Truth from the body

“…when judging the morality of any sexual act, this is the question that must be considered: Am I expressing God’s love with my body? 296

God’s love is free, total, faithful, and life-giving. However, modern sexuality is often an inversion of all this: Instead of being free, it is often paid for in prostitution, demanded in sexual abuse, and driven by addiction. Instead of being total, it is often reduced to “hookups,” self-gratification, and empty encounters online. Instead of being faithful, it is often degraded by affairs both physical and fantasized. Instead of being fruitful, it is often contracepted, sterilized, and aborted.

The great sign that God created to be an image of His love for humanity has been systematically dismantled. The task of the Christian is to reconstruct it so that the human body can again become the visible sign of God’s invisible love. How is this possible?

By telling the truth with our bodies.

Because of its spousal meaning, the body is capable of expressing love. But it can also communicate the opposite. Because of this, John Paul spoke of the “language of the body.” Not to be confused with “body language,” which even animals can express through fear, aggression, or excitement, the body speaks the language of personhood; it speaks truth about our call to love like God. This is good news, not a dour list of moral regulations! In fact, Michael Waldstein points out that the Theology of the Body “is not primarily an admonition to follow the law of the body, but a persuasive proclamation of the gospel of the body.” 297

In John Paul’s words, we can evaluate the morality of a sexual act by whether or not a couples’ act possesses “the character of a truthful sign.” 298 For example, during the sexual act within marriage, the bodies of the spouses speak the truth. The body is saying, “I am completely yours. I give myself to you.” The total gift of the body corresponds with the total gift of the person. However, just as the body is capable of speaking the truth, it is also capable of lying. Sexual intimacy outside of marriage is one such example. The bodies are saying, “I am completely yours. I give myself to you.” But in reality, no total gift of self is taking place.

Even though a dating couple might not intend to be deceitful in their relationship, sexual intimacy outside of marriage is a lie in the language of the body. It is not merely that sexual intimacy belongs in marriage, but that intercourse is marital. The words “I take you as my wife/ as my husband” can only be fulfilled by sexual intercourse. 299 The wedding vows become flesh as the words pass on to the reality.

Although we are the authors of the language of the body, this does not mean we can make its meaning relative, determining for ourselves what is good and evil. The subjective expression should correspond with the objective reality. 300 This can be difficult, because John Paul noted that concupiscence brings about many errors in rereading the language of the body. 301 We’re tempted to bend the truth, and this tendency does not end when one enters marriage.

Husbands and wives must be diligent in expressing the truth in and through their bodies. In fact, they have a special duty to do so. Because the body is capable of speaking a language, John Paul noted that husbands and wives are capable of offering a testimony worthy of true prophets. 302 A prophet is someone “who expresses with human words the truth that comes from God.” 303 Their job, as a married couple, is to “proclaim exactly this ‘language of the body,’ reread in the truth.” 304

-Evert, Jason. Theology of the Body In One Hour (Kindle Locations 1457-1498). Totus Tuus Press. Kindle Edition.

296 Cf. Man and Woman He Created Them, 122.
297 Ibid., 127.
298 TOB 37: 6.
299 C Cf. TOB 104: 7; 105: 2,6; 107: 5. f.
300 TOB 103: 2.
301 Cf. TOB 107: 3.
302 Cf. TOB 104: 1; 105: 2; 106: 4.
303 TOB 105: 2.
304 105: 2; cf. 104: 8.

Love,
Matthew

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