ORTHODOXY AND FALLING IN LOVE

Written by Vladimir Moss

ORTHODOXY AND “FALLING IN LOVE”

 

     Most human beings fall in love at some time in their life, usually several times. What are we to think of this phenomenon from an Orthodox point of view? Is it good or evil, or something in between?

 

     The phrase “falling in love” suggests something ambiguous, partaking of both good and evil.  On the one hand, the word “falling” indicates that this is a phenomenon close to lust, a fall from virtue. And certainly, the element of compulsion in falling in love indicates the influence of the fall. On the other hand, the use of the word “love” is not out of place; for falling in love, as we shall see, takes a person out of himself, makes him capable of self-sacrifice and is the first step to a God-blessed marriage. This shows that while it partakes of lust, it is more than just lust, being the first step, at least in some, to the sublimation of lust.

 

     It is a striking fact about “falling in love” that the more intense it is, the purer and more independent, as it were, of the physical act of sexual union it appears to the lovers themselves. The act of sexual union is, of course, the longed-for climax and consummation of their love, but it is the love itself that is central, that consumes the time and energy of the lovers, that appears to them to be a goal in itself, even if the relationship is for one reason or another not consummated. This important psychological fact is well documented in Orthodox Christian literature – but more or less completely discounted by secular psychologists.

 

     Thus St. Augustine writes: “We know that many of our brothers by mutual agreement refrain from carnal love, but not from marital love. The more strongly the former is suppressed, the more the latter is strengthened”.[1] Again, “when purity is preserved,” writes St. Asterius of Amasia, “peace is preserved as well as mutual attraction, but when the soul is overwhelmed by unlawful and sensual lust, it loses the lawful and just love”.[2] Again, St. John Chrysostom says that “love is born from chastity”[3], that “love makes people chaste”, and that “lewdness comes from nothing else than a lack of love”.[4]

 

     Philip Sherrard writes: “Though it is a fully sexualised love, in that it involves the fully differentiated beings of man and woman, this sexual element does not necessarily have any so-called carnal (or genital) expression: not because the man and woman have taken any vow of virginity or regard celibacy as a superior state of existence, but simply because the kind of communion they experience makes such expression superfluous – a descent into a lower key”.[5]

 

     As Roger Scruton has pointed out, “Desire is indeed a natural phenomenon, but it is one that lies beyond the reach of any ‘natural science’ of man.”[6] Science can understand love, desire and “falling in love” only by reducing them to the category of instinctual animal behaviour and chemical reactions in the brain.[7] The problem is that while being in love is clearly influenced by instinctual forces, it differs from instinctual behaviour in important ways.

 

     First of all, it is highly personal and individual. If John is in love with Mary, then his desire is focussed exclusively on her, and her alone. No other woman can take her place, and if she rejects his love, then it is no good suggesting to him that he find another. In fact, the very suggestion is likely to offend him deeply! Only when his passion for her fades will he be able to be strongly attracted to another.

 

     Even a Don Juan, whose passions for women change with exceptional speed, does not love all women at the same time. He loves first one particular woman, and then another particular woman. His love may be fickle, but it is at all times personalised and individualised. But this is quite unlike typically instinctual behaviour. If a man is hungry, then any food will do. If he is tired, then any kind of bed will satisfy his need to rest weary limbs.

 

     Secondly, the strength of the phenomenon does not vary in any simple way in accordance with hormone levels or frequency of intercourse. Of course, the likelihood of falling in love increases dramatically with the onset of puberty, and decreases with the onset of old age. And there is evidence that the menstrual cycle and the level of hormones such as testosterone influence levels of desire. And yet human beings, unlike animals, do not “go on heat”. In fact, by comparison with those of animals, human beings’ passions are both more constant and obsessive, and less dependent on biological forces and cycles.

