At the heart of human history occurred an amazing mystery. God became a human being. God the invisible, eternal, and infinite Creator of the universe—who is inaccessible in the depth of his mystery, beyond human vision or understanding—took to himself a human body and a human soul. He lived a human life in this world, in all the limitations that this implies in time and space, in historical circumstances, in the stages of human growth from infancy to maturity, in labor and play, in dialogue with human language and concepts, in suffering and death. This is a scandal to the very world that he came to save, a scandal because a God too close is a God threatening. It is much safer to have a God who is just a “first cause” or principle in the realm of ideas, or an anonymous force, or the impersonal summation of all goodness. A personal God who comes to seek us out, to take our very humanity to himself and to live in the midst of it, is a God who is dangerous. Right? On the contrary, perhaps God came to reveal something different to us, to reveal to us the true nature of his heart, of his inner life. He came to reveal that we need not be afraid of him, need not flee from him in fear as did our first parents at the dawn of history, and as so many hearts have since then.
The first chapters of the book of Genesis, at the very beginning of the Bible, present the drama to us. They present it in symbolical language that nonetheless preserves for us, and indeed interprets beautifully, the historical truth of our human beginnings. Adam and Eve, those many years ago, were constituted by God in a state of original innocence. They lived in the full joy of right relationship with God, with each other, and with the whole created universe. They experienced their whole existence pervaded in the beauty of God’s gratuitous gift, a gift which had bestowed this very existence upon them, and had called them into intimacy with the very Giver, and, in him, with one another. Adam and Eve stood at the heart of creation, in a garden of abundant beauty, in which God himself gladly walked with them in an unspeakable but real way. They were naked, but not ashamed of this nakedness, for they both knew and felt that this nakedness—this vulnerability of both body and heart—was not something to be feared, but simply the voice of their calling to intimacy with God and with one another. Yes, it was the voice of God’s own creative love written into the flesh of their bodies, speaking of their orientation towards mutual self-giving and the profound union of person and person that this made possible—and, indeed, of the abundant fruit that poured forth spontaneously from this union. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. In the image of God he created him, male and female he created them, and he said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’ … For this reason a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed” (cf. Gen 1:26-27; 2:24-25).
Yes, even more fundamentally than their call to union with each other, Adam and Eve knew that they belonged to God—they were his gift, his children. And only in this primal belonging of total dependency upon God, whom they knew to be their loving Father (a dependency which was thus experienced as complete freedom), could they experience the joy of purity and radiant simplicity in their relationship with one another. And yet here, precisely here at the most sensitive place of their childlike relationship with God, evil sought to enter the world. Our first parents were tempted by a spirit of evil who, being of the angelic realm before the creation of the visible world, had rebelled against the goodness of God and, in pride, had sought to set himself up against all that was beautiful, good, and true, to twist it to his own terrible purposes. Through his pride he fell from intimacy with God, and lived (and continues to live) as a parasite on the good, a mockery of all that God had made.
But he knew how to lie, how to twist and distort. And this he did. He appeared in the garden and insinuated into the hearts of Adam and Eve a doubt in the goodness and love of God. He tempted them to take of the fruit of disobedience, to grasp for pleasure and power and possession apart from the all-sustaining generosity of their heavenly Father, telling them that only in this way could they be “like God.” And they fell for the trick, forgetting that they were already like God from the first moment of their creation—fashioned by him in his very “image and likeness” (Gen 1:27). Rather than abiding in the simplicity and nakedness of loving relationship—a relationship permeated by truth and honesty and receptivity—they turned away from their origin and fell into confusion, strife, and the pain of isolation.
