What are housewives really "desperate" for? And why can't Mick Jagger get no satisfaction? Allow me to suggest an unlikely place to find some answers: Pope Benedict's new letter "God is Love."
Our world is saturated with sex but starved for love. We're so impoverished that we're often willing to eat out of a dumpster to satisfy our hunger. Without wagging a finger at anyone, Benedict's thoughtful meditations on erotic and divine love (eros and agape in Greek) set our sights on a banquet that's almost too good to believe.
The Pope observes that Christianity is often criticized for being opposed to the body and sex. While he admits that such tendencies have always existed, Benedict insists that negativity toward the body and sex is, in all truth, foreign to authentic Christian belief and practice.
Our world is saturated with sex but starved for love.
Christianity does not "blow the whistle" on erotic love. It seeks to rescue it from degradation, to "heal it and restore its true grandeur," says the German Pope.
In order to restore erotic love's true grandeur, he argues that we must experience the purification of eros (human, erotic love) by agape (divine, sacrificial love). As this happens, eros is able "to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns."
This is quite a proposition from a Roman Pontiff. Sexual love in God's plan is meant to provide a foretaste of the eternal bliss that awaits us in heaven!? Maybe this is why we're all so interested in sex. Maybe we're actually looking for God. Benedict seems to affirm this when he writes that true erotic love offers a path "towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God."
Benedict writes that true erotic love offers a path "towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God."
This is not exactly what the average person learns in Catholic schools. All I basically heard growing up was "don't do it." Both MTV and my hormones debuted in the early eighties. And both were screaming "just do it." Gee, which message was more attractive to me?
So, without any knowledge of the heavenly banquet, I sought to satisfy my hunger by dumpster diving. I quickly tossed off the shackles of my oppressive "Catholic upbringing" (I've learned since that it was not an authentic Catholic upbringing) and indulged my libido without restraint.
In doing so, I learned the hard way, that an "intoxicated and undisciplined eros," as Benedict observes, "is not an ascent in 'ecstasy' towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man"—just like eating out of a dumpster.
I was taken by the culture's apparent celebration of the human body and of sex. But I came to see, as Benedict writes, that the "contemporary way of exalting the body is deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure 'sex', has become a commodity, a mere 'thing' to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man's great 'yes' to the body."
God gave us sexual desire to be like the fuel of a rocket that’s meant to launch us towards eternal bliss with him.
Perhaps God gave us sexual desire to be like the fuel of a rocket that's meant to launch us towards eternal bliss with him. But what would happen if those rocket engines became inverted, no longer pointing us towards that stars, but only back upon ourselves? Set that rocket off and the only possible result is a massive blast of self-destruction.
Maybe the Catholic Church's vision of sex is not the prudish list of prohibitions its so often assumed to be. Maybe its all meant to redirect our engines towards the stars, towards a love that never fades or fails. Isn't this the love that housewives are desperate for?