Very recently, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope released its first images of the cosmic universe. Across the world, people have reacted in awe. These new galactic pictures truly were stunning and beautiful, but what if you did not have to look to the farthest parts of the universe to find breathtaking beauty? What if the human person, each and every one of us, was more beautiful than anything else one could find?
More than four decades before these pictures of deep space appeared on our devices, St. John Paul II was elected pope in 1978. Known for his teachings on the theology of the body, this great saint made the beauty of the human person a significant part of his pontificate. He wasted no time in delivering his insights on this topic with his first encyclical, “Redemptor Hominis” (“The Redeemer of Man”). The question to now ask is: how beautiful is the human person?
Let’s look first at the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He worked with human hands as a carpenter. He thought with a human mind and acted with a human will, meaning He had personal interactions with people, spoke to large crowds, and even attended weddings. He loved with a human heart, feeling the joys and the pains every one of us has felt at some point in our lives. Understanding the humanity of Jesus, who was also Divine, reveals the answer to our question on the beauty of the human person.
“How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, …if God ‘gave his only Son ‘in order that man ‘should not perish but have eternal life.’” These words, coming from Redemptor Hominis (RH), penetrate the heart of the question at hand. The beauty of each and every person is so great in the eyes of God that He became one of us in order to save and redeem us. The price Jesus willingly paid on the Cross for our sins reveals the unsurpassable beauty God has set for each person. By becoming man, Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (1 Col 1:15), showed us the “greatness, dignity, and value that belong” to each person (RH, 10).
Why does this matter? It matters because Jesus saved and redeemed us, but he did not perfect us. He revealed our beauty, but did not remove the ugliness of sin from the world. One of the greater sins attacking the beauty and dignity of the human person today is pornography; and the issue of pornography sorely demands our attention.
Pornography is a sickness that cannot be ignored. Understanding the true beauty of the human person is a first step in fighting this problem. There will be a series of articles following this one on the topic of pornography. The series does not hope to solve the pervasiveness of pornography and the effects of the problem in families and society. It cannot solve it. But it will help by bringing awareness of how pornography directly attacks the beauty of each individual person; a beauty so great that God Himself became like us in every way, except sin (Heb 4:15).
About the author—Drew Garvey is from Immaculate Conception Parish, in Jackson, MO. He earned his master’s in theology (MTS) from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He and his wife, Olivia, and their daughter, Etta, currently reside in Buffalo, NY. He may be reached via Email to email@example.com.
Following this introduction is a seven part series of articles, a link to each one may be found below: