THREE TO GET MARRIED: SEX AND THE TENSIONS OF LOVE
THREE TO GET MARRIED By Fulton J. Sheen, Ph.D., D.D. Contents Chapter 1: The Differences Between Sex and Love Chapter 4: The Three Tensions of Love 1. The Differences Between Sex and Love Love is primarily in the will, not in the emotions or the glands. The will is like the voice; the emotions are like the echo. The pleasure associated with love, or what is today called "sex," is the frosting on the cake; its purpose is to make us love the cake, not ignore it. The greatest illusion of lovers is to believe that the intensity of their sexual attraction is the guarantee of the perpetuity of their love. It is because of this failure to distinguish between the glandular and spiritual--or between sex which we have in common with animals, and love which we have in common with God--that marriages are so full of deception. What some people love is not a person, but the experience of being in love. The first is irreplaceable; the second is not. As soon as the glands cease to react with their pristine force, couples who identified emotionalism and love claim they no longer love one another. If such is the case they never loved the other person in the first place; they only loved being loved, which is the highest form of egotism. Marriage founded on sex passion alone lasts only as long as the animal passion lasts. Within two years the animal attraction for the other may die, and when it does, law comes to its rescue to justify the divorce with the meaningless words "incompatibility," or "mental torture." Animals never have recourse to law courts, because they have no will to love; but man, having reason, feels the need of justifying his irrational behavior when he does wrong. There are two reasons for the primacy of sex over love in a decadent civilization. One is the decline of reason. As humans give up reason, they resort to their imaginations. That is why motion pictures and picture magazines enjoy such popularity. As thinking fades, unrestrained desires come to the fore. Since physical and erotic desires are among the easiest to dwell upon, because they require no effort and because they are powerfully aided by bodily passions, sex begins to be all-important. It is by no historical accident that an age of anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, such as our own, is also an age of carnal license. The second factor is egotism. As belief in a Divine Judgment, a future life, heaven and hell, a moral order, is increasingly rejected, the ego becomes more and more firmly enthroned as the source of its morality. Each person becomes a judge in his own case. With this increase of selfishness, the demands for self-satisfaction become more and more imperious, and the interests of the community and the rights of others have less and less appeal. All sin is self-centeredness, as love is otherness and relatedness. Sin is the infidelity of man to the image of what he ought to be in his eternal vocation as an adopted son of God: the image God sees in Himself when He contemplates His Word. There are two extremes to be avoided in discussing married love: one is the refusal to recognize sexual love, the other is the giving of primacy to sexual attraction. The first error was Victorian; the second is Freudian. To the Christian, sex is inseparable from the person, and to reduce the person to sex is as silly as to reduce personality to lungs or a thorax. Certain Victorians in their education practically denied sex as a function of personality; certain sexophiles of modern times deny personality and make a god of sex. The male animal is attracted to the female animal, but a human personality is attracted to another human personality. The attraction of beast to beast is physiological; the attraction of human to human is physiological, psychological, and spiritual. The human spirit has a thirst for the infinite which the quadruped has not. This infinite is really God. But man can pervert that thirst, which the animal cannot because it has no concept of the infinite. Infidelity in married life is basically the substitution for an infinite of a succession of finite carnal experiences. The false infinity of succession takes the place of the Infinity of Destiny, which is God. The beast is promiscuous for an entirely different reason than man. The false pleasure given by new conquests in the realm of sex is the ersatz for the conquest of the Spirit in the Sacrament! The sense of emptiness, melancholy, and frustration is a consequence of the failure to find infinite satisfaction in what is carnal and limited. Despair is disappointed hedonism The most depressed spirits are those who seek God in a false god! If love does not climb, it falls. If, like the flame, it does not burn upward to the sun, it burns downward to destroy. If sex does not mount to heaven, it descends into hell. There is no such thing as giving the body without giving the soul. Those who think they can be faithful in soul to one another, but unfaithful in body, forget that the two are inseparable. Sex in isolation from personality does not exist! An arm living and gesticulating apart from the living organism is an impossibility. Man has no organic functions isolated from his soul. There is involvement of the whole personality. Nothing is more psychosomatic than the union of two in one flesh; nothing so much alters a mind, a will, for better or for worse. The separation of soul and body is death. Those who separate sex and spirit are rehearsing for death. The enjoyment of the other's personality through one's own personality, is love. The pleasure of animal function through another's animal function is sex separated from love. Sex is one of the means God has instituted for the enrichment of personality. It