We all know desire as this incredibly strong feeling that we have inside of us. A longing or hunger. It’s not merely just a wishy washy emotion, but it is much deeper than that. It is something that we feel in the core of our being. Something more than just a want, it’s a longing with your whole being.
When we think of this next element of Love, Love as Desire, our thoughts probably automatically lean towards sensual desire (sexual urge). And yes, this kind of desire is present and is very strong and important as well. But we know all too well, that if the only part we see and focus on is the desire on it’s own, we get blinded by it and sometimes even lost in it. Think of desire as this strong driving force in love, but if this force has no controlled direction, it will pull you anywhere it can in order to become satisfied. As human beings, we were not created on this earth to be alone. We were created for union, for relationship with the other, and ultimately with God. That is what this desire is, it is this longing for the other, because on our own we are incomplete. St. JP2 explains “a man therefore needs a woman, so to say, to complete his own being, and woman needs man in the same way” (Pg.81). Our desire towards men or women respectively, just like our attraction, is not bad; it is VERY good. God placed this desire in our hearts for a reason.
Now some might argue “isn’t this kind of desire something that leads to using someone simply for your own benefit and satisfaction?” St. JP2 goes further and says how “love as desire cannot then be reduced to desire itself” (Pg.81). Yes these desires are good in of themselves, but that doesn’t mean that this is the only element we consider. Desire is simply an ELEMENT of love, not the ONLY definition of love. He continues on by saying that “true ‘love as desire’ never becomes utilitarian in its attitude, for (even when desire is aroused) it has its roots in the personalistic principle” (pg. 82). This personalistic principle (also known as the personalistic norm) that St. JP2 is referring too, is how there is only one true and appropriate way to approach another human person, and that is through love. When this desire is channeled in a direction that seeks the good of the other person, it becomes LOVE, not USE.
Take a moment today and reflect on how do you react or approach this “desire” when it arises? Do you shove it down thinking it is bad and pretend that it doesn’t exist, or do you indulge in it and just let it roam wild and free? I would like to propose a different approach: REJOICE and GLORIFY God in this desire, and pray for the grace to channel it towards Him, so that your actions and thoughts become focused on the good of the other person and seeing them with true love as a Brother or Sister in Christ, and not as a means to simply satisfy your desire.
– John, P. (1981). Love and responsibility. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
NOTE: This is part of a 4 part series on “What is Love?”
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