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According to Pope John Paul II, if we live according to the true meaning of our sexuality, we "fulfill the very meaning of [our] being and existence." The human body is a "theology" because it is m According to Pope John Paul II, if we live according to the true meaning of our sexuality, we "fulfill the very meaning of [our] being and existence." The human body is a "theology" because it is m


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According to Pope John Paul II, if we live according to the true meaning of our sexuality, we "fulfill the very meaning of [our] being and existence." The human body is a "theology" because it is m According to Pope John Paul II, if we live according to the true meaning of our sexuality, we "fulfill the very meaning of [our] being and existence." The human body is a "theology" because it is m

30 review for Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II's Sexual Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maricris

    If you want to know more about PJII's take on love, sex, and marriage this is the best way to start! The book is real - it ties in very well to the Catholic/Papal teachings and is relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and encourage everyone to start here to learn the secret to true love ;) If you want to know more about PJII's take on love, sex, and marriage this is the best way to start! The book is real - it ties in very well to the Catholic/Papal teachings and is relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and encourage everyone to start here to learn the secret to true love ;)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    Our church, though not Catholic, has collectively been studying John Paul II’s "theology of the body," and this book was recommended reading. It provides a fairly accessible overview of the pope’s theology on human sexuality, though I found some of the metaphors and jokes used to convey all this to be a bit corny. I think the book has more to say to men than to women; this is not a criticism, just an observation. In fact, when it comes to sexuality, the church arguably has a history of saying to Our church, though not Catholic, has collectively been studying John Paul II’s "theology of the body," and this book was recommended reading. It provides a fairly accessible overview of the pope’s theology on human sexuality, though I found some of the metaphors and jokes used to convey all this to be a bit corny. I think the book has more to say to men than to women; this is not a criticism, just an observation. In fact, when it comes to sexuality, the church arguably has a history of saying too much to women and not enough to men, so that's a nice reversal. The virtue of this theology is the focus on meaning, on the “why” behind the “thou shalt not,” the “why” too few Christians are given when they ask their elders and teachers, as well as an emphasis on the "thou shalt." My inner Protestant scratched and shook its head at certain points of the theology, but there was much to learn from and mull over as well. The book presents a highly spiritualized (and perhaps romanticized) vision of human love, marriage, and sex which is mystically appealing and yet which can seem very much out of reach in the daily reality. I don’t think West does enough to address this disconnect; it is too facilely dismissed for me with something to the effect of “well, but we have the Holy Spirit” and “pray.” I got to hear Christopher West speak at a conference at my church as well and felt he was much more effective as a keynote speaker highlighting the important points of this topic than he was in the length of this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    It's hard to know how to rate this. I read it to challenge my thinking (shout out to Liz for the suggestion!) and understand my Catholic friends better, so one star feels unfair because I was never really going to agree with a book so contrary to my core beliefs, and it DID provoke some deep thought. But one star accurately represents how angry it made me most of the time. The gender roles, the inherent homophobia, and the exclusively male perspective all irritated me. Above all, to write a phil It's hard to know how to rate this. I read it to challenge my thinking (shout out to Liz for the suggestion!) and understand my Catholic friends better, so one star feels unfair because I was never really going to agree with a book so contrary to my core beliefs, and it DID provoke some deep thought. But one star accurately represents how angry it made me most of the time. The gender roles, the inherent homophobia, and the exclusively male perspective all irritated me. Above all, to write a philosophy of Catholic sexuality without exploring the relationship between celibacy and patterns of sexual abuse by priests struck me as inexcusable. There was a systemic factor at play in the abuse, otherwise it would not have been such a widespread problem, and I haven’t heard anything that comes close to having the explanatory power of the celibacy mandate. As a woman, I chafed at the gendered descriptions of virtue because I’ve always identified more with the “male” role—leadership, action, servitude—even when I was a young kid in Catholic school, vying for the role of Jesus in the Passion Play. That doesn’t mean I’m transgender. It means that traditional Catholic gender roles are too restrictive. On page 122, he argues that “in some sense, embodiment is the human question. What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? There are no more important questions for men and women to ask. And notice that these are inherently sexual questions, questions about ‘being a body.’” I would argue that the true human question is what it means to be alive. It strikes me as patently false that the meaning of life for a man versus a woman can be much different. Despite my skepticism, I did take some meaning from reading this. Unfortunately, that means I did exactly what they warned against on page 3, which is “spiritualizing” our humanity, Christ, and the Church, thus making me an “enemy [who] incessantly denies Christ come in the flesh.” (Guilty as charged, I guess?) What I liked best was the description of the body as sacred. That resonates with me deeply. Out for a run on a gorgeous Seattle day, I'm always so happy to be alive and to have this miraculous body that lets me do things like that. Pregnancy is a marvel. (We grow people from scratch! Super cool.) Wounds healing are a marvel. The transformation from baby to child to adult is a marvel. I also agree that sex should be meaningful and that true belief in your own ethical code is more