The Effects of Sin & the Redemption of Sexuality

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Meditating upon Christ's Sermon on the Mount, Pope John Paul II, in the Theology of the Body, discusses the effects of sin and the redemption of human sexuality.

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Theology of the Body:

Theology of the Body The Effects of Sin and the Redemption of Sexuality

TOB Overview:

TOB Overview Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan 129 general audience talks by Blessed John Paul II between Sep 1979-Nov 1984 Original Unity of Man & Woman Catechesis on the Book of Genesis The Beatitudes Catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount Life according to the Spirit St. Paul’s Teaching on the Human Body Virginity for the Sake of the Kingdom Sacramentality of Marriage Reflections on Humanæ Vitæ

Before the Fall:

Before the Fall God’s original plan for the Body & Sex The Original Human Experiences Original Solitude: The First Discovery of “Personhood” Original Unity: The Communion of Persons Original Nakedness: Key to Understanding God’s Original Plan God created sexual desire “in the beginning” to be the very power to love as He loves—in a free, sincere, and total gift of self! The Nuptial Meaning of the Body “Love one another as I have loved you” ( Jn 15:12) How did Christ love us? “This is my body which is given for you” ( Lk 22:19) Love is supremely spiritual, but as Christ demonstrates, love is expressed and realized in the body.

The Fundamental Element of Existence:

The Fundamental Element of Existence Whenever we imitate God in “giving up our bodies” for others, we express the body’s nuptial meaning Marriage = a foreshadowing of something infinitely more grand & glorious Celibacy = “skipping” earthly marriage to devote oneself entirely to the eternal “union” of Christ & His Church The nuptial meaning of the body (the call to love that God inscribed in our flesh) reveals what Vatican II described as “the universal call to holiness” The more we grow in authentic (i.e., embodied) holiness, the more we “discover & strengthen that bond that exists between the dignity of the human being (man or woman) and the nuptial meaning of his body” (Pope John Paul II, July 21, 1982)

The Fall:

The Fall The second “part” of TOB “Blessed are the Pure of Heart” Catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount Contemplating the sexual & bodily experiences of “historical” men & women “History” begins with the dawn of sin Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid” ( Gn 3:7-10)

Affected…but Redeemed!:

Affected…but Redeemed! TOB reminds us that we’re not only affected by sin; We’re also redeemed in Christ! It’s a matter of always balancing the “bad news” of sin with the “good news” of redemption . We can’t return to the state of innocence But by the power of Christ’s death & resurrection, we can progress significantly on the journey of restoration

Adultery in the Heart:

Adultery in the Heart John Paul II begins again by reflecting on the words of Christ Himself: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28) For example, Christ speaks directly of male lust; but the principle applies equally to women Christ isn’t talking about a mere glance or momentary thought Rather, lust is when we actively choose “in our hearts” to treat another person as merely an object for our own gratification—in this we seriously violate both that person’s dignity & our own. The sexual embrace is meant to image and express divine love Anything less is a counterfeit that not only fails to satisfy, but wounds us terribly

Words of Salvation, Not Condemnation:

Words of Salvation, Not Condemnation Some may only see condemnation in Christ’s words about lust But they are His call to “enter our full image” The heritage of original sin may obscure God’s original beautiful plan But the heritage of our hearts is deeper than lust! Christ died on a cross & rose from the dead so that we, too, could live a new life A new life that will only come to fulfillment in the resurrection at the end of time

Questioning the Gift:

Questioning the Gift Original sin described as “the questioning of the gift” Let’s explain: The deepest yearning of the human heart is to “like God,” by sharing in His life and love God initiated the gift of himself as “bridegroom” And man (male & female) opened to receive the gift as “bride” Man & woman were able to re-image this same “exchange of love” through their own marital self-giving & unity

Attacking the “Heart”:

Attacking the “Heart” But Satan’s no dummy! He knows that God created the union of the sexes as a sharing in divine life His goal is to keep us from this He attacks us at “the very heart of that unity, which, from the ‘beginning,’ was formed by man and woman, created and called to become ‘one flesh’”

The Lie:

The Lie Satan approaches the woman—the one who represents us all as “bride” in our receptivity to God’s gift “You will not die [if you eat from the forbidden tree]. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” ( Gn 3:4-5) Or, read another way: “God doesn’t love you. He’s not lookin ’ out for you. He’s a tyrant, a slave-driver who wants to keep you from what you really want. That’s why he told you not to eat from the tree. If you want life and happiness, if you want to be ‘like God,’ then you have to reach out and grasp it for yourself because God sure won’t give it to you.”

