moodle account and enroll in a course of his choice. All courses are held by lecturers with a doctorate in philosophy and can be certified after proof of performance.

Proof of performance: The APT awards APT credit points as proof of performance. Each credit corresponds to approximately 30 working hours of an average student. For example, writing and submitting a 3000-word essay within two weeks will be rewarded with 3 credits. A certain number of APT credits are necessary to obtain a certificate at the end of a course.

Conditions of participation: Up to 100 participants can attend a course free of charge and without obligation during the first three weeks. After that the course fee for all participants is 250€. This allows participation in an offered course or lecture series. With the live participation in the lectures, the course participants agree to the subsequent video publication of the lecture and discussion e.g. via YouTube and also to the commercial use of the video recordings by APT. A course certificate can be acquired for 100€ upon request after the proof of performance (this can also include an oral examination).

Nicht ganz einverstanden mit allen Aussagen dieses Textes. Das ist Theorie (und als solche natürlich vollkommen richtig). Die Bedingungen in der realen Welt sind aber oftmals etwas andere. Manchmal können Verhältnisse im Leben nur durch eine Scheidung – und eine neue Ehe – gut werden (eine Annahme im Übrigen, die auch dem Kirchenrecht zugrunde liegt). Nicht richtig ist die in dem Text angedeutete Vermutung, Ehescheidung sei in jedem Fall Ausdruck einer geringere/unzutreffenden Ehemoral oder sogar (von der Lehre der Kirche) abweichenden Sexualmoral. Beides ist nicht der Fall. Eine allzu großer Vereinfachung auf diesem Gebiet führt zu schwerwiegenden Irrtümern.

Es geht nicht um hedonistische Einstellung vs. katholische Ehelehre, jedenfalls nicht auf der praktischen Ebene. Die „Werte, die Ehe möglich machen“, kann man im Übermaß besitzen, das ändert aber nichts daran, dass einem möglicherweise der richtige Ehepartner fehlen kann. Unzutreffend ist deshalb die Annahme, Ehen würden vor allem deshalb geschieden, weil Menschen, geprägt durch ein hedonistisches Umfeld, nicht mehr wüssten, was eine gute Ehe bedeutet. Dies mag es geben, stellt aber sicher bei Weitem nicht den häufigsten Fall dar.

„The Church`s teaching on human sexuality and marriage“ – so absolut richtig und unübertroffen schön sie als Lehre ist – würde an dieser Situation, an all dem Unglück, an aller Tragik auch, die es auf diesem Gebiet gibt, nicht das geringste ändern. Hier werden die tatsächlichen Schwierigkeiten in einer eklatanten Weise verkannt (dass man sich in jemandem fundamental täuschen kann, dass man nicht zusammen passt, vor allem auch, dass man nicht selten im Leben dem richtigen Menschen erst über Umwege begegnet, dass manchmal äußere Hindernisse eine glückliche Ehe gerade verhindern, was leider in der Literatur wahrheitsgemäßer thematisiert wird als in der Kirche. So scheint es jedenfalls, wenn manche zu glauben scheinen, eine kirchliche Heirat sei die Bedingung für eine glückliche Ehe. Das Sakrament gewissermaßen als Ausgangsbedingung. Dies trifft jedoch gerade nicht zu. Solche Texte, die diese conditio humana außer Acht lassen, können deshalb nicht viel mehr als allgemeine Aussagen enthalten. Die Bedenken dagegen liegen allein auf der faktischen Ebene, nicht auf der Ebene der theoretischen Aussage.

"Not totally agree with all of the statements of this text. This is theory (and as such of course completely correct). However, conditions in the real world are often somewhat different. Sometimes conditions in life can only become good through a divorce - and a new marriage (an assumption, by the way, which is also the basis of canon law). The text relies on the assumption that divorce is in any case an expression of a persons lower/incorrect or missing marriage morality or even that it is a deviation from the teaching of the Churchs sexual morality. But I think this is not so. Too much simplification in this area leads to serious errors.

