"That connection…to be authentic, it has to be the whole person…"
Note: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reading through the Viewer’s Guide for the video “Made for Each Other.” In the video, married couple Josh and Carrie reflect on the meaning of sexual difference. Each section of the Viewer’s Guide takes a quote from either Josh or Carrie and fleshes it out. The goal of the Viewer’s Guide is to help you, the reader, become more confident in promoting and defending the meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In the second section, we’ll take a closer look at sexual difference and complementarity.
First section: the meaning of marriage, the role of reason and faith
“That connection…to be authentic, it has to be the whole person…Men and women are made for each other emotionally, sexually, psychologically.”
Carrie is talking about the “connection” or communion that is marriage. Marriage necessarily involves the whole person. That’s what the vows are about—a free and total promise of fidelity, permanence, and openness to life made to the other, in good times and bad, through thick and thin. Such vows can only be exchanged between a man and a woman. In other words, sexual difference is essential to marriage.
Sexual difference concerns the whole person, as Carrie points out. Only through this difference can a man and a woman give themselves fully and love each other as spouses. Only a man and a woman can commit to the other in such a way as to be married, to be husband and wife. This isn’t unjust discrimination; it’s distinction, a matter of simply respecting reality. The promise of marriage speaks a language. Part of the essential grammar of this language is sexual difference. Without it, marriage can’t be spoken of. [i]
Carrie later remarks, “Our sexual difference doesn’t compete; it complements.” Men and women are equal but they are also different. Difference here is not bad; it is a great and necessary good.
“It’s constructive” as Josh says. It’s the avenue for life-giving love; a fundamental reference point for all human relationships. Sexual difference is what enables a man and a woman to form a unique bond for life. A husband gives to his wife what only a husband can give. Likewise, a wife gives to her husband what only a wife can give.
Next: sexual difference as the avenue towards true union and life; marriage is a unique commitment