Grasping vs. Receiving:

Grasping vs. Receiving Herein lies the questioning and ultimately the denial of God’s gift In the moment they reject their receptivity before God and grasp at their own “happiness,” they turn their backs on God’s love, on God’s gift.” This is the problem with us all We don’t trust enough in our Father’s love, so we grasp at happiness

The Second Discovery of Sex:

The Second Discovery of Sex God had “in-spired” their bodies with His own life and love ( Gn 2:7) Now their bodies “ex-spired” (“breathed-out”) God’s Spirit Void of God’s love, their desire for one another was altogether different They no longer experienced sexual desire as the power to be a gift to one another Instead, they desired to grasp and possess one another for their own gratification The First Discovery of Sex: Total Peace and tranquility The Second Discovery of Sex: Threat and Shame

Shame:

Shame Shame’s two-fold meaning: Lost sight of the nuptial meaning of the body God’s plan of love “stamped” in their bodies An inherent need to protect the nuptial meaning of the body from the degradation of lust “Passes on the ruins” of the nuptial meaning of the body Seeks to satisfy only the “sexual need” of the body Seeks “the sensation of sexuality” apart from a true gift of self & a true communion of persons Lust shatters communion

Ethos vs. Ethic:

Ethos vs. Ethic Ethic = an external norm or rule Ethos = a person’s inner-world of values What attracts & repulses him deep in the heart In the Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes), Christ isn’t only confirming God’s ethical code He is proclaiming the true ethos of God’s commandments—what they call us to internally In effect Christ says, “You’ve heard the ethic not to commit adultery, but the problem is you desire to commit adultery. Your ethos is flawed because you’re filled with lust.”

Christian Ethos:

Christian Ethos Characterized by a transformation of the conscience and attitudes such to express and realize the value of the body and sex according to the Creator’s original plan A “living morality” in which we realize the very meaning of our humanity The Gospel is meant to change our hearts so that we no longer need the rules! We experience “freedom from the law (Rom 7; Gal 5)—not freedom to break the law; freedom to fulfill it!

Freedom!:

Freedom! Before sin, the human heart conformed totally to God’s will “The Law of the Gospel proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure” (CCC, n. 1968). When we desire what is true, good, & beautiful, then we are indeed free—free to love, free to bless, which is the freedom from the compulsion to grasp and possess

The Grace of Creation Becomes the Grace of Redemption:

The Grace of Creation Becomes the Grace of Redemption We are not justified by the law; no one can keep it We are “justified by…grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ” (Rom 3:24) What is grace ? God’s mysterious gift to the human heart that enables men & women to live in the mutual and sincere gift of self When they doubted God’s love and “denied the gift,” they fell from grace If this is the source of the problem, what’s the first step toward a solution?

FAITH:

FAITH If original sin is our denial of God’s gift, “ faith , in its deepest essence, is the openness of the human heart to the gift: to God’s self-communication in the Holy Spirit ” (DV, n. 51) When Christ calls us to overcome lust in the Sermon on the Mount, His words bear witness that the original grace of creation has become for each of us the grace of redemption

The Paschal Mystery:

The Paschal Mystery The Son of God took on flesh and died on a cross so that our sinful humanity might be put to death. Christ rose from the dead to “re-create” our humanity. He ascended bodily into the life of the Trinity to “in-spire” our bodies once again with God’s life and love. Through this gift of redemption, Christ breathes back into our flesh that same Spirit (grace) that “ex- pired ” from our bodies when we denied the gift.