is a basic principle of philosophy that there is nothing in the mind which was not previously in the senses. All our knowledge comes from the body. We have a body, St. Thomas tells us, because of the weakness of our intellect. Just as the enrichment of the mind comes from the body and its senses, so the enrichment of love comes through the body and its sex. As one can see a universe mirrored in a tear on a cheek, so in sex can be seen mirrored that wider world of love. Love in monogamous marriage includes sex; but sex, in the contemporary use of the term, does not imply either marriage or monogamy. Every woman instinctively realizes the difference between the two, but man comes to understand it more slowly through reason and prayer. Man is driven by pleasure; woman by the meaning of pleasure. She sees pleasure more as a means to an end, namely, the prolongation of love both in herself and in her child. Like Mary at the Annunciation, she accepts the love which is presented to her by another. In Mary, it came directly from God through an angel; in marriage, it comes indirectly from God through a man. But in both instances, there is an acceptance, a surrender, a Fiat: "Let it be unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:28) The pagan woman who has not consciously thought of God is actually half woman and half dream; the woman who sees love as a reflection of the Trinity is half woman and half Spirit, and she waits upon the creative work of God within her body. Patience thus becomes bound up with her acceptance. Woman accepts the exigencies of love, as the farmer accepts the exigencies of nature, and waits, after the sowing of the seed, the harvest of autumn. But when sex is divorced from love there is a feeling that one has been stopped at the vestibule of the castle of pleasure; that the heart has been denied the city after crossing the bridge. Sadness and melancholy result from such a frustration of destiny, for it is the nature of man to be sad when he is pulled outside himself, or exteriorized without getting any nearer his goal. There is a closer correlation between mental instability and the animal view of sex than many suspect. Happiness consists in interiority of the spirit, namely, the development of personality in relationship to a heavenly destiny. He who has no purpose in life is unhappy; he who exteriorizes his life and is dominated, or subjugated, by what is outside himself, or spends his energy on the external without understanding its mystery, is unhappy to the point of melancholy. There is the feeling of being hungry after having eaten, or of being disgusted with food, because it has nourished not the body, in the case of an individual, or another body, in the case of marriage. In the woman, this sadness is due to the humiliation of realizing that where marriage is only sex, her role could be fulfilled by any other woman; there is nothing personal, incommunicable, and therefore nothing dignified. Summoned by her God-implanted nature to be ushered into the mysteries of life which have their source in God, she is condemned to remain on the threshold as a tool or an instrument of pleasure alone, and not as a companion of love. Two glasses that are empty cannot fill up one another. There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses, in order that they may have communion with one another. It takes three to make love. Every person is what he loves. Love becomes like unto that which it loves. If it loves heaven, it becomes heavenly; if it loves the carnal as a god, it becomes corruptible. The kind of immortality we have depends on the kind of loves we have. Putting it negatively, he who tells you what he does not love, also tells what he is. "Amor pondus meum: Love is my gravitation," said St. Augustine. This slow conversion of a subject into an object, of a lover into the beloved, of the miser into his gold, of the saint into his God, discloses the importance of loving the right things. The nobler our loves, the nobler our character. To love what is below the human, is degradation; to love what is human for the sake of the human, is mediocrity; to love the human for the sake of the Divine, is enriching; to love the Divine for its own sake is sanctity. Love is trinity; sex is duality. But there are many other differences between the two. Sex rationalizes; love does not. Sex has to justify itself with Kinsey Reports, "But Freud told us," or "No one believes that today"; love needs no reasons. Sex asks science to defend it; love never asks "Why?" It says, "I love you." Love is its own reason. "God is love." Satan asked a "Why?" of God's love in the Garden of Paradise. Every rationalization is farfetched and never discloses the real reason. He who breaks the Divine Law and finds himself outside of Christ's Mystical Body in a second marriage, will often justify himself by saying: "I could not accept the Doctrine of Transubstantiation." What he means is that he can no longer accept the Sixth Commandment. Milton wrote an abstract and apparently a philosophical treatise on "Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," in which he justified the divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. But the real reason was not what he set down in the book; it was to be found in the fact that he wished to marry someone else while his wife was living. What is important is not what people say, but why they say it. Too many assume that the reason people do not come to God is because they are ignorant; it is more generally true that the reason people do not come to God is because of their behavior. Our Lord said: "Rejection lies in this, that when the light came into the world men preferred darkness to light; preferred it, because their doings were evil. Anyone