The Theology of the Body Pope John Paul II
Introduction Originally published in four books: 1. Original Unity of Man and Woman. 2. Blessed are the Pure of Heart. 3. The Theology of Marriage and Celibacy. 4. Reflections on Humanae Vitae.
Theology of the Body The four original books and the subsequent book: The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan is a compilation of the 129 weekly messages Pope John Paul II gave between September 1979 and November 1984. ** Re-translated and re-published in 2006 as: Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body.
In The Beginning Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees is the basis for Pope John Paul II’s discourse on the nature of marriage, conjugal love and the human person. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Matthew 19:3ff and Mark 10:2ff). - “from the beginning it was not so…” - Moses allowed divorce as a concession to sin.
In the Beginning Jesus’ response contrasts: The state of primitive innocence – integral nature with... The state of human sinfulness – fallen nature.
In the Beginning Jesus refuses to address the question of the Pharisees according to their pre-set parameters. Avoids the test/trap set by the Pharisees. Instead of simply forcing an acceptance of the divine law, Jesus’ reference to “the beginning” invites man to reflect on the mystery of man at the moment of his creation and the meaning of conjugal love (TB 26).
In the Beginning Jesus invites his questioners to reflect on the beauty, wonder, majesty of God’s original plan present “in the beginning.” Hardness of heart has obscured it, but God’s original plan remains stamped into man’s very being.
In the Beginning Catechism on the Genesis accounts. The first three chapters of Genesis occupy a special place in Scripture regarding creation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation (CCC 289).
In the Beginning Jesus’ reference to “the beginning” highlights several important things initially: God created man in His image and likeness as male and female (Gen.1:27). A man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). Jesus states in Matthew that the two are no longer two but one flesh and that man cannot divide what God has joined. Unity and indissolubility are set forth.
Stages of Human Existence 1) Original Innocence. Man’s original condition of blessedness. It is marked by complete harmony with God, himself, others, and nature.
Stages of Human Existence 2) Historical Man. - A state of sin: begins with the Fall. - The effects of the Original Sin plunge its roots in every person without exception. - Closed to original innocence. - Open to redemption.
Stages of Human Existence 3) Eschatological / Redeemed Man. - We await the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). - We participate in salvation by cooperating w/ God.
Original Human Experiences 1. Original Solitude 2. Original Unity 3. Original Nakedness
Original Human Experiences There remains “a certain echo” of the original innocence of man. Although we have no experience of the state of original innocence, we can catch a glimpse of it by inverting our experience of innocence lost (A photographic negative reveals something of the positive image – TBE 64)
Original Human Experiences Analysis of the Second Creation Story: The Starting Point: Gen. 2:18. “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Original Solitude • The passage from Gen. 2:18 is taken from the second account of creation. Only in the Yahwist tradition. Unlike the first creation story, in the account of Genesis 2 the creation of man is different and separate (Gen. 2:7) from the creation of woman. When God speaks, then, about solitude it is in reference to the solitude of “man” (undifferentiated “humanity”) as such, and not just to that of the male (TB 35).
Original Solitude • Gen. 2:18. - Pope John Paul II contends that this solitude is a fundamental anthropological problem that exists prior to the one raised by the fact that man is male and female. - Not so much chronologically, but in his nature. - Man discovers his own personhood, being a body – being somebody in a deeper sense prior to his masculinity or femininity. - Experience of this reality? - Basically man discovers his uniqueness in this solitude and he becomes conscious of himself through his body.
Original Solitude Recognizing that the man needs a helper, God creates the animals, brings them to him to see what he will call them. - Naming is a preparation for the creation of woman. *** Through this test the first meaning of the original solitude is manifested.
Original Solitude Major Discoveries: 1. Through naming the animals Adam becomes aware of his own superiority before all creation. 2. He is “alone” – distinguished from the animalia (other living beings). - Note: Instead of seeing the commonality between him and the animals, the man sees first “what he is not.”
Original Solitude Man becomes conscious of himself through his body. He is a body among bodies, and yet he discovers that he is alone (TB 39). In naming man’s self-awareness grows. - Self-knowledge grows as his knowledge of creation grows. Man recognizes his superiority to the rest of creation. - Greater capacities and faculties. Unlike animals man possesses self-determination, conscious choice (given choice between good and evil). - Man authors his own activities. He can, at will, till or not till; name or not name etc…
Original Solitude The human body, unlike the bodies of animals, expresses the presence of a person. In the state of original solitude, man becomes conscious of the meaning of his own body.