 

     The Russian religious philosopher S.L. Frank writes about being in love: “What can so-called empirical psychology observe in it? First of all it will fall on the external, physical symptoms of this phenomenon – it will point out the changes in blood circulation, feeding and sleep in the person under observation. But remembering that it is, first of all, psychology, it will pass over to the observation of ‘mental phenomena’, it will record changes in self-image, sharp alterations in mental exaltation and depression, the stormy emotions of a pleasant and repulsive nature through which the life of a lover usually passes, the dominance in his consciousness of images relating to the beloved person, etc. Insofar as psychology thinks that in these observations it has expressed, albeit incompletely, the very essence of being in love – then this is a mockery of the lover, a denial of the mental phenomenon under the guise of a description of it. For for the lover himself all these are just symptoms or consequences of his feeling, not the feeling itself. Its essence consists, roughly, in a living consciousness of the exceptional value of the beloved person, in an aesthetic delight in him, in the experience of his central significance for the life of the lover – in a word, in a series of phenomena characterizing the inner meaning of life. To elucidate these phenomena means to understand them compassionately from within, to recreate them sympathetically in oneself. The beloved will find an echo of himself in artistic descriptions of love in novels, he will find understanding in a friend, as a living person who has himself experienced something similar and is able to enter the soul of his friend; but the judgements of the psychologist will seem to him to be simply misunderstandings of his condition - and he will be right.”[8]

 

     Why will the judgements of the psychologist fall short of their mark? Because the “object-consciousness” (to use Frank’s term) of the psychologist, and of the scientist in general, is appropriate only in relation to things which are indeed just objects, and not capable of having an “object consciousness” of their own. But human beings do have object consciousness; and this object consciousness is not suspended during the state of “being in love”, but is, on the contrary, heightened.

 

     Object-consciousness – or, as more contemporary philosophers prefer to call it, intentionality - is beyond the capacity of animals. Still more beyond their capacity is the characteristic that enables two people to relate to each other not only as subjects and objects, but as inter-penetrating subjects-cum-objects who share, albeit from different initial points of view, their perceptions of each other.

 

     Frank calls this simply “communion”, and defines it as follows: “When we speak to a person, or even when our eyes meet in silence, that person ceases to be ‘object’ for us and is not longer a ‘he’ but a ‘thou’. That means he no longer fits into the frame-work of ‘the world of objects’: he ceases to be a passive something upon which our cognitive gaze is directed for the purposes of perception without in any way affecting it. Such one-sided relation is replaced by a two-sided one, by an interchange of spiritual activities. We attend to him and he to us, and this attitude is different from – though it may co-exist with – the purely ideal direction of attention which we call objective knowledge: it is real spiritual interaction. Communion is both our link with that which is external to us, and a part of our inner life, and indeed a most essential part of it. From an abstract logical point of view this is a paradoxical case of something external not merely coexisting with the ‘inward’ but of actually merging with it. Communion is at one and the same time both something ‘external’ to us and something ‘inward’ – in other words it cannot in the strict sense be called either external or internal.

 

     “This can still more clearly be seen from the fact that all communion between ‘I’ and ‘thou’ leads to the formation of a new reality designated by the word ‘we’ – or rather, coincides with it.”[9]

 

     It is as if the two are like two mirrors placed opposite each other. What is reflected in mirror A is immediately reflected in mirror B, and vice-versa, in an indefinite reciprocal regression. The knowledge each has of the other is therefore objective and subjective at the same time; in fact, the objectivity and subjectivity of the vision or visions are logically and chronologically inseparable: “My awareness of myself is in part constituted by my awareness of me, and my awareness of him is in part constituted by my awareness of his awareness of me”.[10]

 

     Sexual love heightens this characteristic to an extraordinary degree, generating an indefinitely long chain of reciprocity, in which “she conceives her lover conceiving her conceiving him…”[11]

 

     It will be obvious that this kind of communion or “inter-subjective consciousness” is both absolutely central to the structure of human sexual relations and quite impossible to describe in terms of instinctual feelings alone. For instinctual feelings are “blind”; they do not relate to objects so much as devour them. And it goes without saying that they cannot form the basis of inter-personal communion, although they obviously “colour” that communion. Irrational, instinctual desire seeks only the achievement of a certain purely subjective satisfaction. It is egoistical, solipsistic; it needs the other only in order to make it no longer the other, engulfing it in its own self, just as food no longer remains food when it has been absorbed into the body that eats it. On the other hand, “rational” (i.e. intentional, mind-directed, quintessentially human) desire contemplates the other and seeks to be united with it, but not by engulfing it, nor by destroying it, but, on the contrary, by preserving it in its unique, individual, separate existence for ever. As such, it is not subjective, but objective – more precisely, interpersonal. In fact, if sexual love is to achieve its goal of personal union with the other, it is essential that the other remain the other; the union must be “undivided but unconfused”.

