April 27, 2011

Created for Love

The following is taken from Theology of the Body for Teens:

Have you ever wondered why the subject of sex is part of nearly every TV show, advertisement, song, and movie? And the sex shown or sung about is usually glorious—with no pain inflicted on those involved.

Rarely do we see the pain that comes, for example, from selfishness. Did you ever think about what society would be like without selfishness in relationships?

If everyone simply loved the other as he or she wished to be loved, we would have virtually no pain, no problems in relationships. Imagine, for example, if marriages never ended in divorce. Think about the pain that both parents and kids would be spared.

Confusion reigns, and it is leading to some seriously broken hearts. People today seem more confused about the meaning of love and the purpose of sex than perhaps ever before. Many people are searching for the meaning of life and love but don’t realize that the answer is actually right in front of us; the key to finding that love we’re all looking for (even if we don’t know it) is hidden in God’s original design of our bodies and souls. Yes, you read that correctly. This Catholic curriculum is stating that God has actually hidden in our design as “male and female” a key to the secret of love.

Here’s a quick explanation. You’ll notice that this theme repeats itself many times throughout the Theology of the Body for Teens curriculum. If you can grasp this early, you’ll understand the lofty (but awesome) concepts in the pages and discussions ahead. Here goes: Our sexuality is a gift through which we can choose to be generous or selfish. Society has flipped the idea of “self-giving” on its head. In fact, many “love stories” portrayed in the modern culture could more appropriately be called “lust stories.” Why is this important? Because “love” involves being generous —like God—while “lust” is sexual desire that is selfish—apart from the love of God. Not to be confused with sexual attraction (which is good), lust is almost purely self-seeking. As renowned youth leader John Crudele succinctly says, “Love seeks to give; lust seeks to get.”

Are You Obsessed, Too?

Many people in the world think that the Catholic Church is obsessed with the topic of sex, saying that it has all these “rules” about it. In reality, it’s our culture that is obsessed with sex. Think about it. The next time you’re in a supermarket, look at all the magazines near the check-out counter. Virtually every one will be dominated with headlines about sex. Or, better yet (maybe, worse yet), think of the various shows on primetime television on any given night: they are loaded with sexual content that is either explicit or implied. The view of sex put forth by much of the world actually robs humans of dignity. The real problem, though, is that we often come to think about sex as the world does, instead of in the way that God intended.

The Call to Love as God Loves

We humans are called to love one another. We are not called to dominate or oppress or use others, but to respect them as persons made in God’s image and likeness. This call to love is actually “stamped” into our very bodies. The physical union of man and woman in the sexual act (also called the “marital act” because it is intended to express marital love) is actually meant to be a foreshadowing of the union that we will all experience in heaven. That heavenly union is not a sexual one, to be sure, but it is real—more real than anything we have (or will) experience here on earth. It’s a perfect union between God and mankind—for eternity.

This union was also foreshadowed in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. In it we read about God’s original plan for unity with our original parents, Adam and Eve. But confusion reigned and there was a rupture—a breaking—between God and man. Because of this rupture, lust became a reality. A “twisting,” if you will, took place in our hearts. Instead of seeking the good of others, we desire to seek our own good, often at the expense of someone else’s dignity.

Yet God created us for union with Him. He gave us an “echo” in our hearts of the love that He intends for us all. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is an attempt to identify and find that love that God intends for us. If you seek, you will find it. It simply takes work on our part along with God’s amazing grace...

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