Repent & Believe:

Repent & Believe Jesus’ whole life bears witness to the truth we find so hard to believe: God loves us; He is unequivocally for us, not against us. Don’t believe it? “This is my body given for you.” As we open ourselves to the gift, the grace of redemption begins to “re-vivify” our humanity, to enliven our hearts with God’s own goodness. To the degree that we allow this grace to inform and transform us, God’s Holy Spirit impregnates our sexual desires “with everything that is noble and beautiful,” with “the supreme value which is love”

The Source of Grace:

The Source of Grace Where is the grace of redemption poured out? The Sacraments They “inject sanctity into the plan of man’s humanity: they penetrate the soul & body, [our] femininity & masculinity…with the power of sanctity” Sacraments make Christ’s death & resurrection a living reality in our own lives

Life in the Spirit:

Life in the Spirit For St. Paul, living the life of grace is synonymous with living “according to the Spirit” Contrasted with “living according to the flesh” Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh” (Gal 5:16-17)

“Flesh” vs. “Spirit”?:

“Flesh” vs. “Spirit”? Tragically, many Christians (and non-Christians!) think that St. Paul condemns the body or thinks of it as an inherent obstacle to living a “spiritual life” NOT SO! According to TOB, the body is the specific vehicle of the spiritual life St. Paul uses “the flesh” to refer to the whole person (body & soul) cut off from God’s “in- spiration ,” cut off from God’s indwelling Spirit. It refers to a person dominated by lust & the other vices.

The Truth Will Set You Free!:

The Truth Will Set You Free! The person who lives “according to the Spirit” does not reject his body, but opens his whole body-soul personality to divine “in- spiration ” While lust enslaves us by disordering our passions, “life according to the Spirit” frees us to be a gift to others While lust blinds us to the truth of God’s plan for the body, “life according to the Spirit” opens our eyes to the body’s nuptial meaning To the degree that we open ourselves to “life in the Spirit” we also experience the “redemption of our bodies”

“Already…but not yet Fully”:

“Already…but not yet Fully” “Redemption of the body” is NOT only a heavenly reality We await its fulfillment then, but it is already at work in us now As we allow our lusts to be “crucified with Christ” (see Gal 5:24) we can progressively discover the original “nuptial meaning of the body” and live it

Purity is NOT Prudishness:

Purity is NOT Prudishness Understanding & living the redemption of our bodies, we understand that sexual purity is not a matter of “annihilating” or repressing sexual attraction & desire Mature purity “consists in quickness to affirm the value of the person in every situation, and in raising [sexual reactions] to the personal level” (LR, 170-171) In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is not simply saying “don’t look” He’s inviting us to “a pure way of looking at others, capable of respecting the spousal [or nuptial] meaning of the body” (VS, n. 15)

Negative/Positive Purity:

Negative/Positive Purity “Don’t look” = a negative purity Maybe a necessary first step! But as we grow in virtue we come to experience “positive” or “mature” purity “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’s mystery revealed through the body” “Purity is the glory of the human body before God. It is God’s glory in the human body, through which masculinity & femininity are manifested”

Pornography:

Pornography What, then, is the difference between pornography and a proper artistic portrayal of nakedness? The intention of the artist The pornographer seeks only to arouse lust The true artist helps us see “the whole personal mystery of man”…the revelation of God’s plan of love

Interpretation of Suspicion:

Interpretation of Suspicion “Of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means He has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being: he has set our freedom free from the domination of lust” (VS, n. 103) If we think a “lustful look” is the only way a person can look at the human body, this John Paul II calls the “interpretation of suspicion”

Power of the Gospel:

Power of the Gospel Those who live by suspicion remain so locked in their own lusts that they project the same bondage on to everyone else. Condemning ourselves to following rules (ethics) without a change of heart (ethos) Cuts us off from the power of the Gospel Much is at stake. “The meaning of life is the antithesis of the interpretation ‘of suspicion.’ This interpretation is very different, it is radically different from what we discover in Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount. These words reveal…another vision of man’s possibilities.”

Growing in Mature Purity:

Growing in Mature Purity How do we progress from “negative” purity to “positive” purity? “[We] must be committed to a progressive education in self control of the will, of the feelings, of the emotions; and this education must develop beginning with the most simple acts in which it is relatively easy to put the interior decision into practice”

Crucifying Lust:

Crucifying Lust “You can’t eat just one”! Fasting is a wonderful way to grow in mastery of our passions Repression or Indulgence are not our only two choices A third way…surrendering our lusts to Christ & allow him to slay them As we do, “the Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires” (CCC, n. 2764). As we allow lust to be “crucified,” we also come to experience the “resurrection” of God’s original plan for sexual desire