February 20, 2010

Theology of the body: Catechesis on the book of Genesis - Lecture notes

Robert Colquhoun

Today we continue to unearth the beautiful teachings of the Church on marriage and sexuality.

Trees and Gardens: Human salvation is always not far away from trees and gardens: Eden and Gethsemane. Original sin from the apple from the tree. Wood of the cross carried our saviour in the salvation of mankind.

Let us make man in our image (Gn 1:26): Scott Hahn in the book, First comes love mentions how God refers to himself in the first person plural: could this be a reference to the trinity? Man is both unity and plurality.
Every work of art reveals something about the artist

Key points of Genesis:

We are made in the image of God (1:27) – We display the resplendent beauty of God.

We are told to be fruitful and multiply (1:26) – God's first commandment to man is to have sex.

Saw that it was good (1:31)- Everything that exists is good in itself. God's declaration of the goodness of creation, creation itself is love.

The 7th day of Creation is a day of Rest (2:2) – Rest needed in order to recuperate from work.

It is not good for man to be alone, I shall make a helper fit for him (2:18) – Man called to communion

“Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” (2:23) – Adam rejoices in a soul mate
Naked without shame (2:25) – Both Adam and Eve saw each other innocently as a gift in the beginning.

John Paul starts his Catechesis referring to Christ's discussion with the Pharisees. Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of men's hearts. This was not God's original plan for marriage. Man is the only creature in the visible world made in God's image and likeness. We have self consciousness and reason as gifts from God. Adam alone is aware of himself and able to determine his own actions.

“Redemption of the body” - Man with an inheritance of sin cannot return to innocence, but is not cut off from origins. Christ calls us to the beginning, as we have the power to restore what was lost.

Human experience is essential to forming a theology of the body. Going back the beginning helps to reconnect with God's original plan for happiness.

Genesis describes the creation of woman in mythical language. The 're-creation' of man as male and female. Male and female share the same humanity.

Sleep in creation of woman “a return to non-being”

Man had no conscious participation in the creation of woman. It was exclusively God's action.

Man not fully human until he engage in double unity as male and female... “two in oneness.”

First Adam is not defined as male ('ish' in Hebrew) until creation of woman ('ishshah').

The rib is an 'archaic, metaphysical and figurative' description of creation.

The Marital embrace is an icon of the inner life of the trinity. “Knowledge” deepest sense of married life. Married life is united and indissoluble. Men and women recapture the gift of creation by becoming a gift to each other. Sexual desire is not selfish or egocentric, but a calling to make a sincere gift of oneself. The Nuptial meaning of the body is the capacity to be a gift to one another. Man can never avoid this meaning of his body.

Grace is a participation in the interior life of God. The original happiness was when man experienced the beautiful communion of God.

Ethos of the gift- man and woman were made good to begin with, did not need external ethic enforcing law of gift. Desire was not imposed from the outside.. but welled up from within.

The Genius of woman

Women are made for relationships
Possess great beauty
Have a deep element of mystery.
Every woman called to be a bride in some form or another.

How would you respond to the following:

“My body has nothing to do with theology.”
“Is everything in the Bible literal?”
“What relevance does the theology of the body have?”
“What is the boundary of original innocence and historical sinfulness?”

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