Why is it that every time I’m in my religion class, the teachers try to drill in our heads that sex before marriage is so wrong? If you really love someone, wouldn’t you want to do everything together? Why is this such a bad thing?
Well, how do you know that you really love someone?
Is it because you receive pleasure from being around that person?
But receiving pleasure is something that happens to me. Love isn’t about me; it’s about the person I love. This is where our culture falls off the track. It makes love a matter of what I need and what I want. But to love is to will the good of the other. It’s motivated by unselfish concern for the other.
This is why your teachers are so concerned. They don’t want you to think that to be self-absorbed is what love is. When we thinks that love is all about what we can get, then our behavior toward the person we think we love becomes a matter of our using that person for own satisfaction. This can be very hurtful to that person. Ultimately, this can be very hurtful to ourselves as well. In the long run, it doesn’t deliver.
When we treat others as objects for our own pleasure, we begin to think of ourselves in terms of utility. I’m only good for what I can do. But this is a lie. Each one of us has value just by the fact that we exist as a human being, designed by God himself.
Respect literally means “look twice.” It means to behold the other as other and not just as a source of pleasure for me. That the presence of the other gives me pleasure can be a very good thing. But my first response can be to treasure that person’s qualities for herself without my turning it around to serve me. This is where real love begins.