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Introduction to theology of the body

Robert Colquhoun
What is theology of the body?

 A series of Scriptural reflections on the

meaning of human love and sexuality written
by Pope John Paul in a series of 130
 What does it mean to be human? How should
I live a life of happiness and fulfilment?
Themes explored in theology of
the body
 Humanae Vitae (Church teaching on birth
 Catholic teaching on the value of the body.
 Our vocation and identity as sons and
daughters of God.
 God’s plan for life and love, God’s design
for human sexuality.
Theology and the body

 Theology is the study of God

 Therefore, theology of the body is the study
of God as revealed by the human body.
 The body and one flesh union of man and
woman reveals something of the mystery of
What do Christians believe
about the body?
 We are made in the image and likeness of
God (Genesis 1:26-7)
 We are mortal beings that go from ashes to
ashes, dust to dust.
 We believe in the resurrection of the body.
 God became man through the incarnation.
Original Layout of TOB

 Part One: A/ Catechesis on book of Genesis

 B/ Catechesis on sermon on the mount
 Part Two: A/St Paul’s teaching on the human body
 B/ The resurrection of the body
 C/ Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom
 D/ The sacramentality of marriage
 E/ Reflections on Humanae Vitae
 First, who am I? Then, what should I do?
The difference ages of man

 Original Man – Humanity before the fall

 Historical Man – Humanity after the fall to
the return of Christ
 Eschatological Man – Humanity after the
return of Christ. We will be perfectly united
with God with no tensions between body and
Key words

 Original Solitude
 Original Unity
 Nuptial (spousal) meaning of the body
 Communion of persons
 Naked without shame
 Freedom of the gift
 Language of the body
 Shame
The Originals!
Original Happiness: A happiness that was rooted in the perfect gift that was initiated by
God, received in love, and shared in love.
 Original Innocence: The state of Adam and Eve prior to their knowledge of sin, when their
minds, hearts, and bodies were perfectly innocent.
 Original Man: The era of humanity in the "original experiences" before the Fall, up until the
original sin of Adam and Eve.
 Original Nakedness: the first experience of Adam and Eve when they were naked without
shame. Before original sin, lust did not even exist and all sexual desires were pure.
 Original Sin: The first sin of Adam and Eve, when they distrusted God's plan and chose
their own will over the will of God.
 Original Solitude: The original state when Adam realized he was alone because he was
without a true companion; it also refers to the human experience of being alone in the world
as a person, as someone fundamentally different from the animals.
 Original Unity: The initial experience of perfect unity between man and woman as they
lived in perfect communion with each other and gave themselves to each other through the
mutual gift of their bodies.
Original Sin

 Effect:
 Disunity/fragmentation of humanity, of man
from God, of male and female from each
other, of the passions within each person,
experience of shame.
 Concupiscence is the inclination to sin.
Communion of Persons

 The common union of two or more persons

who give themselves to one another in love.
 Love – “Love is willing the good of another
person.” Aquinas
Nuptial meaning of the body

 The body is an outward sign of an inward

reality (sacramental)
 Adam and Eve are made for each other
 We are all meant to give to others and
receive from others.
Human Sexuality as a
 I want to give myself completely to you and
to receive you as a gift.
 I am not going to use you.
 I respect your dignity.
 I delight in you.
 I want to be a parent with you.
Blessed are the pure in heart

 Reflection on the sermon on the mount

 “You have heard it 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 5:27-8)
Sermon on the mount

 The redemption of sexuality after the fall.

We are on a journey of redemption.
 Christ’s word on adultery of the heart are a
call to conversion.
 Lust is a deception of the heart and a
distortion of the language of the body.
The human heart is a battlefield
between love and lust
 The only proper attitude towards another person is love.
 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And
walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for
us.. In sacrifice.” (Eph 5:1-2).
 Christ appeals to the human heart.
 Is it possible to commit adultery with your own wife? Yes-
according to Pope John Paul.
St Paul’s Teaching on the
human body
 The opposition of the flesh and the spirit
 “The desires of the flesh are against the spirit, and the desires of
the spirit are against the flesh.” (Gal 5:17).
 Galations 5:19-22 – Works of the flesh as compared with the
fruit of the spirit.
 Paul exhorts Christians to make good use of freedom. “Do not
use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through
love be servants to one another.” (Gal 5:13).
St Paul and the human body

 Purity is a requirement of love.

 The Body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
 A section on the ethical responsibilities of
art. Art must not violate right to privacy.
 In between the extremes of materialism and
Universal call to holiness

 “What God wants is for you all to be holy. He

wants you to keep away from fornication, and each
one of you to know how to use the body that
belongs to him in a way that is holy and
honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the
pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody at
all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in
these matters.” (Thessalonians 4:3-5).
Personal reflection

 How is TOB relevant to the concerns and

needs of the Church in the world today?
What are the signs of the times?
 How can John Paul’s teaching influence and
transform culture and society?
 How is this message relevant and timely?
The resurrection of the body

 How do we picture life after death or heaven?

 Sadduccees denied resurrection of body (Mk 12:18-27)
 JP2: “The resurrection (of the body)…means.. A
completely new state of human life itself.”
 Gender a permanent dimension of our being even in
heaven. We do not marry in heaven.
 “The resurrection means a new submission of the body to
the spirit.” “The forces of the spirit will permeate the
energies of the body.”
Resurrection of the body

 1 Cor 2:9-10 “No eye has seen, no ear

heard…what God has prepared for those that
love him.”
 “Divinization in the ‘other world’ will bring
the human spirit such a ‘range of experience’
of truth and love such as man would never
have been able to attain in earthly life.” (Dec
9, 1981).
Resurrection of the body

 Resurrection of body complete fulfillment of

nuptial meaning of the body.
 Nuptial meaning: “The capacity of
expressing love: that love precisely in which
the person becomes a gift and- by means of
this gift- fulfils the very meaning and being
of his existence.” (Jan 16, 1980).

 Our masculinity and femininity is a physical

sign given to us so that we might know that
we are called to enter a loving communion in
imitation of the trinity.
 Marriage common and natural response to
desire to love and be loved.
 Then why celibacy?

 Mt 19:12 Christ talks on celibacy for the Kingdom.

 “For there are eunuchs who have been so from
birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made
eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have
made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the
Kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this,
let him receive it.”

 Self denial required

 A charism or gift from God, and an invitation.
 “Man (male and female) is capable of choosing the
personal gift of his very self, made to another person in
a conjugal pact in which they become ‘one flesh,’ and
he is also capable of freely renouncing such a giving of
himself to another person, so that, choosing continence
‘for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven,’ he can give
himself totally to Christ.” (John Paul II, April 28,
The Family background of
 “The marriage of Mary and Joseph conceals within itself, at
the same time, the mystery of perfect communion of the
persons, of the man and the woman in the conjugal pact,
and also the mystery of that singular ‘continence for the
Kingdom of heaven: a continence that served, in the history
of salvation, the most perfect ‘fruitfulness of the Holy
Spirit.” (March 24, 1982).
 Contradiction between marriage and celibacy/virginity is
resolved in the marriage of Mary and Joseph.

 1 Cor 7:32-5: brings undivided attention on the Lord.

 To be anxious of the things of the Lord and to please
the Lord.
 Celibate person a signpost of our destiny with God.
 To consider: 1 Cor 7:17, 1 Cor 7:20, 1 Cor 7:28.
 Paul is not anti marriage.
 Marriage and celibacy complimentary. Both are an
act of donation.

 Marital love reflects God’s love for his

 Marriage is a symbol of Christ self-giving
love for the Church.
 Hosea and Ezekiel speak of Israel being like
an unfaithful wife, even a prostitute.
Ephesians 5

 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the

Church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:25)
 How much did Christ love the Church?
 JP2 calls marriage the ‘primordial sacrament’ as it
“transmits effectively in the visible world the
invisible mystery hidden in God.”
 God reveals himself to our world through marriage.
Tobias and Sarah

 A beautiful testimony to marriage in the book of

 Marriages do not have to be pre-scripted by the
mistakes of the past
 Prayer before wedding night: Tobit 8:7-9– “I take
this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble
purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”
Reflections on Humanae Vitae

 Contraception is every action before, during,

or after sexual intercourse that attempts to
prevent it from being procreative. These acts
are intrinsically evil and can never be
approved. (CCC 2370).
 Purpose of intercourse is for babies and
bonding: unititative and procreative (HV 12)
Humanae Vitae

 Chastity means to live in the order of the

heart. (Nov 14, 1984).
 Continence protects the dignity of the
conjugal act.
Prophecies of Humanae Vitae
 Contraception leads to marital infidelity.
 General lowering of moral standards.
 Man forgets the reverence due to his wife, reduce
her to an instrument of his own desires, no longer a
partner with care and affection.
 Who will prevent public authorities from imposing
their use on everyone.
Humanae Vitae

 Key characteristics of human love: free, faithful,

total, fruitful.
 Contraception not part of God’s plan. Obstructs
love of donation.
 Language of the body should be expressed in the
integral truth of its meaning.
 Contraception takes the gift of fertility out of the
gift of self.
 These are some of the positive effects of studying the theology of the body:
 •What it means to be a human person•A beautiful teaching about love and
life•The original beauty of God’s plan for humanity and its application towards
our lives.•An understanding of the beauty and goodness of the body•A positive
message of the gift of sexuality•Understanding the relationships between love
and sex and the difference between love and lust.•Hope and redemption in
Christ.•What the Church teaches about sexual morality.•Train in faithfulness,
building marriages for the future.•Help to discern your vocation and calling in
life.•What God’s purpose is for the body.•A clear understanding about
chastity.•Learn about faith and what God has planned for your lives. New found
hope about faith and life.