As a result of their sin—not as some punitive punishment inflicted by God from the outside, but as the very harmful effect of their destructive choice—they experienced the fracture of all the good that God had given to them. And yet this good was not irretrievably lost, but was profoundly wounded, beyond their own innate capacity to repair. Their intimacy with God was torn asunder, and their union with one another as well, and their relation to all that God had created and offered to them as a gift. After eating of the fruit of disobedience, they immediately experienced their nakedness as a threat, as something to fear and from which to flee. So they clothed themselves to protect themselves from each other’s gaze, and, when they heard the sound of God drawing near to them in the garden, they hid from him too, among the very trees he had given to them in his love. “I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself,” is Adam’s fearful reply. “Who told you that you were naked?” is the reply of God (Gen 3:10-11). And then God unfolds for them the terrible fruits of their sin, which has unleashed a trajectory of history filled with suffering and death, and has perpetuated a rift between God and humanity that has continued throughout the ages. But in the midst of his words to them, God also spoke a promise of hope. He turned to the evil spirit, who had appeared under the form of a serpent, and said to him, “I will put warfare between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; you will strike at his heel, but he will crush your head” (Gen 3:15). Here, in the very place of human sin, God promises redemption; he promises healing. He promises a definitive victory over all the negative effects of human infidelity to God and his love, such that what was lost through sin is restored through the very graced intervention of God.
And he does so by promising that the sin of Adam and Eve will be reversed by a new Adam and a new Eve, who will trample on the head of the tempter, and who will manifest definitive victory over the forces of evil and death in the world. But who is this woman, and who is this man, her child, her “seed?” God leads suffering humanity along the long paths of history, speaking to them in various ways and preparing them for the day, when, “In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to deliver those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children” (Gal 4:4-5). Yes, this woman is a virgin who does not receive the seed of man, but rather is filled with the Holy Spirit of God, and conceives in her womb not just any man, but God himself!
Now the inner mystery of God’s own life, hidden from our eyes, begins to unfold itself, to make itself visible and tangible, in the heart of fallen history. The nature of God’s own being is “expressed” before us in the living experience of those who were witnesses of the amazing things that happened in those days, two thousand years ago in the land of Palestine. For God revealed himself to us, and in doing so, revealed to us that we, as creatures, were created not merely to be slaves or subjects (which was precisely the lie of the tempter), but rather to be beloved children. Yes, we were created and destined to share—on the basis of our nature fashioned in the image and likeness of God, a nature restored, elevated, and transfigured through grace—in the very supernatural life of God himself.
And what is this life? God has revealed it to us in Christ, his incarnate Son, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out into the world. God’s life is a life of eternal love and intimacy, a life in which three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—abide before one another in the complete nakedness of mutual self-disclosure, and, in this living mystery, experience perfect, everlasting, and life-giving communion. They give themselves to one another in total mutual surrender, and this pure vulnerability of their reciprocal gift is utterly secure, utterly safe. For the three Persons, abiding before one another in awe and wonder and gladness, know that they are seen with eyes of love, know that they are received each by the other with utmost tenderness. In other words, the very reality that Adam and Eve—in their nakedness without shame—were meant to live and manifest, is realized most perfectly in God himself! Yes, the everlasting life of the Trinity—before creation itself ever came to be, and yet which is the very origin and model of all that exists in creation—is the perfect intersection of Person and Intimacy, of “I” and “Thou” in the “We” of everlasting embrace.
This is what came to irradiate the darkness of our world in the fullness of time, when God knew it was the right moment to enter into the heart of world history, in order to renew it from within. The second Person of the Trinity, the Son, came forth from the bosom of the divine life—sent forth from the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit—and entered our world, wedding himself to our frail and weak humanity, and living a human life in our very flesh. In this way he became the “making-visible” of the invisible life of God. In this way he began to heal all the wounds that our sins had caused—from the first sin of Adam and Eve throughout all of history until its end—by drawing all of suffering humanity into his own all-enfolding embrace. Yes, and he did so in the midst of the utter littleness, humility, and apparent ordinariness that marks all of human life.
But he did so as God, and thus did so as the living Convergence Point in which all the diverse lines of human history, all the many sorrows, aspirations, and hopes of human hearts, are drawn together into a unity within his own reconciling embrace. Christ, the Son of God made man, is the center of the universe and of history. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. In him and through him all things were created in the beginning, and in him and through him they will all be lifted up into the life of God at the end of time. He has inaugurated this movement, has already pierced the darkness of this world with the redeeming and re-creating light of God’s love.
