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Katie van Schaijik

Conjugal love is misunderstood if its gift character is overlooked

Jan. 19 at 8:23am

One of my New Year's resolutions was to publish at least three articles beyond the Personalist Project.  One down, two to go.

It's short and incomplete in various ways, but it makes a point that is all too easily overlooked when Christian leaders teach about courtship: viz. that the love between a man and a woman is a gift and a mystery, not a creation of the will.


 

Laurence

I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated your article over at Catholic Lane. 

It seems to me like this gentleman's rather base description of love and the married life was not even a personal reflection, but rather a farscial homage to today's concept of fly-by love, cheap substitutable affection, and the "whatever two consenting adults do behind closed doors..." acquescence that many people grant to modern bastardizations of love. The cynical and the hip shudder to appraoch love in anything resembling a traditional or spiritual manner, so it's all about choice and will, taking love and forcing it to fit a liberal paradigm of modern mores. It's like this guy wanted to just reassure us that, yup, love and liberal preoccupations with emotional liberty are still compatible. I think he failed, and you point out why he failed very well.

I'm probably overreaching here, but it's the impression that I get.

#1 - Jan. 19 at 11:55am | quote

Katie van Schaijik

If I understand you, Laurence--and I'm not sure I do— I would agree at least that that apologist was reacting to a cheapened, subjectivistic view of love, and that, while he thought he was overcoming it with truth, he was actually and ironically, in a way, succumbing to it when he treats love as a creation of human will.

#2 - Jan. 19 at 12:05pm | quote

 

Dominik

An excellent article. That said, it leaves me with these questions:

If love is a gift, is there then nothing we can affirmatively do to receive this gift, apart from preparing ourselves by growing in virtue and ... waiting (potentially a long, long time)?

(It would seem the answer is "no" because you can't force someone -- in this case, God -- to give you a gift because then it isn't a gift).

In other words, is there nothing a person can do to "find love" -- but instead a person must sit back and wait "to be found by love?"

That's not a particularly actionable prospect, and it certainly doesn't sell as well as "21 Things You Can Do Right Now To Find True Love Today!" It also puts the control squarely out of the person's hands and into God's, which is hard to do.

Contrast the view of your apologist friend, which places control in the person's hands: "I have the choice of these 100 persons. I, exercising my will, will choose according to my pleasure. Whatever my choice is, it is as good as any other possible choice; my choice is best because it is mine."

#3 - Jan. 19 at 1:07pm | quote

Katie van Schaijik

Dominik, Jan. 19 at 1:07pm

...is there nothing a person can do to "find love" -- but instead a person must sit back and wait "to be found by love?"

That's not a particularly actionable prospect...

Well, yes and no, I think.

Take that verse in Corinthians, "I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." The work of grace among them was a work of the Holy Spirit, but it came through the human efforts of Paul and Apollos.

You can't create love with your will, but you can certainly put yourself in situations where you're likely to meet young women.  

#4 - Jan. 19 at 3:29pm | quote

 

Gregory Borse

Marital love; conjugal love most certainly is a gift--one to which one may respond, with full exercise of the fully free will, with an "assent," with an "I do," which, in and of itself is transformed, it seems to me, as we grow by the nuturing grace of the true love of Christ--whose conduit in sacramental marriage is the spouse--the Other, from "I do" to "Thank you"; in Greek, σας ευχαριστώ (ephkaristo--the same root as for "eucharist"--not equivalent, but partaking in the same sacraficial love through Christ, related).  We immitate Christ's thankyou to the Father in His sacrifice in our sublimation in marriage--allowing the graces available to us through that sacrament to work in us through our (not always perfect but mostly yeoman-like adherence to a promise whose consequences we can neither never perfectly predict nor control).  When we have faith that our promise exceeds the boundaries of ego and the merely "here and now," we experience not humiliation, but humility:  sublimation leads to an unique ennobling of our individual being thereby.

#5 - Jan. 20 at 1:34am | quote

 

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