powerful than any rule or law (see below). It's why I recycle and compost, why I don't cheat at bar trivia, and why I keep my friends’ secrets—it’s an ethos. An ethic is an external norm or rule—“do this,” “don’t do that.” Ethos refers to a person’s inner-world of values, what attracts and repulses him deep in the heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is not only confirming God’s ethical code. He is also proclaiming the true ethos of God’s commandments—what they call us to internally. In effect Christ says, “You have heard the ethic not to commit adultery, but the problem is you desire to commit adultery. Your ethos is flawed because you’re filled with lust.” (p. 38) Most people look at Christian morality—especially sexual morality—as an oppressive list of rules to follow. How far this misunderstanding is from the “living morality” proclaimed by Christ! The Gospel doesn’t give us more rules to follow. The Gospel is meant to change our hearts so that we no longer need the rules (see CCC 1968). To the degree that we experience this change of heart, we experience “freedom from the law” (see Romans 7; Galatians 5)—not freedom to break the law; freedom to fulfill it. Here is an example of what freedom from the law looks like: Do you have any desire to murder your best friend? This may seem like an odd question, but it actually demonstrates the point. Assuming you do not, then you do not need the commandment “Thou shalt not murder thy best friend” because you have no desire to break it. To this extent you are “free from the law.” In other words, you do not experience this law (“Thou shalt not murder thy best friend”) as an imposition because your heart already conforms to it. (p. 39) The author and I agree on the limitations of a romantic relationship and the inappropriate burden of expecting someone to be our everything. The Catholic answer is to seek heaven, while my own is to seek secular meaning, but I especially liked the bolded sentence below: Experience attests that even the most wonderful marriage does not fully satisfy our hunger for love and union. We still yearn for “something more.” I love my wife, Wendy, more than any words can express, but she will not mind my saying that she is not my ultimate fulfillment. Do not hang your hat on a hook that cannot bear the weight! If we look to another human person as our ultimate fulfillment, we will crush that person. Only the eternal, ecstatic, “marriage” of heaven—so far superior to anything proper to earthly life that we cannot begin to fathom it—can satisfy the human “ache” of solitude. (p. 55) I am undecided on how I feel about this idea of recognizing one’s wife as “sister” first. I love the idea of equivalent respect for any woman rather than our current cultural norm of being defensive of one’s own female relatives (“Dude, that’s my sister!”) while being creepy and lustful toward other people’s relatives. That said, if lust and sexual desire are synonymous, then I’m not sure I can get on board with calling lust a sin wholesale. Seems to me that it could be okay as an occasional detour within appropriate bounds (similar to gluttony or wrath), but that it’s not a place to set up camp. I’m with Aristotle that moderation is key. While the idea of being recognized first as a “sister” usually brings great relief to the woman, John Paul observes that it presents a certain challenge for the man (see TOB 109:4). More specifically, it challenges him to assess his motives. Is he motivated by love or by lust, by the sincere gift of self or merely by a desire to gratify himself? The normal man recoils at the idea of lusting after his sister—and so should a man recoil at the thought of lusting after his bride! This is precisely the point. The lover of the Song accepts this challenge and does not hesitate to call his beloved “my sister.” With such a recognition, he demonstrates that his desire for her as “bride” is not one of lust but of love. With “a disinterested tenderness” (TOB 110:2) the lover desires only to be a sincere gift to his beloved according to the image of God. (p. 93) Another idea that provoked deep thought for me was the permanence of love and its connection to sex. Leaving this one without comment for now while I continue to mull: The Church does not impose on us the idea that love should be permanent. Permanence is what the heart longs for. In her teaching that sex is meant to express permanent love (that is, marital love), the Church is simply inviting us to be true to the “song” that wells up from the deepest recesses of our souls. Listen to it! It is the Song of Songs. (p. 96) On celibacy, I am frustrated by the Church’s complete shirking of responsibility for the consequences of the “wrong” kind of celibacy in priests. Sexual abuse ruins people’s lives. If a priest himself misunderstands or disagrees about authentic Christian celibacy, then the Church has a problem that it has a moral responsibility to solve. (Put differently: Pope, come get your boys.) As the Catechism indicates, the Latin Church usually chooses her priests from among men of faith who have chosen celibacy as their life’s vocation (see CCC 1579). This seems to imply that the choice of celibacy should come first. If a Catholic man (in the Western church) has discerned a celibate vocation, then, within his life of celibacy, he might also discern a call to priesthood. Those priests who believe celibacy was foisted on them, it seems, have not understood these important distinctions. As a result, many today are clamoring for an end to priestly celibacy. Some even blame celibacy itself for the sexual problems and abuses of some of the clergy. As I wrote in my book Good News About Sex and Marriage, “Celibacy does not cause sexual disorder. Sin does. Simply getting married does not cure sexual disorder. Christ does. If a priest, or any other man, were to enter marriage with deep-seated sexual disorders, he would be condemning his wife to a life of sexual objectification. The only way the scandal of sexual sin (whether committed by priests or others) will end is if people experience the redemption of their sexuality in Christ” (GN, p. 163). Authentic Christian celibacy witnesses dramatically to this redemption. It is true that, as a discipline of the Latin Church (rather than a doctrine), the practice of reserving priestly ordination to those men who have chosen a celibate life could change. But when we realize how celibacy points us to the ultimate meaning of sex, we recognize that our world needs the witness of Christian celibacy now more than ever. (p. 63) And although I love his advocacy of men being good lovers, I got my only LOL in the book thanks to this sex advice from someone who is celibate (bolding mine): As a practical example of husbands living a redeemed sexuality in subjection to their wives, I often point to this eye-opening passage from the Pope’s book Love and Responsibility. It not only shows that Karol Wojtyla (John Paul’s pre-papal name) was no prude, but, more importantly, it calls men to self-control and tenderness out of deep respect and reverence for their wives. Wojtyla wrote that if a husband is truly to love his wife, “it is necessary to insist that intercourse must not serve merely as a means of allowing [his] climax. ... The man must take [the] difference between male and female reactions into account ... so that climax may be reached [by] both ... and as far as possible occur in both simultaneously.” The husband must do this “not for hedonistic, but for altruistic reasons.” In this case, if “we take into account the shorter and more violent curve of arousal in the man, [such] tenderness on his part in the context of marital intercourse acquires the significance of an act of virtue” (LR, pp. 272, 275). (p. 78) While sex can be spiritual, it is also a biological and physiological act which has been studied extensively and scientifically. The promotion of simultaneous orgasm as the end to strive for is at odds with what we know about sexuality and suggestive of a naïve and purely hypothetical understanding of it. This book also failed to anticipate one of my key questions, which is the parallel to the animal kingdom. Other mammals have complementary male and female genitals, derive pleasure from sex, and know how masturbate; humans are not alone in this. Given my understanding that animals do not have souls (per Church doctrine) and are not honoring God through intercourse, how then does the physicality of human sex prove anything? For instance, the author writes, “No wonder we are all so darned interested in sex. God put an innate desire in every human being to want to understand it. Why? To lead us to him” (p. 59). He also writes, “There is an intelligibility to the male and female body. Seen in light of the male-female pair, sexual difference reveals the unmistakable plan of God that man and woman are meant to be a ‘gift’ to one another” (p. 28). The same premises are true of animals, but the conclusions don’t hold. Because these biological points are not addressed, I feel especially skeptical of the advocacy of abstinence and self-control as necessary and desirable parts of the human experience for a married couple in a loving, committed relationship. Sure, people can control their sexual desire. To say otherwise is the foundation of rape culture. But I’m not convinced that they should have to in the way he advocates here, where not wanting to have children is seen as an unacceptable goal: In other words, what could they do to avoid conceiving a child that would not render them unfaithful to their wedding vows? You are doing it right now (I presume). They could abstain from sex. There is nothing wrong with abstaining from sex when there is a good reason to do so. The Church has always recognized that the only method of “birth control” that respects the language of divine love is “self-control.” (p. 110) What purpose does contraception really serve? This might sound odd at first, but let it sink in. Contraception was not invented to prevent pregnancy. We already had a 100 percent safe, 100 percent reliable way of doing that —abstinence. In the final analysis, contraception serves one purpose: to spare us the difficulty we experience when confronted with the choice of abstinence. When all the smoke is cleared, contraception was invented because of our lack of self-control; contraception was invented to serve the indulgence of lust. (p. 113) In short, whether they realize this or not, contracepted intercourse says, “We prefer the momentary pleasure of a sterlized orgasm over the opportunity of participating in the inner-life of the Trinity.” To which I respond, “Bad choice!” But do you think if couples really knew they were choosing this, that they would continue to do so? I cannot help but think of Christ’s words from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). (p. 117) Again, this strikes me as out of touch with a lived human experience, where physical intimacy can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Actually, now that I look back at my notes, that reminds me of the other place where I got an LOL on the plane: In the new evangelization, we need to be able to walk into fraternity parties where people are getting drunk and seeking illicit sex and say, “Do you know what you really want here? You want the Eucharist and marriage, and the Catholic Church has them in their fullness.” (p. 124) Ignoring for a moment that I disagree with evangelization on principle, holy moly would I like to see someone actually say that at a frat party! Never mind that the heat of the moment in the frat party is not where you’ll convince someone—it’s in the common room at 3 am on a Tuesday when you have deep talks about life and people are sober and listening. But I digress. To conclude, the biggest cop-out of the whole book: John Paul II’s Theology of the Body provides great hope for this urgently needed renewal within the Church. When we view the Gospel message through the interpretive key of man and woman’s call to communion, not only does the Gospel message take on flesh, but even the most controversial teachings of the Church—contraception, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, an all-male priesthood, etc.—begin to make beautiful sense. (p. 125) That passage made me end the book angry, which is probably why this review is so long. Those teachings do NOT make beautiful sense to me. They strike me as simultaneously coldhearted and naïve, which is a rare and deathly potent combination. They reek of privilege. We have a moral responsibility to learn from history and experience. When you know better, do better. The Church has had millennia to refine its teachings based on experience, yet here we still are. Sexual abuse, domestic violence, gender discrimination, depression and suicide related to gender identity/sexual orientation, and AIDS transmission in the developing world are all real problems. They cause people pain and sometimes cost them their lives. This idealized and male-driven view of humanity and virtue perpetuates them. The only people who are not typically victimized by these ills are straight, adult men in the developed world—who are, not coincidentally, also the people who’ve always been in power in the Church. All of that to say: I guess this book did not bring me back to the Church, but I’m very glad I read it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven R. McEvoy