He has done so in his Incarnation (his making-flesh), which came to a climax in the giving of his very life in solidarity with all of suffering humanity—in solidarity with me where I need love and compassion the most! For at the end of his life, he was betrayed by a friend, was arrested, tortured, crowned with thorns, and crucified on a cross. He died the death of every man and woman; indeed, he died the death in which all the cries of sorrow and anguish, as well as all the prayers of hope and longing and desire for liberation, were drawn together and answered. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved to sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the Incarnate Word [on the Cross]. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation. (par. 2606)
Thus Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is human life, the answer that has also, in profound compassion, has lived with us to the full the anguish of the question. He came as the answer to all of our questions for meaning, for truth, for love, and opened his being to us in heartfelt generosity, so that, in him, we can find what we seek. And we cannot help but ask this question. We have been created to ask it. For we have been created—whether we realize it or not—in the image and likeness of God. The very nature of the life of the Trinity—of God himself!—is inscribed into our bodies as man and woman. We all know, in the very heart of our experience of daily life, in both joy and sorrow, in the ordinary and extraordinary moments, that what we long for the most is love, and the fruit of love, intimacy. The great beauty of the message of the Gospel is that God himself is eternal love and intimacy, and that he has created us, redeemed us, and destined us to share in the life that he himself lives. Yes, we have been created, each one of us, to share, in the fullness of our created being, in the uncreated life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a life of ecstatic love and everlasting intimacy!
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John Paul II speaks about the “spousal meaning” of the body as the body’s “power to express love: precisely that love in which the human person becomes a gift and—through this gift—fulfills the very meaning of his being and existence” (TOB 15:1).* Through an adequate realization of the reality to which he is referring—the spousal meaning of the body—we in fact enter into the heart of his thought and, yes, touch the core of reality itself. This may sound like an exaggeration. Many questions arise. What about the spirit? Isn’t the spirit more important than the body? How, then, can the body be our avenue to the heart of human existence? Further, isn’t the spousal relationship between the sexes only one relationship among many, one kind of communion among many? How can we limit ourselves to calling the meaning of the body “spousal,” even if we grant this a pride of place, for wouldn’t this be equivalent to reducing all human desires in the end to the sexual desire? All of these questions reveal deep wounds and misconceptions that we suffer from in our broken humanity, the deep rifts that cut through our nature and our existence as a result of the original rift from God due to sin.
And this is precisely, I think, why John Paul chose to speak in the way that he did. The great intuition of his heart was that Christianity’s message will not become fully credible to the world again until adequate reverence and attention is given to the body and, in particular, to the primordial expression of our call to intimacy as manifested in our being created as male and female. A good place to start, therefore, is precisely to try to grasp the central insights of his heart as expressed in his Theology of the Body. The “spousal meaning” of the body is perhaps the most central of these, a kind of linchpin that holds all the other dimensions together. But precisely this is often understood in a much narrower way than the pope himself understood it—as merely the anatomical complementarity of male and female and their capacity for sexual union. But the significance of the human body, even its “spousal” significance, is much deeper than this, while also including this. It refers to the very essence of all reality as relationship, as the vocation of persons to enter into communion with one another, and ultimately with the Persons of the divine Trinity, through mutual self-giving.
The specific physical union of husband and wife “becoming one flesh” is paradigmatic for all human relationships within this world—in the sense of being a particularly transparent image of what is manifested throughout the fabric of all being. Indeed, it is a particularly visceral expression of the mystery of the Trinity in visible creation (admitting, of course, the inadequacy of the created image before the uncreated and eternal Reality that infinitely surpasses it). In other words, in the “one flesh” union of man and woman we are given a glimpse of what all love and communion is meant to look like, and therefore come to understand more deeply what the very nature of reality consists in, since the essence of reality is precisely love and relationship.
The spousal union, in sum, is like a key, or a lens, which begins to open our eyes to the nature of the entire universe, and, indeed, directs our hearts in loving contemplation towards the inner mystery of God himself as the eternal family of love: the Trinity. The pope himself acknowledges this when he says that the call of man and woman to become a gift in their bodies “constitutes the fundamental component of human existence in this world” (TOB 15:5), and that, through this “hermeneutics of the gift,” in other words, through the interpretative key of understanding our incarnate existence as a gift, we approach “the very essence of the person” (TOB 13:2 and 14:2). For this “is the body: a witness to creation as a fundamental gift, and therefore a witness to Love as the source from which this same giving springs. Masculinity-femininity—namely, sex—is the original sign of…[God’s] creative donation” (TOB 14:4).