Original Solitude Alternative between death and immortality. Man is a subject (An “I”) because of his self- awareness and self-determination and also because of his own body. The human body permits man to be the author of truly human activity (knowing and willing). The body expresses a person.
Original Solitude With this knowledge man is placed before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “if you eat of the tree, you shall die” (Gen. 2:16-17). - Man is confirmed as a limited being who lives a dependent existence – by his decision and choice liable to nonexistence. Distinct from the animals.
Original Solitude Confrontation with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – the alternative between life and death – establishes the eschatological meaning of the body and humanity itself.
Original Solitude - Right “from the beginning” of man’s existence, in his solitude, the alternative or free choice between life and death enters the definition of man (TB 42). - The choice to eat of the forbidden tree has roots in humanity itself. It carries with it the absolute loneliness of alienation from God – Death. - Freedom, then is man’s capacity for eternity: Eternal life in communion with God or eternal death of alienation.
Original Unity “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18).
Original Unity Already noted: - Man as a “body” belongs to his structure as a personal subject more deeply than sexual differentiation. - Original Solitude is prior to Original Unity. - Experience of being “human” is prior to the experience of being a man or a woman. The Original Unity is based upon the two incarnations of humanity: masculinity and femininity.
Original Unity The Creation of Woman (Gen 2:21-24). - The man falls “asleep” in order to wake up male and female. The analogy of sleep: Not so much a passing from consciousness to subconsciousness, as a specific return to non-being – a moment preceding creation – so that “solitary man” may emerge as male and female (TB 44). Possible to translate the Hebrew tardemahwith the Greek ekstasis – ecstasy in English (TBE 74).
Original Unity - Man did not find a suitable partner for himself (Gen. 2:20). > Pope John Paul II says that there is no doubt that the solitary man enters the “sleep” with a desire of finding a being like himself. In the “sleep” the generic man is “recreated” male and female – a unity in two. > That the woman is a fit helper, despite the sexual difference, is so evident that the man at once accepts her with joy when he says “this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh – she shall be called woman…”(Gen. 2:23). > Gen. 2:23 – we see the distinction between ‘is and ‘issah for the first time.
Original Unity The original experience of Unity is founded on the mutual reciprocity of the two. In his original solitude, man saw his distinction from all created reality; however, it also opened him up to a being like himself. In the complementarity of the sexes, man is oriented toward a communion of persons.
Original Unity The foundation of the communion between man and woman can only be formed on the basis of a “double solitude” in which man and woman recognize their distinction from all creation and the possibility of a mutual giving of themselves.
Original Unity • The creation of woman: - Overcomes the frontier of solitude. - Fulfills the creation of the human person. “Man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion.Right “from the beginning,” he is not only an image in which the solitude of the person who rules the world is reflected, but also, and essentially, an image of an inscrutable divine communion of persons” (TB 46). - Almost as if only at the sight of woman is the man able to identify what makes them visibly similar, what manifests humanity: The body reveals man.
Original Unity Gift (Gen. 2:24). - Mutual Gift “A man shall leave his father and mother…and the two become one body (Gen. 2:24). - Leads to a communion of persons – man and woman are created for unity. - In every aspect of life. - Through a total and reciprocal gift. - Communion is foremost in “image.” - The unity of the two into one flesh is a bond established as a gift of God.
Original Unity • The human person loves and expresses love in and though the body. As embodied persons, their masculinity and femininity allow for a unity of persons. The reality of sex appears. The two discover the immense joy of the loving union expressed through their bodies. Unity comes through total and reciprocal donation. Through their intellect and will, the two have dominion over their bodies which allows for the expression of authentic love.
Original Unity God did indeed create the human body to express the person. Therefore, God gave the minds and wills of our first parents a certain control over their bodies. They were able to express their persons in and through their bodies because their bodies, unlike ours, were under the rule of their minds and wills. Consciousness, efficacy, freedom, transcendence, and truth were expressed in and through their bodies. In other words, they were integrated. The wills of our first parents did not have to struggle against the desires of their flesh. Our first parents had no need of will power as we do. The experience of original unity was possible for our first parents because both, within themselves, were completely in harmony. There was no opposition, as there is in us, between the mind and the will, on the one hand, and the body, on the other. (Hogan, Covenant of Love, 48).
