Theology of the Body

I've been wanting to write an article on Theology of the Body for some time, but have never had the chance to put my thoughts down till today.

For the uninformed, Theology of the Body is a compilation of Pope John Paul II's 129 short talks over the first five years of his papalship. It is the source of the sexual revolution that he tried to bring about, but the message of his theology is only now starting to be felt in Singapore.

This article is taken from the OXYGEN sharing on Jan 15. Since I wrote it already, I thought it would be good to put it out as a sharing/article here in this blog. It comes from a reflection on the biblical passage 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20, which is the second reading for the second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

So, here goes:

When we think of the sacraments, we realise that each one deals with the body and the soul. Think about the sacraments. In Baptism, running water is poured onto our foreheads. In Confirmation, we are anointed on our skin with holy oil, the same as during the Anointing of the Sick. In Holy Communion, we receive and eat with our mouths, the Body of Christ. In Reconciliation, we confess our sins with our lips to another person, another body, through which Christ acts. During Holy Orders, we lay our bodies down prostrate before the Lord. And during Marriage, the primordial sacrament, we make love to our spouse, professing with our bodies the vows that we took at the altar.

Every sexual act that we make has to be a reflection of the vows we make at the altar. It has to be a free choice between both spouses, giving of themselves and receiving each other totally. It has to be done only with each other, and it has to be open to life.

Hold on, you may say. Why does every sexual act with my spouse have to be open to life? If we allow that one to go by, then we might come to ask as well, why must every sexual act be with my spouse? Both are vows taken at the altar, and to let one go means a weakening of the marriage bond, which can and does lead to unfaithfulness. If you doubt me, just take a look at the world around us today. See how much the marriage bond has weakened in society because the society has what Pope John Paul II called 'the culture of death'. It begins with the weakening of the marriage bond and this begins when couples are lie to each other with their bodies.

Hold on, hold on, you may say again. What is this about lying with my body? A couple who engage in sexual intercourse while using contraceptives is saying that they are not open to life. Which means to say, the Lord, the giver of life, the Holy Spirit, is not welcome in their union. They are saying, "God, we don't want you in our marriage. Stay out of it. If you try to come in, we will kill any life that you try to create." Hence, culture of death.

What does this contracepting culture lead to? Firstly, we know that no matter how good a contraceptive is, there is always room for error, particularly human error, misuse of the condom or the pill. Regardless of how, pregnancies do take place even when contraceptives are used, correctly or incorrectly. A couple that has sex and are not open to life are putting themselves in a position where a pregnancy, if it occurs, is unwanted.

Therefore, we have unwanted pregnancies, abortions, parentless children. Have you ever heard parents tell their children, "I never wanted to have you"? Even if they don't say it, the children will grow up in an environment where they were never wanted.

But contraceptives were invented to prevent the spread of diseases through sexual intercourse, we might say. Does it work? I have to ask. Since contraceptives were invented, more and more people have contracted AIDS and other STDs. Why? Because of incorrect use, firstly. But more importantly, if people don't want to contract such diseases, then they can abstain from sex. That's a 100% way of not contracting STDs.

If you look at it closely and honestly, you cannot help but admit that contraceptives were invented for one and only one purpose - for people to have sex for pleasure and only for pleasure. What does this lead to? It leads to the human body being used for pleasure only. It leads to an increase in pornography, both male and female. This leads to young girls being kidnapped or paid to bare their bodies on cameras. It leads to child pornography and all other perverse forms of pornography as well, because different people have different fetishes. And of course it leads to masturbation.

It leads to the human body being used as a commodity. Once a woman can no longer satisfy a man during sex, or vice versa, they are discarded and a new one found. This leads to extra-marital affairs, and we know that adultery is the number one leading cause of divorce.

With the human body being used as a commodity, we are led to a culture where humans are made to be used. We have immoral forms of scientific research - cloning, embryonic stem cell research etc - which pays no heed to human life, since it is now a commodity to be bought and used.

I read in a friend's blog today that asks "What worth is a theory or principle if it doesn't have any bearing on everyday life?" Today's reading seems to be the old, boring teaching of the Church that tells us not to have sex outside of marriage. What relevance does an ancient, old-fashioned tradition have in today's world? As you have seen, it has a lot to do with today's world.

Today's world has many problems. As you can see, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, unwanted children, divorces, contraceptives and its side-effects, pornography, adultery, increase in cases of AIDS and other STDs, cloning and other immoral forms of scientific research (including faking of cloning results), etc, they all come from one source - the abuse of sex.

The Church is not down on sex. Far from it. The Church places such a high value on sex, which is why it has so many rules on it. The Church is trying its best to protect one of its greatest treasures - God's gift of sexual union, because it is a reflection of Christ's union with his Church.

And Satan knows it. Satan assails the world's view on sex, because he knows it is one of humanity's greatest treasures. He has profaned it greatly, largely through the help of us humans who fail to understand the beauty of sex as God meant it to be.

So the question today is: whose side are you on? God's or Satan's? There is no in between. And remember, what you profess with your soul must be reflected in your body, because they cannot be separated. Your body is the voice of your soul.

A book I would recommend for much, much more is "Theology of the Body for Beginners" by Christopher West.

Okay, you can start commenting now. :)

1 comment:

samrocha said...

hi, i think that the new encyclical by Ratzinger (Benedict) "Deus Est Caritas" will give alot of depth on htis topic as well, it dicusses the goodness of the eros in the tradition of JPII Cracowian thought that gave us Love and Responsibility... Hi I just posted some cool quotes by JPII. I have enjoyed reading through your archives (i linked over here from a blog search) I would love to establish a reciprocal link with your blog, if you're interested, let me know