    This book is the third revision of this text. And is in some ways a culmination of almost two decades work on this topic by Christopher West. Previously I have only read one book by Christopher West, Love Is Patient, But I'm Not: Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist, and it was an amazing read. And I doubt you could find a Catholic that has not heard about Saint Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. So it was about time that I dove into this topic myself. This book was first published i This book is the third revision of this text. And is in some ways a culmination of almost two decades work on this topic by Christopher West. Previously I have only read one book by Christopher West, Love Is Patient, But I'm Not: Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist, and it was an amazing read. And I doubt you could find a Catholic that has not heard about Saint Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. So it was about time that I dove into this topic myself. This book was first published in 2002, revised in 2009 and this third edition was released in 2018. I have the eBook of the second edition, and it has been sitting in my 'to be read pile' for a long time, but when I read about this new edition I picked it up and devoured it. The chapters in this book are: Introduction One: What Is the Theology of the Body? Two: The Creation of the Body Three: The Redemption of the Body Four: The Resurrection of the Body Five: Celibacy for the Kingdom Six: Marriage as a Divine Gift Seven: Marriage as a Human Sign of Divine Love Eight: Theology in the Bedroom Conclusion The beginning of the description of this book is: "Divorce. Broken families. Sexual abuse. Addiction. Pornography. Same-sex marriage. Gender issues. Everywhere we look, we find more and more confusion about the most fundamental truths of human life. As we lose our basic understanding of the meanings of man, woman, marriage, and sex, the question becomes ever more urgent: What does it mean to be a human being? The human race seems unable to answer this question." If we look at secular culture today we can see the world turning itself over to every kind of identity issue. The sexual revolution has run amok and we have the #me2 movement and the clergy abuse scandal of 2018 that highlight the opposite ends of those failures. In this book Christopher West gives an introduction, and summary of Saint Pope John Paul II's teachings on the theology of the body. He delves into questions on the meaning of life. How do we fulfil our deepest desires? Questions around God having created us male and female, and what that means to us as individuals and as societies. And he draws us to conclusions around finding true happiness on earth and eternal life through finding God's will and pursuing it. In many ways this book is a crash course or 'Coles Notes' on decades of writings from Pope Saint John Paul II. It is an easily accessible read, and would be good for high school students, university students and adults beginning their study of this subject. Looking back on my own life and my years away from the Catholic church a book like this would have caused me much less hurt, and helped me to hurt others less. This book is thoroughly Catholic. It clearly and concisely explains many aspects of the Catholic world view around sex, sexuality, and intimacy. I know that Christians of other denominations have used this book for study, but if you are not Christian there is likely much in this book that would be opposite your world view. It was an excellent read and I wish I had read it earlier. And I give this new edition top marks. Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More and reviews of other books by Christopher West. Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    A Protestant Pastor's Review Of The TOB "The Genius Of The TOB" The genius of the TOB can be summed up by Christopher West's own words, "If this Theology of the Body provides the answer to the crisis of our times, it's not because it offers the world some 'great teaching.' Rather, it's because it reconnects the modern world with the 'great mystery' that is Christ and his love for His Bride, the Church." A profound Theology of the Body that shows the deep mystery of the Gospel is precisely what we A Protestant Pastor's Review Of The TOB "The Genius Of The TOB" The genius of the TOB can be summed up by Christopher West's own words, "If this Theology of the Body provides the answer to the crisis of our times, it's not because it offers the world some 'great teaching.' Rather, it's because it reconnects the modern world with the 'great mystery' that is Christ and his love for His Bride, the Church." A profound Theology of the Body that shows the deep mystery of the Gospel is precisely what we need in this age, where the 'earthly things' and earthly truths (such as sexuality, gender, identity and our bodies) are being entirely deconstructed. This book helps do just that. The basic idea is essential for us to comprehend as Christians of all shades. "Celibacy: The Unique Roman Catholic Contribution To Protestant Theology" I found the chapter on celibacy to be especially profound. There are ideas a bit too Romanish surrounding RCC celibacy for my tastes - however, understanding the theology of celibacy, the legitimacy of it, the profound statement of it as a "skipping of the earthly symbol to go straight to the thing symbolized" was absolutely beautiful. This beautiful picture of celibacy is something I am eager for Protestant circles to learn from, to embrace and to teach as a beautiful, legitimate path for Christians seeking to please God and to seek oneness with Christ and usefulness for His purposes. I think it is especially important in this day and age for Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction to know that they do not have to get married, that celibacy for the Kingdom is marriage with Christ - and that is the thing we are all pressing on toward. "The Fundamental Flaw Of The TOB" Unfortunately, I cannot give my complete and utter praise for the TOB because of its fundamental flaw. The flaw is apparent throughout the book, but becomes abundantly 'in your face' in the last chapter, "Theology in the Bedroom" (to which I had previously looked forward to reading because of the spicy chapter title). In it, West argues for the "church's teaching" against 'sterilizing pregnancies." On the one hand, I appreciate the argument against terminating pregnancies and contraceptives (which are effectively the same things), but West (and the Roman Catholic Church) treats these essentially as the same thing as "preventative methods" (such as withdrawal and condoms). But we're supposed to accept it, because, after all, it is the teaching of the Church (and by "Church," he means, the human institution of the Roman Catholic Church). The final chapter is essentially a defense of popish, man-made traditions - going beyond the Divine Law, creating a new one. It does not simply agree with God's Law, "You shall not murder," and therefore decry contraception. Rather, it goes beyond, and thus falls short, of God's Law. It takes a conviction (that in and of itself is not a bad one to have) and elevates it through the human institution of the RCC to the level of God's Law. But in the end, it is only that - a conviction of conscience. Perhaps the Protestant response to this absurd argument would be to proclaim the Gospel of liberty as relates to HOW we play out the sacrament of sex in covenantal marriage, as well a treatise on conscience - that we should not go against our conscience (as our weaker brothers, the RCC'ers, should not either), nor should we mandate our conscience and place it on the same level as God's Law (as the RCC, in fact, does - with many things). For this reason, I would be tempted to give the book 2 stars - but I do believe the necessity of the main message and its power far outweigh this fundamental slipup. "Better Alternatives For Protestants?" If you're a Protestant wondering if this would be a good book to go through (either alone or with a group), let me give you my nuanced perspective. I actually wished to provide this core, essential teaching to my church through a book study group - but now, I'm starting to regret it, seeing that it adheres too heavily on the traditions and precepts of men and not the Laws of God. Its grievous method of relying on church traditions is enough to chafe any Bible-believing, Bible-thumping protestant. However, I will say, I have not found a Protestant equivalent for this book that does the topic (of sex as a symbol for the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church) justice. Christopher West has a book called "Our Bodies Tell God's Story" that is apparently a little softer in the RCC theology that I haven't tried yet, but I noticed that it didn't deal with celibacy - a topic I feel is essential to discuss as a powerful and legitimate alternative path for Christians experiencing same-sex attraction. For those reasons, I chose to stick with the TOB - but I crave an alternative that masterfully portrays love-making as a "sacrament" of the thing to come (that is, oneness with Christ) and the multiplication of Christ's image, as well as demonstrates a powerful theology of celibacy. Conclusion & Recommendations For now, I can only recommend the TOB as source material for the research of ministry leaders. "Love Thy Body" by Nancy Pearcey is a great book that comes from a basic Christian perspective. I can also recommend my podcast "The Divine Story Of Sexuality & Gender" as a good biblical introduction (link: https://open.spotify.com/show/3TgLwgf...). The Lord bless you until He returns and teach you all things.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    This book is very good, but it created many questions for me. Reading this book was (for me) like riding a roller coaster that I didn't really want to go on in the first place but people say it's the best -I survived, but still trying to figure it all out This book is very good, but it created many questions for me. Reading this book was (for me) like riding a roller coaster that I didn't really want to go on in the first place but people say it's the best -I survived, but still trying to figure it all out

