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I have read most of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body and studied some of the ideas behind it and have felt it was something that was doctrinally accessible to non-Catholic branches of Christianity. The only conflict I possibly see is the Eastern Orthodox understanding of the Trinity and the idea that human sex images the Trinity, where (from the Eastern view) the Holy Spirit proceeds from just the Father, not the Father & Son together.

Do Orthodox Christians take issue with the idea that the human sexual act images the Trinity due to it implying the relationship of the Trinity being that one Person proceeds from the Other Two?

Does the Orthodox Church give much credence to Theology of the Body?

  • Who says "the human sexual act images the Trinity"? Humans are made in God's image in the sense of having rational souls. – Geremia Apr 30 '15 at 22:16
  • This is true. One thing I've seen several times is the idea that humans image God in more than one way. The rational soul, with the ability to Will good or evil, is a way we individually image God; however I have gotten the distinct impression that the act of sex is a communion of two persons that begets a third, imaging the Trinity. These don't seem mutually exclusive to me. – shiningcartoonist May 1 '15 at 3:22
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    Isn't it the other way around, though? We understand the Trinity based on what is familiar to us humans (e.g., fathers, husband/wife, etc.)? – Geremia May 1 '15 at 3:34
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    Given that the Theology of the Body material is specifically Catholic, and created by a Pope no less, I'd be kind of surprised if the Orthodox churches took any significant notice of it. – Matt Gutting May 1 '15 at 14:01
  • I wouldn't be too surprised if most Orthodox Christians hadn't paid it much mind; but then again I think the Pope is still considered one of the 4 Patriarchates (including Constantinople, Jerusalem and Alexandria as well). So for that reason alone I was wondering how much weight they gave to his works. – shiningcartoonist May 4 '15 at 12:09
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In all books about dogmatics, ascetisism and/or mysticism of the Orthodox Church that I've read, or even web articles, there's no such thing as drawing parallels between the human sexual act and the Holy Trinity.

In fact, the only comparisson of the Holy Trinity to something worldly*, that I know of, is made by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria:

Adam is unborn (like God The Father), Seth, his son, is born out of his seed, while Eve is also of Adam, but in another way, not by seed (proceeding).

* - I know I used the word worldly, but it's not quite worldly, as you can see.

He goes on by saying that the comparison is weak, and is only meant for beginners to at least try to grasp the concept of The Holy Trinity and the relations between the Hypostases.

I'm no theologian, and I can't speak for all orthodox christians, but I strongly feel that a comparisson of the Holy Trinity with human sexuality would be seen as blasphemous by the clergy and would raise more than a few eyebrows in the laity. It's certainly something unheard of in the orthodox world.

As another user has commented, given that the Theology of the Body is a Catholic work, it's generally unnoticed among the orthodox faithful, but it could be known and discussed by theologians, as I can see a lot of quotations from catholic and protestant works in orthodox theology books. Still, in my country (Romania) where there is a significant catholic minority, there may be some orthodox priests that have studied the work as part of the inter-faith dialogue.

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