It is not a question of hedonistic attitudes vs. Catholic marriage doctrine, at least not on a practical level. The „values that make marriage possible“ can be possessed in excess, but this does not change the fact that you may be lacking the right spouse. Therefore, the assumption that marriages are divorced primarily because people, marked by a hedonistic environment, no longer know what a good marriage means is incorrect. This may be the case, but it is certainly not the most common case.

„The Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage“ - as absolutely correct and unsurpassed beautiful as it is as a teaching - would not change this situation, all the misfortune, all the tragedy that exists in this field in the least. Here the actual difficulties are blatantly misunderstood (that one can be fundamentally mistaken in someone, in a person`s character and personality in a way that fundamentally changes what the relationship to this person can or cannot be, above all quite often in life one meets the right person only by detours, „after many years“, and sometimes even there can be external obstacles preventing what would be a happy marriage, which, unfortunately, is more truthfully discussed in literature than in the church. At least that is how it seems, when some seem to believe that a church marriage is the condition for a happy marriage. The sacrament, so to speak, as the initial condition. But this is too simplistic a view. Statements that disregard this human condition cannot therefore contain much more than general arguments. The objections raised against this lie solely on the factual level, not on the level of theoretical statements."

I have made this machine translation above, so that it can come to a discussion.

I respect your opinion.

I will not enter in any lengthy discussion outside of the context of the course, however, for the following reasons:

  1. It is only just and fair that the discussion be restricted to the participants of the course.
  2. Just as it makes no sense to make a criticism (or raise objections) about a house without the experience of having lived in it or, at the very least, without having visited it and seen it from the inside, it does not make sense to make criticism (or raise objections) about a course which has not even started yet
  3. This is an academically oriented course. The discussion, therefore, must be grounded in philosophical and theological principles, and not merely in life experience.

Regarding the current hedonistic state, please read Die globalele sexuelle Revolution: Zerstorung cler Freiheit im Nanen der Freiheit (Fe-Medienverlags Gmbh, 2012) by Gabriele Kuby

Thank you for your answer.
I have read that book by Gabriele Kuby (and btw all of her books), and I totally agree with her and I appreciate her very much. I didn`t dispute the current hedonistic state in the least. But this was not the topic of my objection!
I do think it makes sense, seeing that some of the underlying assumptions the course seems to focus on are just false in that they simplify far too much. Although this was, of course, not an academic text, my dissent is not just about life experience. It is the result of years of academic research and expert legal knowledge. Life experiences, though, at least in this field, can prove some of the existing theories wrong.

Difficulties, suffering, trials, and tribulations in all aspects of daily life (in particular, in close human relationships) are part and parcel of human life ever since the dawn of humanity. As human beings endowed with intellect and will, however, we have the liberum arbitrium regarding the horizon of our final end, which shapes and guides the whole of our activity in life.

In this regard and with reference to the course „Human Sexuality, Marriage, and Beatitude“, I would like to share with you today a brief account of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin (the parents of St Therese of the Child Jesus).

Louis and Zélie Martin are the first married couple to have been canonized together, on October 18, 2015. This decision is of great significance: the Church wants to highlight the fact that Louis and Zélie had found the path to holiness precisely in the sacrament of marriage. This is why the date of their wedding, July 12th, is now their feast day.

Theirs was a conjugal holiness: in the communion and love that formed their union, even after Zélie’s death. „The thought of your Mother follows me constantly,“ wrote Louis Martin to his daughters on his return from his trip to Constantinople.

Theirs was a familial holiness: they were devoted to their nine children and entrusted each one of them to God. Desirous to pass on to them the faith they themselves had received, they also recognized that children were a gift. They were approachable and available to them as parents.

Theirs was a social holiness: they did not just keep to themselves but sought out those in need, attentive to the most fragile in society, in concern for justice and fraternal charity.

Theirs was an ecclesial holiness: through participation in parish life and various groups (St Vincent de Paul Conferences, Catholic Circles, Propagation of the Faith…) and through the practice of prayer rooted in the Church and the sacramental life, Louis and Zélie and their children grew in their caring for the poor, in their love of God and in their trust in his Providence.