 

     The fall of sexuality consists in the instability of its intentionality, its tendency to allow impersonal animality to overwhelm personal humanity, so that the mind is diverted from the contemplation of embodied soul to “unpsyched” body – that concentration on body as mere flesh which causes shame in all normal people:

 

Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action… [12]

 

     Moreover, fallen sexual love reveals in the very moment of its consummation a certain barrier to complete union. At a superficial level, this is manifested in the fact that, as a result of the fall, the lovers’ bodies are opaque, can never merge entirely and therefore have to separate eventually. They become “one flesh”, and yet remain two bodies. More profoundly, the souls, too, withdraw behind “the middle wall of partition” between them (Ephesians 2.14) created by their egoism. Passion ebbs, embodiment fades away, and opaqueness returns, returning the lovers to the cold reality of their fallen, divided existence.

 

     Let us examine the progress, as it were, of the sexual impulse from its inchoate, undirected, instinctual beginnings in childhood and adolescence to its fixed, focused and “intentional” end in adult married love.

 

     In the beginning, the sexual impulse is closer to primitive biological desires such as hunger than it will ever be later on. Under the influence of hormonal changes in his body, the adolescent boy is filled with a vague longing or wanderlust, an indefinite dissatisfaction which he knows not how to satisfy. Even at this early stage, however, the sexual impulse is not “purely” animal, but is heavily influenced by other passions characteristic of a rational being, such as pride. Thus Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) writes: “When the male organism matures, a feeling of self-satisfaction is aroused in the young man. This is strengthened by the change in the youth’s social position: he becomes an independent member of society – a student; or, as a senior schoolboy, he is preparing to become one – to enter this totally uninhibited group of people. In student society he feels like a bridegroom – he is no longer under the constant supervision of his parents, he earns some money for himself. In general, his conditions of life favour the development of a feeling of self-satisfaction. The newly aroused sexual passion on its part has also something in common with this feeling, and now he wants to live without any restriction; mentally he says to himself: ‘Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth,… and walk in the ways of thine heart and in the sight of thine eyes’. But the words which follow in Ecclesiastes will be revealed to him by the voice of his conscience even if he has never read them, and will cause him intense irritability and will arouse a feeling of enmity against God and against religion. Here are these words” ‘But know, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgement’ (ch. 11, v. 19).”[13]

 

     But then he meets a girl who for the first time focuses and “incarnates” his hitherto bodiless, unshaped longing. And not only focuses it, but also humbles it. For the feeling of self-satisfaction noted by Metropolitan Anthony flees with the advent of true (or, at any rate, truer) love. Before the image of beauty he humbles his proud mind. Now he and his own desires are no longer his first priority; he seeks to serve the object of his love. The way in which falling in love humbles the lover is illustrated by the words of a German Nazi during the invasion of Russia: “I fell in love with a Russian girl, although nothing ever came of it, and for the first time I began to doubt our racial superiority. How could I be better than her?”[14]

 

     Does the instinctual longing then disappear? No. And yet one can no longer call it purely instinctual. For what precisely is this longing for? The sexual act? Hardly, especially if the youth is still a virgin. In fact, the very idea would probably disgust him, as if it polluted the absolute purity of his new feeling. A particular form of sensual pleasure? Not at all, for he does not yet know what sexual pleasure is, still less how it is produced. In fact, the paradoxical thing is that at the first appearance of the object of desire, desire as such is stilled, at any rate temporarily. It is as if a thirsty man having come upon a river in the desert is so stunned by the beauty of the water that he forgets to drink…

 

     When vague longing has matured into “being in love”, the boy longs for a specific individual girl, the girl, not for just any girl, not for anything about the girl, but the girl herself. He does not long for certain pleasures which she may be able to give him. He does not long for her body as such, nor any part of her body. He longs for her. John longs for Mary, not for anything or anyone else.

