Monday, July 21, 2014

Learning to See and Live in a New Way

Probably not the easiest thing to understand if you do not understand all of West's terminology.  Still, it might be helpful to someone.  We looked at the Sermon on the Mount yesterday in our Bible study on Sunday night (here in Omaha).  No doubt, Christ's words condemn us as guilty before God.  But he also calls us to come to him for forgiveness and a new way of seeing ourselves and the world.

When West refers to the spousal meaning of the body, he refers to how our bodies as male and female are like a sacrament, making the invisible God visible.  Our bodies, and especially our sexuality as male and female, point us to the deepest meaning of life.  This deepest meaning is to mirror the communication of persons in the Trinity, who relate to one another in self-giving love, and further, to participate in this love of God through union and communion.  This union and communion is inscribed on our bodies, which image God.

West's words:

"In Christ's words in the Sermon on the Mount, he appeals specifically to the experience of historical [fallen] man.  There is nothing abstract about 'looking with lust.’  We all know immediately what that means in our own experience, in our own 'hearts.'  That is why Christ's words sting so much.  We know we are guilty.  But Christ wants us to penetrate more deeply into our hearts where that 'echo' of God's original plan still resounds.  Tapping into that deeper heritage gives us the key to reconnecting the objective meaning of the body and sex with how we  experience the body and sex subjectively.    It gives us the key to 'living the body' according to its true meaning and thus fulfilling the very meaning of existence.

"Through the previous analysis of man and woman's experience before sin, we have discerned the body's spousal meaning and rediscovered what it consist of as 'a measure of the human heart.'  The heart is still measured by this objective meaning of the body, that is, by the call to sincere self-giving.  Lust, however, attacks this sincere giving, depriving man and woman of the dignity of the gift inscribed in the beauty and mystery of sexual difference.  So when the man of concupiscence [lust] 'measures' his heart by the spousal meaning of the body, he condemns himself.  At this point he has three choices: normalize sin [this has what our society has done]; fall into despair; or turn to Christ who came not to condemn, but to save (see John 3:17). . . . Christ's words about lust do not so much condemn us but call us.  They call us not just to force a subjectively lustful heart to submit to an objective ethic.  They call us efficaciously to let the new ethos of redemption inform and transform our lustful hearts."

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