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Theology  5243A
Theology of Marriage and Sexuality

Room 102, St. Peter's Seminary

Instructor: Rev. Michael Prieur, BA, BTh, STL, STD
Rev. Peter Amszej
Office hours by appointment



This is a theological and pastoral investigation of the meaning of Christian marriage and human sexuality. It covers the scriptural, historical and theological development of the sacrament of marriage. Also covered are themes including the theology of the body, heterosexual and homosexual moral concerns, divorce and family life, and new challenges to marriage today. Much time given to the moral/pastoral handling of various situations.


This course will allow the students to grow in the following knowledge, skills and attitudes;


1. To understand the Roman Catholic tradition of marriage, its foundation in God's revelation to us in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and human reasoning regarding God's salvation at work in marriage and family life;
2. To understand the methodology of moral theology as it applies to questions of marriage, human sexuality, and the 21st century, drawing on the four sources: (1) biblical themes of scripture, (2) the historical testimony of the Catholic moral tradition, (3) rational philosophical reasoning, and (4) the influences of modern sciences such as psychology and sociology;
3. To acquaint the student with some of the classical Christian writers dealing with marriage and human sexuality, along with more recent writers;
4. To include other faith-based and secular perspectives important for critical and ethical dialogue in a secular and pluralistic society;
5. To acquaint the student with some of the more recent theological attempts to articulate or understand marriage and human sexuality;
6. To understand how the action of the Holy Spirit in the world can make it possible for a faith-based position to impact on the secular systems legislating on moral questions;
7. To investigate more intentionally the recent writings on "The Theology of the Body" of Pope John Paul II.


1. To enable the student to understand the scriptural background and applicability of divine inspiration and revelation pertinent to marriage and sexuality;
2. To expect the student to understand, and for Catholics to be able to accept, the Church's Magisterium as the normative source of teachings on faith and morals, and to appreciate the openness of the tradition to historical development in the understanding of the sacrament of marriage and of the teachings on human sexuality;
3. To enable the students to read and analyze appropriately the documents of Church teaching on marriage and human sexuality;
4. To develop a practical set of prudential and pastoral skills in dealing with people struggling to live up to Church teachings regarding marriage and human sexual encounters;
5. To assist the students to integrate what they have learned by witnessing and using adult modes of education regarding various kinds of lectures, discussions, role-playing scenarios, audio-visuals, written projects and reflective modes of learning.


1. To develop in the student a critical awareness of the present moral climate regarding marriage and human sexuality in order to promote the dignity of the human body, of marriage and the family as seen by our Christian and Catholic tradition;
2. To foster a sense of compassion and care for all those who struggle in areas of marriage and divorce as well as various difficulties encountered in living out one's own sexuality;
3. To help the student to embrace and resist when necessary, disagreement and ambiguity in the relationship of the teachings of the church and its application through an attitude of "mercy-in-truth";
4. To allow for just and hope-filled approaches in articulating our church teachings in school and pastoral settings regarding human relationships;
5. To encourage the attitude of Jesus in teaching the Father=s will about marriage and human sexuality as lived out with the grace of the Holy Spirit in our often broken world;  


1. Assignment about marriage 45%
2. Written question in November on Human Sexuality 20%
3. Oral exam in December (Hauser text and class notes) 35%
TOTAL 100%

Rationale behind assignments

This course in the theology of marriage needs to help the student appreciate two things:

1. an appreciation of the theological development and articulation of our theology of marriage, which is especially necessary today with the same-sex marriage conflict;

2. a discovery of how this theology can be applied, especially in preparing others for marriage. These assignments are graded according to * = low difficulty for an average student, to **** = high degree of reading skills or academic acumen. I ask each student to pray over his or her assignment so that the Holy Spirit can assist you to determine which degree of intensity is best suited for you in this course. Also, pick the option which can benefit you the most.