 

     Of course, even now he still feels a fascination for certain parts of the girl’s body, and here undoubtedly the instinctual part of his nature is evident. And yet the part of the body which fascinates him most is not any of the specifically sexual members or “erogenous zones”, but the face. “Schopenhauer,” writes Scruton, “– whose view of these matters is a good example of the chaos that ensues from the premature attempt to explain them – argues that the face is the least important of all the indices of beauty, since it is the least relevant to the reproductive function which underlies and explains desire. That is almost the opposite of the truth. Although a pretty face surmounting a deformed or mutilated body may indeed fail to arouse sexual interest, it is well known that a pretty face may compensate for much bodily ugliness… A beautiful body, however, will always be rendered repulsive by an ugly face, and can certainly never compensate for it.”[15]

 

     Why the face? Because the face, far more than any other part of the body, reveals the soul, the person. In Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich’s parable on love entitled “Cassiana”, the heroine of the story is ugly in body – she has a huge hump-back. And yet she has a beautiful face – which indicates her inner beauty of soul. This is why the word for “face” and person” in Russian is the same – лицо. And why the Latin word persona, whence comes the English “person”, originally referred to the masks, or faces, that actors assumed during performance.[16] If we wish to know who a person is and what he is feeling, then while we may take into account other elements of body language, it is the movements of the face, - the smiles, the blushes[17], the laughs, the tears, - and especially the expression of the eyes, that we will study most closely. For it is the eyes that are, as the proverb says, “the mirror of the soul”, making the workings of the invisible soul visible with an extraordinary transparency:

 

Beshrew your eyes,

They have o’erlooked me and divided me,

One half of me is yours, the other half yours –

Mine own I would say: but if mine then yours,

And so all yours.[18]

 

     But what has sexual desire to do with the workings of the invisible soul? Nothing, if the Platonic-Kantian-Freudian line of thought is to be believed, which sees sexual desire as a purely biological phenomenon having nothing to do with the noetic realm. But this only goes to prove that this line of thought is inadequate to describe, let alone explain, the phenomenon of sexual desire, which, the more focused and concentrated it is, the more intensely personal it is. For sexual love, as opposed to lust, is not in the first place directed to the flesh of the desired one but to the soul. It is not the purely physical pleasure of the caress, the glance or the kiss that is the vital element, but the fact that it is his (or her) caress, glance or kiss; the physical pleasure is inseparable from the knowledge of the person who gives it. This knowledge makes the physical contact the sign, the “incarnation”, the icon, as it were, of a non-physical reality. Thus the true object of desire that has not completely lost its intentional – i.e. individual, personal, as opposed to generic, impersonal, – character, is not the body as such, but the body as the expression of the soul, not the pleasure as such, but the pleasure as the expression of the thought. It is this iconic quality of the flesh in sexual love, enabling the veneration paid to the flesh to ascend to its “archetype”, the soul, that transforms the temporality of pleasure into the eternity of true love:

 

Eternity was in our lips and eyes,

Bliss in our brows’ bent, none our parts so poor

But was a race of heaven.[19]

 

     And if that same physical pleasure were provided by another person, it would entirely lose its significance and thrill. This is proved by the fact that if the lover discovers that the pleasure he receives comes not from the person he thought it came from, but from someone else, the pleasure immediately evaporates and often turns to disgust. As Scruton writes, “the knowledge that it is an unwanted hand that touches me at once extinguishes my pleasure. The pleasure could not be taken as confirming the hitherto unacknowledged sexual virtues of someone previously rejected. Jacob did not, for example, discover attractions in Leah that he had previously overlooked: his pleasure in her was really pleasure in Rachel, whom he wrongly thought to be the recipient of his embraces (Genesis 29.25).”[20]

 