who acts shamefully hates the light." (John 3:19, 20) It is not always doubt that has to be overcome, but evil habits. From another point of view, sex seeks the part; love the totality. Sex is biological and physiological and has its definite zones of satisfaction. Love, on the contrary, includes all of these but is directed to the totality of the person loved, i.e., as a creature composed of body and soul and made to the image and likeness of God. Love seeks the clock and its purpose; sex concentrates on the mainspring and forgets its mission to keep time. Sex eliminates from the person who is loved everything that cannot adapt itself to its carnal libido. Those who give primacy to sex for that reason are anti-religious. Love, however, does not concentrate on a function, but on personality. An organ does not include the personality, but the personality includes the organ, which is another way of repeating the theme: love includes sex, but sex does not include love. Love concentrates on the object; sex concentrates on the subject. Love is directed to someone else for the sake of the other's perfection; sex is directed to self for the sake of se]f-satisfaction. Sex flatters the object not because it is praiseworthy in itself, but rather as a solicitation. It knows how to make friends and influence people. Most sound minds resent flattery because they see the egotism behind the screen of altruism. The ego in sex pleads that it loves the alter ego, but what it loves is really the possibility of its own pleasure in the other ego. The other person is necessary for the return of the egotist upon himself. The egotist finds himself constantly being encircled by non-being, purposelessness, meaninglessness; he has the feeling of being exploited. Refusing to be related to anything else, he soon sees that nothing is for him: The whole world is against him! But love, which stresses the object, finds itself in constantly enlarging relationships. Love is so strong it surpasses narrowness by devotedness and forgetfulness of self. In history, the only causes that die are those for which men refuse to die. The more love grows, the more its eyes open to the needs of others, to the miseries of men, and to compassion. The remedy for all the sufferings of the modern brain lies in the enlargement of the heart through love, which forgets itself as the subject and begins to love the neighbor as the object. But he who lives for himself will eventually find that nature, fellowman, and God are all against him. The so-called "persecution complex" is the result of egotism. The world seems against him who wants everything for himself. Sex is moved by the desire to fill a moment between having and not having. It is an experience like looking at a sunset, or twirling one's thumbs to pass the time. It rests after one experience, because glutted for the moment, and then waits for the reappearance of a new craving or passion to be satisfied on a totally different object. Love frowns upon this notion, for it sees in this nothing but the killing of the objects loved for the sake of self-satisfaction. Sex would give birds flight, but no nests; hearts emotions but no homes; throw the whole world into the experience of voyagers at sea, but with no ports. Instead of pursuing an Infinite which is fixed, it substitutes the false infinity of never finding satisfaction. The infinite then becomes not the possession of love but the fruitless search for love, which is the basis of so many psychoses and neuroses. The infinite then becomes restlessness, a merry-go-round of the heart which spins only to spin again. Real love, on the contrary, admits the need, the thirst, the passion, the craving, but it also admits an abiding satisfaction by adhesion to a value which transcends time and space. Love unites itself to being and thus becomes perfect; sex unites itself to non-being and thus becomes irritation and anxiety. In love, poverty becomes integrated into riches; need into fulfillment; yearning into joy; chase into capture. But sex is without the joy of offering. The wolf offers nothing when he kills the lamb. The joy of oblation is missing, for the egotist by his very nature seeks inflation. Love gives to receive. Sex receives so as not to give. Love is soul contact with another for the sake of perfection; sex is body contact with another for the sake of sublimation. A body can exhaust itself, but it cannot nourish itself. If man needed only nourishment, he could devour love as he devours food. But having a Spirit which needs the Divine Love as a unitive force, he can never be satisfied by devouring the love of another person. A potato has a nature; a man is a person. The former can be destroyed as a means to an end; the human may not. Sex would turn man into a vegetable and reduce a person to an animal. Sex makes hungry where most it satisfies, for the person needs the person, and a person is a person only when seen in an image of God. 4. The Three Tensions of Love Despite the highest idealism, there are potentials for conflict in marriage. Marriage has three basic tensions which are always inseparable from it, because they are grounded in the metaphysical nature of man. All love craves for unity, a moment when separatedness is vanquished and there is a fusion of entities in a center outside of both. Flesh, though a means to unity when united to a soul, is in itself an obstacle, because matter is impenetrable. A block of marble cannot be made one with another block without losing the identity of either. But the spiritual is a bond of unity. Two persons learn poetry without one depriving the other of his knowledge; poetry thus becomes the bond of their unity. Matter is the basis of division; spirit the root of unity. The flesh is a means to unity