Assignment Options:

OPTION NO. 1: the theological development of marriage: ***

This assignment involves reading five of the modern 20th century documents concerning the theology of marriage, namely, Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, Gaudium et Spes (no. 49-52), and Familiaris Consortio. Then, prepare an outline to show how our Church teaching has developed over the past 70 years (1930-2004+) in the following areas:

1. description of the qualities of love in marriage;
2. description and understanding of the sacrament of marriage;
3 description and understanding of the specific sacramental grace of marriage;
4. understanding of the role of men, women and the family in marriage;
5. treatment of methods of family planning;
6. pastoral handling of couples in difficult marriage situations;

Then, in a final section, indicate how the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997) has integrated these teachings for use by the Catholic faithful for today.

Specifics regarding this assignment:
a. point form or chart form is acceptable;
b. these headings are often used in pre-marriage instructions, so try to do your work with this applied purpose in mind.

OPTION NO. 2: the pastoral application of marriage theology: **

Begin by examining at least two programs that are being used in marriage preparation today. I would like a brief reflection paper in which the programs can be compared and evaluated using some of the following headings suggested in Option # 1 above. The main purpose of this assignment is to introduce the student to the catechetical applications of the theology of marriage. Some parishes are now using the Edmonton Marriage Preparation Program or the "Enrich Program", which would be good to look into.

– length of paper: 8-10 pages;

OPTION NO. 3: reading one extensive theology of marriage: ****

There have been several excellent, but weighty books written on the development of the theology of Marriage. These works provide a very in-depth study of the theology of marriage. Pick one of these works listed below, read the whole work, and draw up a summary sheet of what would be of pastoral assistance in giving a presentation for a pre-marriage course from the headings listed in assignment no. 1. (Length of assignment: 8-10 pgs.)

1. Schillebeeckx, Edward, O.P., Marriage: Secular Reality and Saving Mystery, N.Y., Sheed& Ward, 1965, 2 Vols.(Repub. in 1976, 1980);

2. Mackin, Theodore,S.J., The Marital Sacrament, N.Y., Paulist, 1989;

3. Scott, Kieran, & Warren, Michael, Perspectives on Marriage: A Reader, NY, Oxford, 1993 (selections in consultation with me)

4. Lawler, Michael C., Marriage and the Catholic Church – Disputed Questions, Collegeville, Minn., Liturgical Press, 2002.

5. – John Paul II, Original Unity of Man and Woman, Catechesis on the Book of Genesis, St. Paul editions, 1981;
    – John Paul II, The Theology of Marriage and Celibacy, St. Paul Editions, 1986.
    – John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them – A Theology of the Body. Translation, Introduction and Index by Michael Waldstein, Boston, Pauline Books & Media, 2006.

6. Shivanandan, Mary, Crossing the Threshold of Love – A New Vision of Marriage, Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 1999.

7. Olsen, Glenn W., ed., Christian Marriage: A Historical Study, N.Y., Herder & Herder, 2001.

8. West, Christopher, Theology of the Body Explained – A Commentary on John Paul II’s “Gospel of the Body”, N.Y., Pauline Books & Media, 2003.

9. Richard M. Hogan, The Theology of the Body in John Paul II: What it Means, Why it Matters, Ijamsville, Md., The Word Among Us Press, 2006;

10. Odozor, Paulinus Ikechukwu, C.S. Sp., Sexuality, Marriage and Family, : Readings in the Catholic Tradition, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame, 2001. (See me for selections.)

OPTION NO. 4: The Cultural Influences on Marriage: **

Again, pick one of the following popular sources which treat of marriage in a way that is used in college courses. Read the whole book and write a 8-10 pg. reflection paper on how the ideas presented in this book could be applied to the headings listed in assignment no 1 and used in a marriage preparation

1. Martin, Thomas, The Challenge of Christian Marriage, N.Y., Paulist Press, 1990;

2. Thomas, David, Christian Marriage: A Journey Together, Wilmington, Delaware, Michael Glazier, 1983;

3. John Snyder, Marrying For Life, R & E Pub., California, 1993;

4. Lawler, Michael, Marriage and Sacrament -- A Theology of Christian Marriage, Collegeville, Minn., Liturgical Press, 1993.

5. Gaillardetz, Richard, R., A Daring Promise: A Spirituality of Christian Marriage, N.Y., Crossroad, 2002.

6. Cahill, Lisa Sowle, Family: A Christian Social Perspective, Minneapolis, Fortress, 2000.

7. Rubio, Julie Hanlon, A Christian Theology of Marriage, N.Y., Paulist, 2003.

8. Hogan, Richard M., The Theology of the Body in John Paul II – What it Means, Why It Matters, Ijamsville, Md., The Word Among Us Press, 2006.