     Being in love therefore represents an acute experience of the unity of the human being, not only the de facto inseparability of body and soul, but of the fact that the person is his body as well as his soul, so that contact with the body is contact with the soul. Scruton calls this the experience of embodiment: “My sense of myself as identical with my body, and my sense of you as identical with yours are crucial elements, both in the aim and in the reception, of the arousing caress. I am awakened in my body, to the embodiment of you. Underlying the woman’s state of arousal is the thought: ‘I, in my body, am something for him’, and her response – the ‘opening’ to this approaches, and all that is entailed in that – must be understood in part as an expression of that thought, and of the interpersonal intentionality that is built upon it.”[21] Thus in the eyes of the lover, the beloved’s soul is embodied in her body, while her body is transparent to his soul.[22]

 

     But what does the lover actually see in the “embodied soul” of his beloved? And: with what does he see it? He sees with the eyes of the mind, and not of the body. For, as Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich writes, “flesh can neither love nor hate. A body cannot fall in love with another body. The capability of loving belongs to the soul. When a soul falls in love with a body, that is not love but desire, lust. When a soul falls in love with a soul, but not through God, that is out of either fascination or empathy. But when a soul falls in love with another through God, then regardless of the physical appearance (beauty or ugliness) that is love.”[23]

 

     The power of eros is a power of the mind no less than of the body. For

 

If any, so by love refined,

That he soul’s language understood,

And by good love were grown all mind,…

 

Erotic love must become “all mind” in order to see its true object. And this object must be, to use Platonic language, an ideal, unmoving and not a sensory object. For

 

This ecstasy doth unperplex

(We said) and tell us what we love,

We see by this, it was not sex,

We see, we saw not what did move.

 

“It was not sex” – that is, simple lust – by which the lovers saw each other. And yet it was eros. For the love in question here is not Platonic, but one in which

 

Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread

Our eyes upon one double string.

So to engraft our hands, as yet

Was all the means to make us one. [24]

 

      The object of erotic love that is true cannot be her body, which is changeable, nor the moods of her soul, which are also changeable, but that which is in essence unchanging, the image of God in her. Only such an object is worthy of love and can raise love from the corruptible to the incorruptible. Hence the intuition that true love must survive the fading of bodily beauty; it must be immortal, since its true object is immortal.

 

     This intuition was wonderfully expressed by Shakespeare, who begins by pointing out that even erotic love is in essence the marriage of minds:

 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error, and upon me prov’d.

I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.[25]

 

     And yet what we are in essence, our Godlikeness, which alone is worthy of an undying love, rarely corresponds to what we show ourselves to be in everyday life. And this discrepancy between the image of God and the image of sin - in the soul both of the lover and of his beloved – causes intense anguish and pain – moral pain – to the lovers. For, as Scruton writes: “Desire obliges you to find value in its object, and so to ‘see him as’ the embodiment of virtue’”.[26]

 

     Not only that: you want your lover to see you as the embodiment of virtue, and you are prepared to work on yourself to make yourself more worthy. Thus falling in love becomes a major incentive to moral improvement. In fact, this love is well defined, in Solomon’s words, as “the care of discipline” (Wisdom 6.17). For the lover is impelled by his love to discipline himself, to make himself worthy of his beloved. This inextricable – and highly creative - relationship between love and esteem is the analogy and reflection, on a much lower level, of Christ’s making His Bride “without spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5.27).

 

     “One may describe the course of love as a kind of ‘mutual self-building’… I want you to be worthy of my love, behind which desire lies, always compelling me. And I too want to be lovable, so that you may reciprocate my affection. Hence we begin to enact a cooperative game of self-building.”[27]

 

     This “cooperative game of self-building” may lead to quarrels – but quarrels with a creative element, because the relationship becomes an arena of moral improvement, spurred on by desire. Hence the English proverb:

 

The falling out of lovers is the renewal of love.[28]

 

     Thus even Cleopatra, the embodiment of fallen sensual desire, wishes in the end to become not simply a mistress for Anthony, but a wife, having shed all downward-looking elements, the “earth and water” of lust, in order that only the “fire and air” of pure love should remain:

 

Husband, I come.

Now to that name my courage prove my title!

