In spite of the fact that marriage is recognized as a sacrament by the Church, the attitude of Christian thought towards the sexual relationship and its spiritualizing potentialities has been in practice singularly limited and negative. From the start, Christian authors have been ill at ease with the whole subject. Sexual activity tended to be seen as a sign of man's sinful and degenerate state and the modern Christian is taught to distinguish between love in the New Testament sense — agape — and eros, and to see eros as a debased form of agape, if not actually opposed to it. All in all, the Church has done scant justice to its insight that sexual love is, at least potentially, a sacrament
In this concise yet challenging work Philip Sherrard does not provide a systematic theology of sexual love but indicates some of the considerations and principles that must be taken into account before such a theology can be adequately formulated. His four essays are entitled 'The Sexual Relation in Christian Thought', 'The Body, Beauty, and Sexuality', 'Towards a Theology of Sexual Love', and 'An Approach to the Sacrament of Marriage'.