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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 24, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2004

David Cloutier
Pages 71-88

Composing Love Songs for the Kingdom of God?
Creation and Eschatology in Catholic Sexual Ethics

THE VATICAN II MANDATE TO TREAT TOPICS IN MORAL THEOLOGY IN A WAY that will "shed light on the loftiness of the calling of the faithful in Christ" points the way to an alternative approach, in which sexuality and the lofty calling to the Kingdom are not simply kept separate. Such an approach would be a genuinely eschatological narration of marriage and sexuality. In this essay I argue three points: First, as a background story, the characterization of the shift in the tradition on sexual issues from a "negative" to a "positive" view of sexuality is both inaccurate and theologically rather empty. Second, four writers (Pope John Paul II, Germain Grisez, Lisa Cahill, and Herbert McCabe) all manifest this shift, but their construals of eschatology differ significantly—indicating that future debate about sexual ethics will have to take place among competing narrations of eschatology rather than in terms of competing moral theories about how to justify certain norms. Finally, I gesture toward potential implications for sexual norms in light of eschatological approaches to marriage and sexuality.

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