Theology of the Homosexual Body: The Problem of Unity and Complementarity

The Fundamentalist
May 16, 2008
You Men of God and Earth
May 17, 2008

In John Paul’s discussion of marriage as an indissoluble union between created man and woman, there are several points which I feel need to be made—the first of which entails the creation of man as uniquely “human” with masculine and feminine qualities, the second which proceeds to draw conclusions on the role of “man” and “woman” in their dual creation.

Following in the understanding Saussure’s theory of opposition and relativity (in which any one thing can only be defined by what it is not, or by how it differs from other things), it is important to recognize the difference between man’s understanding of himself as a uniquely unsexed human and the understanding of man as he who is not woman. Before the creation of woman, man knew no other definition or existence that would lead him to expand his own understanding of himself beyond the comparison with the creatures of the world God creates (I use the pronoun “he”, but mean it to refer to man without gender).

Contrarily, the human person, born in the original condition of creation with qualities both masculine and feminine, takes on a different understanding of him/herself when woman is made from man. As John Paul understands this reading, the act of “cleaving to her husband/his wife” is a reinstitution of God’s creation; it relives the original union that was man without sexual identification. He explains further:

“These are, as it were, two ‘incarnations’ of the same metaphysical solitude before God and the world. They are two ways of ‘being a body’ and at the same time a man, which complete each other. They are two complementary dimensions of self-consciousness and self-determination and, at the same time, two complementary ways of being conscious of the meaning of the body.”

He says also:

“The unity of which Genesis speaks—’they become one flesh’—is undoubtedly expressed and realized in the conjugal act….which permits them to rediscover the the mystery of creation.”

First, homosexuality does not stand in conflict with the complementarity that John Paul introduces in the former paragraph. While the creation story recognizes woman made from man, and their union remembers their unique existence as a single creation before woman was made from man, it is equally reasonable to affirm the complementarity of homosexual men and women as complements of the personhood of man, wherein masculine and feminine are ever extant regardless of physical sex and sexuality. If it is the revisitation of the original existence that the unity of man and woman allows (and I fully agree), then so too does the unity of two males, seeing each other as that unique being which in the first instance of creation needed no companion, but was self-sufficient. For in homosexuality, the realization of oneness of self does not occur through the physical complementarity of sexes, but rather, of the affirmation of a likewise unique creation of the same sex that within each individual is the complement of masculine and feminine. This brings us, perhaps, closer to the innocence of our original creation. For though homosexuals love those of the same sex, it reveals to us a love of a complete person, rather than an understanding of the gendered human being as lacking.

As for the role of fertility in the necessary union of man and woman, and its role in the realization of first creation innocence, the command for man and woman to procreate did not come in the context of self-understanding, nor in the return to an original innocence. In Genesis 1:28, God commands them: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Instead of procreation being a means of returning to the existence of man before man was relative to woman and vice-versa, it was the relishing and maintenance of creation in the manner of populating the world.

Furthermore, if the uniqueness of the original creation were of such import to man’s understanding of himself, why should God have created a companion for him to begin with? The answer is unknown, but leaves the purpose of procreation for returning to original innocence in question.

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