Indeed, we can affirm that the insights of John Paul are so rich and deep that they truly open up a path into the very heart of the Gospel, to the very core of reality itself, even deeper than he himself explicitly enunciated in his teaching. For the body is a gift in many ways besides the specifically sexual relationship; and yet in every way this gift-nature still follows along the trajectory of this spousal or nuptial meaning—in other words, along the trajectory of relationship, of receiving and giving, of communion. To do justice to the breadth and depth of this meaning, therefore, we could also call it the “unitive” meaning; though “spousal” should also be retained, as it expresses well how spousal love is a paradigm of all love and gift—including the inner nature of God’s own relationship with us, in which he makes us a Bride espoused to him as the divine Bridegroom in the covenant of total mutual belonging. Thus, all love is of its very nature unitive, ordained towards the coming-together of persons in unity, and thus spousal, nuptial, in the broad sense, of which the specific spousal relation between husband and wife is the most precise and paradigmatic expression in the limits of this world, but which points of its very nature towards the eternal marital communion between God and humanity that awaits us in heaven. Adam Cooper expresses all of this very well, touching the pulse of reality as love and relationship. This will also be the trajectory of all the reflections contained in this book:
If it is true that the universe has been created and is sustained by God through love, then it must be affirmed that there is an intelligibility to the universe, and that love, and all that love implies—relation, mutuality, giving and receiving—is somehow constitutive of what it means to be. … Anterior to every description of a being according to its nature and actions is its intrinsic relation to an active and personal God, its character as fruit of infinite divine generosity, coming from God, existing in God, and destined for God. From this perspective, by knowing what love is, we are afforded insight into what it means to be in the deepest sense possible. And because love, in the most perfect form, is interpersonal and relational, one may even say “nuptial,” then personhood and relationality, understood in the context of love, are the keys to the meaning of being. … [O]ur understanding of love, personhood and relation can only be mediated bodily: through senses, affectivity, desire. Love is not just a rational choice, the considered fruit of a resolved and steely will. It is born in the heart from the promise of personal encounter, draws into its activity all the impulses and vulnerabilities and energies of body and spirit, and remains ever more deeply open to being affected and changed by the beloved even as it strives for the beloved’s glorious perfection.i
This quote nicely summarizes much of what the coming pages are going to unfold in detail, with a prolonged contemplative gaze upon the beauty of reality in the light of God’s uncreated Love—his inner life of love as Trinity—and the inner essence of all created being as love and in love, the fruit of his creative gift. But let us start more specifically, and allow our reflections gradually to widen and deepen. In particular, let us look at the basic relational meaning of the body, the meaning of the body as a capacity for love and relationship that is universal, in all of its expressions. My very body, in its every part and in its every atom, is truly the incarnation and expression of my personhood, it is truly the making-visible and making-tangible of me. It is the very gift of my existence in this world, by which I live, move, and have my being as a creature among other creatures, as a gift in a universe that is itself sheer gift. More specifically, my body is gift oriented towards communion. It is a gift that, by being received and reciprocated (made a gift in response to the One who first gave me to myself, and gave himself as well, to me, in my incarnate being) establishes bonds of intimate relationship. The same is true in my relations with all that exists, and specifically with other human persons, whose bodies, like mine, manifest the dignity of an incomparable person “chosen by eternal Love” (TOB 15:4) and called into communion, in this life and the next.
