Monica Ashour MTS; M Hum, Author and National Speaker for
The Theology of the Body Evangelization Team, Inc. (TOBET) and Catechetical Formation in St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body, presented “Theology of the Body” for Children.
What is the very first way we recognize that we are human? Our Body! What’s the first way we know that we are male or female? Our Body!
Our bodies speak a universal language. How do you show someone that you like them? A hug or a smile. If you frown or growl at someone, that says something else. Would you pet a German Shepherd that had its ears pinned back and was growling? Certain body actions mean certain things. Do you ever lie with your body? For example smile at someone that you’re really mad at?
Holiness means all bodily actions follow a pure heart. You know you should do your homework, but with bodily actions do something else. When the body does not follow the pure heart, then we are split. Hence, when we sin we are doing ourselves harm by splitting our bodies from our heart. Every time we don’t do what we know we should do, or do something we know we should not do, we are lying with our bodies. This is called detachment. Detachment has the premise that the body has no meaning. God created us as body and soul. We know that God gave us our bodies for a purpose, just as he gave us the ability to reason for a purpose. Secularism gives all importance to the body and none to the soul. Many forms of Protestantism give all purpose to the soul, but none to the body. Through Scripture, Tradition and reason, we know that God meant for the two to work together, just as He asks us to use both Faith and Reason, not only the one.
St. John Paull II said we are most in the image of God when we are in a Communion of persons. We see the Trinity as a Communion of persons: The love between God the Father and God the Son is so great it is a unique person of the Holy Spirit. The love between Father and mother is so great, it produces a unique person, a child. The love between Jesus and the Church is so great it produces new Christians.
We must also recognize reciprocity, the giving of self, which involves being open to giving and receiving, which is the meaning of Life and Love. In Genesis, Adam knew he did not have a suitable partner. He recognized this due to the bodies of the animals versus his own. When God made him a suitable partner, he recognized they were similar enough yet different enough that they could give the gift of self while receiving the gift of the other.
The opposite of love is not hate, but using the other. When we use another person not just sexually, but in any way, we are violating the person’s dignity and opposing their right to be loved. Have you ever used someone else for your own gratification?
Re-Spect, comes from the word spectator. When we respect someone, it means we re-look at that person and see them as a human person. What follows is the only response we can give, which is love.
In Gen 3:7, Adam and Eve are now wearing fig leaves. This is after the fall, and they no longer see each other as gifts from a loving Father. They see each other as objects to be used. After the fall they start doubting God as Father and doubting each other as gifts. They see each other as objects to take, hence they hide themselves behind the fig leaves for protection from the other. They no longer trust each other, nor trust God as loving Father.
Marital love must have complete trust between a husband and wife. They must see each other as a gift from a loving Father.
So lets look at the gift. What makes a man male, and a woman female? Their bodies! Men are built with stronger bodies (on average) and are designed to protect those who are smaller. Their inner strength and outer strength should match. Take for example the 5 year old boy, who comes to the assistance of his older sister who was being attacked by a man with a knife. Even though he was only 5 yrs old, he knew his innate role as protector.
Women on the other hand have internal sex organs, and are designed for beauty and motherhood. Women have a womb for inviting babies and have an inner strength of nurturing. The inner beauty should match the outer beauty. Even women who are consecrated to the single life are designed as mothers, and have a role in nurturing others.
What is marital love? The conjugal act means “I’m married to you and lets have kids.” Each conjugal act should be free, full, faithful and fruitful or else it is a lie. The conjugal act is a renewal of the marriage vows, with the language of the body taking place of the language of the words used in the vows, and the ‘Sacred bed’ being the sacred alter. This is why a marriage is not valid until it is consummated.
Contraception prevents the complete giving of self. Imagine putting a plastic bag on your hand before holding someone else’s hand, or placing a plastic bag on your lips, before kissing the one you love. (or imagine the one you love doing that to you.) The barrier prevents the full giving of the gift. When do you ever take pills? When treating a medical condition or disease. Is femininity a disease? Of course not, so why are we treating it with pills?!
St. John Paul II calls the conjugal act a Liturgical act of worshipping God. He says the body, and only the body, is capable of making visible the invisible realities: the spiritual and the divine! The marital act is a renewal of the wedding vows! In other words, the conjugal act is a sacrament! The conjugal act between husband and wife actually drives away the devil, which hates life and love and hates the renewal of the wedding vows! That is why the marital act is only proper inside of marriage!
In Ephesians 5, St. Paul compares marriage to the relationship between Jesus and the Church.
Eph 5: 21-33 “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church because we are members of his body.
“For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.“
The husband (Jesus) is the giver and the protector, while the bride (the Church) is the receiver. The free and total giving of self produces a fruitful union, which is the new Christian in the case of Christ and the Church, and a new person (baby) in the case of husband and wife.
There are many resources which describe this relationship in greater detail. If you would like to learn more, I recommend visiting Tobet.org.
Here are the links for two of the videos recommended by Monica: