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Theology of The Body

Most have heard of John Paul's Theology of the Body.

I've read enough of it to know that it doesn't ring true. It deals with so many of the issues that confront us:  marriage, celibacy, the relevance of the Book of Genesis, the so-called necessity of male and female  complementarity, how the heterosexual family of Father, Mother and Child is supposed to reflect the life of the Holy Trinity, etc. ["Susan" An email list member (October 2005)]

If the Church is the Bride of Christ but is composed of  men and women, doesn't that make the men brides too? I would love to betroth myself to Jesus!

How can the Church be the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ at the same time? Does Christ marry himself? 

If the act of marital love between a man and woman 'completes the image of God' Does that mean if we don't do that we are less than complete images of God? Isn't that saying that God is incomplete because we as His reflections are incomplete? If we are no longer male and female, married and given in marriage in Heaven, why does everyone flip over it in this life?

If they still had flogging orders maybe we'd be able to join them. By the time we figure all this out it will be over! ["Brian" An email list member (October 2005)]


Mr. Christopher West MTheol

Dr. Stephen Lovatt PGCE MA(Cantab)
Dear Stephen, thank you for addressing this "stuff."  A bit of background as to my own vested interest here. My sister has met this particular snake oil salesman West, and they communicate on a regular basis. She definitely counts herself among those who "get it".

The power and influence of this theology comes from the Vatican. Maybe because I live in a smaller town with only two parishes and a whole lot of like-minded people, I hear more about this all than many of you do. It gives the hierarchy a supposedly deeper argument for an understanding of marriage between a man and a woman (and the proper place of each party in the arrangment) as the only legitimate expression of human love.

I have heard TOB presented as the culmination of God's revelation to humanity; that somehow, this theology explains the most
profound mysteries about God to us, and it's supposedly our male-female (masculine-feminine) "complementary" sexuality as the basis for understanding our relationship to God that makes all forms of sexual expression other than procreative acts within heterosexual marriage gravely immoral. They are not only bad because they are opposed to "natural law," but because they smack God in the face with a rejection of His revelation to us in the most profound theological sense.

What this seems to imply even further is the odd notion that our salvation isn't rooted in our humanity, but rather in our maleness or femaleness (properly understood as masculine or feminine), and our expression of that sexuality, whether in the married state or the state of celibacy: where a celibate man, as an icon of Christ, marries the Church in a leadership role and bears fruit as a spirtual father, and a celibate woman, as icon of the Church, marries Christ in an obedient role and bears fruit as a spiritual mother. It's why it's not a good idea for priests to marry, and why it's impossible for women to be ordained and for loving same-sex couples to express their love physically. God's plan, you see, is more theologically profound than we ever knew when it comes to sex. According to this theology, we can't escape the "anatomy is destiny" approach, because it applies to all of us whether we like it or not. 

My sister teaches Sunday school at our parish, and between her and the others who run the program there, they've decreed that the sixth through twelfth grade curriculum actually be rooted in this TOTB business.  It disturbs me greatly, as I have a son who will be in the sixth grade next year.  I plan to pull him out of the program and teach him what he really needs to know about his faith prior to confirmation.
["Susan" An email list member (October 2005)]

Let me just say at present that there is something very anti-Traditional, anti-intellectual, and anti-Catholic about the way the several topics on the TOB web page are presented so narrowly and definitively and without regard to what is humane or historical. And it is terrificly discouraging to sense the zeal of the people who put this website together, thinking that "yes, this inhuman garbage is the God-given answer to our problems", and assuming, alas no doubt rightly, that there are all sorts of fools dying to eat up this same inhuman garbage. ["Mark" An email list member (October 2005)]

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This is a great group. It is the best group I have found on Yahoo! You will find commentary from the most liberal to the most conservative and everything in between. It is one of the most open and balanced groups that you could have found on Yahoo! [Quote from a member of the list: June 2005]