Monday, December 10, 2012
Last night at FLOCK we had a night I liked to entitle: "be original"
The night coincided with what has come to be known as "sex and dating night". A night where the focus of FLOCK is about the truth regarding our human sexuality in the way God created it and how we are called to live out relationships between the opposite sex. I always like to joke when Sara says "next week we're going to have 'sex and dating night'!" that it's purely theoretical and not at all practicing... Haha, get it? Kind of funny?
Anyways, I decided today to write a blog about what we talked about to share that with those who weren't there and at the same time, further encourage the ones who were. So, here we go...
The idea behind "be original" is that when Pope John Paul II (from here on out he shall be referenced as JP2) came out with his "Theology of the Body", he started it off in a way that Jesus Himself approached the topic of relationships and sexuality. In Matthew 19, some Pharisees approached Jesus and tested him by asking about divorce and why Moses allowed people to do so. Jesus responded: "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." It is this beginning that Jesus mentioned that caught the attention of JP2. From this beginning he came up with what he liked to call "the original experiences". These original experiences are what Adam and Eve went through before the fall that disordered our true desire for sex and relationships. The ones we specifically referenced were "original solitude", "original unity" and "original nakedness". If we look at these original experiences, if we go back to the beginning as Jesus and JP2 did, we can get a better grasp of how we are to go about relationships, especially those that involve the opposite sex.
Original solitude: this is when God first created Adam using the account of creation from the second chapter of Genesis. God created Adam alone. Not with Eve. Not even with animals. Just man and God. When Adam was alone with God in solitude. Why was it this way? Why did God create Adam without Eve first? Why not just create them both together? Maybe God wanted Adam to be alone... Maybe God wanted Adam to realize who he was and what he was created for without any other distractions... Maybe God wanted Adam to see his true identity, his primary reason for being before he had the chance to live it out... Maybe God wanted Adam to see that He alone satisfies, that Adam can only be truly fulfilled by God His Creator and that it is in God He will find his ultimate happiness... It is in solitude that we come to know who we are and God can truly reveal to us what we are created for. We are created for God. In original solitude we recognize and claim our identity.
Original unity: "The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him." Genesis 2: 18 God Himself states that it is not good for Adam to be alone. Although he was created in solitude, he was not meant for it. So God creates all the wild animals and brings them before Adam so that he could name them. Yet, it states "none proved to be a helper suited to the man." Why does God do this? If none of these animals provided Adam a suitable helper, why does He create them first? Maybe it is so that Adam realizes and recognizes what he was created for... Maybe it is in naming these wild animals and birds of the air that Adam understands none of them are suitable to help him live out who he is... Maybe in bringing them before him first Adam sees that they don't help fulfill his innermost being, one that is relational and that is meant to love in God's image who is Love... Then God creates Eve from Adam's side and how does Adam respond? "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" Gen. 2: 23. Adam sees in Eve that she is like him. He sees that in Eve he can live out what he was created for. He sees that in Eve he can fulfill his innermost being which is to image God's love which is relational. He can now love as God loves with a total gift of self to another. This is original unity. It is man recognizing that he was made for relationships so that he can image the love of God.
Original nakedness: "The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame." Gen. 2: 25 This is where Adam and Eve, together living out what they were created to be, were able to do this in such a way that they felt no shame. They could live in unity with each other without being afraid of who they were created to be. Why was this the case? Why was it important to mention that they were naked and yet felt no shame? Maybe this is because when you know your identity and know who you are and what you were created for you have nothing to be ashamed of... Maybe it is because when you are able to perfectly live out the image of God with another, this image that is a sincere gift of self to the other, you have nothing to fear... Maybe when you see others as the persons that they are, as the children of God that they are, there is no reason to cover up... This is original nakedness. Living in the reality of who God created you to be and not being ashamed of it, afraid of what others think, or feeling like you need to cover up so others don't see you for who you really are. Original nakedness is all about interior freedom.
So... Why does this matter? How does this relate to high school students? The answer:
Be original in your solitude. If you are single and not dating anyone at the moment, GOOD! Take this time of solitude as an opportunity to work on your identity. Take this time to really come to know who you are and what you were created for. DEFINITELY use this time to realize that God alone satisfies! That God is the one who brings you ultimate fulfillment, happiness, joy, and peace and nothing else can! Be in relationship with HIM for that is what you were created for! Truly high school and even college are meant to be times of solitude. Times in which you come to know who you are and what you were created for and to realize that God is your ultimate end and greatest relationship. Who cares if it seems like every one else is dating right now. How many of those people that you know are dating, whether they are your friends or not, claim their identity as their relationship with that person? That's not true! That's not real! And how difficult will it be for them to find out who they really are when they no longer are dating that person? Our identity comes from solitude, not from another person, and those people who never let themselves be in solitude will never truly know who they are. This is your time to become the BEST POSSIBLE GIFT YOU CAN BE so that the day you realize what you were created for, and who you were created for (as in a future spouse) you can offer it to them in all sincerity! Use this time of solitude as an opportunity to enter into relationship with God, to grow in prayer and virtue and to become the best possible gift you can be.
Be original in your unity. Realize that you were meant for relationships. JP 2 says
"Man, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self.”
It is in the sincere gift of self to another that we come to fully find ourselves. Our identity in who we are and what we were created for is found fully in a sincere gift of self. In high school and even in college, you are best able to practice this in friendships, not in dating. We practice this gift of self in sincere friendships so that we can live it out in our vocation. Every relationship's most solid foundation is in friendship. This is where unity grows. This is where unity flourishes. Now's the time to practice sincere friendships. Focus on your friendships now instead of putting all your attention into a boyfriend or girlfriend. We all know those couples who put all their energy into each other and spending time with each other, and then when that relationship is over they no longer have solid friendships any more or even know how to create solid friendships. Practice the art of friendship so that when you are ready to embrace your vocation, when you are able to live out Gen. 2: 24 (which states "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body." And I sincerely doubt that any high school student and very rarely are there college students who are able and ready to "leave their father and mother"...) then you will be able to experience the unity that you were originally created for in a more perfect way! And truly, the epitome of experiencing intimacy within a relationship is not the sexual embrace. So often our culture today is telling us that the highest of intimacy between people is sex, but this is not true. This is only true if it is a sincere gift of self. And a sincere gift of self cannot happen without commitment, without totality, without faithfulness and without the openness to new life. And this can only happen within the confines of the Sacrament of Marriage. This is where original unity is in its perfect form.
Then you will be able to be original in your nakedness. No, I'm not talking about throwing off the clothes and going streakin' (bring your green hat!). The nakedness I'm talking about is to live out who you are, who you were created to be, the VERY CORE of your personhood in all transparency without any shame, fear, or feelings of wanting to cover up. You will be able to be your true self. When you know your identity, and you surround yourself with people who you not only practice gift of self with sincerely, but they return this as well, then you are able to truly be yourself. You are free. You are not worried of what others think of you or if someone else is judging you. You don't care if you'll get backlash for living out the purest desires of your heart (and I do mean pure desires of your heart. There are still very disordered desires of our heart that if we live them out, they don't bring freedom, they only bring slavery to sin). And this comes from the knowledge of being a child of God. If you know that you are a child of God and that it is God who fulfills you and satisfies you above all else and you know that all others are children of God as well, then you will do all that you can to live out who He created you to be and to accept who He created others to be. This is original nakedness. And this is what we all want. To be completely ourselves without fear, shame or worry.
So, as I just rambled on for way too long, and knowing that many of you, more than likely, probably quit reading this by now, I end by stating that if a high school student were to ask me for my advice regarding sex and dating in high school I would simply tell them: