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Review of Sex and the Marriage Covenant - Review by Msgr. William B. Smith, S.T.D., professor of moral theology at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York, 1992.

Over twenty years ago, John F. Kippley looked around and waited for theologians and academics to publish a readable defense of the good of marital sexuality and a critique of the false claims of contraception.

Fortunately, he did not wait forever. And so, he published his own book, Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant (1970; revised 1976) achieving both goals—critiquing false arguments while proposing a positive covenant theology.

Now, twenty-two years later, John has published a much expanded effort, Sex and the Marriage Covenant (1991), without losing any of the clarity of critique while improving the covenant theology.

In the great personal and magisterial treatise, Familiaris Consortio (November 22, 1981), Pope John Paul II issued a pressing invitation to theologians and writers to commit themselves to the task of illustrating more clearly the “biblical foundations, ethical grounds, and personalist reasons” behind and throughout the Church’s doctrine on sexuality, marriage and family. John Kippley has responded to this invitation fully on all three levels: biblical, ethical and personalist.

As the author demonstrates beyond cavil, the contemporary problem is not simply incomprehension on the wrongfulness of unnatural birth control, the root problem now is the very meaning of human sexuality in a Christian context.

Thus, not only is the negative critique of false contraceptive argumentation helpful, but a positive covenant theology of marriage is also crucial. Both lines are fostered and bolstered in this new book with perhaps the most comprehensive presentation of the specific teachings of Pope John Paul II that exists in English.

Attentive and faithful to sound doctrine, written in clear American English, John Kippley is to be thanked and praised by the many teachers and preachers, parents and pastors who can benefit greatly from this fine defense of Catholic teaching along with the sound defense of attacks against it.