Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Theology of the Body

Here's a nice summary:

1) The Theology of the Body is a rearticulation of the Christian Gospel rooted in terms of human sexuality, who we are as men and who we are as women.

2) In Genesis, we read that men and women are made in the image and likeness of God. Sounds nice, but who is God?

3) God is a communion of Love. God the Father pours himself out in love to God the Son, and God the Son receives that love and gives a total gift of Himself back to the Father in return by dying on the cross. And the love between them is so tangible that it becomes a third person, the Holy Spirit.

4) In the same way, in the sexual act a man pours himself out in love for a woman. The woman receives this love and gives a total gift of herself back to the man. And the love between them is so tangible that nine months later, you have to give it a name - it becomes a third person!

5) Therefore, the sexual act is meant to be nothing less than the number one sign and symbol that God has written into our very nature as men and women to be an image - a symbol - an icon - of who He is in His inner self - a communion of Love. That’s why Catholics save sex for marriage - because it is so good and so holy and so sacred. We say “no” to sex before marriage so we can say “yes” to sex in a much deeper way - in a way that most perfectly images the God himself.

There are some refinements needed here: the Holy Spirit is not a "child" of the Father and Son--point four would better begin, "in an analogous way..." But it does clarify the matter well.

From Intentional Disciples, via Amy Welborn's Open Book.


Tom said...

Another critical refinement -- "critical" in the theological sense; I don't suppose it much matters when you're talking to college students at a sexual health fair -- is that God the Son gives a total gift of Himself back to the Father eternally, not just "by dying on the cross."

Maybe the way to say it is something like, "The Son's gift of Himself back to the Father is so complete that, when the Son became man, it could only be fully expressed by His dying on a cross."

Anonymous said...

These ideas sound too weird.
How is the ultimate giving of love only fully expressed by the lover's horrible death? What kind of loved one would want that gift?
I don't get it. It sounds so creepy.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Who says the loved one (i.e., God) wants the lover to die? That is an idea you are bringing to these points about the theology of the body.

Yes, I know that some Christians argue the Father wanted the Son to die on the cross; but that isn't what you saw on this page.

Rather, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit understood, before time began, that the plan of salvation would happen best through the crucifixion -- it isn't a case of God either needing or even wanting it, but rather they knew what humanity needed, and gave it. So it is God who "gives" the crucifixion to humanity.

In another sense then, what you say is true: the "loved one" -- that is, the human race -- did, indeed, want the crucifixion; and that is, indeed, warped. But God gave it anyway; when humanity beholds this, either we are converted, or we continue in our warped delight at the death of God.

Consider how things stand today: there are many today who would be delighted to crucify God, to kill God, if they could. That has not changed in 2,000 years, except that at Golgotha, the God-Man said, "they know not what they do"--those crucifying him did not all realize it was God they were torturing and executing.

Back to the original post: the point is that the crucifixion reveals -- to humanity -- the reality of self-emptying love to its fullest.

After all, humanity could have been saved entirely by God "snapping his fingers" (metaphorically) in heaven -- i.e., mankind wouldn't have known a thing about it.

God chose to save man in such a way that man knows and grasps the reality of his own salvation; and even is a participant in it.

Dad29 said...

The "crucifixion of love" is also a minor theme in marriage, insofar as there IS suffering in marriage, (albeit some is major and most is minor.)

What I found helpful is JPII's insistence that the expression of love is 'truth;' conversely, what is not 'truth' is that which is NOT an expression of love--including those expressions which are not integral (i.e., homosexual activity.)

Anonymous said...

Rev Fox,maybeI did not udnerstand what the first post from "tom" meant, where he says the Son's gift of himself to the father could only be fully expressed by dying on a cross. I am sorry but the truth is, I still don't get it. Why would love have to be expressed, or "fully expressed", by a sadistic death? Why would not a glorious love be expressed in a positive or beatific way? I'm not trying to argue or win anybody over to my point of view, this is just something I have had trouble understanding since early life. I do try to "get it" but so far it has not come through to me. Sorry.