I am fire and air; my other elements

I give to baser life.[29]

 

     Of course, a lover may wish to “build up” himself or his beloved for selfish, vainglorious reasons: because he considers himself to be a good person, and “only the best will do” for such a good person. However, this attitude is already at one remove from the initial experience of being in love, which in its simplicity is an encounter with what one’s perceives to be goodness incarnate. For not only does love reveal beauty to be truth: it also reveals it to be goodness.

 

     But is it in fact virtue or goodness? Does not love see beauty sometimes in the most worthless objects, as was dramatized in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Is it not so much the perception of an ideal as an idealization of something that is far from ideal, a form of self-deception?

 

     It certainly can be; for the intuitive power of the lover’s erotic vision is strictly dependent on his own moral level. An unspiritual man is not likely to fall in love with a spiritual woman, because he will neither see her spirituality nor admire it if he did. But a spiritual man will love a woman who is like him in being spiritual -although he, too, can be deceived into loving an object unworthy of his love. For like can recognize like only in the case of one whose eros is sufficiently purified to see the likeness. But for one whose eros is less purified, there will be many misperceptions and mismatches in love, giving fertile ground for the proverb that love is blind. And yet eros in its essence, purified of that veil of darkness that the fall has draped over it, is the opposite of blind: it is an instrument given by God to us in order to pierce the veil of the flesh and see the true person underneath.

 

     If falling in love were always and necessarily a purely instinctual phenomenon that obscures the truth of the beloved in a fog of hormone-fuelled intoxication, we would expect the intensity of the initial falling in love to be inversely proportional to the depth and duration of the subsequent relationship. And that is certainly what the Platonic model, which tends to oppose love and desire as antagonistic opposites, would suggest. But such scientific research as approaches this essentially supra-scientific sphere does not come to this conclusion.

 

     Thus Winston writes: “The evidence suggests that, over time, the first mad fever of love becomes replaced by a more solid partnership, one more ideally suited to the raising of children. But some research has suggested that the most long-lived relationships are those that preserve a degree of the earlier, less rational phase.

 

     Dr. Ellen Berscheid, Regents Professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota, was the first to identify the ‘pink-lens effect’, whereby couples in love idealize their partners and make overoptimistic judgements about them. We think, for instance, that our lovers are ‘brilliant’ and ‘wonderful’; we over-estimate their intelligence, their honesty, their generosity and their looks…. This effect has been shown to decrease over time. In general we would expect that, as a relationship progresses, we become more realistic about our partner’s strengths and weaknesses – we ‘love them for what they are’, rather than the idealized, rose-tinted view we may have picked up in the initial frenzy of attraction.

 

     “But a study at the University of New York, Buffalo, has also shown that the greater the intensity of the pink-lens effect, the greater the likelihood of the couples staying together. Another, more long-term study at the University of Texas, Austin, followed 168 couples who married in 1981. Once again, the couples who idealized one another the most at the outset were also those whose relationships were the most long-lived….”[30]

 

     Winston here uses such words as “irrational”, “mad” and “frenzy” which presuppose us to think that falling in love must necessarily involve self-deception and “rose-tinted” falsification. And yet the research itself suggests something different: that while falling in love in a sense idealizes the beloved, this idealization may not always be self-deceiving. It may sometimes be a more accurate vision of the true nature of the beloved, an ideal vision which nevertheless lights up something that is real, and therefore helps rather than hinders the durability of the relationship. Similarly, while falling out of love may be the consequence of seeing “the bitter truth” about the beloved, it may in also involve a loss of true vision, an obscuring of that ideal reality which was so wonderfully obvious before. Since human beings are a mixture of good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly, the image of God and the image of the beast, there are objective grounds for both kinds of vision - the vision which accompanies falling into love and the vision which accompanies falling out of love…

 

     “Falling in love” is not simply lust, but nor is it pure love unsullied by fallen passion. Saints do not fall in love; they have passed that stage. But nor do the truly evil fall in love; they cannot attain to the glimpse of the ideal that it provides…

 

     And so falling in love remains an ambiguous phenomenon, on the frontier between good and evil. But whether good or evil, it is always essentially human, and irreducible to mere lust, since it is always an intentional, personal experience. Its moral quality depends, first, on the spiritual maturity and purity of the person who loves, and secondly, on whether God is in the process, guiding and inspiring it to the end-state of lawful marriage. If He is not in that process, and He is not leading it to that end, then the love is likely to fade and may lead to fornication or an unhappy marriage or even divorce. If, on the other hand, He is in it, then the experience will be truly “in the Lord”, that is, “in all decency and in honour”.[31] For, as St. John Chrysostom says, “it is God Who sows these loves”[32], in that “it is by the Lord that a man is matched with a woman” (Proverbs 19.14). 

