…It is said that even if the general danger of temptation is no obstacle to the possible association between the sexes, yet, as soon as an outspoken friendship between man and woman develops, a close personal bond, an explicit I-thou relationship, a true loving interpenetration, a shift into the sexual sphere becomes inevitable. In other words, it is said that a deep friendship, filled with a real love, between man and woman is always simultaneously a sexually tinted one, whether the persons in question admit it to themselves or not. If this were correct, any love communion between man and woman outside of marriage would be doomed – but this is definitely not the case.

Of course, we don’t want to deceive ourselves; when an ultimate spiritual I-thou relationship exists between man and woman, there also exists a natural tendency for this love to lead to the sexual sphere, as is the case in marriage. But there are special factors which exscind this tendency and which retain the purely spiritual character of this relationship, without taking anything away from its depth and ardour.

….This is our actual problem: which factor can keep an ultimate I-thou relationship between both sexes free from every intrinsically normal overlapping into the sexual sphere? When can a relationship be purely spiritual and yet full of ultimate ardour and devotion? Only when it is a communion in Jesus, from Jesus and for Jesus. Only through being totally anchored in the supernatural can an ultimate I-thou relationship remain free of every sexual shadow and yet represent a unique fulfilment of the spiritual mutuality of man and woman.

A mutual elevation to the intellectual sphere is not sufficient, we must rise to the spiritual, that is the supernatural sphere, in order for this holy communion to develop; in this relationship the coordination of man and woman can then unfold in all its value, permitting a spiritual union in Jesus which would never be possible between men or between women. This presupposes that Jesus is the theme of the relationship, that for each partner the other’s salvation is of primary concern, that they participate in the love of Jesus for the other, that his Sacred Heart is the place where both souls meet and where they, as it were, interpenetrate (Man and Woman, 1965).