This is the unitive meaning of the body. The body is by its essence relational. It is the capacity for communion. Indeed, it is a primal communion, as we are continually reminded each day in our need to receive sustenance from the outside in order to stay alive. We experience this in the constriction we feel, for example, during the winter months, whenever we cannot go outside and walk among the trees, smell the flowers, breath the fresh air, and gaze upon the sky, but instead are forced to enclose ourselves in houses designed to protect us from the elements, while, in the process, also creating a distance between our bodies and the visible and tangible reality of creation in its expansiveness. We experience this also in the deep longing we have, implanted in us by God at the heart of our bodiliness, to receive the gift of ourselves through the love that we receive from the outside, from another. The relationship of mother and child is central here, in that each one of us needs to experience the tender and loving care that delights in us in our uniqueness in order to embrace and live confidently in the sense of our own incomparable identity. It is true as well in the desire to give ourselves as we have first received from others—to extend ourselves outward into relation with others and to be received by them.
In all of these modes of relating, love is true and full when a bond of communication is established between person and person through the body. And this occurs above all through the incarnate expressions of tenderness: of attuned receptivity and gift that makes contact with the heart of the person and responds to their dignity accordingly, manifesting love such that heart speaks to heart through the body, and thus hearts come together. This is the rich meaning of what John Paul refers to as the communio personarum (the communion of persons). It is a fully incarnate and fully personal embrace of person and person in which each gives himself or herself to the other and also receives the other, and in which both affirm and cherish each other in their incomparable uniqueness. Only on the basis of this affirming contact with the unique person, or better, an affirming contact of two persons in relation to one another, can we at all speak of authentic communion.
Sadly, this term (communion, communio personarum) is also often understood in a reductionistic way in the contemporary context of the Church and the world. For example, it is often explained as the “harmony of parts” within the mystical Body of Christ, in which each “member” fulfills its particular function, each individual lives his or her God-given mission for the good of the whole. This reductionistic understanding is profoundly harmful, as it comes nowhere close to doing justice to the incomparable dignity of each child of God. It reduces the person to the level of a mission, completely missing the gratuitousness of God’s creative love, which has directly willed each person, not for some role in the Church or some task in life, but precisely for the sake of communion with the Persons of the Trinity, and, within the Trinity, for communion with other created persons. Again, this shows just how important an adequate understanding of the reality of “communion” is. Communion is only fully mature whenever it is established on the firm foundation of the mutual affirmation of persons, and affirmation means precisely that a person is seen, known, and desired (and delighted in) precisely for their own sake, and not for the sake of another. It is that a “yes” is pronounced to their very being for no other reason than that their being is good, and beautiful, and true.
Indeed, this ultimately means that affirmation is, in its fullest flowering, the desire for the singular, incomparable person to find their ultimate fulfillment in the gratuitous joy of the Trinity’s embrace, caught up into the heart of the eternal exchange of love ever occurring between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here there is no preoccupation with “roles,” no focus on the exchange of gifts. No, here nothing matters any longer but person and intimacy. Of course, within this life everything else is held within the gratuitous beauty of personal intimacy, within the embrace of persons—of the divine Persons and the human person, and between human persons within the Persons of the Trinity—and here alone finds its authentic meaning. But in heaven all will be absorbed into this one, single reality, permeated through and through by the sheer beauty of love, by the lighthearted playfulness of a joy that is undimmed, unafraid, for it is utterly bathed in Love, utterly held by Love, utterly espoused to Love in the most intimate nuptial embrace that fills both body and spirit with the fullness of ecstatic delight shared eternally by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If this is affirmation, if this is the true communion of persons, then how far most people in our world are from truly understanding it, nonetheless living it and experiencing its life-giving meaning! For, again, as John Paul expressed so deeply in his Theology of the Body, true communion is born only of the living experiences of solitude and nakedness. These three experiences together, as he says, remain at the root of every human experience: “Indeed, they are so interwoven with the ordinary things of life that we generally do not realize their extraordinary character” (TOB 11:1). Yes, solitude, nakedness, and communion (he ordinarily uses the phrase unity)—or, phrased differently, interiority, vulnerability, and intimacy—are the threefold expression of what is deepest about humanity, and indeed about God himself in the innermost depths of his Trinitarian life.*
Solitude expresses the incomparability of the person, willed for his or her own sake and uniquely beautiful and valuable like no other person that has ever been or ever will be. It expresses their interior mystery of subjective consciousness, in which the person is not a mere “something,” but a “someone.” It expresses that they are an “I” who is called to enter into loving relationship, into the joy of encounter with another “I,” with a “you,” and above all with the eternal “Thou” and “We” of the Trinity. In this intimate relationship the person, already given to themselves by God’s gratuitous gift—a gift of their very personal identity already given and never revoked—experiences the full flowering of their identity precisely in the joy of communion.
