Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Theology of the Body

The conference I attended was about Pope Saint John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Theology of the Body is interesting in general, but it seems even more interesting today, with all the discussion of transgenderism and gender dysphoria.

The Catholic view of bodies is colored by the theological battle against Gnosticism in the first century. The Gnostics were spiritually-minded, and they said the soul is more important than the body. There were several variations of this, ranging from "the body is evil while the soul is good" to "the body is unimportant" to "my body is not part of me".

Catholics countered with a dualism, saying that humans are both body and soul. One of the speakers at the conference explained this, by saying the correct terminology is "I am a body", not "I have a body". "I have a body" implies that I am somehow separate or different from my body, in the same way "I have a wristwatch" implies that I am not the wristwatch.

Further, Catholics believe in the resurrection of the body, where the physical body literally rises from the grave. Based on some Scripture passages I can't look up right now because I'm on the bus, people generally agree that this will be a "perfect" body, the perfected version of the body. This has meant different things to different people. To C.S Lewis and the last Narnia book, this meant everyone is in their 20's again. To Saint Augustine, this means a body that you have complete control over; no more unconscious physical reactions or unwanted thoughts. To some artists who have drawn pictures of saints in heaven, this means the body you had during the pivotal or crowning moment of your life; to other artists, this means the body you had during the majority of your life. I have to wonder if, for transgender people, this concept of "perfect body" would involve being the opposite gender.

1 comment:

Abiya Carol said...
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