Beyond marriage? Other primal signs that benefit from The Theology of the Body


From the book:
The challenge of the Theology of the Body for theologians is that to speak of the re-reading of the body is not to work in the realm of metaphor. Metaphor has an honored place in religious language, but to speak of the ensouled body as a pre-given language is more primal than metaphor: the creation of the human being, by a God who graciously communicates in every means possible his desire for union with humanity, is its own sign that points to God, a pre-verbal language that is seen most clearly through the lens of Christian revelation. But as spiritual sign, there are other primal human experiences that benefit from the insights of the Theology of the Body: the act of giving birth, the reality of being limited (or impaired), and the process of physically dying. Indeed, if the ensouled body is natural and intentional sign, then these realities not only could have meaning, they do communicate meaning. The question is not whether they are meaningful, but rather, what do they mean? As “first language,” the sphere of the sign must be taken seriously as essential to understanding God’s plan for the universe. John Paul reflects on this reality to evocative effect in the second half of the audiences: what it means to be man, woman, and called or not called to earthly marriage. But as spiritual sign, there are other primal human experiences that benefit from the insights of the Theology of the Body: the act of giving birth, the reality of being limited (or impaired), and the process of physically dying. Indeed, if the ensouled body isnatural and intentional sign, then these realities not only could have meaning, they do communicate meaning. The question is not whether they are meaningful, but rather, what do they mean?
  …

The text continues as a constructive project: what would it mean to interpret childbirth, impairment, and dying as primordial spiritual signs? How could the background and insights of the Theology of the Body literature help us to perceive the spiritual reality of these three experiences? My presumption is that these realities are not on the same level as John Paul’s reflection on the sign (and sacrament) of marriage. But they are vocational realities, like marriage. They are calls to God. And I will argue that they were designed or shaped by God to draw us to Himself, through entering the depths of the law of the ekstasis. They express the reality of our call to receive and to give. As such, they are spiritual signs to ourselves and the world of God’s continuously enticing love.
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