Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Theology of the Body Isn't about Sex: It's about Identity

Another in my series: The Real Theology of the Body, continued.

That is to say, what is the Theology of the Body according to Bl. John Paul II and not according to the pop-Catholic peddlers of skewed interpretations of it?

The pop perversion of TOB errs not only in focusing exclusively on sex, but in focusing on a very narrow image of man.  The kind of man in the Westian view of the Theology of the Body is a man who lives on the level of appetite, and who spends a lot of time spiritualizing an appetite that remains, in the end, a mere appetite, a base hunger dressed up in church robes.

But JP2's vision of man is of a man much more whole and complete than that.

This is what is impressing me most about JP2's TOB.  Man is a whole in John Paul's vision.  He is a complex, mature, complete and multi-layered being, for whom lust is a sin, but that sin does not define him; a man for whom sex is part of his destiny, but not the whole of his destiny.  JP2's man has sexual desire, but his sexual desire is part of his Eros, and his Eros is a hunger for the True, the Beautiful and the Good, a bridge to the transcendent, which must be held up by the pillars of the Law perfected by Christ.  JP2's man passes toward the fulfillment of the "nuptial meaning of the Body" through an Ethos that renounces lust and that seeks the "redemption of the Body" so that the fullness and complexity of his being has its proper end: an end built into the language of the Body by God Himself.

This is a far cry from the cosmic orgasm and the overwrought sensual indulgence the pop-Catholics seem to be seeking in their version of TOB.  And it has absolutely nothing to do with a license to stare at naked ladies if you feel you possess "mature purity".

The difference between the Real Theology of the Body and the Pop Theology of the Body is not so much a difference in their views on sex but a difference in their views on Man.

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