Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More than Sex

Christopher West and his followers seem to think that when John Paul II speaks of the "nuptial meaning of the body", he means we are made to have sex - lots o' sex, with intense spiritual feelings accompanying the intense physical feelings.

But here is JP2 in his own words from the Real Theology of the Body ...

Based on the same disposition of the personal subject, thanks to which man fully rediscovers himself through a sincere gift of himself (cf. Gaudium et Spes 24), man (male and female) is capable of choosing the personal gift of his very self. This is made to another person in a conjugal pact in which they become "one flesh." 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. On the basis of the same disposition of the personal subject and on the basis of the same nuptial meaning of the being as a body, male or female, there can be formed the love that commits man to marriage for the whole duration of his life (cf. Mt 19:3-10). But there can also be formed the love that commits man to a life of continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 19:11-12).

Note that the "nuptial meaning" in this case is referred to as "the nuptial meaning of the being as a body" - in other words, the "nuptial meaning of the body" is a nuptial meaning of our very essence, expressed in the body, and imprinted in the soul.

And so it's not just that male bodies were made to join with female bodies, and female with male, it's that at the heart of our nature (even before the Fall of man, from the beginning) we are made to find ourselves in a gift of ourselves.  The complementarity of our lives is represented physically by the sexual differences between us and spiritually by the loneliness and desire for completion to be found in the other - by means of an exclusive lifelong gift, made in the spirit of love and open to sacrifice and new life: whether that be a gift of man to woman in marriage, or of man or woman to Christ in priesthood, the religious life, or consecrated virginity.  The nuptial meaning of the body goes deeper than sex.

And therefore it can be fulfilled by a renunciation of sex, marriage and family life.  Indeed, lifelong continence for the sake of the Kingdom is a better way (see 1 Cor. 7:38) because it corresponds to the virginal purity of heart that makes possible the true nuptial union with God in the world to come.  For at the Resurrection, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mat. 22:30)


Again, I'll say it.  The difference between Christopher West and John Paul II is a fundamental disagreement on the nature of man.  It's not so much that West sees sex in everything he looks at (which he does), it's that, when he looks at man and at the destiny of man, he can't see beyond sexual union to the call to a deeper union that man is made for and that Matrimony both brings about and represents.

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