“Here we mean freedom above all as self-mastery. Such freedom is indispensable in order for man to be able to find himself fully through a sincere gift of self” (TOB 15:2).
Freedom is what makes giving possible. It makes it possible for us to become a gift to others, therefore making the spousal meaning of the body possible. However, this freedom does not give us license to do anything we want.
Imagine for a second that you are playing soccer with all of your friends on a tall cliff. Surrounding the cliff at the bottom are sharp rocks; if you fall, you will surely die. Now, imagine someone kicks the ball over the cliff. The game and the fun are both over. But now imagine the same scenario but with a net around the cliff this time. When someone kicks the ball, it hits the net and bounces back, keeping it in play. Which scenario not only sounds more fun, but also gives them the freedom to play more soccer? The second one.
The Catholic Church is not just a group of old men in pointy hats trying to repress your sexuality. Quite the contrary, in fact they want to elevate it to its original and beautiful state. Rules in the Church are not meant to repress, but rather to allow you to be truly free to love. So it may look like it limits freedom, but that is sometimes necessary for true love. St. John Paul II in Love and Responsibility says, “Love consists of a commitment which limits one’s freedom – it is a giving of the self, and to give oneself means just that: to limit one’s freedom on behalf of another” (Love and Responsibility).
People sometimes fear the hard work and restrictions that are part of relationships. But, St. John Paul II says, “Limitation of one’s freedom might seem to be something negative and unpleasant, but love makes it a positive, joyful and creative thing. Freedom exists for the sake of love” (Love and responsibility).
Using another person strips away their freedom. Man and woman must give the gift of themselves freely if they are to live together in true respect and love. They must also receive the gift freely and give it back. If there is an instance where the gift of someone else is taken, such as in pornography, than true freedom deteriorates.
True freedom shows that both parties love each other and respect each other because of their intrinsic dignity.
We cannot trample over someone else’s free will to get something for ourselves, or else the freedom is lost. This is incredible to think about in terms of sexual desire. In the beginning, Adam and Eve did not have sexual desire as an urge to take something from the other person, rather they experienced it as a need to give something to the other. The focus was on giving and not on taking. Christopher West says, “They could not grasp or possess one another. They could not extort the gift” (Head and Heart Pg. 31).
This is how it should be for each and every one of us. Sexual desire is not a bad thing. We all have it. It is when we allow our sexual desire to control us to the point where we are taking from others instead of giving that it becomes a problem.
© TOMMY SHULTZ, 2017
I DO NOT CLAIM ANY RIGHTS TO THE PHOTO USED.
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