Theology of the Body: Naked without Shame


Robert Colquhoun

We do not have to believe that everything is literal in the Bible. It is important not to be hung up on misconceptions like this. What we do have to believe is that God created us, he created us as man and woman and he gave us free will. Genesis as a book portrays profound truths. John Paul II describes the stories in terms of how they are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Many teenagers think they know all about the story of Adam and eve already. They have heard of Original sin, but as teachers it is important to convey the beauty and splendour of this story.

In the beginning, Adam was alone in the visible world as the only human being. This is known as original solitude. He did not see anyone else like himself. He knew that he was created for a relationship with God. Adam is all of humanity's experience. Women also have a heritage of this original solitude too. The author Scott Hahn says, “God gave Adam an itch that only God could scratch.” God did this through the gift of woman. It might be that God saves the best until last because he created woman last.

The Spousal or nuptial meaning of the body means our capacity to express love. It talks of the meaning and being of our existence. An understanding of the spousal meaning of the body helps us to see the real significance that we are created for union, and that we are meant to be for the other. Our desires are good, and they are for God.

What would society be like if we were not used by other people? Imagine if you could walk down the street naked and that no-one would objectify you. In the beginning, both Adam and Eve had original innocence. This was a state of purity of heart. They did not want to manipulate or use each other. Adam and Eve were able with purity to see God in each other. Adam and Eve were able to love as God loves before original sin.

We cannot tangibly see God as a person. But God draws us to himself through other people. We are all called to make visible the invisible love of God in our lives. My desires ultimately are for God. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that God is there. Man can make woman, just as woman can make man an idol. We are not fully capable of satisfying the deepest desires of each other's hearts. Only God can do that. We idolise each other if we mistakenly believe that a human relationship can bring complete fulfilment. God is the source and summit of desire in a relationship.

Women can be susceptible to pride. In a culture where men look at women like objects, some girls want to be looked at and become desensitized in this process. Girls can even feel upset if they are not objectified in this way. But, we must be a temple for God to live in and be able to bring other people to God. In the beginning, things were not so messed up. The union of man and woman brought them closer to God. Only after the craziness of original sin that everything became so manipulated.

The story of Genesis in many different ways can be compared to our modern day and age. We see the effects of original sin all around us. The marital sexual union was ordained by God as something that is good. The meaning of our existence can be seen through married sexual union. If married love is one of the least inadequate ways of describing God's love, then the devil will surely attempt to thwart it. Satan not only is the enemy of God but is also our enemy. Satan cannot create things, but he can twist and damage what has been created. He is at the bottom of sinful acts. God has given and blessed us with desires and he helps us to make free choices in our decisions. God wants us to choose him freely.

Genesis describes the time of original innocence when we were 'naked without shame.' This was when mankind was so secure in the love of God that there was no such thing as shame as there was a time when there was only love. However, being 'naked without shame' is not the same as being shameless. This is when we don't see the value of other people and even use our own body as a tool. It could be flaunting, drawing attention to myself or showing off.

Pope John Paul talked about the need for shame. Shame has both a positive and a negative function. It acts as a protection against being devalued. Our media manages to violate a lot of people. In what ways do you think that it promotes a culture of shamelessness?

We all have the capacity to desire good. If we can imagine the beauty and innocence of the garden of Eden we can try to recapture and live this out in our own lives in a state of grace.

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