We give this word different meanings. For some, love is a warm fuzzy feeling of affection. But if someone loves us with such an understanding, we would find his love unstable and dependent on his feelings.
We seek a more dependable, lasting and reassuring love. If someone claims to love us, but is not prepared to make even little self-sacrifices for us, we question how sincere that love is. Real love involves self-denial and sacrifice by the lover, even if there is an element of self-interest.
We ourselves find it difficult to discern how much self-interest there is in our love for others. But the more we transcend our self-interest and our selfishness, the more we are able to genuinely seek the well-being of the other, and the more we truly love.
However, it is not easy opting for this greater love, a love that embraces sacrifice and transcends self-interest or selfishness. To do this, we have to use our freedom – another misunderstood word. To some, freedom means that I can do what I want, so long as I don’t hurt anyone. But what is freedom for a drug addict? To be able to take drugs whenever he wishes, or to be able to resist the urge for a greater good?
True freedom means that a person is able to choose to do what is right, even if it goes against the grain of emotion or popular choice. When a person can do so even when he doesn’t feel like it, he is in command of his life, and his decisions are truly free.
Sex and Chastity
A truly free person is able to strive to be the best person he can be. Understanding love and freedom helps a person to express his or her sexuality in a way that is appropriate to one’s state of life. For the unmarried, this is expressed in the form of the appropriate gift of oneself for the good of others in various life situations. For the married, this can also be expressed through sexual intercourse between the man and his wife, an act whose purpose is to bond the married couple in a unique way, one that can give rise to new life.
There can also be love that is not expressed in sex, as in a man who chooses to care for and remain faithful to his paralysed wife. Chastity is therefore harnessing the power of our sexuality in a positive way, for the good of others, in the situations we find ourselves in.
Chastity frees love from lust. Healthy sexuality grows out of love, not the other way around.
Going for Greater Love
Called to a greater love, how can we respond? Let’s see how Jeff, Ben and Ivan make the right choices.
Jeff has been going through a difficult period in his marriage. At work, his colleague Carol had noticed that he is despondent and, over a few lunches, he had shared his situation. Jeff finds that Carol is an understanding person, and wishes he had met Carol before he got married. However, to avoid temptations in his marriage, he decides to politely decline Carol’s next invitation to lunch.
Ben met Mary recently and finds her vivacious and attractive. They have gone out on few dates. With his previous girlfriends, he knows that passionate kissing has led to sex. Wanting to respect Mary and to develop a real relationship with her, Ben decides not to go to private lonely places on their dates to preclude being easily tempted.
Ivan is an avid Internet surfer, and has come a number of pornography sites. The images have both shocked and enthralled him at the same time. He doesn’t feel good about visiting these sites, yet he finds himself curious and wanting to explore more. He finds himself regularly recalling the images he has seen. He has heard that pornography destroys marriages. Not wanting to affect his future marriage, he decides to install an Internet filter on his computer, though this may affect the surfing experience.
We all hold a great power to shape our own lives by the choices we make.
Would you go for greater love, or would you settle for less?