  7. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    This was a provocative read. I was intrigued to learn about the lecture series given by Juan Pablo Dos about the "Theology of the Body" -- what a fascinating title. Then I was really taken by John Paul's vision of the created nature of humans, male and female you shall make them. But this book ultimately lost me when he suggests that the rhythm method is an acceptable method to avoid having a child because it takes advantage of the "natural infertility" of the woman's menstrual cycle. As far as This was a provocative read. I was intrigued to learn about the lecture series given by Juan Pablo Dos about the "Theology of the Body" -- what a fascinating title. Then I was really taken by John Paul's vision of the created nature of humans, male and female you shall make them. But this book ultimately lost me when he suggests that the rhythm method is an acceptable method to avoid having a child because it takes advantage of the "natural infertility" of the woman's menstrual cycle. As far as I can tell, oral sex, anal sex, and coitus interruptus also take advantage of "natural infertilities." The logical end of his argument is to have married hetero-sex whenever the desire strikes you and have all the children that issue forth -- whether you have one child or thirteen, whether you live in the US or Africa.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    Regaining a sacramental view of the human body is incredibly essential for every Christian, especially within the Protestant tradition. Christopher West does an amazing job of revealing the beauty of Pope John Paul II's teaching on the Theology of the Body and why it is incredibly relevant for our current cultural moment. We are saved through the body of Jesus Christ, and thus, He reveals what it truly means to be embodied image bearers of God. Regaining a sacramental view of the human body is incredibly essential for every Christian, especially within the Protestant tradition. Christopher West does an amazing job of revealing the beauty of Pope John Paul II's teaching on the Theology of the Body and why it is incredibly relevant for our current cultural moment. We are saved through the body of Jesus Christ, and thus, He reveals what it truly means to be embodied image bearers of God.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Krysta Orscheln

