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Discussion related to living as a Catholic in the single state of life. As long as a topic is being discussed from the perspective of a single Catholic then it will be on-topic.

Tobias and Sarah's story is from the Book of Tobit, and his journey is guided by Saint Raphael.
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I have asked this question of a few others and I have only been met with either dumb looks or comments about my relationship status. No one has been able to give me a decent answer so I thought I would throw it out here for ya'll to discuss.

The "love" in 1 Corinthians 13, so often read in weddings, is the Greek agape, the sacrificial love that God has for us, the love we are called to have for our neighbors (in the great commandment), and the love husbands are to have for their wives (in Ephesians 5). The romantic love between a man and a woman is eros. C. S. Lewis wrote in his book The Four Loves about the difference. Eros is not patient and kind but is very selfish. Eros says I would rather you be poor, sick, and miserable with me than healthy, wealthy, and happy with someone else. Or as the Beatles said, Id rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man. Agape, in contrast, is concerned with what is in the best interests of the other person even when that may be at odds with what would give either you or that other person happiness. Agape manifests itself differently based on the relationship. Agape is different toward your spouse as compared with your child or your neighbor or a stranger on the other side of the world. I understand the idea of agape between a married couple. But how do you show agape in dating?

The problem is that romantic relationships are by definition exclusive. This problem with agape does not arise in other types of relationships. My being friends with someone does not prevent them from being friends with another. Me letting God love me does not prevent Him from loving someone else. But in order to propose marriage to a girl with agape, or for that matter to even date her exclusively, you must believe that you are the best man this girl will ever find. If you really think that this girl could do better than you, then the agape thing to do would be to step aside, set her free, and let her find this better man. If you do not think that this girl could do better than you, then either you are very arrogant or you can almost certainly do better than her, in which case she is not acting with agape. In a culture of arranged marriages none of this would be a problem. But when we have to pick our mates it seems inevitable that the process is determined by selfishness and what I want and not by what is in the best interests of the other. What is the solution (assuming that polygamy and polyandry is off the table)?
Oct 7th 2012 new

Heavy stuff, Michael.

There is a wide perception - I think a correct perception - that agape is a higher, purer form of love than eros. But you're right. In today's culture, we idolize romance and think everyone deserves romance and everyone has "the one", the "soulmate" God made just for them. It's a pleasurable fantasy. There are plenty of romantic comedies, but I can't off-hand think of any agape comedies. We think everyone deserves the electric rush of romance. Agape is just so boring and spiritual.

Which is another reason to prefer an arranged marriage system. Not only do arranged marriages take off the pressure of romance and finding "the one", but they relieve everyone of the burden of dating, and allow agape front and center billing.

Oct 7th 2012 new

Good question, Michael.

What intrigued me was your thought about asking for someone to marry you because a) You feel you are the best person for them or the alternative b) you are very arrogant and this person would not be able to find someone better than you.
When I met my husband, neither thought came to mind. It was more of the agape definition, that I would lay down my life for you coupled with not being able to imagine a future without you in it. A good marriage is not about what you, yourself can get from it, but all that you can bring to it. It is sacrifice made out of love. Without agape in dating, the ego of Eros would drive people further apart rather than closer together. Because to truly love someone is to allow them the freedom to search for their own true love. How could you stifle someone's pursuit of happiness if you really love them? The romantic love of marriage grows from the knowledge of the other. Like all good things, it grows stronger over time, if the ego is left out of it.

Oct 7th 2012 new

(Quote) Cathy-620979 said: Heavy stuff, Michael. There is a wide perception - I think a correct perception - that aga...
(Quote) Cathy-620979 said:

Heavy stuff, Michael.

There is a wide perception - I think a correct perception - that agape is a higher, purer form of love than eros. But you're right. In today's culture, we idolize romance and think everyone deserves romance and everyone has "the one", the "soulmate" God made just for them. It's a pleasurable fantasy. There are plenty of romantic comedies, but I can't off-hand think of any agape comedies. We think everyone deserves the electric rush of romance. Agape is just so boring and spiritual.