because it is bound up with a soul in a living person. To the extent that love loses its soul, it loses its unity. When the spirit is gone, there is left only a mere body proximity which bores and fatigues. This passion for a crescendo of intimacy until oneness is achieved cannot be completely satisfied in the physical order, because after the act of unity, there remains the status of two separate personalities, each with his or her individual mystery. The paradox is clear: the souls of lovers aspire to unity, but the body alone, though the momentary symbol of that unity, is nevertheless exclusive of it. The flesh is impervious to that kind of unity which alone can satisfy the spirit. No marriage is free from this tension. The tension increases as the body goes through the motions of love without the soul, and it decreases as the soul loves through the body. The greatest relief there is to this tension is the begetting of children, for here the seeming disproportion between a passion for unity and the failure to make it permanent is compensated for by the child, who becomes a new bond of unity outside father and mother. Husband and wife never feel the emptiness of their relations one with another when it is filled up with a new body and a soul directly infused by God, the Creator. God made man right, and man is unhappy as he tries to defeat those laws which make for his happiness. The basic reason why erotic experiences outside of marriage create psychological strain is because the void between spirit and flesh is more closely felt. Here is the key to the different mental states following a true conjugal union and an adulterous excitement. The first is what is called the payment of a "debitum." "He, not she, claims the right over her body, as she, not he, claims the right over his." (1 Cor. 7:14) Because it is a combination of justice involving a debt of love, it satisfies the spirit. The second, because it involves no justice, but only body-surrender without soul-love, never nourishes the spirit, but leaves a sense of void and emptiness and potential hate. The first synthesizes the body- soul relations; the second brutalizes it. While the spirit craves unity, the carnal tends toward separateness through its very promiscuity. Those psychologists who think that the problem of marriage is merely one of sexual adjustment start with the assumption that man and woman are no different than two beasts in the forests. The difference between the animal and the human is to be found in the ontological structure of the human creature, who is in a constant state of conflict because he knows he has wings to fly to the heavens and yet must walk the earth. No shame or remorse attend the marriage act even in the face of this body- soul tension, because the body is used as a channel for the communication of the spirit. Then marriage sanctifies and becomes an occasion of merit. The craving for the infinite is to a great degree satisfied, either because the mutual love of husband and wife reflects the union of Christ and the Church, or because their love ends in bearing the fruit of progeny. The second tension inherent in marriage is between the person and humanity. Married love is personal, unique and jealous, in the right sense of the word. It implies secrecy, togetherness, and resents intrusion. For that reason, it never speaks of its love in public and never demonstrates it. It is a curious psychological fact that those who make their personal love public, and "dear" one another with saccharine epithets, are very often those who when alone quarrel and fight. Associated with this personal quality of married love is the fact that by its very nature carnal love is social. in the sense that it is ordained by God for the citizenship of earth and the filiation of the Kingdom of Heaven. Some functions of the human are individual, such as seeing and hearing. Every man must blow his own nose and make his own love. But married love also implies social relationship, namely, the propagation of the species. In other language, love is personal, but sex is social, as the right to property is personal, but the use is social. Love looks to a helpmate who is human; sex to humanity. That the latter looks beyond the personal is evident from its somewhat automatic character. It is not completely subject to personal control. It reaches a point where it goes beyond the person to the continuation of the human species. If sex were given by God solely for the satisfaction of the individual, it would in all instances be subject to the individual control, like eating. But its reflex character suggests that God has a hand in preserving the race, even when the individual would distort the social purpose solely for his individual pleasure. This tension between person and race is not insoluble. When both love and sex have their normal God-given outlets, the contradiction is resolved in the child. The personal love of husband for wife becomes a social contribution in the child. At the same time, the personal element in their love is recovered, in the fact that they can call the child their own. "My son" or "my daughter" represents the social being personally owned. As man lost faith in God, he also lost belief in his soul, and this increased the tension. Not only did he reach a point where he became unconcerned as to whether or not he saved his soul, but he even denied that he had a soul to save. Left with only a body, he had to decide which part of the body would be the most important. There were only two possible functions of the body from which a choice could be made: eating, which preserved individual life, and mating, which guaranteed social life. Sacred Scripture records that some ancients made their belly a god; it was left to our day to