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Theology of the Body
Transcript of Theology of the Body
GOD, SEX and the
Theology of the Body
...to our "everyday theology"
e have no idea what we ultimately desire. . .
even in those moments when we think we can reach out and touch it, it eludes us. . .
yet in not knowing (what we desire), we know that this reality must exist. . .
. . .toward which we feel driven.
Pope Benedict XVI, Saved in Hope, 11
he voice often comes in the middle of the night or the early hours
of the morning, when our hearts are most unedited and vulnerable. . .
There is something missing.
You know it.
Brent Curtis, The Sacred Romance, pp. 1-2
from Saint John Paul II...
there must be something
You were made for something more.
what do we do with our
the three Gospels
any promise of happiness
any path offered as a response to the hunger within us
If there really IS a way to satisfy the ,
that would indeed be .
Do its promises truly correspond to the deepest dimensions of eros, the deepest longings of our heart
test and probe every "gospel":
Modern media offer a loud and clear promise of fulfillment:
If eros points to a yearning for the infinite, this
gospel actually forces us to
desire - to settle for less than what satisfies.
Why, then, does sex sell? Why are we convinced that it promises fulfillment?
MUST BE REPRESSED
This kind of "legalism" and "moralism"
is the version of Christianity that most people in the western world have grown up with.
SUICIDE of the SOUL
"miss the mark"
this is what the
word "sin" means
Do we have access to infinity?
Our desire for infinity places in us a radical posture of dependence on the "Infinite One" to grant us of himself.
Do we believe he will
Faith, John Paul II tells us, "in its deepest essence, is the
openness of the human heart
to the gift, to God's self communication."
If this gift were real, there would be no need
to repress desire.
If this gift were real, there would be no need
to reduce desire to addictive, finite pleasures.
(FAST FOOD GOSPEL)
If this gift were real, we could live in our desire
with the "living hope" of ultimate satisfaction.
- allowing desire to expand infinitely -
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambtion when infinite joy is offered to us.
We are far too easily pleased.
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
For many people, certainly, sex is the most powerful and moving experience that life has to offer, and more overwhelmingly holy than anything (they've experienced) in church.
Mike Masons, The Mystery of Marriage
For great masses of people, sex is the one force which can...lift them, however briefly, right out of themselves.
We must reckon with the possibility that something in the nature of the sexual instinct itself is unfavorable to the realization of complete satisfaction.
Sigmund Freud, On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love, section 3
This, in a nutshell, is the Christian proposal.
If it is true, this is indeed
If it is not the most
vision of human life you've ever heard
(and because of this, the most challenging)
then it isn't the true Gospel.
Christianity takes desire...far more seriously than the stoic or the mere hedonist. Christianity refuses to budge from the fact that man was made for pleasure, that his beginning and his end is a paradise...We are made for bliss, and we must have it, one way or another.
John Eldredge, Journey of Desire, pp. 46-47
Eros is meant 'to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.'
Benedict XVI, God Is Love 4
Our life is a gymnasium of desire...When [Christians] say 'God,' what do we wish to express?
This word is all that we yearn for.
St. Augustine, Homily on First Letter of John
I saw that he alone...could fulfill my immense desires...I know that...he would not inspire the longings I feel unless he wanted to grant them.
God cannot inspire unrealizable desires.
Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
sees the body as an idol
sees the body as an evil
sees the body as an icon
HIDDEN IN GOD
Christianity of the future will be mystical or it will not be at all.
has learned how to read
written mysteriously into all of creation
the "divinity code"
(especially into our own creation as
male and female and the desire for )
Only the body is capable of making
visible what is invisible,
the spiritual and the divine.
God created the body to transfer his own
into the visible reality of the world.
In this way,
, in its masculinity and femininity,
a sign (or icon)
of God's own mystery.
mission of the Church:
"to make plain to everyone...this mystery which for
ages past was kept hidden in God."
