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.
Learn More: Tobias & Sarah as led by Saint Raphael
There you go, ladies! A moment of honesty from a man. I suspect if most men are honest with themselves, they would admit this.
So this could be seen as evidence of what may be holding men back then... Yes?
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)?
God is the best man this girl will ever find. If you can help this girl become closer to God, then you just might be the second best.
The unfortunate truth is that we are living in Hell to some extent in this day and age ~ It is the dark age, or Kali Yuga, another word is Iron Age, and secular humanism is a fundamental core expeience of the 21st century. In short, sacred relationships, experiences of God and the supernatural, Spiritual Light or the Holy Spirit, whatever you may call that which is sacred, free, from God and speaks purely of love - all of these entities are becoming increasingly rare and less experienced in the modern age. It is due to an extremely long and complex array of factors, on all three planes for humanity; mental, spiritual and physical. And despite hardships throughout history, we are still very much uniquely facing our own within the universe and world to this very day.
2000 years has been too long my friends, way too long since we saw a teacher, prophet and unconditional love like Christ. The problem is, the world would likely imprison, impede, prosecute or deny him, even if he were to show his face... So perhaps that is why God has not offered him, or her to us. But we can see and find the voice in Christ, through many spirits and souls we meet everyday, if we but look deeply enough. To continue... The world is full of evil, darkness and the negative energy as subsurface current, and of course I admit, it is full of the power of good and positive as well. But the balance has been tetering for some time now, and it is unclear which direction it is going to take...
Do I sound like a cynic tonight? Yes, absolutely. And I apologize, I don't want to bring anyone down. But there are cold hard facts to the current spiritual crisis, and naturally it unfolds on the relationship plane and interpersonally as well. Of course it does! It is not exluded there ~ If everything is interconnected, why would it not be? If I fall deeply in love, finally, once again after all these years of walking across the desert, with very little love offered seemingly, my soul thirsty from no longer drinking from or seemingly finding the cup, - then yes, I will honestly be more optimistic. And perhaps I denied it as well, in the name of Eros. So shame on me. This has just been my experience ~ Love was once plentiful, now it seems rare or scarce, and I have always said, a life lived without love and freedom, is not worth living at all.
I like the eros and agape perspective Michael... Very nice understanding, very fine indeed. People are selfish in the secular world nowadays, let's face it, and perhaps our self serving society, monetarily and materially driven, plus so much more, is to partially blame. Many things are put before God, and emphasis love. The individual must learn to rise above these walls and layers, via the mystical art of transcendance and transformation, and if two people both do this at the same time, and find God's love unifying them, then wallaha, they have traversed the terrain and found a love worth living for in each other's soul and eyes.
Agape, or eros... what does it matter? Well, I think one is clearly linked with unconditonal and higher spiritual truth. They both pose a dilemna for the spiritual seeker or single individual. One has to have their needs met, at some point, sooner or later - or for as the famous writer and speaker Wayne Dyer says, "you cannot give away what you do not have", or conversely "you can only give away what you have". Ie, this is love. Our cup must be filled, yes even on emotional and physical levels. For if we deny or repress these areas greatly, for long periods of time, they will show the affects. And speaking from personal experiene, we will have very little to offer later in life. It's all tricky, there is no doubt... but somewhere, somehow, we must each find a healthy, balanced, reciprocal relationship. We must find a way to have our needs met, and perhaps meet someone with whom "we are on the same page with". We must also learn to be open, give freely, and take risks when appropriate. There has to be a conclusion to this saga in our individual lives, I am convinced. How can we do that, if we are always trying to control it? Let go and let God, as they say. The full definition of trust and faith, to diminish the ego down to a fine grain. Many of us on this particular blog or website, will not be truly satisfied until we do find that special someone. Clearly, we need it, or we would not be searching. It is not just built into our DNA, it is built into our soul.
Lastly, if one is purified, holy and contrite enough, it is possible to be deeply satisfied by one's connection with God's alone. This is very possible (and many saints have done so), if renunciation is sought, if the body and mind is purified continually, then God's love eventually takes over. Why, because we are purified vessells at that point, and only then the spirit can breathe freely within us. It may take years of fasting, searching and retreats, prayer, etc., but one finds the golden Light within, redeeming all things. Christ comes to a humble, purified soul. The only problem at the end of this journey, if you find this, is that sooner or later, we are all human, and we simply want to be deeply loved, and love, in return...
