Freedom lies at the heart of the gift-giving meaning of the body. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were free from the constraints of sin. Naked and unashamed, they weren’t oppressed by the urge to misuse each other.
The human body, with its sexuality—male and female—is not only a source of fruitfulness and procreation. It also has the power to express love, allowing the person to become a gift. This self-giving love is unique to human beings—other living creatures reproduce, but they don’t love each other in the image of God’s love.
Beyond marriage, Christ revealed another vocation for men and women—that of remaining unmarried for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Mat. 19:12). This only confirms the nuptial meaning of the body. In freedom, we have the power to offer ourselves as a gift—to another person, or even to the kingdom of heaven.
So many people wonder: Who am I? Why am I here on this earth? The answer is found in this self-giving love. We were created by Love, and we’re called to love in return. A man can only find his true self by giving himself away. When we live according to the nuptial meaning of our bodies, we fulfil the very meaning of our existence.
In order to make a gift of himself, a man must be free. Adam and Eve were completely free because they were totally innocent. Genesis 2:25 eloquently expresses this freedom: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” For us to achieve freedom, we must learn self-control. The gift-giving, nuptial meaning of the body can only be realized when we’re free from sinful passions.
Each human person is willed by God for his own sake. Human life is good in and of itself—it is not a means to an end. Life is sacred, and we cannot put a price on it. Each person is unique and unrepeatable; someone chosen by eternal Love. There has never been, and there will never be, another you.
By giving themselves away, Adam and Eve were able to discover this truth about each other. In their first meeting, Adam found Eve, and Eve found Adam. He accepted her as a unique person, willed by the Creator for her own sake, reflecting the image of God in her femininity. And she accepted him in the same way—as a unique person reflecting the image of God in his masculinity.
The person is affirmed in the accepting of the gift, made possible by the nuptial meaning of the body. This mutual self-giving, first manifested in God’s self-giving love, is the basis for the communion of persons. This joyful communion explains why Adam and Eve existed in a state of original happiness. Though this was a short-lived period in human pre-history, comprising only a few verses of Genesis, it is full of implications for the theology of the body. Most particularly, it reveals the nuptial meaning of the body as a gift given in the freedom of love.
Originally posted 2019-05-21 12:30:57.