November 15, 2014: Freedom for the Other, Part 2
‘Christian spousal love is a living icon of the sacrificial spousal love between Christ and the Church. It is an outward sign of the invisible mystery of Jesus’ love for His bride and the bride’s love for Him.’ Brant Pitre
Woman liberated my freedom to become a mature man. Period. Without arising to become bigger for one equal to me and yet profoundly different, I would have stalled in my growth. Spiritually, emotionally, sexually: I needed woman, and she needed me.
Well, one woman did. For the last 35 years, Annette has been the chief target of my affections, my prayers, my frustrations, and my pleasure. She receives the best of my self-giving and filters the brunt of my brokenness. I cannot imagine life without her. We experience the world together; though our unity is composed of two very different, strong-willed people, we have forged one grid through which we engage ‘life.’
Out of this oneness four children have emerged who now as adults are fairly skilled at navigating their own schooners and storms. They grew up as Annette and I navigated our course. Our freedom to love in light of ‘conflicts on the outside, fears within ‘(2 Cor 7:5) was the Cross. We founded our marital freedom on the One who gave all to gain us. He trained me to look to Him as the man I was becoming; He freed her to welcome Him as her sufficiency and in turn yield to this flawed icon.
The Cross made us fruitful. Like anything precious, fruit resulted from sacrifice. The Cross reminded us to deny one’s own need when the other’s was greater, be it in words or silence, deeds or blessed inaction. We were pierced for the other’s suffering. At times we were pierced by what the other could not give us, even if we needed it. Jesus’ piercing gave us a place to go when mere human love failed.
The result is mutual gratitude for the seasoned offering of the other. The Catholic Catechism says it best: ‘Christian marriage bestows on the husband and the wife a supernatural power that flows directly from the Crucifixion. This grace [of marriage] is a fruit of Christ’s Cross, the source of all life.’ (CCC 1615, 1616) The Cross granted Annette and I the freedom to offer oneself to the other, over and over again. Freedom demands godly restraints and holy provocation. The Cross supplies both.
As one who comes out of a same-sex attracted background, I am amused at persons who seek to reduce our marriage to questions of ‘attraction,’ as if it depended on the virtuosity of our bedroom gymnastics. Of course I am only grateful for the bodily love that sealed our love and created four other lives. Yet I am equally grateful, if not more, for the deeper, harder call of learning to value this other because she is worthy of value, not because of what I ‘get’ from her. Our consumer-driven quest for perfect sensual and sentimental partnership is driven by greed and results in loneliness.
Freedom rises from the love prescribed by St. John Paul ll then Karl Wojtyla. He writes: ‘Marriage is put to the test when the sensual and emotional reactions weaken…nothing remains but the value of the person. Then the inner truth of love comes to light. If that love is a true gift of self, it will not only survive the dry times but will sink deeper roots.’
Spouses who before Jesus and each other surrender their differences, their cares and needs, and their bodies, over and over, discover something essential—a love so full of meaning and purpose that it points to a Reality beyond itself.
Please join us as we pray for:
Pennsylvania, Jeff Comeaux – Coordinator: For strength and vision for Jeff, for existing groups and to see new groups established. Also, grace for preparations for RHN conference in Lancaster, 2015.
Aguas Vivas: Guadalajara, Mexico, Marisol, Coordinator: For wisdom as they meet to determine and plan for the start of the next Aguas Vivas group.
Restored Hope Network: Love & Truth Network, Garry Ingraham, Endicott, NY: Grace and strength to accomplish all that is before him in ministry and personal life. GAME, Peter Anderson, New York, NY: For the Lord to bring more of those seeking discipleship and soul care, clarity regarding a possible transition to more full-time work with Game and courage to stand strong and pure in the heart of NYC.
“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”