    So incredible!! Every Catholic man and woman should read this book. Just so much about the dignity of a person. But also it is a pretty intense read, a lot to take in. It's probably one of those books that you get more out of with each re-read (which is wild because I got so much this first time, but I know there's more). So incredible!! Every Catholic man and woman should read this book. Just so much about the dignity of a person. But also it is a pretty intense read, a lot to take in. It's probably one of those books that you get more out of with each re-read (which is wild because I got so much this first time, but I know there's more).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Samson

    So good! Yes, it's an explanation of a pope's writings, but this important subject is not just for Catholics. All Christians and anyone searching for a deeper, more authentic style of loving her spouse can gain much from this book. So good! Yes, it's an explanation of a pope's writings, but this important subject is not just for Catholics. All Christians and anyone searching for a deeper, more authentic style of loving her spouse can gain much from this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris J

    Pope John Paul's "Theology of the Body" earns a 5-star. West's dumbing down of it receives a four. Pope John Paul's "Theology of the Body" earns a 5-star. West's dumbing down of it receives a four.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Theology of the Body for Beginners, Christopher West Excellent book, full of great insight! Much needed material in our sexualized culture. Small downsides: The book becomes repetitive at points, repeating points or phrases. Also, I'm not Roman Catholic, so some spousal analogy gets taken too far in my opinion. (e.g. The allegorical nature of sexual union at Christ's cross was disturbing, and even Christ and his bride, the Church.) I disagree with some elevation of Mary here, but I had never hear Theology of the Body for Beginners, Christopher West Excellent book, full of great insight! Much needed material in our sexualized culture. Small downsides: The book becomes repetitive at points, repeating points or phrases. Also, I'm not Roman Catholic, so some spousal analogy gets taken too far in my opinion. (e.g. The allegorical nature of sexual union at Christ's cross was disturbing, and even Christ and his bride, the Church.) I disagree with some elevation of Mary here, but I had never heard of Mary/Church as new Eve, along with Christ as New Adam. Anyway, great points below: The body is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine. It is a sign, something that points us to a reality beyond itself, in some way, makes that transcendent reality present to us. God wants to marry us. If we want to know what is most sacred in this world, all we need to do is look for what is most violently profaned. Describes death as separation of body and soul, though is not dualistic in claiming that we are only bodies with souls or souls with bodies. When pleasure is the main goal of sex, people become the means. Christ appeals to the beginning (Matt. 19:3-9) Christ appeals to the human heart (Matt. 5:27-28). Christ appeals to the resurrection (Matt. 22:23-33). Jesus has come to teach us a way, a journey to be undertaken with him, we learn as we go. Backpacking for me has become a sacrament of life’s journey, an outward sign of an inner reality. Every cell in a man’s and woman’s body has 46 chromosomes except one. The sperm and ovum each have only 23. We can chose to foster or fight sexual inclinations. We’re all called to the spiritual battle involved in following Christ; we’re all called to the purification and healing of our desires, involving discipline and self-denial. It’s okay that we’re broken. God loves us right where we are, and come to meet us there, but it’s not okay to call our brokenness health. As fallen human beings, we will always be able to sense the pull of lust in our hearts and our bodies. This doesn’t mean we have sinned. It’s what we do when we experience the pull of lust that matters. Do we seek God’s help in resisting it or do we indulge it? When we indulge it (actively choose in our hearts to treat another person as merely an object for our own gratification) we seriously violate that persons’ dignity and our own. Many books/programs have flooded the Christian market in our “pornified” culture, but the main thrust of these programs is to help husbands direct their sexual desires towards their wives, but rarely do the invite men to examine what kinds of desires they’re directing toward their wives. Tendency to grasp: When my sons asks for a cookie for dessert, before I can even get the cookie out of the box to present it to him as a gift, what does he do? He grasps at it. Taking advantage of this teachable moment, I might say to my son, ‘Hold on, you’re denying the gift. Your papa loves you. I want to give this cookie to you as a gift. if you believe in this gift, all you would need to do is hold your hands out in confidence and receive the cooke as a gift.’ This is the problem with us all. We do not trust enough in our Father’s love, so we grasp at the cookie. Fig leaf cover up is an excuse not to face the deep disorder of their hearts. Christ’s life proclaims: You don’t believe God loves you? Let me stretch out my arms and show you how much God loves you. you don't believe that God is gift? this is my body given for you. You think God wants to keep you from life? I will offer myself so that my life's blood can give you life to the full. You thought God was a tyrant slave driver i will take the form of a slave. You thought God would whip your back if you gave him the chance? I will let you whip my back to demonstrate that God has no desire to whip yours. I have not come to condemn you but to save you. I have not come to enslave you, but to set you free. Stop persisting in your unbelief. Repent and believe the good news. As we open ourselves to this gift, the grace of redemption begins to revivify our humanity, to enliven our hearts with god’s own goodness. To the degree that we allow this grace to inform and transform us, the Holy Spirit fills and saturates our desires with love. Faith is the openness of the human heart to God’s gift of the HS. Perhaps we cling to lust because we’re convinced that starvation is the only alternative to the fast food. But if God has a prepared an everlasting wedding feast that satisfies the deepest cry of eros beyond our wildest imaginings, then dying to lust means we lose nothing and gain everything, while clinging to lust means we gain nothing and lose everything. it’s our choice. Dear God, grant us the grace to choose you! Lord, help me to discern the movements of my heart. Help me to distinguish between the great riches of sexuality as you created it to be and the distortions of lust. I grant you permission Lord to lead me on the journey of full purification from all my lusts. Take them Lord. Crucify them so that I might come to experience the resurrection of sexual desire as you intend. Grant me a pure heart so that I might see you. Amen. If God can gather up dust and breathe his life into it at the beginning of time, he can certainly do it again at the end of time (resurrection). When we lost sight of the joys of heaven, we tend to view sexual union as our ultimate fulfillment. Our desire as we embrace our true design points us back to our eternal destiny Sin has corrupted man to dominate woman, and woman into manipulative self-interest. God is calling us (Eph 5) back to the original order of love through the redemption in Christ. Being subject to one’s spouse means being completely given. Mutual submission (5:21) means a reciprocal gift of self (mutual and sincere self-giving in your body). Christ is the model. Wives put yourselves under (sub) the mission of our husband? What’s the mission of the husband? Love your wives as Christ love the church, (gave himself up for her, unto death, to serve, lay down his life for his bride).The husband must be the first to serve. Using Christ and bride spousal analogy, Holiness is not a matter of doing but of letting it be done to us. This is the story that our bodies tell; we’ve been chosen in Christ to be united with God forever in an eternal covenant of love (Eph. 1:4). How does Christ love? Freely (Jn 10:18), totally, with reservation, condition or selfishness (Jn 13:1), faithfully, with you always (Mt. 28:20), fruitfully (Jn. 10:10). If men and women are to speak the true language of their bodies, they must continually learn to ever more deeply open themselves to Christ’s love, letting it bear fruit in them, so that they can, in turn, share this same free, total, faithful, fruitful love with each other. Does what we’re doing with our bodies truly image God’s free, total, faithful, fruitful love, or does it miss the mark? Marriage is eucharistic, a way of offering our bodies as a living sacrifice. If God’s commandments feel burdensome, it’s probably because we’re relying on our own strength to carry them out.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Great introduction to the truths of our sexuality in a downward spiral world of sexual morality. Is enjoyable to read and those with no sexual morality are sure to find inspiration for the pure body. Interesting from cover to cover.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    A must read for all Catholics.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pinkyivan

