phillip.e.johnston + body   4

Sex, Temptation, and the Gay Christian: What Chastity Demands - Mere Orthodoxy | Christianity, Politics, and Culture
I take ‘neo-traditionalists’ to be interested in an ‘untangling maneuver’: we want to distinguish the terminology of ‘gay’ and from the moral content of sexual desires, to help individuals who do experience same-sex sexual attractions to discover, name, and love the goods within their lives as God sees them. ... The deep affection of an adult brother for his sister must be bounded and pervaded by chastity, precisely because—however unlikely, and however repugnant—the involuntary and even unwelcome emergence of sexual desires in such a realm is not unknown. The duties of chastity and its handmaid modesty require remaining alive toward such a possibility. They require a fearful reverence within one’s love for another which does not fixate upon the emergence of such possibilities, but recognizes their power.
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The combination of ‘needs’ and contraceptive use combine to transfigure chastity through destroying the environmental conditions in which the virtue is naturally (and therefore gracefully) engendered. Burk observes, rightly, that Paul suggests couple’s should only abstain from marital sex. But what for Paul is an admonition to not abstain too long should be for us an admonition to abstain for a short season, so as to prove within our marriages that we have the continence required to establish the gift of our sexuality to our spouse as a gift. Offering one’s body as a gift to one’s spouse in freedom depends upon the prior recognition that one’s body is a gift to be offered. But God’s gift of the body to us comes within limits: our liberty to alter it can only consign us to unfreedom. ... for the male and female to unite themselves in freedom, they must recognize and delight in the pre-existing gift of their own reproductive powers and the inherently procreative form of the sexual act. God has given us the form in which chastity takes marital shape: the entire artifice of bodily life impels us to pursue it through imposing upon us naturally short seasons of abstinence, unless we renounce them through the artifice of contraception so we can fulfill our ‘sexual needs.’ Burk thinks that it is enough for marriages to stand “squarely against the spirit of the age” by retaining a general openness to children, despite taking hormones specifically designed to prevent them. How this inherent contradiction can be explained, I have yet to hear. If one is worried about the bifurcation of the personal and the biological, of the will from the body—as one should be—it is impossible to denounce doing so with any meaningful moral authority while preserving the rupture for the sake of those married couples in our pews.
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The perfection of Christ’s human life through his temptation by created goods includes and represents our own temptations to evils. We are free to meet even those non-voluntary desires with renunciation and not repentance, precisely because Christ’s experience reveals to us that not all temptations arise from and within our own sin. Christ’s temptation announces in practice the moral salience of the distinction between an intention and a desire, which Christ had himself proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount.
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As long as disorder exist in the world around us, we shall at least be tempted to allow it to arise within us. The pure in heart see God within the man Jesus’s vulnerability in the Garden because they, too, know the deep humanity of wanting to enjoy goods that they are tasked with renouncing. The mature in the faith experience this form of temptation precisely because of their sanctity, not its absence. We pray to be kept from it, because in doing so we learn the humility that prepares us for it. But this sanctity can be reached only if within the fallen chaos of our desires we discover not simply corruptions that we renounce but also goods we can delight in. All that will remain, after all, of us are those dimensions that are swept up into Christ’s life. Yet this will include all manner of ways in which our lives have been indelibly and permanently marked by the sins and disorders of the flesh. We might say, in fact, that where we meant our lives for evil, God yet found within them good—because He found within our sinfulness His victorious life, having included our lives already within His own.
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In one sense, I take gay Christians as trying to steal the meaning of the word back: to mark a certain kind of vivacity of life, of abundance, of joy within a profound intimacy of friendship and a stable set of ‘attractions’ to their same same, which removes the ‘pride’ in those attractions that raises its fist against God. Why should not Christians today stand in the long line of their forebearers who have said no to the world, but in so doing found within it a Yes that is more potent and powerful—and taken over its own language to name it?
Christianity  children  body  birthcontrol  contraception  WesleyHill  sex  sexuality  love  identity  gender 
28 days ago by phillip.e.johnston
What’s a Body to Do? The Place of Beauty and the Body in Non-Sexual Loves | Spiritual Friendship
I’m coming to think it is right and good to notice that someone is beautiful (whether female or male, both body and soul), and to be drawn to them because of their beauty. It is, I think, a sort of entranceway into the truth, for though our ancient rebellion has drastically marred the bright visage of humanity, it is not altogether destroyed. Human beings still are beautiful. We retain the faded memory of our created glory, imprinted in skin and soul alike. When I notice a person’s beauty, therefore, I’m recalling, in the very act of noticing, the most ancient truth about her or him. I’m acknowledging the rightness of God’s first declaration over humankind. I’m echoing his original “very good” over creation; desiring as a creature to join in communion with what remains of the “very good” around me, as I should; and coming alongside the saints and angels and all the earth, in longing for the full and final restoration of that first “very good.”
body  gender  friendship  singleness  sexuality  homosexuality 
february 2018 by phillip.e.johnston
The Anti-Theology of the Body - The New Atlantis (David Bentley Hart)
Transhumanism, as a moral philosophy, is so risibly fabulous in its prognostications, and so unrelated to anything that genomic research yet promises, that it can scarcely be regarded as anything more than a pathetic dream; but the metaphysical principles it presumes regarding the nature of the human are anything but eccentric. Joseph Fletcher was a man with a manifestly brutal mind, desperately anxious to believe himself superior to the common run of men, one who apparently received some sort of crypto-erotic thrill from his cruel fantasies of creating a slave race, and of literally branding others as his genetic inferiors, and of exercising power over the minds and bodies of the low-born. And yet his principles continue to win adherents in the academy and beyond it, and his basic presuppositions about the value and meaning of life are the common grammar of a shockingly large portion of bioethicists. If ever the day comes when we are willing to consider a program, however modest, of improving the species through genetic planning and manipulation, it will be exclusively those who hold such principles and embrace such presuppositions who will determine what the future of humanity will be. And men who are impatient of frailty and contemptuous of weakness are, at the end of the day, inevitably evil. [...]

