The Theology of the Body

By Pope John Paul II

When God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” (Gen 2:18) he affirmed that “alone” man does not completely realize this essence. He realizes it only by existing “with someone” — and even more deeply and completely — by existing “for someone.” …

The communion of persons means existing in a mutual “for,” in a relationship of mutual gift. This relationship is precisely the fulfillment of “man’s” original solitude. …

Body expresses person
There is a deep connection between the mystery of creation, as a gift springing from love, and that beatifying “beginning” of the existence of man as male and female, in the whole truth of their body and their sex, which is the pure and simple truth of communion between persons.

When the first man exclaimed, at the sight of the woman: “This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23), he merely affirmed the human identity of both. Exclaiming in this way, he seems to say: here is a body that expresses the person! …

Masculinity and femininity — namely, sex — is the original sign of a creative donation and an awareness on the part of man, male-female, of a gift lived in an original way. Such is the meaning with which sex enters the theology of the body.

Called “nuptial”

That beatifying “beginning” of man’s being and existing, as male and female, is connected with the revelation and discovery of the meaning of the body, which can be called “nuptial.” …

We have already observed that the words which express the first joy of man’s coming to existence as “male and female” (Gen 2:23) are followed by the verse which establishes their conjugal unity (cf. Gen 2:24). Then follows the verse which testifies to the nakedness of both, without mutual shame (Gen 2:25). This significant confrontation enables us to speak of the revelation and at the same time the discovery of the “nuptial” meaning of the body in the mystery of creation.

This meaning (inasmuch as it is revealed and also conscious, “lived” by man) confirms completely that the creative giving, which springs from Love, has reached the original consciousness of man. It becomes an experience of mutual giving, as can already be seen in the ancient text. That nakedness of both progenitors, free from shame, seems also to bear witness to that — perhaps even specifically.

Excerpted from a series of talks by Pope John Paul II known as Theology of the Body, this address was given on Jan. 14, 1980.