And this communion, this blossoming of identity within the embrace of intimacy, passes by way of vulnerability. It is expressed and communicated through nakedness. Nakedness is precisely the gift of the person in their pristine and unchanged truth, in the simple and unaltered state of their original being as created by God—wounded by sin, yes, but also touched and permeated by the ever-present grace of Redemption. Bodily nakedness expresses this beautifully, in that, unclothed, the person is no longer hidden or “protected” by exterior clothing, and has nothing, absolutely nothing, to veil themselves from the gaze of another. And this is precisely why nakedness is vulnerable, because it is to lay oneself open to the alternative of being either loved or unloved, reverenced or abused, cherished or hurt. And shame is our response to such an uncertainty, and, insofar as this shame is not absorbed within the security of love, it is a healthy experience that expresses our desire to reverence and protect ourselves from the eyes or touch of another who does not have the capacity to reciprocate the gift of our own vulnerability with the gift of their vulnerability. Nonetheless, when nakedness (whether literal physical nakedness or the nakedness of the person in other ways) is seen and reverenced in authentic love, a profound communication is established, a profound encounter that brings about a deep communion. (See TOB 62:3.)
When the vulnerable gift of my being encounters the reciprocal gift of another person, communion is born. And this is true whether it occurs in the encounter of bodily nakedness or in the multiform other expressions of “nakedness” that reveal the person in and through the body; for even a simple glance of the eyes, or a word, or a gesture, can communicate the deep mystery of the heart to another person and unveil the vulnerability of my own person before them. Here we see precisely how the body retains its spousal/unitive meaning in all circumstances, retains its nature as a gift-oriented-towards-communion.
Here solitude is expressed and given through nakedness, interiority is made visible and given through vulnerability; and whenever two solitudes encounter and reverence one another in their nakedness, this brings about the deepest joy and the true fulfillment of human existence: unity, communion, intimacy. It brings about the communio personarum. Here the solitude of each person is not dissolved, harmed, or constricted, or even threatened, but rather enriched and deepened, expanded, as it enters into a profound union with the solitude of the other person . Here “I” and “you” are joined and come to live with and in one another, retaining our distinctness and yet also becoming one, becoming “we” in the communion of shared vulnerability. And here is the highest expression of the “image of God” (Gen 1:27) within humanity, in the union of human persons in the likeness of the Persons of the Trinity.
The Second Vatican Council itself spoke of this in these terms:
[T]he Lord Jesus, when praying to the Father “that they may all be one…even as we are one” (Jn 17:21-22), opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine persons and the union of the sons of God in truth and love. It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself. (Gaudium et Spes, 24)
Here we stand at the very heart of human existence, and indeed at the heart of the whole universe, for here we are touching—in the mysterious contact of faith, hope, and love—the very innermost heartbeat of God. For God is Love, God is the Trinity; God is an eternal Communion of Persons. “By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 221). What else gives meaning to life but this?
*Throughout this work, TOB refers to: John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, trans. Michael Waldstein (Pauline Books and Media: Boston, MA, 2006). The numbers refer to the audience number and paragraph. This work has habitually come to be called simply, the Theology of the Body, and I will refer to it as such in this book.
*These three experiences emerge before us out of the Biblical text itself, in the richly significant words of the first three chapters of Genesis. What appears on the surface to be a simple text reveals profound depths of meaning, both for our objective understanding of God’s creative plan as well as of the nuances and meanings inherent in human subjectivity as it stands before God and before the whole of creation. “It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Gen 2:18). “The man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed…” (Gen 2:25). “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and clings to [unite with] his wife, and they become one flesh…”(Gen 2:24). These three experience permeate every human experience in such depth and richness that we will never cease plumbing their profundity and the way in which they image the very beauty of the life of God himself.
i. Adam G. Cooper, Holy Eros: A Liturgical Theology of the Body (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2014), 10-11.