I love that part in Encino Man. Okay, now down to business. . .
What I love about reading through Love & Responsibility is that I feel as if I am sitting at Christ's feet, asking questions like, "What exactly do you mean 'love' my neighbor?", and getting a detailed response. When Christ was on earth, He once explained that to even look upon a person lustfully is to have already committed sexual sin in our hearts. I'm sure he could have elaborated, but since the Bible is not a book of systematic theology or moral philosophy, this is where we must rely on the Church. God has given us nearly 2000 years of guidance and teaching via His instrument, the Church, and her leaders. And now I can sit at JPII's feet and get detailed answers to my questions as from the very lips of Christ our Lord Himself. (*sigh of comfort*)
Well, L&R is a bit repetitive. But I really need that, so I am thankful for it. And now, I will repeat what has basically been said in all previous posts.
We are commanded by Jesus to love God first and foremost, and to love our neighbors (all persons) as ourselves. God is "the most perfect personal being," and "the whole world of created persons derives its distinctness from and its natural superiority over the world of things (non-persons) from a very particular resemblance to God" (40).
The utilitarian principle "points to pleasure not only as the basis on which we act but as the basis for rules of human behavior" (40). Utilitarianism has its own set of values, "that according to which pleasure is not only the sole, but also the highest value" (40-1). Such an approach to persons can never lead to love. I made a note in the margins of my book, "Funny how you can experience great physical pleasure with someone yet have a negation of pleasure emotionally because you do not truly love the person or they do not truly love you." And how. JPII says, "The principle of 'utility' itself, of treating a person as a means to an end, and an end moreover which in this case is pleasure, the maximization of pleasure, will always stand in the way of love" (40).
A friend recently commented to me over coffee (you know who you are ;-D) that our society has lost the concept of sacrifice. He's so right. All around me I see relationships based on the pleasure principle, and then when things get tough and sacrifice is required on behalf of one or both parties, somebody decides to split. I'm sure many of us have been there ourselves. That is no mui bueno. (Yeah, I don't speak Spanish.)
It's easier to say this now, while my life is going nicely, but I think sacrifice is one of the greatest privileges of living. It is a solid way to really love another person. And to love another person and give your life for them fulfills our own God-given desire for love. Fascinating.
Next time I write, I'll be picking up with what JPII calls the "personalistic norm". Stay tuned. ;-D