John Paul II (Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body, 181-5) argues from Genesis that “‘alone,’ the man does not completely realize [his] essence.” Without the woman, Adam does not possess the “basic conditions that make it possible to exist in a relation of reciprocal gift.” Genesis makes it clear “how fundamental and constitutive the relationship and communion of persons is for man. Communion of persons means living in a reciprocal ‘for,’ in a relationship of reciprocal gift. And this relationship is precisely the fulfillment of ‘man’s’ original solitude.” Man realizes his essence not simply by being “with” but by being “for” someone else.
This reciprocity is manifest in the sexual differentiation of the human body:
“The body, which expresses femininity ‘for’ masculinity, and vice versa, masculinity ‘for’ femininity, manifests the reciprocity and the communion of persons.” Thus the human body becomes “a witness to the creation as a fundamental gift, and therefore a witness to Love as the source from which this same giving springs.” Sex is “the original sign of a creative donation and at the same time the sign of a gift that man, male-female, becomes aware of as a gift lived so to speak in an original way.” Human beings are created with “spousal” bodies, bodies that manifest their destination to be for one another, their destination for communion, and thus their essence as the image of God.
As male and female realize this communion in becoming one flesh, they become fruitful in procreation, and thus “they place their humanity in some way under the blessing of fruitfulness.” The procreative result of the reciprocal giving of male and female is the expression of full human freedom: “Aware of the procreative power of his own body and of his own sex, man is at the same time free from the ‘constraints’ of his own body and his own sex.”
This brief meditation is one of the most succinct statements of biblical anthropology and sexuality I have found anywhere.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 8:09 am
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