Which is another reason to prefer an arranged marriage system. Not only do arranged marriages take off the pressure of romance and finding "the one", but they relieve everyone of the burden of dating, and allow agape front and center billing.

--hide--


Cathy You are so right. I think romance is about getting attention. Perhaps that is why it is seemingly so intoxicating and is what a lot of movies are based on.

Oct 7th 2012 new

Kathy,
Eros is egotistical. You are right. Great post!

Oct 7th 2012 new

(Quote) Michael-756537 said: I have asked this question of a few others and I have only been met with either dumb looks or comments...
(Quote) Michael-756537 said: I have asked this question of a few others and I have only been met with either dumb looks or comments about my relationship status. No one has been able to give me a decent answer so I thought I would throw it out here for ya'll to discuss.

The "love" in 1 Corinthians 13, so often read in weddings, is the Greek agape, the sacrificial love that God has for us, the love we are called to have for our neighbors (in the great commandment), and the love husbands are to have for their wives (in Ephesians 5). The romantic love between a man and a woman is eros. C. S. Lewis wrote in his book The Four Loves about the difference. Eros is not patient and kind but is very selfish. Eros says I would rather you be poor, sick, and miserable with me than healthy, wealthy, and happy with someone else. Or as the Beatles said, Id rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man. Agape, in contrast, is concerned with what is in the best interests of the other person even when that may be at odds with what would give either you or that other person happiness. Agape manifests itself differently based on the relationship. Agape is different toward your spouse as compared with your child or your neighbor or a stranger on the other side of the world. I understand the idea of agape between a married couple. But how do you show agape in dating?

The problem is that romantic relationships are by definition exclusive. This problem with agape does not arise in other types of relationships. My being friends with someone does not prevent them from being friends with another. Me letting God love me does not prevent Him from loving someone else. But in order to propose marriage to a girl with agape, or for that matter to even date her exclusively, you must believe that you are the best man this girl will ever find. If you really think that this girl could do better than you, then the agape thing to do would be to step aside, set her free, and let her find this better man. If you do not think that this girl could do better than you, then either you are very arrogant or you can almost certainly do better than her, in which case she is not acting with agape. In a culture of arranged marriages none of this would be a problem. But when we have to pick our mates it seems inevitable that the process is determined by selfishness and what I want and not by what is in the best interests of the other. What is the solution (assuming that polygamy and polyandry is off the table)?
--hide--


You show agape in dating by being open to whatever happens and by being willing to say how much you care for someone and by doing acts of service at times for them.

If you really want to be with this girl, say so and give her the knowledge that you see her this way(as a future wife). There is a certain sacrifice we have to give when we admit how much we care for someone.

Oct 7th 2012 new

(Quote) Michael-756537 said: I have asked this question of a few others and I have only been met with either dumb looks or comments...
(Quote) Michael-756537 said: I have asked this question of a few others and I have only been met with either dumb looks or comments about my relationship status. No one has been able to give me a decent answer so I thought I would throw it out here for ya'll to discuss.

The "love" in 1 Corinthians 13, so often read in weddings, is the Greek agape, the sacrificial love that God has for us, the love we are called to have for our neighbors (in the great commandment), and the love husbands are to have for their wives (in Ephesians 5). The romantic love between a man and a woman is eros. C. S. Lewis wrote in his book The Four Loves about the difference. Eros is not patient and kind but is very selfish. Eros says I would rather you be poor, sick, and miserable with me than healthy, wealthy, and happy with someone else. Or as the Beatles said, Id rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man. Agape, in contrast, is concerned with what is in the best interests of the other person even when that may be at odds with what would give either you or that other person happiness. Agape manifests itself differently based on the relationship. Agape is different toward your spouse as compared with your child or your neighbor or a stranger on the other side of the world. I understand the idea of agape between a married couple. But how do you show agape in dating?