The idea of the infinite value of every particular life does not accord with instinct, as far as one can tell, but rather has a history. The ancient triumph of the religion of divine incarnation inaugurated a new vision of man, however fitfully and failingly that vision was obeyed in subsequent centuries. Perhaps this notion of an absolute dignity indwelling every person — this Christian invention or discovery or convention — is now slowly fading from our consciences and will finally be replaced by something more “realistic” (which is to say, something more nihilistic). Whatever the case, John Paul’s theology of the body will never, as I have said, be “relevant” to the understanding of the human that lies “beyond” Christian faith. Between these two orders of vision there can be no fruitful commerce, no modification of perspectives, no debate, indeed no “conversation.” All that can ever span the divide between them is the occasional miraculous movement of conversion or the occasional tragic movement of apostasy. Thus the legacy of that theology will be to remain, for Christians, a monument to the grandeur and fullness of their faith’s “total humanism,” so to speak, to remind them how vast the Christian understanding of humanity’s nature and destiny is, and to inspire them — whenever they are confronted by any philosophy, ethics, or science that would reduce any human life to an instrumental moment within some larger design — to a perfect and unremitting enmity.
JP2  body  bioethics  technology  transhumanism  incarnation  christianity  theology 
february 2018 by phillip.e.johnston
Did American Christian culture pave the way for Hugh Hefner’s sexual revolution? | America Magazine (Pascal Emmanuel Gobry)
Forgive me for being French for one second: I think the thing that repels me most about Hef is not just that he turned the female body into an object to be bought and sold; it is that he turned it into an ugly object to be bought and sold. The ideal female body for Hef is not a body at all; it is an iPhone: smooth, featureless, plastic, colorless, odorless, tasteless. I suppose it makes sense that a glutton would move from an appreciation of fine food to gorging on junk. But like the stereotype of the teenage son who turns into his father through the very process of rebelling against him, Hef became not the opposite but the mirror of the (largely Anglo-Protestant) body-hating puritanism that preceded him.
Hefner  sex  sexuality  gender  femininity  body 
february 2018 by phillip.e.johnston

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