    You know the arguments are weak when I, who agree with him, find his arguments unconvincing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Interesting, but seemed redundant in its actual message First let me state, I am not Catholic, but United Methodist. As one could expect, I disagreed with some of the theology presented in this book. I read it because a dear, dear friend has recommended it to me a couple of times and I truly respect her opinion, as well as her personal theology (Catholic) even though I disagree with her on some points. I believe all denominations can learn a lot from each other - especially if we're able to agree Interesting, but seemed redundant in its actual message First let me state, I am not Catholic, but United Methodist. As one could expect, I disagreed with some of the theology presented in this book. I read it because a dear, dear friend has recommended it to me a couple of times and I truly respect her opinion, as well as her personal theology (Catholic) even though I disagree with her on some points. I believe all denominations can learn a lot from each other - especially if we're able to agree to disagree on some points. So I will try to put aside theology differences when I state this book seemed redundant. The overall message was that marriage between spouses is symbolic of the marriage between Christ and the Church. There is some detail on this, but as far as how does this apply to the many topics of sexuality, I feel the book fell short. Perhaps it was because I have not been trained in some 'Catholic speak' (every denomination has this, I don't mean that negatively at all), and I have not read the Apocrypha that it seemed redundant. Perhaps I missed in depth understanding as a result. I will say the book was well written, the author did explain Tobias well enough for me to follow. He does also refer to other books of his that go more in depth (almost too often).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Sexuality. "The body and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine. The body isn't divine but it is a sign of the divine mystery." "Marital union is meant to be an icon in some way of the inner life of the Trinity." "Lust is first and foremost a problem of the heart, not the body." "Our bodies will certainly be different in their resurrected state - they will be perfectly spiritualized." "How am I supposed to live my life in a way that brings true happines Sexuality. "The body and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine. The body isn't divine but it is a sign of the divine mystery." "Marital union is meant to be an icon in some way of the inner life of the Trinity." "Lust is first and foremost a problem of the heart, not the body." "Our bodies will certainly be different in their resurrected state - they will be perfectly spiritualized." "How am I supposed to live my life in a way that brings true happiness? The quick answer is to love as God loves in sincere self-giving. Celibacy for the kingdom is one way to do this but it's clearly the exception to the rule, marriage and family life remain the normal vocation." "All questions of sexual morality come down to one question: does this given act truly image God's free, total, faithful, fruitful love or does it not?" "Readers unfamiliar with modern NFP methods should note that they are 98-99% effective at avoiding pregnancy when used properly and furthermore any woman can use NFP successfully." "There will be no renewal of the Church and of the world without a renewal of marriage and the family. And there will be no renewal of marriage and the family without a return to the full truth of God's plan for the body and sexuality."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alan Marques

    This book is a short review of the homonym work by St. John Paul II. It's structured following the same chapters as the work by our late Pope and works with his thesis that we grow closer to God when we realize the unity of our soul and body and how the love of God flows to the whole human body. The book then arguments how holy a true Christian marriage can be, by following the 4 attributes of love as postulated by Jesus Christ, which are being free, total, faithful, and fruitful. In that way, w This book is a short review of the homonym work by St. John Paul II. It's structured following the same chapters as the work by our late Pope and works with his thesis that we grow closer to God when we realize the unity of our soul and body and how the love of God flows to the whole human body. The book then arguments how holy a true Christian marriage can be, by following the 4 attributes of love as postulated by Jesus Christ, which are being free, total, faithful, and fruitful. In that way, when argumenting against contraception, the importance of chastity, outside and inside marriage, the option of celibacy, as also a fulfilling role to human sexuality, among other questions, we need to consider whether our answers are according those 4 attributes. The book closes emphasizing the challenge of new evangelization, as people are abandoning the church or picking doctrine and leaving other out of their lives. The theology of body may prove itself a great bridge between the freeing doctrine of the Catholic Church and the expectations of its members and non-members alike.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Alfveby Crea

    A beautiful introduction to Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Based on the words of Jesus, we come to encounter Pope John Paul II's famous reflections on the body and sex. It is a fresh way to explain how the Christian sexual ethic corresponds perfectly with the deepest yearnings of our hearts for love and union. I read this book with a book club, and there is so much to think about, that I know I will be revisiting it again. Christopher West does a wonderful job presenting the Pope's de A beautiful introduction to Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Based on the words of Jesus, we come to encounter Pope John Paul II's famous reflections on the body and sex. It is a fresh way to explain how the Christian sexual ethic corresponds perfectly with the deepest yearnings of our hearts for love and union. I read this book with a book club, and there is so much to think about, that I know I will be revisiting it again. Christopher West does a wonderful job presenting the Pope's deep scholarship in a way beginners can understand. I highly recommend this to young adults and especially for those in marriage preparation classes, as well as any adult single or married.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vonetta

