Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Real Theology of the Body: Lust is a Form of Hoarding the Gift

If "man finds himself in a gift of himself", and if the sacrificial love embodied in the Eucharist is the highest expression of our lives as Christians, then we should live so that everything we do is a gift, an act of gratitude to God and to our neighbor, infused with wonder for the gift-of-being that we have been given in the first place.  Gift answers gift: our gift of thanks and surrender, given to God and neighbor, answering God's gift of existence given to us, and answering the gift of love we get from others.

This is the inner meaning of John Paul II's Theology of the Body: Gift answers gift.  That's the central act of life, communion, a meaning impressed upon and expressed from our physical existence: gift answering gift is an act of love, it is "the nuptial meaning of the body", it is the reason we are made male and female, the reason we have bodies, the reason love is sacrificial and procreative.

What the Real Theology of the Body is not is the spiritualization of lust.  While Eros is something that needs to be channeled and focused in JP2's theology, lust is something that needs to be killed - mortified.  To spiritualize lust is to make freedom "an opportunity for the flesh", rather than "through love" to "be servants of one another" (Gal. 5:13-14)

Specifically ...

Anyone who lives in this way according to the flesh ... submits ... to the three forms of lust, especially to the lust of the flesh, [and] ceases to be capable of that freedom for which "Christ set us free." He also ceases to be suitable for the real gift of himself, which is the fruit and expression of this freedom.

The great irony here is that the womanizer, the Don Juan, and the ladies man on the one hand; and the loose woman, the slut and the vixen on the other, who spend all their time apparently "giving" themselves to other people sexually, are prisoners to a way of being that prevents them from truly giving themselves in love.

Their lives contradict their anthropology.  Their behavior belies their true identities.  Thus fornication (and "shacking up" and "gay sex" and adultery) are always dead ends, always acts that breed pain and misery.


One thing about JP2's Wednesday Audiences: John Paul II is consistently coming at this from a deep and whole vision of what man really is.  

Compare this with what man seems to be for the Westians: a creature of appetite for whom heaven is a buffet table that you never have to push back from.

The tragedy in the pop-version of the Theology of the Body is how it reduces man to a creature of appetite, and dresses up that appetite in choir robes.  The Real Theology of the Body enlarges man to what he was originally made to be: a creature for whom the highest expression of existence is the Cross and the love that flows from it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.