Thursday, July 22, 2010

If I love my GF, why can’t I make love with her? (Part I)

Here’s an article that most “Romeos” would not want to read and most “Juliets” would ignore because it tackles some basic questions that today, most young people in love would not want to confront. “If sex is making love and if I love my girlfriend, why can’t I make love with her?” asks a seemingly fallen in love, 21-year-old guy.
Here’s the answer.

First, let me make it clear that I don’t doubt that adolescents and young adults really fall in love and that true love really occurs among young people. That is not the question here! But the first idea to clarify is: Is sex simply making love?

That is purely simplistic and superficial. Taking sex to mean love-making either misunderstands the true meaning of love or debases the dignity of sexual activity. Or both! Human sexuality is God’s gift. Hence, sex is sacred. God has only one purpose for giving it to man: one purpose with a double dimension – unitive and procreative. It means an expression of unity and love, and is intended for procreation. To separate these two dimensions is to go against the divine will. Understanding sex merely as making love separates the unitive from the procreative dimension. Besides, in the expression making love or love-making, it is not quite clear what does love means.

What is love? How should we understand the term? Pope Benedict XVI aptly observes that “Today, the term ‘love’ has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings” (Deus caritas est, 2). Those who understand love simply as that strong affection or emotion that draws us to the beloved have still a lot of reflection to do in order to understand better the term (or the experience of true love).

I think, the Pope’s description is easy to follow and understand. He distinguishes two dimensions of love: eros and as agape. The former, as understood by the Greeks, is described as “That love between man and woman, which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings... The Greeks—not unlike other cultures—considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a ‘divine madness’ which tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness” (Ibid.).

In our contemporary language, we call this experience “falling in love”, in which the person in love feels being engulfed by a pleasant sensation whenever he/she is with the beloved, experiences sleepless nights thinking of the beloved and reminiscing the last time they were together, desires to be always with the beloved and could not endure the thought of not seeing the beloved. To most naïve young lovers, the maximum expression and manifestation of this affection is sexual intercourse. That is why, they call it “love-making”. But in reality, it is just the first phase or dimension of true love – it is simply eros, from which comes the term erotic love.

The danger that lies in this phase is believing that all love is simply this: having a pleasant feeling, wanting the presence of the beloved, love-making to satisfy that longing for sexual union. It is dangerous because not only it degrades the true meaning of love, but also because it debases the person and prevents one from ascending to the experience of true love and human relationship. When eros is abused, the person is degraded and true human relationship is broken.

The Pope says: “An intoxicated and undisciplined eros, then, is not an ascent in ‘ecstasy’ towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man. Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns”.

If we want really to express true love towards our beloved, what is required is to discipline the eros, the erotic desires and affections. Thus, we come to the first answer to the question: “If I love my GF, why can’t I make love with her?” Because making love with her is not an expression of your true love. Simply, it is a manifestation of your eros, which you need to discipline and purify. To make love with her (outside marriage) is not to respect her. The absence of respect to the person of the beloved is exactly the opposite of true love. If you “make love” with your GF, then you don’t really love her. If you insist that you do, you are simply insisting on a lie. And that makes you more than a liar, someone not worthy to be trusted.

Everything said here goes true also to the woman who consents in the act. It takes two to tango, they say. Both man and woman are mistaken – deceived – in thinking that, indulging in premarital sex, they express true love to each other. What they simply do is indulge themselves into finding satisfaction for their selfish erotic desires, using each other as instruments. What each is seeking for in premarital sex is self-satisfaction under the guise of expressing love.

Why? Because true love between man and woman is forever and exclusive. These notes – “only with this person” (exclusivity) and “being forever” – are not guaranteed in premarital sex. Only the Sacrament of Matrimony can guarantee them. Thus, only within marriage can sexual activity be truly an expression of true love between man and woman. Only in marriage God allows the use of this sacred gift, that is, sex. (to be continued)

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"Sacerdotes, 'consagrados en la Verdad'"

Estar inmersos en la Verdad, en Cristo, de este proceso forma parte
la oración, en la que nos ejercitamos en la amistad con Él y aprendemos a
conocerle: su forma de ser, de pensar, de actuar. Rezar es un caminar en
comunión personal con Cristo, exponiendo ante Él nuestra vida cotidiana,
nuestros logros y nuestros fracasos, nuestras fatigas y nuestras alegrías -es un
simple presentarnos a nosotros mismos ante Él. Pero para que esto no se
convierta en un autocontemplarse, es importante que aprendamos continuamente a
rezar rezando con la Iglesia.