Saturday, October 11, 2008

Living a Concrete Ideology

A student came up to me last week and told me about a discussion she had with a number of other students after a daily Mass. The question that came up from this discussion was whether or not it was healthy for a man to allow a woman to step in front of him in the communion line if she is not his girlfriend. This may sound like a scrupulous question at the surface but I was taken back by the profound theological and anthropological implications undergirding this question. The student’s ambivalent attitude toward her own opinion to this question expressed, in my opinion, the question’s natural complexity.

Those who expressed a desire to limit when a man should encourage a woman to go in front of him did so for good reasons. For starters, such a noble action could ultimately be a distraction. What if the woman genuinely takes such a gesture as a sign of interest on behalf of the man? I have had similar experiences at coffee shops when a nice girl behind the counter would say things like, “This one is on me.” I quickly found myself no longer interested in the drink which had been superseded by wonderment in her actions. One must admit that such a possibility of miscommunication is probable at times, but is such a “remedy” getting to the heart of the matter?

The problem that must be resolved is not “miscommunication” but rather the heart’s disbelief in disinterested love! While the question at hand may appear scrupulous to many, it points to a broader reality. How many times have we questioned the intention of a good action of another? It almost appears as if we are inclined to look at anything good through a lens of suspicion. In other words, behind many good actions lie selfish ends. Of course, such suspicion does not come out of a vacuum but rather from past experience. These tragic experiences of our past come from the life of concupiscence (meaning our fallen nature’s twisted inclination to be self-seeking). Thus, any action to prevent any miscommunication on behalf of the opposite sex—like the communion question—is a genuine coping mechanism for the life of concupiscence that we live in. However, while coping mechanisms are very good and needed, are we not called to something more?

We are called to the redemption of the body (cf. Rom. 8.23). Without Christ, all love (including friendship) can amount to is the accumulation of pleasures which are extremely volatile and unfulfilling. However, in the beginning it was not so (cf. Mat. 19.8). We are empowered and called in Christ to give and receive disinterested love passionately. If the heart of friendship is in the seeking the good of the other, then anything that impedes such ends must seek redemption in the love of the Lord. If that entails a concrete measure such as “coping mechanism” then so be it, but we MUST remember that we are called from repression to redemption! Coping with our fallen humanity is the equivalent to living on spiritual milk (cf. 1 Cor. 3.2). May we continue to open our hearts to the redeeming love of Christ through his Holy Church. Do not be afraid for He longs to fill us with the beatitude that comes from passionate disinterested love! May God be Praised.

1 comment:

sarah said...

i REALLY liked this post, especially given our talk at lunch yesterday. well done boettget. :)