THEOLOGY OF THE BODY FOR BEGINNERS
by Christopher West
(Ascension Press, 2004, 144pp, $25.00. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Reviewed by Jacinta Cummins
Four decades after the "sexual liberation" of the 1960s, rather than having the sexual Utopia the baby boomers were promised, their children and grandchildren have inherited a world in which sexual deviation and assorted perversions are normalised and accepted.
God always bestows special and unique graces in times of great chaos and it seems no mere coincidence that John Paul II was installed after the advent of the "sexual liberation" and the widescale acceptance of the Pill. John Paul saw a need for the Church's teachings on sexuality to be made accessible and explained to the millions of young people caught between the Church's teachings on sexuality and the world's view of it.
John Paul's offering of "a rich, biblical reflection on the meaning of human embodiment, particularly as it concerns sexuality and erotic desire" may prove daunting to the ordinary Catholic single. This is where Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West plays such an integral part in the "re-education" of the many young people conditioned to accept "you're going to do it anyway" so "use protection".
West focuses on the questions to which many people today are seeking answers and which our culture surrounds with misinformation. He discusses God's original plan for sexuality and the human person before the fall of Adam and Eve and how it was thwarted following original sin.
The controversial issues commonly associated with Catholicism are not skirted, with the debate over celibacy for priests and religious addressed:
"Some even blame celibacy itself for the sexual problems and abuses of some of the clergy É [But] 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."
This book will be most useful to anyone seeking a fuller appreciation of sexuality as taught by the Church rather than the sexual misinformation so often peddled by the media and at many educational institutions. Unfortunately some Catholic schools have been among the worst offenders in this regard.