Interview With Author of "Men and Women Are From Eden"
GAITHERSBURG, Maryland, FEB. 14, 2007 (ZENIT)
Mary Healy says she has
the key to helping men and women in their relationships with each other.
Healy is the author of "Men and Women Are From Eden" (Servant
Publications), a study guide to Pope John Paul II's theology of the
In this interview with ZENIT, she discusses getting to the root of the
problems between the sexes, and from there, finding the most effective
Q: With so many books coming from the secular press on relationships and
the differences between men and women, where does this book on the
theology of the body fit in?
Healy: The topic of the differences of the sexes never gets old, because
in every generation men and women experience the challenge of relating
to one another. Yes, there is an avalanche of secular books offering
relationship advice, some of it helpful and some less so
and some that should be tossed in the trash!
But no advice really gets to the heart of the matter unless it goes all
the way back to the beginning
to God's original plan for man and woman, as it was unveiled in the
garden of Eden, before the Fall.
And of course the only complete access we have to that original plan is
through Scripture, authoritatively interpreted by the Church.
Pope John Paul the Great left the Church a great gift by presenting the
biblical teaching on men, women, sex and marriage in a new and
compelling way, in his catecheses known as the theology of the body.
The purpose of my book is to try to make the theology of the body
accessible to ordinary people, and to give them a tool for studying it
When people are introduced to the theology of the body, they usually
find that it resonates with the deepest stirrings of their hearts and
begins to transform their whole approach to relationships, from the
Q: The title seems to allude to the popular relationship book from the
United States entitled "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Is
your book a Catholic version of that best seller? What inspired the
Healy: Yes, you caught the hint. The title is inspired by John Paul II's
based on the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4
that the key to understanding who we are as men and women is found in
the book of Genesis, in the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.
As John Paul II noted, the creation accounts in Genesis are "mythic,"
not in the sense of being fictional, but in that they recount the events
at the dawn of history using symbolic language so as to convey profound
truths about God and the human condition.
Only by understanding those truths will we be able to fully appreciate
our identity as men and women and fulfill our longings for authentic
Q: While much of what popular theories say about the differences between
men and women is true, is there something lacking about how these
theories view maleness and femaleness, and then the dynamics of
relationships between the two?
Healy: The best that a secular approach can do is explain the
biological, psychological and social reasons why men and women have
trouble relating, and then offer practical advice for dealing with those
differences. But as John Paul II shows, those differences are not merely
accidental; they are part of God's marvelous design for humanity. In
fact, they even hold the clue to the meaning of our existence.
Our sexual complementarity reveals what he called "the spousal meaning
of the body"
that is, the body's capacity, in its masculinity or femininity, to be a
vehicle and expression of self-giving love. Adam and Eve discovered that
when they encountered one another and, in the words of Genesis, became
So, God has stamped in our very bodies the call to a communion of
persons, an exchange of love in which each person becomes a gift for the
But because of the Fall
our first parents' decision to disobey God
the complementarity that God designed for life-giving union became
instead a source of conflict. Ever since then, relationships between men
and women have often been characterized by lust, selfishness,
manipulation and abuse.
So you can see why relationship advice remains on a very superficial
level unless it gets to the root of the problem, which is sin, and the
key to the solution, which is our restoration to God's magnificent plan
through the grace of Christ. Once that key is found, then people begin
to deal with the dynamics of relationships on a much more profound
Q: John Paul II explains that the response to the human being's quest
for happiness is to be found in the Garden of Eden. Can you explain
Healy: As Pope John Paul II explains, the story of our origins presents
a vision for why we were created and what is the deepest purpose of our
According to Genesis, when God wanted an image of himself in the created
world, he didn't fashion isolated individuals, but rather a married
couple. This means that both are needed to complete the picture.
Why? Because it is their communion of love with one another that most
reveals God! Only in the New Testament is the truth fully revealed that
God himself is a communion of persons, an eternal exchange of love
between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
And God has destined us to share in that exchange. This is the meaning
of our sexual complementarity and of the vocations in which it is lived
out, whether in marriage or in consecrated life.
By becoming a gift to one another in a communion of persons we learn to
love and be loved as God loves, and so prepare to share in his life
forever. This is our dignity and our destiny, and the quest for
happiness depends on discovering it and living it out.
Q: Who is this book written for? Youth? Couples in crisis? Engaged
couples? Can a beginner with no background in theology or philosophy
Healy: All of the above!
My book does not focus on practical advice, but rather on the doctrinal
foundations people need to guide their practical decisions. It was
written with the goal of helping ordinary people understand the theology
of the body and apply it to their real-life situations.
John Paul II writes on a very theoretical level, but as a priest he had
counseled hundreds of couples, and he well understood the issues people
face. The theology of the body is not too abstract or difficult for
anyone. It is true that those who try to put it into practice will find
it very challenging on a personal level
in fact, eventually they will find that it is simply impossible without
the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Even solid Catholics may find that it causes a revolution in their whole
perspective on sex, marriage and relationships. But that is part of the
whole point, because the grace to change is there for anyone who asks.
Regarding youth in particular, I have taught theology of the body to
teens and young adults, and I have found them in every case to be
extremely receptive to and hungry for these teachings. This generation
has reaped the bad fruits of the sexual revolution, and they see the
fallout in broken families and broken lives all around them.
Many of them are not impressed by the false promises of the permissive
culture they've grown up in. They are ready for something new. The
theology of the body gives them hope and enables them to pursue their
vocation, whether to marriage or celibacy, with a deep sense of purpose
Q: What impact do you hope the book will have on the Catholic world?
Healy: I hope my book will help many people, both Catholics and
non-Catholics, discover the theology of the body and the dramatic impact
it can have on their lives. In Europe and America, Christians do not
have a very good track record for presenting a lifestyle different from
the surrounding secular culture
as shown by our statistics on divorce, abortion, contraception and
But that is beginning to change. I am convinced that as the theology of
the body is embraced by the current generation, marriages will be
strengthened, families will be healed, respect for human life will be
renewed, and young people will be rekindled in their zeal to live for