Thursday, May 30, 2013

Theology of the Body (For Beginners)

Worth a few good reads!
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I just finished reading Christopher West's excellent Theology of the Body for Beginners for the second time.
The first reading was a revelation for me, in that it helped me to think of marriage and the body in terms much more elegant and spiritual than I had previously.
This second reading (naturally) provided some additional insights for me.
The first major insight was the concept of "freedom from the law." Of course, I had read that before, but it didn't click until this time around.
But wow.
Plenty to ponder....

The basic concept of "freedom from the law" is that when your intentions are oriented toward the Good, there is no need for the law. The law does not become a burden. Rather, it becomes an element of freedom.
#11: I have no desire to...kill you?
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The example given to explain this was as follows: the vast majority of us have no need for a law saying "Thou shalt not kill thy best friend."
First, we have no desire to kill our best friend. So the law seems arbitrary.
But deeper than that, when we are filled with the kind of philos love that defines a deep, true friendship, the concept of killing that friend becomes unthinkable. It is so far removed from our conscious thought processes that we think the whole concept of said law to be redonkulous.
I mean...who would kill their best friend?
That modality of thinking demonstrates freedom from the law stating "thou shalt not kill thine best friend."
The law imposes absolutely no burdens. Your mind and heart are so oriented toward the Good that the concept of defining a line in the sand on what is forbidden seems superfluous, and frankly a little sad.
Such is the concept of the ideal when applied to human eros.
When the true meaning of human sexuality is properly understood for what it is, the laws governing its "bottom lines" seem unnecessary.
Sex is, at its core, a reflection of the inner life of the Trinity, argues West. And he makes a really, really good point. The life-giving nature of the Trinity is modeled in the life-giving nature of the Sacrament of marriage.
Drawing heavily on the talks about marriage and love given by Bl. John Paul the Great (then Pope John Paul II), West takes us on a journey through Genesis to show that we were created to participate in sexuality in such a way that laws against the improper use of sex were unnecessary.
"Psst! Over here! You don't really want all
that 'life in God' stuff, right?"
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But then there was that darn apple.
And it all came crumbling down.
Getting back to a true, authentic understanding of sexuality, though, gets us back to our roots. When viewing sex through the lens of the Trinity, we can see that God created it "in the beginning" (Matthew 19:4-6) to be "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Humans are separate from animals precisely because our sexuality is different. Not governed by instinct but by free will, and with the breath of the Spirit of God (Genesis 2:7), humans, by their very nature, participate in the life of God through that same Spirit.
Sexuality, then, is a participation in the very life of God - by the breath of the Holy Spirit, we are free to partake in what was created for us to be a reflect of the very good creative power of God himself.
With this in mind, giving in to the instinct of sex, and not honoring it for how powerful it truly is, becomes unthinkable.
The laws against masturbation, contraception, adultery, and the like become arbitrary when we realize that  the original gift of sex is the doorway to life in God. We have no desire, no inclination, to forego what is Good for what is (to us, arbitrarily) prohibited.
We are free from the laws of sexuality.
Anyway, this was a very interesting concept from the book that Mr. West does a far better job explaining. If this was interesting at all, I highly recommend giving the book a spin. It's less than 200 pages, but is packed with wisdom.
I give it my highest rating: five hay bales!
Theology of the Body for Beginners gets a five-bale rating!
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