Friday, May 14, 2010

Did Christianity Destroy Eros?

Our understanding of sexuality, both in the West and in Korea, has many of the same misunderstandings. Did Christianity really destroy Eros? This is the way the interviewer began the interview with the director of the Catholic Family Academy. The director recently translated "Called to Love," a book based on Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body. Benedict XVI has answered the question with a strong No.

In the interview, the director quotes from the teaching of Pope John Paul and says the body was made in the image of God. This is not precise, but understood when we hear: "The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual."(CCC # 362). "The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God".... (CCC # 364 ) Theology of the Body enables us to see positively our bodies in their nature and dignity, which clearly lays the foundation for happiness in married life. With this understanding, we are thankfully beginning to see a change in the way we see the body.

In the "Theology of the Body," Spirit and the Flesh are brought together as integral parts of a cooperative whole; they are seen as ultimately one.

It is true that the Church, in its teaching on sexual morality, has overly emphasized the aspect of procreation, belittled the body, and tended to see the potential misuse of anything connected with sex, causing much confusion. However, the sexual relationship has been a blessing from the beginning, and was made a sacrament by the Church. The Pope's Theology of the Body has shed some needed light on how we in the Church should view the body and sexuality in leading a life of holiness, as well as providing insights for those outside the Church, who desire a better understanding of this important aspect of life.

Puritanism and Manicheanism have influenced much of the teaching on sexuality in the West, and the Church's teaching has not always been clear. However, the truths are very clear. The body is good and will receive its reward. The soul is not all that will be raised from the dead; the resurrection of the body is also part of Catholic teaching. And it is well to remember that marriage is a sacrament; the sexual act a holy act. This is the teaching and for these truths, we should be grateful.

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