Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Deus Caritas Est - Erotic Love

The modern interpretation of erotic love is a response. It is a response to what is perceived as the Church being opposed to the body. The Church has never opposed the body, but has defended it.

However, due to these false perceptions, there has been a false response. The view of society nowadays is to say that it is the body only that is important. Hence erotic love in our culture is seen in the light of pure sex. This is why we have a culture of death and a culture of sex. It is a false response to what is a false perception of the dignity of the human person. If we do not recognize the great dignity of man shown through the unity of body and soul, then people will view a baby in the womb of his or her mother as a simple fetus, a grouping of tissue, and will view pain as burdensome, and will view physical pleasure as the only means to happiness. The body is made to express our entire being, but nowadays it expresses only that physical aspect of our being, and thus is incomplete and devoid of the dignity that is due to the human person. This is the erotic love that needs to be purified. Erotic love indeed does lead us to the divine, into an ecstasy that leads us beyond ourselves. However, it must incorporate our entire selves, and not just a singular aspect.

So then, how are we to experience erotic love so that it can be fully realized? What is this process of purification that is needed to experience erotic love in its fullness? Love is a process of discovery of the other. It is a movement away from the self and towards giving completely towards the other. As we discover the other, our motives for loving the other change. While love in its initial stages is on the more insecure, self-seeking level, it grows towards a more self-giving level in which one's personal goals and aspirations are put to the side for the other. Love becomes totally self-sacrificial and self-giving. This move towards the other is a move from the temporal to the eternal. We move away from our own immediate desires towards the wanting of eternal care and happiness for the other, thus why love has that meaning of “for ever” stamped into its nature. Love looks to the eternal. Thus, love is ecstasy, in that it is an on going move from the immediate self towards the eternal self-giving. This finds its completion in the eternal Other, God, who we give ourselves eternally to Him, and where we find our true ecstasy, our true love, our true end.

We come to realize, now, that love cannot stop at the human. If love is supposed to bring us to the eternal, then man cannot do this alone. Indeed, God, as stated, is the true end of our love. This thus brings us to biblical faith.

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