    3.5 stars. This was really interesting! It was refreshing to take time to think of how we worship God in our bodies, not seeing our flesh as something inherently bad, but beautiful. And as someone who is trying to become a parent, I wanted a perspective of what it means to bear a human life, and Theology of the Body definitely gives all the significance in the world to the act. I think John Paul II and West take some of the analogies a little far/too literally (like their reasoning against women 3.5 stars. This was really interesting! It was refreshing to take time to think of how we worship God in our bodies, not seeing our flesh as something inherently bad, but beautiful. And as someone who is trying to become a parent, I wanted a perspective of what it means to bear a human life, and Theology of the Body definitely gives all the significance in the world to the act. I think John Paul II and West take some of the analogies a little far/too literally (like their reasoning against women priests and contraception), but on the whole, I enjoyed this because it made me see my body as priceless.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    This book was a great beginner's glimpse into the Theology of the Body. I learned a lot and Christopher West's writing is clear and concise. He is a bit repetitive on some topics, but only to get some important points through to the reader. Reading this will help the reader understand the capacity and depth of the actual Theology of the Body so we can fully tackle it with a better lens when the time comes. This book was a great beginner's glimpse into the Theology of the Body. I learned a lot and Christopher West's writing is clear and concise. He is a bit repetitive on some topics, but only to get some important points through to the reader. Reading this will help the reader understand the capacity and depth of the actual Theology of the Body so we can fully tackle it with a better lens when the time comes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I read it pretty quickly (“skimmed” would not be unfair) because I find myself in conversation with someone more informed about this than I am, and I’d like to be at least a little better equipped. It’s certainly simpler than the source material, but I’m not sure it gave me the specific information I was hoping to find. Honestly, it was reassuring to find that I’m pretty clear on it, from other reading, learning, and thinking I’ve done on the topic.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    After having been recommended this book so many times I finally decided to pick it up. I have personally never heard of these talks by St. John Paul II and I was told this book was the best way to learn about them. The book is broken down in sections and easily explains terms. This is great for anyone wanting to learn more about the body, sexuality, love, and purpose. Don’t skip over the glossary at the end - ina way it provides a great summary of the whole book!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I regret to give this book only two stars, but I was underwhelmed by it. I do not find any fault with the subject matter, but I was hoping for more. I did learn some new, insightful things, but I did not get enough new material to satisfy me with this book. Perhaps it is because I have read a different book by West before that overlapped much of the same information. I think it probably is a good read for someone new to the topic; maybe I was just already past the beginner level in this case.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Josilyn

    A fantastic introduction to one of the most important theological works of the modern age. Christopher West deftly unpacks the major points of St. Pope John Paul's crowning work in a way that highlights how the Theology of the Body reveals the essential truth of who we are and our place in God's redemptive work. If you want to know more about the Theology of the Body but feel daunted, this is a great first-step read. A fantastic introduction to one of the most important theological works of the modern age. Christopher West deftly unpacks the major points of St. Pope John Paul's crowning work in a way that highlights how the Theology of the Body reveals the essential truth of who we are and our place in God's redemptive work. If you want to know more about the Theology of the Body but feel daunted, this is a great first-step read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Latshaw

    Although my Reformed theology disagreed with some of the conclusions West draws, the book gives a wonderful, yet brief overview of The Theology of the Body. For instance, it was the best explanation regarding contraceptives I have heard from a Catholic. Once again, though I may disagree, West does a suitable job of outlining the Catholic teaching in an clear manner.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Because I wasn’t born and raised in the Catholic faith, it was hard to explain what I felt in church. This beginner ‘study guide’ to John Paul II’s Theology of the Body speaks something to me that I have felt draws me to certain conclusions about relationships and sex. I want to go into more depth later.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kaycee Monnens

    Wow. I’d recommend this book to all of society. If you’ve ever wondered about the sanctity of sex, God’s intentions for our bodies, the effects of the sexual revolution on society, or anything along those lines, this book is it. It is absolutely mind-blowing, in a good way. It brings JPII’s Theology of the Body to the public in layman’s terms. I will be revisiting this book many times.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ruth De

    I found this really challenging to read because Christopher writes the way he talks. But, it's a good book to have on hand for friends who want to learn more, but don't want to read JPII directly. I would recommend pairing this book with some of his talks... it will make it easier to digest and help clarify some of his main points. I found this really challenging to read because Christopher writes the way he talks. But, it's a good book to have on hand for friends who want to learn more, but don't want to read JPII directly. I would recommend pairing this book with some of his talks... it will make it easier to digest and help clarify some of his main points.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Judine Brey

    This was an easy to follow break-down of St. John Paul II's series of talks on the roles of sexuality and marriage in Church life. I would have liked more examples, since West uses them well. That said, I feel like I have a better grasp of Theology of the Body, which is huge. This was an easy to follow break-down of St. John Paul II's series of talks on the roles of sexuality and marriage in Church life. I would have liked more examples, since West uses them well. That said, I feel like I have a better grasp of Theology of the Body, which is huge.

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