How does the Theology of the Body Apply to Single People?

The title says it all. It’s really easy for a Catholic or Christian single person to try to learn from Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, via Christopher West or otherwise, and feel a bit left out. So much of the imagery and theology is based on marriage.

How does one respond to the natural questions that arise, like this heartbreaking comment from one of my readers over at Kitchen Stewardship?

I have never married, never will probably, I have no children and according to at least one doctor never will. Which leads me feeling rather lost especially when I read things like what you quoted [from session one]: “The fundamental cell of civilization is the family. The nucleus of the family is the mom and dad.” Sometimes I really wonder what about the rest of us who aren’t able to marry or have children where exactly do we belong? Part of my disenchantment with a lot of religion is the feeling I have no value as a person because I’m unmarried and childless.

My best shot, which feels woefully inadequate, was this:

Not everyone is called to married life, and you are certainly an important, valuable part of civilization and the world of faith. Those called to the single life have a role to play just as those of us in the married life or with a religious vocation. You can give birth to love through acts of service, prayer, and giving of yourself to those in need, just as truly as I give birth to children. Your family unit will always be the one you were born into, as well.

I hope that makes some sense and gives some consolation – Pope John Paul II and Christopher West both emphasize that TOB is not just for married people – your body is still a gift to be treasured, no matter your state in life. Your purity can be an example to others, for example. so many people in your community could benefit from your prayer or your time in acts of service…and the single life allows you to spend your time differently than married folks or priests and nuns. All have a place!

Some other readers jumped in with excellent answers to her wonder, “Where exactly do I belong?”

Every person has value, no matter their state in life. Each person is called to a state of life, and maybe yours is the single life. All are important to society. We are all called to be Christ bearers to the world, with or without bearing children. And being a Christ bearer means bringing God (through love) to all. God loves you, don’t ever forget that.

My heart grieved for you when I read your post. NEVER think you have no worth because you are single. God’s Word says, “The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.” (I Cor. 7:34) You have great worth! Look at Paul!!! He was mightily used by God and he wasn’t married. Just love God and serve those that He puts into your path. You will have a great ministry in that.

What do you think? Although this topic is addressed much more fully in session six, that’s a long time to wait! Catholic moms, how does the Theology of the Body apply to the single life? 

Copyright 2011 Katie Kimball

2 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Cynthia Ann Costello
    Cynthia Ann Costello
    August 24, 2011 | Reply
  2. Mary W
    November 10, 2012 | Reply

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