Tragically, a person can spend his whole life going to church and have no idea what this "great mystery" is, let alone recognize a sign of it written
right into our own bodies
GOD HAS REVEALED HIS INNERMOST SECRET:
God himself is an eternal exchange of love...
...and he has destined us to share in that exchange.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.
Eph 5: 21-32
If we are created for the infinite,
when we seek satisfaction for this
yearning in finite things.
Scripture uses spousal union only as an analogy.
God is not sexual.
Rather, human sexuality, properly understood,
offers a glimmer of the .
All of creation proclaims the Mystery.
Day unto day takes up the story and night unto night makes known the message...their words (extend) to the utmost bounds of the world.
The sun comes forth like a bridegroom from his tent...nothing is concealed from its burning heat.
If we read correctly - the Code
written into our bodies, our deepest desires,
and the whole universe - we will arrive at the living hope of satisfaction ( ).
this is what authentic Christianity
has been holding out to us all along!
From that vantage point, the Church's teaching
(about sex and everything else) will not only begin to make sense, it will become extremely attractive.
If we equate the Church with ,
we are RIGHT to reject such an impoverished and
hypocritical vision of life.
BUT when we realize the Church - despite the errors of so many of her members - actually preaches , we
understand all that she teaches as an invitation to
I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.
to Fill These
If this is everywhere -
even stamped in our own bodies -
why doesn't the whole world see it
For since the creation of the world God's eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.
But we exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.
As a result,
our hearts were darkened.
Romans 1: 20, 25, 21
the Apostle Paul explains our blindness as follows:
The essential lie we have believed about God is that he is not going to satisfy our desire.
If that is true, we can either:
take satisfaction into our own hands
Only a fool would choose the former.
I, the Lord, am your God...Open wide your mouth and I will fill it...But my people did not heed my voice...So I left them in their hardness of heart to follow their own designs.
Christ's entire mission is to save us from and
bring us into the satisfaction for which we yearn.
"What are you looking for?"
His first words in the
Gospel of John invite us to
probe our desire.
John 1: 38
"Repent and believe in the good news!"
Mark 1: 15
His first words in the
Gospel of Mark
invite us to turn from
our grasping and believe in the satisfaction he freely offers.
All you who are thirsty, come to the water...
Come without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread, for what fails to satisfy?
Follow me, and you shall delight in rich fare.
Is 55: 1-2
The purpose of John Paul II's Theology of the Body is to enlighten our hearts so that we can once again read that God has inscribed in our bodies.
What does it mean to be human
How do I live my life in a way that
brings true happiness
For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning was was not so.
Mt 19: 8
We think heartache and difficulty in the male-female relationship is . In the beginning, it was not this way.
Something has gone dreadfully wrong.
And the man and his wife were both naked,
and were not ashamed.
this is the "key" for understanding God's original plan for man and woman!
They experienced sexual desire ( ) only as
the desire to love as God loves ( ).
There is no shame (or fear) in love.
Perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4: 18
Nakedness without shame reveals the spousal meaning of the body, which is the body's "power to express love: precisely that love in which the human person becomes a gift and - through this gift - fulfills the very meaning of his being and existence."
After sin, shame enters as "a natural form of self-defense for the person against the danger of descending...into the position of an object for sexual use."
John Paul II, Love and Responsibility, p. 182
redeeming desire -
a new ethos
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Mt 5: 27-28
Whoever allows these words to act on him will hear in the depths of his or her heart the of the
of that very good beginning to which Christ appealed in his discussion with the Pharisees.
We must rediscover the lost fullness of our humanity and want to regain it
fear the severity of Christ's words
have confidence in their power to save us
Christ wants to inspire our sexual desires
"with everything that is noble and beautiful,"
"the supreme value which is love."
of the body
Christ's words are "an invitation to a pure way of looking at others, capable of respecting the spousal meaning of the body."
John Paul II, Splendor of Truth, 15
Christian ethos is characterized by a transformation of the human person...Such as to express and realize the value of the body and sex according to the Creator's original plan.
Purity leads to an ever greater awareness of the gratuitous beauty of the human body, of masculinity and femininity.
John Paul II
Doesn't the Church, with her commandments and 'prohibitions,' turn to bitterness the most precious thing in life?
Doesn't She blow the whistle just when the joy which is the Creator's gift offers us a certain foretaste of the Divine?
On the contrary!
Far from rejecting or poisoning eros, the authentic teachings of Christianity heal it and restore its true grandeur.
Benedict XVI, God is Love 3, 5
It is necessary to continually rediscover the true meaning of the body in what is "erotic."
If we stop at mere lust, we do not experience that fullness of eros - which implies the upward impulse
of the heart toward what is true,
good and beautiful, so that what
is "erotic" also becomes true,
good and beautiful.
We must learn with
perserverance and consistency
the meaning of
is not an unending succession of days on the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality.
It is like plunging into the ocean of infinite love...A plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy.
We must think along these lines if we want to understand what it is that our faith in Christ leads us to expect.
Benedict XVI, Saved in Hope 12
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow with joy, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out for you, the riches of the nations given to you.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore...for the Lamb (the Bridegroom) will lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Revelation 7: 16-17
Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme definitive happiness.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1024
Human hunger is ,
far beyond earth's ability to satisfy.
Catherine of Siena
If I find in myself desires
which nothing in this world can satisfy,
the only logical explanation is that
I was made for another world.
"For in the resurrection of the body they
neither marry nor are given in marriage."
Matthew 22: 30
When we read the
properly, sex points us to another dimension of union altogether. Marriage exists as a sacramental sign - an earthly icon of the
'marriage of the lamb.'
This means as beautiful and wonderful as the union of the sexes is, it is not man's be-all and end-all!
(the error of gospel #1)
On no point does the Christian faith meet with more opposition than on the resurrection of the body. It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?
In the resurrection we discover the same spousal meaning of the body. But in this eternal dimension we live the call to union in our encounter with the living God face-to-face.
In the joys of their love, (God gives spouses) here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb.
The Church "longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven," where she "will rejoice one day with (her) Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end."
There are many parts,
yet one body.
The Communion of Saints
is the unity in "one body"
of all who respond
to the wedding invitation
of the Lamb.
We will see
all and be seen by all. We will know all
and be known by all. And God will be
"all in all."
The erotic - even misdirected eros - is a sign of the kind of
animals we are:
Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel
is looking for
creatures who desire God.
refers to the final revelation of heaven - the consummation of the Marriage of Christ and the Church.
If this eternal union is real, if this is what eros really points us to, then
it's worth selling everything to possess.
This is why "some have renounced marriage
for the sake of the kingdom of heaven."
for the kingdom
Those who remain celibate "for the kingdom" freely forgo sexual relations in order to devote all of their energies and desires to the union that alone can satisfy.
In no way does authentic Christian celebacy involve rejection, devaluation or repression of human sexuality.
it points to the ultimate purpose and meaning of it!
Celibacy for the kingdom has acquired the significance of an act of spousal love.
TOB 80: 6
On the basis of the same spousal meaning of the body there can be formed the love that commits a person to marriage for the whole of life...
see Matthew 19: 3-9
...but there also can be formed the love that commits a person to a life of celibacy "for the kingdom."
see Matthew 19: 11-12
I want to know
Society talks a lot about freedom, especially "sexual freedom." But this typically refers to
Is an alcoholic who can't say "no" to his next drink
Society's concept of freedom actually promotes
- slavery to our compulsions and disordered passions.
Man longs for love more than for freedom - freedom is the means and love is the end.
John Paul II, Love and Responsibility, p. 126
love something we "fall into?"
What role does the will play?
Is love a feeling?
...a sensual attraction?
based only on instincts or emotions is fickle and can be misguided.
based only on a decision of the will can be cold and stoic.