The problem is that romantic relationships are by definition exclusive. This problem with agape does not arise in other types of relationships. My being friends with someone does not prevent them from being friends with another. Me letting God love me does not prevent Him from loving someone else. But in order to propose marriage to a girl with agape, or for that matter to even date her exclusively, you must believe that you are the best man this girl will ever find. If you really think that this girl could do better than you, then the agape thing to do would be to step aside, set her free, and let her find this better man. If you do not think that this girl could do better than you, then either you are very arrogant or you can almost certainly do better than her, in which case she is not acting with agape. In a culture of arranged marriages none of this would be a problem. But when we have to pick our mates it seems inevitable that the process is determined by selfishness and what I want and not by what is in the best interests of the other. What is the solution (assuming that polygamy and polyandry is off the table)?
--hide--

I don't know that 'selfishness' is the correct label, Michael.

Let's say that the drive for marriage is instilled in us by God. And it is He Who created us unique, with certain qualities. Then we seek that mate who matches our qualities, and of course, whose qualities we match, because that is part of what goes to make for a lasting love relationship. What constitutes a "love relationship" can vary because of our individualism. Some successful pairings are based on shared interests/activities, some on lifestyle preferences, etc.

You stated the case of stepping aside from asking a woman to marry you because, in agape love, you believe someone else would be "better" for her than you are. How do you know this, that someone else would be better? If in your gut you know that ultimately you will not make her happy, then in love you need to let her go. But there will always be better matches for us, and there will always be worse matches for us. When a man and a woman find each other and both feel that yes, in their pairing they can make the other happy and also find happiness themselves, then in their imperfection and "selfishness", they can exhibit agape love for each other.

I've heard how a man can show humility in his proposal, by allowing that he may not be the best choice, but he loves her and if she accepted him, he'd work the rest of his life making her happy. He would not say this to a woman in whom he did not see agape love toward him, either.

We love others as we love ourselves.

Anyway, some quick ramblings in reaction to your post.

Oct 7th 2012 new

(Quote) Michael-756537 said: But in order to propose marriage to a girl with agape, or for that matter to even date her excl...
(Quote) Michael-756537 said:

But in order to propose marriage to a girl with agape, or for that matter to even date her exclusively, you must believe that you are the best man this girl will ever find. If you really think that this girl could do better than you, then the agape thing to do would be to step aside, set her free, and let her find this better man.

--hide--

I would argue this is a false premise. Clearly, you must not know (or suspect) you are bad for the other person. And you must be willing to let them go if they feel there is a better person for them. Whether there is a better person for them is their concern, not yours.

Oct 7th 2012 new

(Quote) Jerry-74383 said: (Quote) Michael-756537 said: But in order to propose marriage to a girl wit...
(Quote) Jerry-74383 said:

Quote:
Michael-756537 said:

But in order to propose marriage to a girl with agape, or for that matter to even date her exclusively, you must believe that you are the best man this girl will ever find. If you really think that this girl could do better than you, then the agape thing to do would be to step aside, set her free, and let her find this better man.


I would argue this is a false premise. Clearly, you must not know (or suspect) you are bad for the other person. And you must be willing to let them go if they feel there is a better person for them. Whether there is a better person for them is their concern, not yours.

--hide--
Besides Michael,how would anybody ever know if they are not the best for the other person? Impossible to know.

Oct 7th 2012 new

Michael,

The mistake you are making is your assumption that eros needs to be selfish. The truth is it does not. Eros in the original Greek referred not only to romantic love but to passion in general; thus someone could have an erotic love for chess in the original Greek sense. And in this sense it's obviously not exclusive.

If we limit ourselves to the merely sexual sphere (as we do with the term today) it has a much more exclusive sense, although not totally; the song of Songs is an Erotic love poem, meant to be read by all. But eros will not be selfish, nor will it's fruits be excluive, if it is ordered under agape. All of our desires and relationships need to be ordered under agape. When this happens the passions of eros are directed to teh good of the other and thus help build the Kingdom, and the love of the husband and wife become a sign of God's love and of our destiny; to be married as Church to Christ.

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