Mystery and Mission
Theology of His Body & Theology of Her Body
By Clare Walker, Holy Trinity Writer In-Residence
Between September 1979 and November 1984, Pope St. John Paul II delivered a series of 129 talks on the topic of sex and marriage. These talks were later compiled and given the title Theology of the Body. The talks contain a lot of complicated philosophical and theological language, making them a bit tough for average Catholics to understand. In response, numerous authors and speakers have come forward over the years to explain the Pope’s deep teaching in a way that’s accessible to everyone: Christopher West, Fr. Thomas Loya, Matthew Pinto, and others.
One of the best introductions to Theology of the Body for teenagers and adults is a pair of books called Theology of His Body and Theology of Her Body by Jason Evert. What’s neat about these books is that they are combined into one volume: after you read the one that applies to you, you can flip the book over and read the one that applies to the opposite sex.
Theology of Her Body is subtitled “Discovering the Beauty and Mystery of Femininity.” Our culture makes women into objects for male pleasure, and a woman may therefore reject her own femininity because it makes her a target. Evert encourages young women to be transformed by God’s grace and embrace the gift of femininity.
The subtitle of Theology of His Body is “Discovering the Strength and Mission of Masculinity.” Evert affirms that a man’s natural desire for union with a woman is easily corrupted by our sex-obsessed culture, so it needs to be perfected by God’s grace. Honoring the dignity of women is part of a man’s mission.
St. John Paul II put forward a revolutionary way of thinking about human sexuality, namely that the desire for sex is an expression of the desire for communion—to be intimately united with another, knowing the other completely and being known completely.
You wouldn’t know this from listening to popular music or watching TV, but the physical consummation of that desire—the marital embrace—was not designed to be the summit of human experience. The summit of human experience is the ultimate communion with our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, in Heaven. The union of man and woman on earth was designed by God to be only a taste of the consummation of the marriage feast of Heaven, where we will see God face to face and know Him as He knows us, in a perfect exchange of love. In his book for teens, Jason Evert does a great job of clearly explaining these beautiful and exalted ideas in a way that appeals to young people and will lead them to yearn for what these sentiments express.
Theology of His Body/Theology of Her Body is available at
Ascension Press: https://ascensionpress.com/products/theology-of-his-body-slash-theology-of-her-body-2-books-1-volume.
Ascension also has many resources for parents and other adults to learn about St. John Paul II’s groundbreaking contribution to the Church’s thought on sexuality and marriage.
Go to www.AscensionPress.com.
Clare T. Walker, a Holy Trinity Parishioner since 2003, writes for the National Catholic Register (www.ncregister.com). She is also an independent fiction author. Here are some handy links to her website and her books:
Clare T. Walker
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