Original Unity Concept of “gift” – made for communion. JP II – we are created as “being-gifts.” The key to sexuality. A total gift of self in a reciprocal relationship. - No selfish calculations. - The only proper response to a human being is love.
Original Nakedness “The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). Passage seems misplaced or merely an afterthought, rather, it is key. Pope John Paul II calls shame the “boundary experience” that separates man’s experience of original blessedness from the experience of historical man.
Original Nakedness Involves a real non-presence of shame, not simply a lack, an underdevelopment, or a desensitization. - e.g., very young children. - Suppression of shame when it is called for – examples?
Original Nakedness Shame is at its heart a fear for one’s “self”. - We have at the core of our being a need for the affirmation/acceptance of this “self” in line with its proper value. - Involves a fear that the “other” will not recognize or affirm the truth of my person revealed by nakedness. - e.g., ESPN reporter Erin Andrews
Original Nakedness • Nakedness without shame indicates a fullness of consciousness which affirmed the inherent value of the person expressed as male and female. The Fundamental Message: The authentic gift of self involves an experience of joy and innocence. The man and his wife were free with regard to themselves. Purity of the gaze.
Original Nakedness The Gift of Self (Being-Gift). - Man was created to receive the gifts of God. He was the only creation able to understanding the meaning of the gifts. - Life – recognizes the gift. - Creation – feeling of wonder at the gift.
Original Nakedness Man enters creation as one who receives God’s gifts. Because he is created in God’s image and likeness, he also desires to give gifts. - Man offers himself manifested in the body. - Spousal meaning of the body – from the beginning the body has a capacity to express love in which the person becomes a gift and fulfills the meaning of his/her existence.
Original Nakedness The Gift of Self (Being-Gift). - “Man is created as a person first to receive the gift of God’s gratuitous love and then to recapitulate that love by being gift to others” (TBE 96). - In the original experience, man accepts the woman as she is willed by God, “for her own sake;” woman accepts man as he is willed by God, “for his own sake.” Not possessed for one’s own use; for one’s own purposes. - Reciprocal and total gift of self in love. - The absence of shame underlines the peace and tranquility of the “interior gaze” mutually bestowed. - Serenity shows the interior harmony with God’s plan.
Original Nakedness The Gift of Self (Freedom). - In the beginning man and the woman are free with regard to themselves. - “Free with the freedom of the gift” (TB 64). Adam was under no compulsion to satisfy an “instinct” at the sight of Eve’s naked body. Instead the sight of her inspired him to make a sincere gift of himself to her. - Basis of the spousal meaning of the body. Involves a trust in initiation and in receiving. - Mastery of self – man cannot give himself away if he is not in control of himself/desires. - A disinterested giving of self – interested, but not motivated by self-seeking.
Original Nakedness Human Freedom Gift of Nature Self (Image of God) - Our freedom is a freedom FOR self-giving, loving, communion – possible in Original Nakedness. > Similar to the freedom of God in whose image man is created. > It is not a freedom FROM something as it is often supposed.
Original Nakedness • Significance of Gen. 2:25: “…the affirmation contained in Gen. 2:25 about nakedness mutually free from shame is a statement unique in its kind in the whole Bible. It will never be repeated. On the contrary, we can quote many texts in which nakedness will be connected with shame, or in an even stronger sense, with ignominy (TB 68). - Original innocence irretrievably gone – can’t go back. - All is not lost. - Redemption in Christ – “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20).
Historical Man The Fall. “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen 3:6). “…Then they eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loin cloths” (Gen 3:7). “Where are you?...I heard you in the garden and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Gen. 9-10).
Historical Man “Fruit” of the Breach of the Covenant – Lust. • It comes from doubt about the original gift. Questioning the gift and the love of God (after they had seen the wonders of God’s creation). Questioning if God is truly what he claimed, or a liar. God of love or God the tyrant.
Historical Man “Questioning in his heart the deepest meaning of the donation, that is, love as the specific motive of creation and of the original covenant (Gen. 3:5), man turns his back on God-Love, on the Father. In a way he casts God out of his heart. At the same time, he detaches his heart and almost cuts it off from what is ‘of the Father.’ Thus, there remains in him what is ‘of the world’” (TB 111).
Historical Man “Fruit” of the Breach of the Covenant – Lust. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes way, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 Jn. 2:16-17).