Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  441 / 665 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 441 / 665 Next Page
Page Background

Chapter 30. Sixth Commandment: Marital Fidelity • 413

Shame may enter the relationship. Pope John Paul II notes there

is an instinctive shame that can ward off utilitarian sex. Shame leads

the woman to protect herself from the aggressive, lustful sexuality of

the man. In the opposite case, shame causes the man to resist a sexual

advance from the woman that is merely lustful. God calls for spousal

love as the remedy for moving beyond the sex appeal of the body alone

to its nuptial meaning, revealing the person as made in his image.

The Redemption of the Body

Pope John Paul II retrieves the nuptial meaning of the body by taking us

back to life before the Fall, to a time of original innocence and original

nakedness. The first man and woman did not experience any shame in

their nakedness because the attraction of male and female served love

alone. This was more than virtuous self-control. The man and woman

dwelt so intimately in their bodies that each body expressed to the other

the beauty of the human person and the image of God. Bodily sexuality

was integrated into the energy of spousal love.

Original Sin caused a rupture in the unity of body and soul. The

body now could


as well as reveal the person. Christ’s saving act

included the redemption of the body by which he restored the lost unity

of soul and body. This is a

process of restoration

, partly completed here

and fully restored in the next life. While there will not be marriage in

the future life, masculinity and femininity will endure. Pope John Paul

II relates this to consecrated celibacy and virginity in which the nuptial

meaning of the body is not denied. The body’s nuptial meaning serves

love in ways other than marriage.

We seldom do justice to the ways in which our bodies share in and

reveal our interior personal lives. We have drawn attention here to Pope

John Paul II’s meditation on the nuptial meaning of the body because

we believe it is a vision of sex, marriage, and the person best suited to

rebuilding a wholesome, faith-filled, and loving approach to these most

precious gifts.


15 See Pope John Paul II,

Love and Responsibility

(New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux,

1981); and his

Original Unity of Man and Woman: Catechesis on the Book of Genesis

(Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1981).