Thursday, August 11, 2011

Natural vs. UN-Natural LOVE

In thinking about our mandate to love God and to love those around us,
it's critical that we come to a deep understanding of what Love even means,
and that we dedicate ourselves to the life-long process of studying and
practicing Love... Make no mistake: The central theme and compelling directive
of the Gospel is LOVE; anything less is mere religion, and profits us nothing.

As I've noted here on TPoG before, there is perhaps no better Context in which
to understand and to practice True Love than Marriage; and in regard to this
"proving ground for Love", I had a realization yesterday that I don't think
I've ever had, before:

Married Love is UN-NATURAL.

I heard someone say recently that they know what "True Love" is, referencing
relationships with Siblings, Parents, and even that "first love" romance from
high school; but as I pondered this, I began to see a very clear difference
between these Loves and Husband-Wife love.

The Love one experiences for both Siblings and Parents is what might be called
"Natural Love", that is, it springs from a relationship in which we find ourselves
beginning at birth, having made no *choice* to Love and yet growing to feel,
naturally, the strength of a bond often described with the phrase, "blood is
thicker than water". We grow up in these relationships experiencing a deep filial
affection, a certain "you belong with me" connection that is, from the start,
a central part of our very identity; family ties are who we are, to a very
great degree, and while not all Family ties are necessarily loving and happy and
blessed, they are relationships we are born into, natural and normal
realities that define us throughout our entire lives...

Married Love, however, is NOT Natural, it is UN-Natural: It begins with a Contract
in which both parties vow that certain behaviors can be expected of them until
death parts them; it is the voluntary sealing of the relational "escape hatch" with
Vows that are meant to hold the relationship together specifically when one or the
other, or both, are desperately seeking a way out; and it is the life-long
determination of two deeply sinful and (often) wildly different parties to devote
themselves, BOTH of them, to building, strengthening, and deepening a Bond that is
designed to be "one flesh", a single, new "Super-person".

Contrary to Family love, Married love does NOT arise naturally, by definition; it is
NOT present from birth, and it is NOT an innate part of any of our identities; it
requires, like a garden, a tremendous amount of work, and maintenance, and care and
feeding, so that the couple can mutually enjoy the benefits of its Fruits.
The "weeds" of selfishness, and apathy, and indifference, and infidelity, and many
more, are a constant threat; and, tragically, its Bonds can be broken, by either
party at any time, whereas Family relationships cannot be, at least by definition,
ever be broken: We will ALWAYS be our Siblings' sibling, and our Parents' children,
no matter what any of us ever chooses to do...

Interesting, then, to consider that the relationship of Christ and His Church is
described, primarily, not as a "family" relationship but as a MARRIAGE relationship:
An UN-Natural relationship we must enter into by choice, from which we often stray,
and for which we must "die daily"... This UN-Natural Love requires commitment and
work and fidelity; and yet, ironically, its ultimate Fruit will, when we are finally
and perfectly Glorified, be the transformation of an UN-Natural Love into
a NATURAL Love, a Bond that will last for all eternity.

This then is the highest Love and the most dramatic of all, the epitome of
True Love, our deepest need and our greatest joy.

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