OPTION NO. 5: Audio-Visuals regarding the theology of marriage: ***

Marriage has been the subject of some magnificent paintings, icons, and more recently audio-visuals. These can be used with some wonderful teaching effect in pastoral work. Try to assemble as many slides or video clips, etc. as would be suitable to describe how marriage has been depicted in an audio-visual manner or by the great masters. This can be presented in some kind of a viewing or power-point  presentation along with the theological implications of what is being said through the works. This could then be presented to the class.

OR, a student could try to find as many good videos as possible that treat of the subject of marriage and marriage preparation, and then prepare an extensive critical bibliography of these videos, complete with where these videos can be obtained (both locally and nationally). This too, could be presented to the whole class.

(Note: We have not included a topic on the human sexuality portion of the course. This will be covered in a take-home question to be done as part of the final exam.)

Overall Comments:

1. As you can see, we are trying to allow as much room for individual talent, time, and creativity as possible. We do hope that the "A" students will challenge themselves to take on the hefty assignments and use the gifts they have to go deeper. Students who have difficulty with studying or with the English language, etc., should not be embarrassed by this, but simply choose one of the easier assignments and work within their own limits. We are searching for ways to facilitate learning (which ALWAYS takes work!) but in a manner that is conducive to the overall demands of our academic life.

2. We are setting a somewhat early deadline so that everyone can dig into this assignment and benefit even more from the class lectures as their reading helps with background for each theme. We want everyone to indicate just which assignment you are doing at the first class of week two.

3. Some of you may wish to make an oral presentation of your assignment. This is quite acceptable, but we do recommend that you make some kind of written notes for your own future reference.

4. DATE DUE : Monday, November 1, 2011, by sundown!

D. TEXTBOOKS (Required)

Gerald Coleman, SS, Human Sexuality – An All-Embracing Gift, N.Y., Alba House, 1992;

Daniel Hauser, Marriage and Christian Life, A Theology of Christian Marriage, Lanham, Md., University Press of America, ® Inc., 2005;


Part One: Marriage, Family and Sexuality in the Judeo-Christian Tradition

 I Marriage and the Family: The Challenge of the 21st Century      Key Sources (not acc. to heading)

- Course Introduction, Assignment choices, initial bibliography        - Hauser, Ch. 1
- Christian Marriage: In Defence of Marriage and Family                  - Martin, Ch. 2
- Friendship, Love and Marriage: a never-ending mystery of life        - Lawler, 1-17
- The experiential foundation, philosophical & theological foundation - Vat. II, GS, 47-52
- The cultural value of family: past and present                                - Demmer/Rouche, 25-38

II Marriage: Contract, Covenant and Sign of God in Creation

- Human Sexuality & Marriage in the Ancient World: Myths & Rites  - Grelot, 14-28
- Genesis: God=s design for married love: theology of the body         - West, 1-125
- Hosea: God=s marital relationship with human kind: covenant         - Schillebeeckx, I, 60-126
- Song of Songs: love poetry with levels of meaning for us                 - Elliott, 4-13
- Marriage in Greco-Roman times                                                   - Palmer, 617-35

III "Married in the Lord": A New Creation and Vision

- The Incarnation: Good News for Marriage and Celibate Commitments        - Rubio, 45-64
- Christ the Bridegroom: Priest, Prophet and Marriage                                 - Elliott, 14-43
- Christ and the Church: Ephesians 5 for 21st Century: Theology of the body - Martin, 32-52
- AMarried in the Lord@: fresh hope from St. Paul                                       - Hauser, 27-82

IV The Quest for the Sign of Marriage in Christian Tradition

- Marriage in the pagan-secular world                                        - Hauser, 83-119
- Roots of inadequate answers                                                 - McCarthy, 13-80
- Christian Witness to marriage: Tertullian, Augustine, Aquinas  - Mackin, 1989, 83-324
- Sacramental Marriage liturgy in process                                 - Elliott, 74-119

