Monday, May 12, 2014

Topless Protesters and the TOB

Topless protesters interrupt Archbishop of Quebec at March for Life as he reads Pope’s blessing.

Image copyright 2014 Ottawa Sun

This was the headline on Friday May 9, 2014 - the day the March for Life took place in Ottawa, Canada's capital. I thought it was an occasion for, as our teachers call them, a teachable moment (or teachable blog in this case).

The headline made me chuckle.Did these protesters think that they would shock either a priest (the Archbishop from Quebec) by displaying themselves? These protesters are obviously not Catholic, or they are and they've never heard of the Theology of the Body (TOB). The TOB is St. John Paul II's theology, developed from the time before he became Pope, through his pontificate, where he explored the Biblical foundations that men and women were designed to be physically intimate with each other, moreover, that the physical union of men and women is a sign pointing to what Heaven will be like.

Yes, Catholics believe that sex is good! Who knew?

The belief that our physical bodies are "bad" is part of the Manichean heresy.

It's interesting how the world (non-Catholics and many, many Catholics) hold two opposing views: that we (Catholics) are a repressed people, and also that we can't stop procreating. I find that interesting. You'd think that people would agree on one position or the other, given that they are diametrically opposed.

But the truth is neither of those extremes. Catholics are beginning to understand, through the TOB, that men and women were created by God to partake of heaven on earth by being intimate with each other. Does that mean we can hook up with anyone, just to experience Heavenly bliss? Of course not. There must be a mutual respect, a complete self-giving of each other as divinely inspired persons, that allows us to share in the physical ecstasy that points to the Heavenly feast Jesus promised us in His ministry. Context is everything. That is why the marriage between a man and woman consists of a mutual self-giving. The priest only oversees the ceremony. Marriage is a sacrament performed by the couple themselves. And their physical union takes place within the context of that sacramental union.

Anyone slightly shocked or confused by this elevation of sex to divine-insight need only reflect that God the Creator deemed our physical bodies to be "very good" (Genesis), and he sent his only begotten Son, through the mystery of the incarnation, to partake in the wedding of divinity and humanity.

My Body My Rules? No. God's Body. His Rules.

In other words, if our physical bodies are supposed to be vehicles for corruption, instead of sacred vessels as the TOB and the Catholic Church has always maintained, why would Jesus Christ have willingly taken on our humanity?

Men and women's bodies are good. They were created by God, and everything God creates is good. So, what's the problem? With the fall of Adam and Eve, true eros, as understood as an authentic physical attraction between man and woman, was subverted. The self-giving becomes an inward giving, namely, a selfish taking. This grasping (of that which has not been freely given) has led to our current deplorable state, where human trafficking, sex-for-hire, pornography, and the rampant disregard for the dignity of life in pursuit of the culture of death have become so prevalent that they are commonplace.

People need to realize that what is shown on tv, in programs and on the news, does not do justice to God's hopes for humanity. We don't have to accept it. We can do better. As God's created beings, we're expected to do better. Remember, we were made in the image of God. We carry Him in our genes, in our bodies.

Catholics in particular will be hearing much more of the Theology of the Body in the near future. The news is just getting out now, some thirty years after St. John Paul II first began to meditate on this theology. Hold on to your hats, people, it's going to be an exciting journey!

Oh, and as for the protesters displaying themselves: they might be looking for love in all the wrong places but I applaud their courage and conviction to fervently pray with their whole body in such a public way. Yes, God gave us these amazing bodies for which we must always be ever grateful. God bless them and their misguided ways!

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