make sex a god. Thus there was substituted for the body-soul-God relationship, the sex-body tension. Sex then became isolated from soul and God and became only a means to the satisfaction of man, who is now described as a "physiological bag filled with psychological libido." It must not be thought that the difference between the Christian and the pagan view is the difference between soul and body. The choice is never between body and soul, as if either one could be completely excluded. Rather, it is between giving the regnancy to body or to spirit. To be antibody, or to be against any of its functions, is anti-Christian, just as it is anti-Christian to be anti- soul. The harmonious rhythm of both is the fulfillment of the Divine Decree: "What God has joined, let not man put asunder." (Mark 10:9) With God the body is ransomed from the isolationism of mere matter, while the soul is transfigured, thanks to the flames of passion which nourish both self-life and begotten life. Without God and the soul, the body has no guarantee of the continuation of its thoughts or the fruits of its passions. With God the body can minister either to the mutual helpfulness of husband and wife, to the rearing of a family, or to the ecstasies of a John of the Cross. The third tension is that of the finite and the infinite. No human heart wants love for two more minutes or two more years, but forever. There is nothing as timeless as love. In its romantic moments it uses the language of eternity and Divinity and heaven, the better to bespeak its everlasting aspirations. But along with this longing for love without satiety, of ecstasy without end, there is the dull, drab realization that we do not completely possess it. The marriage that started as a masked ball, in which everyone seemed sweet and fair and romantic, soon reached the crisis when the masks were removed and one saw the characters for what they really were. As the poetess wrote: "Yes" I answered you last night "No" I say to you today; Colors seen by candle light Do not look the same by day. Thomas Moore, pursuing the same idea, wrote: Alas! How light a cause may move Dissension between hearts that love-- Hearts that the world in vain had tried, And sorrow but more closely tied; Which stood the storm when waves were rough, Yet in a sunny hour fell off; Like ships that have gone down at sea, When heaven was all tranquillity. The paradox of love is that the human heart, which wants an eternal and ecstatic love, can also reach a moment when it has too much love and wishes to be loved no longer. Francis Thompson in a poem tells how he picked up a child to hold, and held him in his arms, and how the child cried and kicked to get down. On reflecting, he wondered if that is not the way some souls are before God. They are not ready to be loved by Him. Certainly some such moment comes in the human order when there is a tug of war between wanting love and not wanting it. What is this mysterious alchemy inside the human heart which makes it swing between a feeling that it is not loved enough and the feeling that it is loved too much? Torn between longing and satiety, between craving and disgust, between desire and satisfaction, the human heart queries: Why should I be this way? When satiety comes, the Thou disappears, in the sense that it is no longer wanted. When longing reappears, the Thou becomes a necessity. Loved too much, there is discontent; loved too little, there is an emptiness. The answer to this tension is evident. The human heart was made for the Sacred Heart of Love, and no one but God can satisfy it. The heart is right in wanting the infinite; the heart is wrong in trying to make its finite companion the substitute for the infinite. The solution of the tension is in seeing that the disappointments which it brings are so many reminders that one is on pilgrimage to Love. Both the being loved too much and the being loved too little can go together when seen in the light of God. When the longing for infinite love is envisaged as a yearning for God, then the finiteness of the earthly love is seen as a reminder that "Our hearts were made for Thee, O Lord, and they can be satisfied only in Thee." The tug between what is immediate and what is interior now vanishes, as the very enjoyment which the immediacy of the flesh gives becomes the occasion for joy in the interiority of the soul, which knows that one is using it for God's purposes and for the salvation of both souls. The synthesis of life is achieved when the instincts are integrated to spirit and made useful to the ideals of the spirit. There is for the Christian no such thing in marriage as choosing between body and soul, or sex and love. He must choose both together. Marriage is a vocation to put God in every detail of love. In this way, the dream of the bride and groom for eternal happiness really comes true, not in themselves alone, but through themselves. Now they love each other not as they dreamed they would, but as God dreamed they would. Such a reconciliation of the tension is possible only to those who know that it takes three to make love. Only God can give what the heart wants. In true Christian love, the husband and wife see God coming through their love. But without God the infinity must be sought in the finitude of the partner, which is to gather figs from thistles. Eternity is in the soul, and all the materialism of the world cannot uproot it. The tragedy of the materialist psychologies of our day comes from trying to make a bodily function satisfy the infinite aspirations of the soul. It is this that creates complexes and unstable minds and divorce courts. It is like trying to put all the words of a book on the cover. Eliminate the Divine Third from human love, and there is left only the