V Sacramental Marriage and Family under Siege

- Reformation challenges to sacramental marriage                        - Elliott, 101-119
- The Council of Trent (1545-63) responds                                    - Catechism(Trent),338-55
- The Catechism of Trent sets the stage for 400 years                  - Mackin, 1989, 379-578
- The beginning of Papal Teachings on marriage: Leo XIII 
- Another challenge to marriage: Lambeth 1930
- Another Papal response to shore up marriage: Pius XI

VI Vatican II: Landmark Prism for the Marriage Covenant

-  Hints in Pius XII B Vat. II, GS, 48-52
-  Vatican II: a gold mine of fresh directions for marriage/sexuality    - Paul VI, HV (1968)
-  Paul VI: prophetic teaching on contraception                               - JP II, 304-78
-  John Paul II: the personalist Pope and marriage                           - Demmer/Rochetta,55-80
-  Theology of Marriage for the 21st Century                                    - Elliott, 170-191

VII Marriage Commitment under Siege

- The age-old problem of divorce                                  - Elliott, 145-69; 192-98
- The modern problem of how much faith for marriage    - Rubio, 65-88
- Same-sex marriage: a modern challenge                   - SCDF, 2003

VIII Marriage in a Pluralistic Culture

- Inter-faith and ecumenical marriages                          - See Bibs.
- Celebrating marriage in our pastoral life today

Part Two: Human Sexuality from a Judeo-Christian & R. C. Perspective

IX Experiencing Chastity in a World of Pleasure and Affluence

- A Theology of the body of human sexuality and intimacy           - Coleman, I, 17-22;55-67
- Gender/identity/orientation                                                      - O'Donnell/von Balthasar
- Chastity in terms of justice, temperance and love 57-8
- Sorting out the virtues associated with chastity                         - Ashley, 433-49
                                                                                               - Hauser, 119-189
X Understanding Human Sexuality

- Some pastoral notes regarding imagination and fantasies           - RC documents in Bib.
- Some pastoral notes regarding family planning                          - Shivanandan, 234-270
                                                                                               -  Pieper, 145-75

XI Experiencing our sexual energies in a Christian perspective

- The phenomenon of masturbation                                             - Coleman, I, 301-24;209-
- The struggle of homosexuality                                                  70: Coleman II, 1-202

XII Sexual Struggles without love or commitment

- Non-marital sexual encounters                                                   - Coleman I, 271-300
- Violence through sexual allurements: Pornography, abuse, rape   - Coleman I, 68-92
- Aberrant sexual encounters

XIII Sexuality as Presented in Family Life Education

- Pastoral perspectives for ministry                                               - cf. Bib. & pastoral exp.

Guest Speaker: --Dr. John Vallely: “Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask.”


Students are responsible for knowing the University’s academic policies and regulations and any particularities of their won course of study. These can all be found at the University’s website
( Ignorance of these policies is not an excuse for any violation thereof. The following policies are particularly important to note:

I Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the dates as given above. Assignments may note be dropped off at King’s or submitted electronically.

II It is the responsibility of the student to organize his or her work so that the assignments are completed on time. For a serious reason, a student may approach the professor before the due- date, and may be granted an extension at the discretion of the professor. Any medical reasons will be confirmed by proper documentation as approved by the Dean’s Office. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment will be deducted for each day it is overdue without permission.

III No electronic devices will be allowed during tests or the examination, unless approved in advance by Student Services at the University of King’s.

IV Students who miss tests will negotiate a “make-up” date with the professor. Any medical reasons will be confirmed by proper documentation as approved by the Dean’s Office.

V Plagiarism: Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea or passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt by quotation marks and/or footnotes. Plagiarism is a major academic offense. Students may be required to submit their work in electronic form for plagiarism checking.

VI Selection and Registration of Courses: Students are responsible for ensuring that their selection of courses is appropriate and accurately recorded, that all prerequisite course(s) have been successfully completed, and that they are aware of any anti-requisite course(s) that they have taken.


See Assessment Section above.

The glory of God is men and women fully alive,
And the life of men and women is the vision of God.
(St. Irenaeus, adv. haer., iv, 20.7)