Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Completeness of "Total" (TOTB Part VII)

TOTB Resources; TOTB Intro; TOTB Part I; TOTB Part II; TOTB Part III; TOTB Part IV; TOTB Part V; TOTB Part VI

Practicing truly free love means that we are committed to the cost of love - we gift our body entirely to one person until the parting of death. But total love takes costly free love to a new high...

The body is certainly not just flesh. When Jesus taught us how to love the Lord our God, we were taught to love Him with our hearts, with our souls and with our minds.

Total love means that it is not enough to love a lifetime spouse with just the gift of body. Total love means that, not only our bodies, but our hearts, our deepest longings, and our minds are also freely given to our lifetime spouse in love.

How deeply our culture is crippled in the practice of total love. I will never forget a conversation with one of my friends who was explaining how, for the first several years of her dad's marriage, he worked as a photographer for Playboy. Curious as to how she would reflect on this part of her father's past, I listened, shocked, as she casually said, "Yeah, I guess it's a little weird now, but it was just a way to make money at the time."

No! Pornography cannot "just be a way to make money"! Disconnecting sexuality from a commited relationship and objectifying sexuality to eroticism alone utterly destroys our abillity to understand the excellence of the totality of love. Total love recognizes a body as a whole person. Total love gives the treasure of a complete person - eyes, mind, thoughts, imaginations and emotions - to a lifetime spouse.

Dr. Gregory Popcak in his excellent book Holy Sex quotes the Pontifical Council for the Family, "The person is thus capable of a higher kind of love than [eroticism], which only sees objects as a means to satisfy one's appetites; the person is capable rather of friendship and self-giving, with the capacity to recognize and love persons for themselves. Like the love of God, this is a love capable of generosity. One desires the good of the other because he or she is recognized as worthy of being loved. This is a love which generates communion between persons, because each considers the good of the other as his or her own good. This is a self-giving made to one who loves us, a self-giving whose inherent goodness is discovered and activated in the communion of persons and where one learns the value of loving and being loved."

The communion of love in the Godhead is a total communion. This is what our sexuality has been designed to reflect. Mirroring the totality of God's love requires a complete gift of self - our eyes, our emotions, our thoughts, our longings, our mental efforts. Total love is costly, but herein we find the immense pleasure of fulfilling our created purpose. It is in the practice of total love, that we discover unity, redemption, rich friendship, intimacy, goodness, fullness of life, health, and joy.