substitution of cruel repetition for infinity. The need of God never disappears. Those who deny the existence of water are still thirsty, and those who deny God still want Him in their craving for Beauty and Love and Peace, which He alone is. Man has his feet in the mud of the earth, his wings in the skies. He has sensations like the beasts and ideas like the angels, without being either pure beast or pure spirit. He is a mysterious composite of body and soul, with his body belonging to a soul, and his soul incomplete without the body. The true order is the subjection of body to soul and the whole personality to God. "It is all for you, and you for Christ, and Christ for God." (1 Cor. 3:23) Man is the pontiff of the universe, the "bridge builder" between matter and spirit, suspended between one foundation on earth and the other in heaven He is also, fundamentally, a being in tension with an anxiety of the kind felt by a sailor halfway up to a crow's nest on a stormy sea. His duty calls him to the nest above; his earth-bound character makes him fear falling from his ladder. No action of man in all its aspects can be said to be completely animal nor completely spiritual. Though he can generate spiritual thoughts, like "fortitude," yet the raw material for such thinking has to come through his senses. Eating and mating not only imply decision on the part of the spirit, but even delight the spirit. Sleeping is a human act; the will to sleep is the act of a human being. There is not a single error of history which is not a perversion of this mysterious body-soul unity. Some considered the body impure, such as the Manicheans; some considered the soul a parasite or a myth, such as Freud or Nietzsche. Everyone must decide for himself how this pull of opposites is to be resolved. There are only two answers possible: one is to give primacy to the body, in which case the soul suffers; the other is to give primacy to the soul, in which case the body is disciplined. The Christian answer to this polarity is unmistakable: "How is a man the better for it, if he gains the whole world at the cost of losing his own soul?" (Matt. 16:26) "And there is no need to fear those who kill the body, but have no means of killing the soul; fear him more, who has the power to ruin body and soul in hell." (Matt. 10:28) This ontological tension inherent in man, because of his composition of dust and living breath, has been accentuated into disorder by original sin, and is the basic reason why man suffers temptations. "The impulses of nature and the impulses of the spirit are at war with one another." (Gal. 5:17) "Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing enough, but the flesh is weak." (Matt. 26:41) The word "temptation" is never applied to the body-soul discipline, but it is to the soul-body servitude. No one says, "I was tempted to let him live," but one does say, "I was tempted to kill him." The regency of the soul is order, for herein the lower is subject to the higher, as plants are subject to animals, and animals to man. The granting of the primacy to the sensate against the intellectual is a descent, a loosening of bonds, a "fall." This does not mean that the sensible experience in itself is a "temptation," but only when it is enjoyed at the expense of the soul. The pleasure of seeing a setting sun is not hostile to the spirit, but the sensible experience of drunkenness is adverse to the spirit. Reason, in the first instance, transcends the body and inspires the soul to give glory to God for His creation; in the second instance, the body is a vampire against the spirit and militates against its peace, which is conditioned on the observance of the order of the cosmos, namely, the body-soul-God relationship. Because of this body-soul, or animal-spirit, tension in humans, it is possible to understand love either in one of two ways: as body- primacy or soul-primacy. In the first instance, love is carnal and identified with what the modern world calls sex. In the second instance, love is both spiritual and physical. The great philosophers have called the first, "the love of concupiscence," or the primacy of the sensate, and the second, the love of benevolence, or love for the sake of another. The Greeks, too, had their words for it. In their language, Eros is a passionate, overwhelming desire to possess and enjoy the affections of another. Agape is love founded on reverence for personality, its delight being to promote the well-being of the other; its joy is contemplation rather than possession. The two loves are good when understood. The Divine Command to love one's neighbor as one's self implies a lawful self-love. Here as elsewhere it takes three to make love. Love of self and love of neighbor both require love of God. The libido of modern psychology is Eros or carnal love divorced from Agape, or personal love, the body denying the soul, and the ego affirming itself against God. It was this kind of love which St. Paul condemned: "Because natural wisdom is at enmity with God." (Romans 8:7) Sex understood in the modern way is Eros-love severed from responsibility; it is desire without obligation. Because it is lawless desire, it is therefore Godless desire. That is why eroticism and atheism always go together. As soon as one condemns this limitation of the word love to the physiological order, one is immediately accused by the carnalists of saying that the Christian is opposed to sex love. The Christian is not opposed to sex love, otherwise there would be no sacrament of marriage. The Christian position can be stated as follows: Carnal love is a steppingstone to Divine Love. The Eros is the vestibule to Agape. Purely human love is the embryo of the love of the Divine. One finds some suggestion of this in Plato, who