What do I think of Carl Anderson and Jose Granados’s book published by Doubleday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Called To Love is an in-depth look at Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Now as readers know, I am not Catholic, but I do think there is much Catholic wisdom out there and I’m definitely interested in researching topics relating to our understanding of sexuality. This was a topic I did a lot of thinking on long before I got married and now that I am married, I can say experience brings to light a whole new way of looking at the equation.
The book starts with a look at the body and sees the body as an extension of the self, the way that you interact with the world. It is by your body that your presence is best made known to the world. Why do we say people like my grandmother, for instance, are no longer with us? Because their bodies are not here or they are absent from their bodies. In the case of a marriage, the body is the gift that each spouse brings to the other. It’s easy to look at your spouse and treat them as an object alone, such as a breadwinner or security or a household servant and even as a sexual object, but it’s something else to see them as not just a body but as a person dwelling in a body and realize that of all the gifts they give you, the greatest gift they give you is their body. It is not their body as an object, but them as a person and saying “I give you all that I am.”
Love for the other person then is being thankful that that other person exists. It is not just they exist for your sake, but you exist for theirs as well. When true spousal love takes place, the two spouses want to bring about the best of the other person and many times, this comes out in sex. Sex is the place of ultimate sacrifice and it is the reminder that we are made for connection. We are made to first be connected to our creator, but it is in a powerful connection to a person of the opposite sex, that we experience the totally unique love of the other. We experience someone who is so radically different from us and that person receives us as we are. In fact, this sexual love, especially since it has the ability to bring about new life, can be seen as the closest mirror we have to the Trinity.
Of course, this also ties in with the person of Jesus who came to show us how to live and by His embodiment, it is shown that the body is a good thing. This is further shown by His resurrection which is an indication of our future resurrection. The resurrection says we are made to dwell in bodies and that our bodies are good and holy things and we need to treat them like that. That God Himself becomes incarnate in a body should tell us that there is nothing wrong with having a body and today, we have God the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to show us that in this way God is also indwelling in a temple today and we should treat our bodies like that temple.
While I did not agree with a lot of the Catholic doctrine in the book, I can say that as a Protestant, it did get me more appreciative of the body and taking it seriously and I hope Protestants do catch on to this kind of reality. We do far too little talk on what sexuality is and how it matters and we pay far too little attention to our bodies and do not realize the grand place that they have been given in creation. Through any number of means, we treat our bodies just like they were machines or other purely material objects, when they are not. God did not make a mistake when He gave us our bodies. He meant for us to treasure them and use them in love. The great love is following Romans 12 and presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. The earthly side of that is often going to our spouses and giving our bodies to them self-sacrificially as well.
We were Called To Love. Let’s fulfill our calling.