There are 613 laws, which an observant Jewish person is expected to keep. In the rabbinical tradition, there was a discussion as to what was central and essential in all of these laws. What did God truly expect of a faithful person? Jesus is asked this question in Luke 10:27; Matt. 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31. He responded by citing two passages of scripture. Both are taken from Torah. The first is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy 6:4-5. This passage was committed to memory by pious Jewish people and prayed as the "Shema Israel" [Hear O‘Israel], as Christians have committed to memory the passage from Matthew as the “Our Father.”
"Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."
The second passage is taken from the Book of Leviticus 19:18. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Most Christians think of this as teaching us to love God and neighbor; however, when read closely, these two passages direct us to love three: God, neighbor and self.
Unbelievably, the hardest of those three for most people to love is self. Christians think of such a concept as “indulgent” or “worldly.” Yet, Christ specifically commands us to love our neighbor as our self. If you do not love yourself, then you cannot love your neighbor and for that matter, you cannot love God. You have not learned to love, period.
Most people in our society have a negative self-image. If you think of yourself negatively and you treat your neighbor as yourself, you will probably think of your neighbor negatively. Phrases such as “People are no good” and “that’s human nature.” Creep into our vocabulary from our minds and hearts. These people are really saying: “I’m no good” and “others are like me.”
The Prophet Jeremiah says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” and “before you were born, I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1: 5.) Do you believe that about yourself? Do you believe that you are not “an accident” that your life has value and purpose? You are unique, gifted with a combination of talents, intellect; life experiences and attributes which no one else on earth possesses.
The two commandments, which Jesus teaches his disciples, serve to integrate us. First with our self. First, we must appreciate that we are created by a God who is love, a God who does not make mistakes, and a God who does not make trash. You are not defective, you are not disordered, and you are not deformed. Your gender, your eye color, the pigmentation of your skin, your intellect, and your sexual orientation is all willed by the Creator. You are willed by the Creator and the fact that you live and draw breath at this very moment is willed by the Creator.
The Creator has also created each other person on this earth as well as all other creatures and the planet and cosmos which sustain life. We are part of a larger organic whole. To hurt another person, creature, the planet, etc; is in fact, to hurt you. The consequence of hurtful decisions and choices creates a ripple effect in other lives and in the whole of the created order.
Once we learn to love and accept our self, we begin to move to greater personal wholeness and integrity within our self. We begin to see and actualize our yet unrealized potential. We begin to learn from errors of judgment. We become more sensitive to the hurts we have caused others and learn to ask for forgiveness and to avoid hurting others in the future.
We learn to become a living reflection of the Creator who is love itself. Who has moved beyond self to create others and me. We begin to see all of the created order and being ordered towards love, towards reintegration, towards potentials, which can only be realized in and through the other.
Sex is designed by God to require us to move beyond the self. If you look at the physical act of sex, it teaches you something of what is suppose to happen between two people in an intimate encounter. You undress, for intimacy to occur between two people it requires you to undress. Not just physically, but also emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. You reveal yourself to the other. Your true self, with all of your strengths and weaknesses. Your hopes/dreams and your fears and what haunts you. You become vulnerable to the other in this moment and they to you and the wonderful occurs when the other accepts you “as is.”
In physical sex, you give yourself unreservedly to each other. True intimacy requires no less than this. It is a self-donation to someone else. It is the greatest gift you can give. This is the great difference between lust and love. In lust, the relation with the other person is a strip-mine operation; you are there to take what you want and then leave. In love, you are there because you appreciate the other and are there to give yourself unreservedly to the other. In marriage, two people stand before each other, others and God and promise that they will be there the one for the other, unconditionally. This is the beauty and strength of marriage. It doesn’t matter what the race, religion, or sexual orientation is of the two people who enter into marriage.
I have included this video clip from a psychologist Dr. James Walton speaking on the human dynamics in marriage. I hope that you find it helpful.
I plan on posting articles on "Spirituality and Divorce" and "Spirituality and being single" in the near future.
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- How It All began
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.