argues that love is the first step toward religion. He pictures love for beautiful persons being transformed into love for beautiful souls, then into a love of justice, goodness, and God, Who is their source. Erotic love is, therefore, a bridge which one crosses, not a buttress where one sits and rests. It is not an airport, but an airplane; it is always going somewhere else, upwards and onwards. All erotic love presupposes incompleteness, deficiency, yearning for completion, an attraction for enrichment; for all love is a flight towards immortality. There is a suggestion of Divine Love in every form of erotic love, as the lake reflects the moon. Love for other hearts is intended to lead to the love of the Divine Heart. As food is for the body, as body is for the soul, as the material is for the spiritual, so the flesh is for the eternal. Sex is only the self-starter on the motor of the family. Christianity is full of this transfiguration of carnal love into the Divine. The Savior did not crush or extinguish the erotic flames that burned in Magdalene's heart, but He transfigured them to a new object of affection. The Divine commendation that was given to the woman who poured out the ointment on the feet of her Savior reminded her that love which once sought its own pleasure can be transmuted into a love that will die for the beloved. For that reason, Our Lord referred to His burial at the very moment of the pouring, when her thoughts were closest to life. On a higher plane, we find that, thanks to the mysterious alchemy of religion, the noble love that the Blessed Mother had for her own Son in the flesh is expanded to a love so wide that she becomes the mother of all men. In marriage Eros leads to Agape, as the children draw the husband and wife out of their mutuality into the love of otherness. As the purpose of the vow of chastity is the crushing of the selfishness of the flesh for the purpose of a larger service in the Kingdom of God, so in a diminished way, the begetting of children enlarges the field of service and loving sacrifice for the sake of the family. In a well-regulated moral heart, as time goes on, the erotic love diminishes and the religious love increases. In marriages that are truly Christian, the love of God increases through the years, not in the sense that husband and wife love one another less, but that they love God more. Love passes from an affection for outer appearances to those inner depths of personality which embody the Divine spirit. There are few things more beautiful in life than to see that deep passion of man for woman, which begot children, transfigured into that deeper passion for the Spirit of God. It sometimes happens in a Christian marriage that when one of the partners dies, there is no taking of another spouse, lest there be the descent to lower realms from that higher love, from the Agape to the Eros. The evolution of Eros to Agape in true love has two moments In the first, the body leads the soul; in the second, the soul leads the body. At first, the physical dominates the soul to some extent, inasmuch as it is carried along by the winds of passion. In the second moment, the soul predominates, even suggesting that the body play its God-destined role. Love now becomes more spiritual. The moral training of children, the deep concern for their spiritual well-being, become paramount problems of married life. From this interest in souls and salvation, all the physical services flow. Generally this transformation from Eros-primacy to Agape-primacy takes place in sacrifice. No love ever mounts to a higher level without a touch of the Cross. Love that remains on a horizontal plane dies. In family life, this transfiguration of Eros to Agape takes place generally at birth, when something lower dies and something nobler is born. In domestic love, the bursting of the bonds of duality through a child's birth creates new loyalties, more self- sacrificing devotion, and psychologically liberates husband and wife from egotism. The word "love" is used less, but the deed-love comes more and more into play as altruism, kindness and sympathy. What happens when the Divine order is not worked out, and the erotic love is not used as the embryo for the Divine? This question puts the finger on the failure of most modern marriages, which look on love not as opening on the heavens, but as stooping with the flesh. When marriages are devoid of religion, which alone can suggest that the love of the flesh is the preface to the love of the spirit, then the other partner is often made the object of worship in place of God. This is the essence of idolatry, the worship of the image for the reality, the mistaking of the copy for the original, and the frame for the picture. When love is limited to the satisfaction of egotistic desire, it becomes only a spent force, a fallen star. When it deliberately refuses to use the sparks which God gave it to enkindle other fires; when it digs wells, but never drains the water; when it learns to read, but never knows: then does love turn against itself, and because it desires only to enjoy its own life, it ends in hatred or mutual slaughter. When the other partner becomes an idol and the object of worship because there is no God to adore, erotic love turns against those who have abused it. Each partner begins to feel the torturous contradiction between the infinite longing for Divine Love which it spurned, and its poor finite realizations and satieties in the human form. Both try to live a moment in which Satan's promise would be realized: "You will be like gods." But when there is no Agape to bridle Eros, then the furies are unleashed when the other partner is discovered not to be a God, much less an angel, or even a fallen angel. Because the other partner