The Catholic perspective promotes human dignity, the essential worth or dignity of the human person as made in the image and likeness of God. Each human being is unique and unrepeatable and loved and called by God. This means that every human being, in every circumstance, is good. This is not to say that they are morally good. Our moral goodness or moral badness is based on the moral decisions we make. Rather, to affirm the worth or dignity of the human person is to affirm that it is a good thing that he or she exists, that his or her existence is desired by God and that his or her existence is worthwhile. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2013). Catholic thinking about sexuality and relationships is based on this basic affirmation of the equal worth of all human beings.
The body is good. We affirmed above that the human being is good, not in a moral sense, but in the sense that it is good that any particular human exists. The same is true for the body as part of that human being created in the image of God. In other words, because we are created in the image of God as bodily beings, the human body constitutes part of what gives humans their fundamental and equal dignity or worth. The goodness, worth and dignity of the body, of our human flesh, is further affirmed by Catholic belief in the Incarnation. The idea that God chose to become a human being, to enter into the limitations of a specific human body in a specific time and place, gives a profound meaning to our fleshiness. God has chosen to become like us in every way but sin, and in so doing saved us from the limitations of this fleshiness of ours. Through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, we are freed from death as the ultimate limitation of our bodily existence. Jesus is raised not as a spirit. Jesus is raised with a glorified body. In other words, our very bodiliness is part of our future as much as it is part of our present.
Intimacy is a hallmark of the Christian life (Au & Cannon, 1995). Experiencing true intimacy begins with knowing ourselves as being loved and accepting ourselves as lovable (Delio, 2013). The Christian understanding of God as Trinity described above makes intimacy and self-acceptance possible, even if we have never experienced the love of another human being. God loves us to the extent that God is prepared to become one of us subject to all of the cruelty we can muster in our least humane moments God's love encompasses the humiliating and torturous death of Jesus, God incarnate, on the Cross. The consequence of all this is that regardless of how we have been treated, humiliated, or hurt, God knows what such treatment is like. No matter how we may have treated, humiliated, or hurt others, God knows what such hurt and humiliation is like. God loves us anyway. When we talk about intimacy with others we are discussing a special kind of relationship, a way of relating closely associated in the philosophical sense with the idea friendship. There is an expression in English about 'fair-weather friends'. These are people who are your 'friends' when the going is easy but when the going gets tough they are nowhere to be seen. Real friendship, real intimacy, goes beyond being nice to a person when to do so is easy. It is about committing oneself to another person over time, even when that commitment is difficult for either of you. The consequence of this commitment is the build-up of trust. Intimacy and trust go hand in hand. An intimate relationship can be defined as differing from other kinds of relationships in at least six ways (Randall, 2014): Knowledge: intimate partners have extensive often confidential knowledge of each other Caring: intimate partners feel more affection for one another than for most others Interdependence: frequent, strong, diverse, and enduring effects on each other Mutuality: tendency to think of each other as 'us' not just I or me Trust: the expectation that one partner will treat the other fairly, warmly, and honourably Commitment: expect their partnerships to continue and invest personally in that expectation. Finally, intimate relationships can create a context in which we can experience what it means to talk about transcendence and the sacred. In intimate relationships we transcend our tendency to egotistical self-absorption as we lose ourselves in our wonder and concern for the other. In truly intimate relationships this loss of self is paradoxically an affirmation of oneself as someone truly worthy. We discover our own worth, our dignity as a human person, as we discover ourselves through the eyes and heart of our intimate other.