This is fair, and we all deserve it. I hope it comes to everyone on this site, and never discount yourself in this area of deserving it, unless you believe that to be the absolute truth, ie if one feels perhaps he or she is undeserving and has more core issues to work on. Most of the time, such guilt is non sense and does not help, but only hinders. Ocassionally it will serve for purposes of reconciliation. Love is often a process of learning, as much as anything else. Why this world cannot be more accepting and more unconditional towards it, I will never know. A quote once came to me in my journey, "Use the key for forgiveness, for it opens all doors". True love is unconditional, only God can bring that special person to you, because God created him or her, and God created you. It can be fought for at times and won, but often this type of relationship may eventually be lost. That is why it is best if one day, if it is found and recieved freely, destined by God ~ It will happen, it will happen. Namaste everybody, and Amen. I hope you enjoyed my writings tonight and it was of help ~ God bless & take care (:
Agape love definition in Christian theology is the love of God or Christ for mankind. This shouldn't even be referenced for a man's love for a woman because we are not Christ nor are we God. This is by its very spiritual nature unobtainable by any person because of original sin, pure and simple, therefor why we needed Christ, the second common definition is Agape in terms of the love of a friend or a child, but for the sake of the question, forgetting the definitions and how they don't apply to a relationship between a man and woman, Is Romance Selfish? -Eros and Agape,...if we are to say is romance selfish, then we would have to first agree that love and passion are selfish, and that is only true about a relationship that is built on lust, not on truth. The truth is we are not asexual beings, therefor we are going to have to court a woman. That requires confidence, and I think a question like this is a great first step towards that kind of confidence. You are going to have to work to win a woman's heart, and this is true after marriage. Romance isn't meant to end after marriage, and love grows. Just because you meet a girl who, for whatever reason, you want to start dating, if you don't feel like you could love her with every ounce of your being, let her go. Don't waste her time. Confidence is a necessary ingredient of passion, and passion is meant to last for life, so I wouldn't be afraid of having a strong attraction to a woman unless I was insecure about my passion for her as a person and my own inability to commit. I hear so many people say, especially after marriage, that they shouldn't have to prove their love because they married that person, so they shouldn't buy flowers, go on dinner dates, be spontaneous, etc... and the marriage goes sour. Then they say well we are married and it's a sin to get divorced, a mortal sin, so they can't divorce yet they want to put forth any effort to make the other person feel special. This is true, but is it also not true that our relationship with Christ doesn't end with becoming a Catholic. It takes a year for someone to convert, roughly to Catholocism and after that continued work through the church and for themself for life. You have to have the same passion for the woman that you do the church, which includes not second guessing yourself. God gave you love to give, so I say forget Eros and Agape, and find that woman that makes your heart skip a beat, accept that she isn't perfect, sweep her off her feet, forget about whether or not there is a better man out there for her, romance her, marry her, commit to loving her the rest of your life, and it will be hard, it isn't easy, no one said it was, let your love for her define your relastionship as Christ's does the huiman race, and pray not for discernment on whether or not she is the one for you, but rather discernment against your own self doubt, pray for the strength to overcome that part of you that says I'm not good enough for her, whoever she may be.
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.
Great topic Michael and Cathy!
Precious little about this in modern literature, although Graham Greene's, "The End of the Affair" perhaps shows an incling of it as the protagonist slowly realizes that his selfish love is not quite up to par with the love of God that his lover has.
But, I have a treat for you...a gift to give you. To really get at the differences between agape love and erotic love, one should read Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy, beginning with "Jorundsgard" translated as "The Bridal Wreath." In it, you will see examples of both types of love. One is not extolled over the other, as they are both valid and have pros and cons. But, the differences are beautifully and movingly shown, along with the prices to pay that each form of love exacts. The novels are set in 14th century Norway, a very Catholic time in a very Catholic Country (then). Undset, a woman author, began as a non-Catholic but was so moved by her research for the books she eventually converted to Catholicism...affter the books were written. She was awarded the Novbel Prize for literature, I think in the 1930s. Imagine that now, in atheistic Europe! Anyway, if you desire a deeper probing of the consequences of the different forms of love, Undset is your woman. The other two books are called, "Husfrau" or "The Mistress of Husaby" and "Korset" or "The Cross." Enjoy.
May I suggest that the two of you read these, discuss them together, preferable in person over dinner, and then report back to us?
If I can post some random thoughts that come to mind reading this thread, I’m not sure that arranged marriages allow for agape love to take front and centre, or that they don’t either. In the times and places in the Christian world where it has been practiced, divorce was less socially acceptable in general, and annullments were extremely rare. It is possible that in at least some arranged marriages, people were utterly nasty to each other and completely miserable, but stayed married because they had no other real choice. If you take on the behaviours associated with agape love, you are not nasty to the other person.
While our free will can occasionally get us into trouble, it is gifted to us by God. It is our responsibility to use our free will to conduct ourselves so that we love one another as God intended.
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.
I agree. If I may, I would also add that while agape love demands self-sacrifice, it does not demand self-loathing. You are not required to put yourself beneath potential future suitors of a lady. Those future potential suitors are not automatically better for her because you have decided to step aside. Moreover, they may never show up.
Good comment. I think it was Andy Griffith who said "When someone marries you the polite thing to do is to marry them right back." Part of love is letting yourself be loved in return and letting someone else lay down their life for you. How was it agape for you to decide to allow this man to attach his life to your life rather than to another woman's life?
Truth be told, this is all academic to me since I have not yet been in a situation where I have had the pleasure of deciding if a marriage proposal would be the appropriate thing to do.
Well, seeing there is nothing I wouldn't have done for him and vice-versa, it was mutual. We knew each other for six years before getting to that point, though. There was complete certainty when we decided to marry. It was obvious that we were better together than alone. In essence,we were already attached, heart and soul.
Totally agree Angela...
All three of the human loves, eros, (romantic), philia, (friendship), & storge, (affection), can be used to manipulate & use if we let our weaknesses take over. It's only agape, or God's love which brings order them all. None of us practices this perfectly, but we should always try to put the other's good before our own, no matter what the relationship. It's then our relations will sing with goodness & harmony... God gives us strength...