August 7th, 2014Catholic Dating and the Death of Erosby Kevin O'Brien | http://www.thewordinc.org
My two posts on the challenges of Catholic dating (Where are All the Good Catholic Men? and Some Good Catholic Men Answer the Question, "Where are All the Good Catholic Men?") have touched a nerve. There are many thoughtful comments on my blog, and many more on Facebook.
On Facebook, one of the comments connects the trouble in Catholic relationships with Pop Catholic Culture in general. On the blog, reader JVC is more specific, naming the Charismatic Renewal and Hipster Catholics as examples of the problem.
And a friend of mine can trace much of this back to Christopher West, who has "seeped into Catholic Youth culture the way Rousseau and Foucoult have seeped into the culture of academia and the culture at large." West, for all his obsession with sex, actually claims that the goal in courtship is to achieve a state that is entirely devoid of sexual attraction - that only when the guy and gal can love one another pristinely and can be in a room alone together without experiencing any physical attraction will they be ready to marry.
That sounds a hell of a lot more like the end of a long marriage than the beginning of one. We are not eunuchs, after all.
Or are we?
This all comes down to the suppression of Eros, which I have written about before. We in the Church have mistakenly come to think that love is only Agape - which is the selfless love of neighbor, the disinterested self-giving that seeks only the good of the other. But, as Pope Benedict has pointed out, Eros is also an aspect of love. Eros is the love that desires, that hungers, that yearns, that seeks to possess, that is "jealous" in the sense of caring to the point where you're willing to fight for something or someone. Eros sweeps us off our feet, possesses us, stirs us, takes risks, tears down our comfort zones, makes us live again.
Chesterton famously said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” He was describing Eros. But today we think that love and fighting must never go together, that getting your dander up and jousting for your lover is just testosterone on the loose. On the contrary, unless God loved us with the love of Eros, He would never have sent His son to save us; for the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection are the greatest acts of both Eros and Agape combined.
For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. - Deut. 4:24
When we smother Eros, we are killing an aspect of love - an aspect of God Himself. We are not only emasculating ourselves, we are emasculating God.
And so, Young Catholics, I urge you to give a damn.
Passion and fire are dangerous things, but so is the Holy Spirit. You need to love to a point where you're willing to fight for what you love. Yes, sexual desire has the tendency to overtake us, but the answer to that problem is not to mortify sexual desire: we are instead to mortify its two opposite sins,
lust and acedia (sloth). Lust is Eros unrestrained; but Acedia is Eros suffocated. Of the two, Acedia is the more serious sin, for it's more spiritual.
And, next to Despair, it is the sin of choice for today's Young Catholics.
Oh, and Young Catholic Men, if you don't get off porn, you'll never be able to relate to a woman in a healthy way. And if your primary orientation is same sex attraction, tell the gal you're dating so she can do the right thing and not marry you.
And Young Catholic Women, if he's dragging his feet and he's been doing so for a year or longer, dump him. Especially if you haven't been sexually active with him, for if he's not motivated by you physically, and if he won't marry you despite your bond being strong in all other ways, there's a problem - a problem with his Eros. But don't let there be a problem with yours.
Eros was a god for the Greeks - and it is an aspect of God for us. Ignore it at your peril.