CI – Introduction to the Theology of the Body 2

Recorded on April 19th 2012.

The discussion today began with reflections on the Culture of Life/Culture of Death exercise given as homework in the last session.

The readings for this week were chapters 2 and 3 from Theology of the Body for Beginners.

Chapter 2 (“Before the Fig Leaves”) describes God’s plan for human beings before sin entered the world and disturbed what God had created good.   Our comments included a ‘hermeneutical note’ about how we consider Adam and Eve, the first humans in the Bible. Our author points out that we are considering “the symbolism of biblical language” in these stories, rather than a scientific account. That is a valid approach, because we are considering the meaning of human life, rather than its biological origins.

The Biblical reading in question is Genesis 2:4b-25, in the handout below. Note that there is no sexual differentiation until after God separate the first hum,an into two halves, and this is reflected in the slight editing of the text:

Genesis and Galatians

Pope John Paul II notes three primordial experiences of the first human beings, in their state of innocence:

  • Original Solitude
  • Original Unity
  • Original Nakedness

Pope John Paul II states that “man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude but in the moment of communion” So marital union is an ‘icon’ or image of the inner life of the Trinity.

This idea is well illustrated in this painting, The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities, by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, which hangs in the National gallery in London:

CI – Theology of the Body 2A

In connection with Chapter 3, “The Entrance of the Fig Leaves”, we discussed the delicate and painful issue of homosexuality, touched upon by Christopher West on page 32. I found a very helpful article from Our Sunday Visitor magazine which reminded Catholics of the compassion and justice with which homosexual people must be treated, even though the Church disapproves of all homosexual activity.

Overlooked Teaching

See also the document from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops urging parents of homosexual children to be compassionate, Always Our Children.

The final part of the discussion was about turning from lust to purity, and changing from an ‘ethic’ of external rules to an ‘ethos’ of internal values. This change of heart is shown by Saint Paul in Galatians chapter 5, in which he contrasts “the flesh” (understood as humanity alienated from God) with “the spirit” (in which human beings are redeemed by Christ and animated by the life of God). See once again Genesis and Galatians.

CI – Theology of the Body 2B

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