Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Theology of the Body isn't simple.



Sex can get messy.
.
I'm sure most Catholics have heard of cases where a spiritual director took advantage of an unsuspecting soul and imposed his own interpretation of JPII's Theology of the Body during the course of a spiritual healing session in which sexual contact was appropriate, right? Wrong - I mean, that would be wrong in any case.
.
I've heard a lot of crazy things said in the name of Theology of the Body, and a person really has to be careful sometimes. However, I can offer you a good rule to follow: If it doesn't feel pure - it isn't - especially if things get, er... ah... sticky. Failing my advice, New Oxford has a good article on the density of JPII's thought embodied within Theology of the Body, written by Fr. Thomas Becket Mullady, O.P. - It sure sounds to me as if Pope John Paul II never changed any of the rules about sex, no matter how many pick-up lines guys can adapt from his writings.
.
The "theology of the body" is one of the principal legacies of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. The Pope systematically presented this extensive teaching in his weekly Wednesday audiences in St. Peter's Square from September 5, 1979, until February 9, 1983. Many well-meaning orthodox Catholics have attempted to explain this teaching and its theoretical or practical impact. They have been motivated by the same desire as the Pope: to defend the teaching of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in a new systematic way that takes account of Holy Scripture and sometimes uses a method of exposition derived from 20th-century phenomenology. Unfortunately, many of these attempts suffer from a lack of clarity, which has led some people to erroneously conclude that John Paul II's theology of the body is so revolutionary as to contradict Catholic sexual moral teaching. - Source

11 comments:

  1. Gotta say, have NEVER heard of someone taking the TOB out of context and abusing it, but of course, it could happen. After all, one of the things we know from scripture, Love and Responsibility, and TOB is that You-Know-Who takes what is a gift and twists it in terrible ways.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know - I heard a terrible story about it - which is the main reason I got off Facebook BTW.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What's the story you heard on FB?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sex, our culture is obsessed with sex--they use the body as a personal playground for their amusement--sheesh there are so many things in this world to discover--but Satan addicts people to the pure pleasure of sex, the sacred is lost to the pleasure--how very sad.

    And then our culture wants to remove the responsibilty that goes with sex--emotion, abortion, contraception and the like, and all the while inside the soul--something is missing--the sacred--the loss of the bond of love--a child--the loss of one's own humanness, the loss of deep relationships--a sick soul emerges from the sins of sex. How very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  5. TOB and NFP like so many condoms and Silence=Death bumper stickers are touted as a panacea among Catholics. Despite all the musings of the Pope of blessed memory, John Paul II, TOB does not bear magisterial weight and remains speculative. Holy purity is something other, something I gather you, Terrance, have glimpsed from your recent post on Isaiah 56. This is something TOB does not even approach since it is biased towards the physical act. TOB still needs a lot of work IMO.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think that JPII's writings are beautiful although I unfortunately know of how certain discussions on the Theology of the Body have been misused and abused.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Adoro - I can't speak about it - it took me quite awhile to get over it, and I wouldn't want to risk scandal.

    Leo - I know a lot of people have reservations on such things - I have never made them a point of study - but I can certainly vouch for chastity.

    Tara - the addiction, obsession aspect is right on - it accounts for the spiritual blindness of so many.

    ReplyDelete
  8. TOB is a great step forward int he development of doctrine in the Church's teachings on human sexuality. And when doctrine developes it can sometimes be SEEN (erroneously) as contradicting present Church teaching. Just think back to the great example of "Outside the Church there is no salvation." For centuries clergy and laity alike interpreted this to mean visible formal sacramental-registry type membership in the Catholic Church. And now the magisterium teaches quite the opposite view with a more universal understanding of the concept of "communion with the Church". This understanding has developed so significantly that it even led to the Feeny schism in Boston (yes I KNOW there is also much more to it than just that).

    My point? We stick with the magisterium while being open to the development of doctrine, which is judged by the same magisterium as time goes on. It JUST might be that the truth of human sexuality is more universal than we think it is here and now in 2009. Only time will tell in the light of the Holy Spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm no prude but TOB disgusts me. Sitting around in a room with other couples while the leering teacher talks about sex seems perverted to me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Leo

    "Despite all the musings of the Pope of blessed memory, John Paul II, TOB does not bear magisterial weight and remains speculative. "

    I would be quite concerned to agree with you on this point. Christus Dominus maintains that "preaching and catechetical instruction ... always hold the first place" in the life of a bishop. In delivering Wednesday audiences, any Pope is exercising as special role given him by the Church. Based on Catechesi Tradendae, I would argue that the delivery of the Theology of the Body at a series of Wednesday audiences:

    1. is an intensive catechetical project that fulfills the role of Bishop of Rome (as a teaching role)

    2. was delivered to the Universal Church as catechesis (pilgrims representing the Universal Church were present)

    3. these teachings focus on the deeper revelation of the mystery of Christ, which is what catechesis ought to be

    Therefore, I would have to conclude that this teaching holds equal weight with other papal documents and should be evaluated based on its content, which is largely based in reflections of Scripture.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jessica - great comment - I may want to publish as a post if you don't mind. Thanks very much.

    ReplyDelete

Anonymous comments will no longer be accepted.
Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. Be sure and double check if your comment posted after you do the verification deal - sometimes it doesn't print if you made an error.