did not give all he promised to give (but which he was incapable of giving because he was not God) the other feels betrayed, deceived, disappointed, and cheated. No human being is Love, but only lovable. Only God is Love. When the creature takes the place of the Creator and is made to stand for love, then erotic love turns to hate; the other partner is discovered to have feet of clay, to be a woman instead of an angel, or to be a man instead of an Apollo. When the ecstasy does not continue, and the band stops playing, and the champagne of life loses its sparkle, the other partner is called a cheat and a robber, and then finally called to a divorce court on the grounds of incompatibility. And what grounds could be more stupid than incompatibility, for what two persons in the world are perfectly and at all times compatible? A search for a new partner begins on the assumption that some other human being can supply what only God can give. The new marriages become only the addition of zeros. Instead of seeing that the basic reason for the failure of marriage was the refusal to use married love as the vestibule to the Divine, the divorced think that the second marriage can supply what the first lacked. The very fact that a man or a woman seeks a new partner is a proof that there never was any love at all, for though sex is replaceable, love is not. Cows can graze on other pastures, but there is no substitution for a person. As soon as a person becomes equated with a package to be judged only by its wrappings, it will not be long until the tinsel turns green and the package is discarded. This arrangement enslaves a woman, because she is much more a creature of time than man, and her security becomes less and less through the years. She is always much more concerned about her age than a man, and thinks more of marriage in terms of time. A man is afraid of dying before he has lived, but a woman is basically afraid of dying before she has begotten life. A woman wants the fulfillment of life more than a man. It is less the experience of life that she craves, than the prolongation of life. Whenever the laws and the customs of a country permit an arrangement whereby a woman can be discarded because she has dishpan hands, she becomes the slave, not of the dishpans, but of man. So selfish is erotic love alienated from Divine Love that sometimes it will permit no flower to grow except its own. It may even resent the conversion of the partner to God on the foolish grounds that there will be less love for self if God is loved, or that love will be more pure and less Freudian. Opposition to religion is often one of the consequences of erotic love, forgetting as it does that love is widened by contact with Divinity. The result is that persons become reduced to mere chattels who exist for no other purpose than to be possessed. It makes little difference to weary souls whether that which possesses them is a foreign ideology, a body, a Utopia, a drink, or a pill. The fact is that they are so disgusted with themselves and their goalless living that they surrender themselves to a totalitarian system which will dispense with personal responsibility. Eroticism and Communism, Freud and Marx, are not so far apart. If love remained only in the flesh and were like a bitter weed that would suffer no flowers to bloom except its own, love would be most miserable, for love then would only be a quest and not a communion. Love that is only a search or a quest is incomplete. All incompleteness ends in frustration. The difficulty all who are married must feel, is the paradox of the romance and the marriage, the chase and the capture. Each has its joys, but never perfectly are they combined here below. The marriage ends the courtship; the courtship presupposes no marriage. The chase ends with the capture. How is this contradiction met? There is only one way that will not sear the soul, and that is to see that both the marriage and the courtship are incomplete. The courtship was really a quest for the infinite, and a search for an unending, ecstatic, eternal love, while the marriage was the possession of a finite and fragmentary love, however blissful might be its moments. The search was for the garden; it ended in eating the apple. The quest was for the melody; the discovery was only a note. At this point Christianity suggests: Do not think that life is a snare or an illusion. It would be that only if there were no Infinite to satisfy your yearnings. Rather, husband and wife should say: "We both want a Love that will never die and will have no moments of hate or satiety. That love lies beyond both of us; let us, therefore, use our marital love one for another to bring us to that perfect, blissful love, which is God." At that point, love ceases to be a disillusionment and begins to be a sacrament, a material, carnal channel toward the spiritual and the Divine. Husband and wife then come to see that human love is a spark from the great flame of eternity; that the happiness which comes from the unity of two in one flesh is a prelude to that greater communion of two in one spirit. In this way, marriage becomes a tuning fork to the song of the angels, or a river that runs to the sea. The couple then sees that there is an answer to the elusive mystery of love, and that somewhere there is a reconciliation of the guest and the goal, and that is in final union with God, where the chase and capture, the romance and the marriage, fuse into one. For since God is boundless eternal Love, it will take an ecstatic eternal chase to sound its depths. At one and the same eternal moment, there is a limitless receptivity and a boundless gift. Thus does Eros climb to Agape, and both move on to that greatest revelation ever given to the world: GOD IS LOVE.