The Theology of the Body refers to a series of 129 lectures given by Pope John Paul II during his Wednesday audiences in Rome between September 1979 and November 1984. These addresses were later compiled and published as a single work entitled The Theology of the Body According to John Paul II. The Theology of the Body covers such topics as the bodily dimension of the human person, the nature of human sexuality, the human need for communion, and the nature of marriage.
Christ’s mission, according to the spousal analogy of the Scriptures, is to “marry” us. He invites us to live with him in an eternal life-giving union of love. This is what the union of the sexes is meant to proclaim and foreshadow – the eternal union of Christ and the Church. As St. Paul says, quoting from Genesis:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church. (Eph 5:31-32)
By helping us understand this profound interconnection between sex and the Christian mystery, John Paul II’s Theology of the Body not only paves the way for lasting renewal of marriage and the family; it enables everyone to rediscover “the meaning of the whole of existence, the meaning of life.” (Oct 29, 1980)
John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is especially important for our culture today which is permeated by messages that challenge faith and encourage permissive attitudes. The Theology of the Body is a new understanding of the human person that takes one beyond the “thou shall nots” often associated with Christianity to a fresh, new approach to the gift of love and human sexuality. As John Paul II says, “Love demands a personal commitment to the will of God.” (Oct 1, 1979)