University of Dallas theology professor Kerri Lenartowick recently attended a Theology of the Body symposium in London. The goal of the symposium was to bring theological thought on sexuality to the secular world.
Mainly aiding single 18 to 35-year-olds, as well as youth ministers and Catholic schoolteachers, the symposium taught Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teachings in a practical sense through prayer, workshops and daily lectures.
Through the suggestion of a friend, Lenartowick acted as a guest facilitator at the symposium last month.
Her main topic, “Sexuality and Spirituality,” covered many themes presented in J.P. II’s work in order to help the attendees understand true sexuality and combat some perceived misconceptions regarding the Church’s teachings on this topic.
Currently heading a lot of controversy between and within the religious and secular worlds, the Church explains sexuality through the gift of our bodiliness.
“Being created male and female is good, procreation is good, sexuality in marriage is good,” Lenartowick said.
She believes the Church should continue to discuss these topics, rather than push them aside.
The symposium led small group discussions aimed at helping attendees process theological knowledge in a way that taught them to deal with these topics.
The symposium attendees all appeared eager to discover how to best express their masculinity and femininity and share it with others.
As a result of current social standards and lack of educational facilities, most of the U.K. attendees were Christians who desired a deeper understanding of these topics.
Those educated in the Christian tradition have an understanding of the background and knowledge of the revelation of Genesis. Those removed from these teachings potentially have a more difficult time understanding the purpose behind chastity and true sexuality.
Lenartowick presented lectures on some of these topics, focusing on the teaching of human sexuality and what it truly means to be a human created in the image and likeness of God.
Lenartowick argued that many struggle with their sexuality due to a lack of true friendship.
Replaced by Facebook friends and Instagram followers, the deep friendships found in novels and scriptures appear to be lost. However, issues that arise from loneliness can be combated as long as we are present in each other’s lives and love one another, Lenartowick said.
Without the bond of friendship, the desire for close relationships drives people to flawed pursuits of intimacy, such as premarital sex or pornography.
These substitutions do not fill the cravings for love and thus result in general unhappiness.
Possibly, the solution to evangelizing a world that is quick to condemn is love. We are called to emulate Christ in our everyday lives; simply put, we must help others when they need it and express our Christianity through our actions.
Life by example leads others to question the purpose of our deeds and hopefully inspires others to act in the same way. This fosters an interest in understanding unconditional love, which leads to good friendships and, ultimately, God.
“Students at UD have the sense that our culture is very secular, in a negative sense,” Lenartowick said.
Lenartowick was shocked when she visited the U.K.
“They make us look like a very religious culture,” Lenartowick said.
Their immediate challenges demonstrate the direction the rest of the world is heading in, where religious influence is narrow, and the only unaccepted view of sexuality is the traditional one.
Topics in the symposium, such as NaProTechnology and the challenge of chastity, are slowly becoming popular in the religious world, even though their interest might be waning in the secular realm. By guiding discussion in these topics, the symposium aimed to further educate attendees on Theology of the Body teachings.
The organizers of the symposium hope to hold a similar event in the future and are already in contact with Lenartowick.