Friday, April 19, 2013

Belonging and members

In Ephesians 4:25, Paul talks of us Christians being all members of one another. Karol Wojtyla thought of romantic love as directed at mutual possession (I am grateful to John Crosby for pointing this out). Plausibly, this possession is not like ownership, but more like the body parts are related to the person they belong to.

A sensible reading of these and other texts requires a non-authoritarian view of the relations between ourselves and our body parts, a view on which our authority over our body parts is limited. This has serious repercussions for things like sterilization, gender-reassignment surgery and more radical forms of elective cosmetic surgery.


Sam Calvin said...

I am also (very) grateful to John Crosby. He was my professor at the University of Dallas in 1971 whose classes made me fall in love with philosophy.

cautela-efficax said...

Perhaps the text does not require a non-authoritarian or limited relation between our self and our body. We are members of each other in as much as we must love one another in Christ and are so each under a higher authority, which commands us to direct our selves, and our bodies, to the ends He ordains. If there were a loss of authority over our bodies, this would not be possible or possible only with limits. I.e., ye good ol' Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity to ye rescue.

Richard Davis said...

Seems that the following premise is at play: If John owns Mary, then John has unrestricted authority over Mary.

Against this, maybe ownership comes in degrees. God has complete ownership over everything, and He has absolute authority over everything. I have partial ownership over myself, my body, my house, my child, my spouse; and so I have partial authority over them. Likewise, my spouse and child have partial ownership and partial authority over me.

This would let us say that the possession at which romantic love is aimed IS ownership, but it still doesn't involve absolute authority.

Probably no creature can have complete ownership over anything. Creaturely ownership is more like responsibility-for-the-proper-use-and-welfare-of. So Adam and Eve own the Garden.

Richard Davis said...

Creaturely ownership:

Responsibility for the proper use and welfare of, as well as the right to enjoy certain goods from

Does that seem to cover all the cases in which a creature owns something? Are there counterexamples?

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

Here's this from Pope Francis:

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - May God free the Church "from all ideological interpretations" and open her up "to the simple Gospel, to that pure Gospel that speaks of love, which brings love and it is so beautiful." Because "any ideological interpretation is a falsification of the Gospel." A call to pray for the Church and for the conversion of hearts concluded the Mass that Pope Francis celebrated, like every morning, in the chapel of the Casa Sancta Marta. The Pope's reflection, published by Vatican Radio, is centered on the biblical readings on the Conversion of St. Paul and the discourse of Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum.

The words of Jesus, Francis says, "pass through our mind and go straight to the heart. Because Jesus seeks our conversion", but there are those who "only want to implement what they understand with their minds of the Gospel." "They are the great ideologues. The Word of Jesus goes to the heart because it is the Word of love, is beautiful word and brings love, makes us love. These block the road of love: the ideologues. And that of beauty". As the doctors of the law who "began to argue sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'. It is all a problem of intellect! And when ideology enters the Church, when ideology enters into our understanding of the Gospel, confusion ensues".

They are the ones who walk alone "on the path of duty": it is the morality of those who claim to only realize what they understand of the Gospel with their minds. They are not "on the road to conversion, that conversion to which Jesus calls us." "And these, on the road of duty, place everything on the shoulders of the faithful. Ideologues falsify the gospel. Every ideological interpretation, from wherever it originates - from one side or the other - is a falsification of the Gospel. And these ideologues - as we have seen in the history of the Church - end up being, becoming, intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness. And they do not speak of beauty, because they understand nothing. "

"Instead, the path of love, the path of the Gospel - the Pope says - is simple: it is the path that the Saints understood." "The saints are those who lead the Church forward! The path of conversion, the path of humility, of love, of the heart, the path of beauty ... Today let us pray to the Lord for the Church: that the Lord may free Her from any ideological interpretation and open the heart of the Church, our Mother Church, to the simple Gospel, the pure Gospel that speaks of love, which brings love and is so beautiful! And beautifies us too, with the beauty of holiness. Today let us pray for the Church!. "