Posted by David
Part 1 – Love, relationships and marriage
There’s a general theme that runs through my thinking which affects how I perceive things in this world. If you’re curious, it’s based on Matthew 6:22-23 and Matthew 23:26. To sum it up: what we dwell upon is what we become and what we become within is what we encounter in life. It’s cyclical. And if what enters our heart is dark, not only do you cause yourself pain, but also damage others deeply. The opposite is also true, which should be our focus in life.
“She took some and ate it”
My peers started talking about boyfriends and girlfriends in late elementary school. Being a first child (actually a twin), the oldest of cousins, and not having any really significant older peers in my neighborhood, I was a slow learner and naïve about ‘love’. But by looking back at the motivations behind those early relationships, by examining closely my particular life experience, and finally by learning from what my close male and female friends have confided in me, I can clearly see what boyfriends and girlfriends are all about.
It seems to me that girls are the first to recognize and quietly clamor for those sorts of relationships. Boys don’t seek that sort of relationship until they start consciously or subconsciously feel the chemistry start to build in their groins. Boys might start experiencing those relationships earlier, but mostly to satisfy the play of their friends. There are certainly exceptions.
Early on, for girls, having a boyfriend is clearly a type of play where girls tinker with adult ideas in the only they way they know them. Having a boyfriend is simply a game, one that has its roots in preparation for marriage and having babies. It’s a game just like the wrestling and war games in which boys dabble.
Playing is fun. Playing is living in a realm of fantasy and that realm has intersecting spheres upon which all sexes play. Play is a creative dance upon which the archetypes of this world are built.
But the game becomes darker for girls, especially the ones that learn that they have the ability to manipulate others using their bodies and words as tools. At that point the experience of having boyfriend crosses the fence from play to power-play. This is also when other girls, who don’t have that self-perceived ability, get marginalized. These girls also start learning other ways to manipulate. It’s the nature of anger to manifest itself into power-play. This is the middle school saga. It starts in late elementary and for some it lasts their entire life.
Feeding the flames
Of course, boys aren’t off the hook. Some boys learn the same manipulative devices of their cohort females. They not only learn how to wield the power of their body and words, but they also have the driving power of male lust behind their action. Girls and boys alike must watch out for them. They are a raging fire and may be dangerous their entire lives particularly to others. Pain is in their wake. Less frequently do females learn to wield such power, but they certainly do exist.
At a particular point, boys begin to feel that drive to have sex, which is natural. However, society does a fantastic job of heightening that desire. One of the worst things for me as a pubescent boy was my encounter with pornography, whether it be the real deal laying out used and wet from the rain on the sidewalk or even the newspaper Montgomery Ward lingerie inserts. The almost naked body has a profound effect on boys and girls (for that matter). It heightens our sexuality, because it places images in our minds. The sexual development within boys is mostly a habitual response to imagery and ideas placed in our heads from others. The imagery grows as we allow it to grow. We allow it to be fed in a variety of directions, mostly with disastrous effects. As someone once put it to me, “Is it really natural to have a shoe fetish?” The answer, of course, is no. Through habit and the choices of the will, we allow ourselves to develop our lusts. And to survive, our lusts must be fed and fed well. In fact, the greater the lust the more it must be fed and the more creative the fuel. Lust desires new fuel. It won’t burn as well on the same fuel as before. The food that lust ends up consuming to be satisfied becomes truly revolting. But that food starts simple. For boys, it starts with pornographic imagery.
Images provoke our creative sense. Images produce a reality (if not only in one’s head). They take on a life of their own. Our dreamworld develops from the things we stuff in it, as well as what the world pours forth. So, dreams become a mixture of reality and false-reality, especially when we’re fed with those things that are false. If the images that enter us are in any way, shape or form based on premises of lust, those images spawn more lust in the mind of the adolescent or of the adult. Fortunately, we are given the ability to allow or deny entry into our heart, but we must have help. This cannot be done alone. What we allow into our hearts is the most difficult task of the adult. We must be assisted by community and can only be done through prayer by the grace of God. This is why Jesus commands us to pray, “lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” If you haven’t prayed that in a while, do so now. It’s vastly more important than you may realize today.
An unquenchable fire
In boys (and girls), these imagined realities become living entities within the mind of us individually and our general society. They are most always false impressions of reality and they may consume our focus. They become literally and figuratively indwelling creatures. The reality of sex is not what society or the individual perceives it to be. But these imaginary realities, build, develop and push the male and female to fulfill this fiction in reality. All moms and dads should know that the reason most adolescent males want girlfriends is because of the imagined sex (conscious or subconscious) that could come with it. They should also know that the reason most girls want boyfriends is because of status and power. There are noble reasons for courtship, but those reasons I’ll deal with in the section on marriage.
If that imaginary reality becomes unchecked, it can become a dangerous fire. If he or she allows others to feed his flames, the fire gets bigger and bigger. And it takes more dangerous fuel to feed it. Gasoline must replace the logs.
Under these conditions, the other valuable type of love may be consumed by the fire of lust and power. The agape love, we know most closely as friendship or fellowship, brotherhood or sisterhood, is sometimes used to feed the fire. But when we start feeding our lust furnace with the only true concepts of love that enters our lives, we begin to die. Our living being can only be fed by agape love. Brotherhood and sisterhood should not be allowed to feed the fuel of lust. It is a trap that anyone can encounter. No one is more prone to it than another.
I’m compelled to add that the two components of this type of false-love should be best defined together as powerlust, as Augustine puts it. One could assign lust to the male and power to the female, but at the end of the day, they are one in the same. Male and female are biological distinctions, yet our sin is manifest in different yet overlapping ways.
The fuel of lust feeds an unquenchable fire. Be careful to understand that the fire of powerlust has no place with agape love and is doomed. We must not fall with it into the pit.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.