Thursday, 11 July 2013

Love is when Mummy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross

Flowing on from last week's post, one of the comments that many people make when talking about same-sex marriage is that it should become lawful because if two people love each other, they should have the right to marry. This begs the question, what exactly is love anyway? Theology student, Nathan Costin, has a thing or two to say.

Guest Blogger: Nathan Costin

Youth Coordinator of the Brisbane East Deanery
and theology student at Australian Catholic University
Nathan Costin
Flo Rida’s song, “Let it Roll” has been stuck in my head the past few days, particularly the prelude to the chorus, “Love is nice when it’s understood, even nicer when it makes you feel good.” As I was driving and the song popped into my head yet again I asked myself, do I agree with Flo making a catchy beat? Yes. Do I agree with Tramar Dillard using the alias Flo Rida? Yes. Do I agree with Flo’s view of love in this song? No.

“Love”, as Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI stated in Deus Caritas Est, “has become one of the most frequently used and misused words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings”. Love has almost become an excuse to justify a multitude of conflicting decisions and actions - particularly in relationships. Take this example:

I know of a couple who, when they were in high school, after three weeks of dating each other, decided to skip a day of school, book a motel and have sex. “Love”, the guy told me, was the reason they did it. “We love each other and I wanted to take it to the next level.” Love had somehow pushed the couple to skip school, race off to a motel and have sex.

I myself recently got engaged. My fiancée and I have not had sex, nor do we plan to until our wedding night. We identified how love is communicated and shared in a vast variety of different ways. We committed to growing and learning to perfect this language of love before giving it the eternal stamp with our bodies in marriage. How we understand love has called us to save sex.
Nathan & fiancée Jen
So here we have that word ‘love’ used as the reason to have sex, and also used as the reason to not have sex. They can’t both be love. So which is it?

Flo Rida says love is nicest when it makes you feel good. I disagree. I think love is nicest when it’s understood. St Thomas Aquinas and the Catechism of the Catholic Church offer a rarely heard definition of love: “To love is to will the good of another” (CCC 1766).

Huh? I can actually will love? Yes! Love places the good of the other over and above what makes us feel good. It is completely other-centered. Love looks at what is best for someone then does everything in its power to bring about that good. And yes, this often involves renunciation and sacrifice of our own desires especially when they are contrary to what is truly best for our beloved. This way we are in control of love, we are held responsible. What is ‘loving’ can now have a moral value put on it.

Love is not just an emotion. Can something imposed on us actually be love?

The self-sacrificial love of Jesus is often upheld as the ultimate example of love. But how did this love begin? With a free choice. In the garden, Jesus clearly doesn’t feel like being crucified (Mt 26:39), but He flexes His will. He shows us that love is something we can choose above feelings no matter how intense or overwhelming. Love, when understood as an act of the will, empowers us to witness to, and to actively participate in love. Emotions are nice, but understanding that we are not slaves to them and can choose above feelings with intellect and will is even better. We are free to love. And being able to love freely is much more satisfying than being slaves to our feelings.

Rather than feeling good, love is nicest when it’s understood.

Some good sources and books on LOVE:

God bless,

Michaela