Emotions, feeling and sensual attraction constitute only the "raw material" of love. There exists a tendency to regard them as its finished form. These components, if they are not properly held together, may add up not to love, but to its direct opposite.
see John Paul II, Love and Responsibility, pp. 139, 146
Sometimes, what we call "love" turns out to be, contrary to all appearances, only a form of USING the person. To use a person is contrary to the very nature of love.
John Paul II, Love and Responsibility, pp. 167-169
Love promises infinity, eternity - a reality far greater and totally other than our every day existence. Yet we have also seen that the way to attain this goal is not simply by submitting to instinct.
Benedict XVI, God is Love, 5
power of love
When we take love seriously, we find ourselves in a dilemma:
We desire to love divinely, but we do not have the strength to carry it out on our own!
For men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
Converting from the rule-obsessed morality of
to the "new ethos" of
demands a radical openness of our hearts to
is the power of God's love poured into our hearts like new wine!
Whoever tries to justify himself by
following the rules
has fallen away from grace.
On the other hand, whoever ignores
the rules of love
will never find it.
The law was given that grace might be sought,
and grace was given that the law might be fulfilled.
Love and life according to the Gospel cannot be thought of first and foremost as a kind of precept, because what they demand is beyond man's abilities. They are possible only as a result of a gift of God who heals, restores and transforms the human heart by his grace.
Living the Gospel, then, is "a possibility opened to man exclusively by grace, by the gift of God, by his love."
John Paul II, Splendor of Truth, 23-24
Those bound by lust experience God's law as a burden, indeed as a restriction of their freedom. But those liberated by love are empowered from within to live the demands of God's law in their fullness. This is a still uncertain and fragile journey as long as we are on earth, but it is one made possible by grace.
see John Paul II, Splendor of Truth, 18
The Church, while teaching the demands of the divine law, also announces the good news of salvation
, and by means of the sacraments flings wide open the channels of grace, which makes man...capable of following the design of his Creator...with love and true freedom.
Paul VI, Of Human Life, 25
Language of the Body
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.
Ephesians 5: 21-33
The body has a "language" that's meant to proclaim the truth of divine love -
the divinity code.
In this sense, JPII says the body is "prophetic."
We must distinguish true from false prophets.
If we can speak the truth with our bodies, we can also speak lies.
One can speak of moral good and evil in the sexual relationship based on whether the couple gives to their union the character of
a truthful sign
All questions of sexual morality then come down to this:
Is this a true icon of heaven, or is it not?
Does this act truthfully image divine love
(the love of Christ for the Church) or does it not?
in other words:
Does this act orient me to infinity, to the eternal explosion of love?
free. total. faithful. fruitful.
This is precisely the kind of love a man and woman commit to in marriage, and its what they are meant to express whenever they become "one flesh."
Sexual intercourse, therefore, is where the words of the
wedding vows are fully expressed with the
language of the body
I take you as my wife.
I take you as my husband.
The words themselves can only be fulfilled
by conjugal intercourse.
Here, we pass to the reality that corresponds to these words.
I appeal to you, in view of God's mercy, to offer your sexuality as a living sacrifice, whole and entire to God.
You need not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but you can be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will understand and desire God's will for your sexuality -
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12: 1-2
nd by living according to his will,
you'll experience the
of attaining to the
of your deepest yearnings.
freedom to indulge compulsions
freedom from compulsion to indulge
freedom to sin
freedom from sin
do what feels good
do what is good
sees law as the tyrant
sees sin as the tyrant
law feels imposed
law is written on the heart (ethos)
breaks the law
fulfills the law
any choice is a good choice
choice between good and evil
directed towards self-gratification
directed towards self-donation
sees the body as someTHING
sees the body as someONE
sacrifices others for oneself
sacrifices oneself for others
grasps at fleeting pleasure
yearns for eternal joy
manipulates and controls
respects people's freedom
aimed at any pleasing outlet
reserved for one and only
aimed at repeatable qualities
aimed at the unrepeatable person
sex, sex and more sex