NB: What I wrote earlier today is not addressed to Friederike. Hoffman. It is a sharing to a general audience.

Thanks for your lines.

Yes, I know the Martin couple. Of course there are examples like these. But unfortunately there are others in which - through no fault of their own - a marriage is completely wrong. This is why I consider it as problematic to call examples like the Martins „role models“. This is something you often don’t have much influence on, which is outside of your own behaviour.

But between the lines it reads a bit like this. Also, as if this couple was happy because they were God-fearing, gave God an important place in their lives. There is no such connection. Many do, and yet the other thing a painfully missing in one`s lives, a happy marriage is a gift and a rare one. Anything but a matter of course or a „reward“ for a life pleasing to God.

This course starts on 13.07.2020 at 19:30 CET and is aimed at people who want to get married or are already newly married.

Dieser Kurs startet am 13.07.2020 um 19:30 CET und richtet sich an Menschen, die heiraten wollen, oder schon frisch verheiratet sind….

Nehmen Sie am Kurs teil! Die Kursprache ist Englisch, dies soll kein Hindernis sein.

Übersetzung: Die letzten Jahrzehnte waren Zeuge eines unerbittlichen Zerfalls des moralischen Gefüges der menschlichen Gesellschaft, insbesondere in den westlichen Ländern. Nirgendwo wird dies deutlicher als im Bereich der menschlichen Sexualität und Ehe, wo die Freizügigkeit für sexuellen Hedonismus unter dem Banner von Freiheit, Gleichheit und Nichtdiskriminierung sozusagen zum Gesetz der Zeit geworden ist.

Die schädlichen Folgen, die der weit verbreitete moralische Zerfall in der menschlichen Sexualität für Männer und Frauen hat, liegen auf der Hand, wie unter anderem die Zunahme von Scheidungen (auch unter Katholiken), zerbrochenen Familien, Armut und sexueller Ausbeutung von Frauen zeigt. Zu einem solchen moralischen Zerfall gehört, dass junge Menschen nicht nur schon in jungen Jahren einer sexuell übersättigten Kultur ausgesetzt sind, sondern dass ihnen auch nicht die Werte vermittelt werden (weder in der Schule noch zu Hause), die Ehe und Elternschaft möglich machen. Werden sie als Erwachsene in der Lage sein, die lebenslange Verpflichtung der Ehe mit unerschütterlicher Treue anzunehmen?

Für diejenigen des katholischen Glaubens gibt es jedoch ein mächtiges “Werkzeug”, um den schädlichen Einfluss der zeitgenössischen hedonistischen Kultur abzuwenden. Es ist nichts anderes als die Lehre der Kirche über die menschliche Sexualität und Ehe – eine Lehre, die auf den Heiligen Schriften gründet und sich im Laufe der Jahrhunderte organisch entwickelt hat und eine solide und ganzheitliche Vision von der Schönheit der menschlichen Sexualität und Ehe bietet.

Dieser Kurs ist speziell darauf ausgerichtet, Katholiken (insbesondere jungen Erwachsenen) zu helfen, die Lehre der Kirche über menschliche Sexualität und Ehe wiederzuentdecken. Es ist zu hoffen, dass dies verheirateten Paaren helfen wird, ihre Ehe als eine in der Liebe blühende und lebensspendende Realität und als einen gemeinsamen Weg zur Heiligkeit zu leben.

The course is available in almost any language thanks to the automatic translation of the subtitles - thanks to artificial intelligence.

Der Kurs ist durch die automatische Übersetzung der Untertitel in nahezu jeder beliebigen Sprache abrufbar - dank künstlicher Intelligenz. @GCTG

What is Beatitude? Christian Moral-Spiritual Life is Teleological - 1. Lecture - Doyen Nguyen

Doyen Nguyen: Conjugal Love, Marriage and the Goods of Marriage in Humanae Vitae — Organic continuity of the Church’s Teaching on Marriage before and after Vatican II (359-419).