 

May 13/26, 2013.

The Sunday of the Paralytic.

 



[1] St. Augustine, Sermon on Concupiscence, 11, P.L. 38:345; quoted in S. Troitsky, Philosophia khristianskogo braka (The Philosophy of Christian Marriage), Paris: YMCA Press, 1930s, p. 28.

[2] St. Asterius of Amasia, Sermon on Matthew 19.3, quoted in Troitsky, op. cit., p. 29.

[3] St. John Chrysostom, Sermon on ‘Kiss Aquila and Priscilla’, quoted in Troitsky, op. cit., p. 29.

[4] St. John Chrysostom, Homily 33 on I Corinthians, quoted in Troitsky, op. cit., p. 28.

[5] Sherrard, op. cit., Christianity and Eros, London: SPCK, 1976, p. 3.

[6] Scruton, Sexual Desire, London: Phoenix, 1994, p. vii.

[7] See, for example, Robert Winston, The Human Mind, London: The Bantam Press, 2003, chapter 8.

[8] Frank, Dusha Cheloveka (The Soul of Man), 1917, Paris: YMCA Press, pp. 43-44 (in Russian).

[9] S.L. Frank, Reality and Man, London: Faber & Faber, 1965, p. 61.

[10] J. Heron, “The Phenomenology of the social encounter: the gaze”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, XXXI, 1970-1971, pp. 243-264.

[11] Scruton, op. cit., p. 26.

[12] Shakespeare, Sonnet 129.

[13] Metropolitan Anthony, Confession, Jordanville, pp. 63-64.

[14] Henry Metelmann, in Julian Llewellyn-Smith, “From Third Reich to Charterhouse”, The Sunday Telegraph (London), November 30, 2003, review, p. 4.

[15] Scruton, op. cit., p. 70. Nietzsche corrected Schopenhauer here when he wrote : The chastest words I have heard : ‘Dans la véritable amour c’est l’âme, qui enveloppe le corps’  (Beyond Good and Evil, Epigrams and Interludes, 142).

[16] In modern English, “persona” has come to mean a role or act, something which does not so much reveal the person as hide it. On the other hand, the word for “person” in Greek, hypostasis, literally means “that which stands under” the face.

[17] Maslow writes: “there is in the real world no such thing as blushing without something to blush about”; in other words, blushing presupposes object-consciousness and personal communion with another human being; it is always “blushing in a context” (V. Frankl, “Self-Transcendence as a Human Phenomenon”, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, vol. 6 (2), 1966, p. 101).

[18] Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, III, 2.

[19] Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, I, 3, 35.

[20] Scruton, op. cit., pp. 21-22. St. Cyril of Alexandria writes that Jacob’s reward for serving Laban was “quite small: marriage…” (On Hosea, 6)!

[21] Scruton, op. cit., p. 26.

[22] Antony Ter-Grigorian rightly notes: “The point does not lie in a division of love into a physical (fallen) and a non-physical (non-fallen) kind. This is not a valid distinction, since all levels and manifestations of love are ‘transparent’” (personal communication).

[23] Velimirovich, “Cassiana”, 50; in Fr. Milorad Loncar (ed.), Missionary Letters of Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, Grayslake, IL: Ne Gracanica Monastery, 2009, p. 58.

[24] John Donne, The Ecstasy.

[25] Shakespeare, Sonnet 129.

[26] Scruton, op. cit., p. 237. Cf. Phineas Fletcher’s poem, Love:

 

When nothing else kindles desire,

Even virtue’s self shall blow the fire.

Love with thousand darts abounds,

Surest and deepest virtue wounds…

[27] Scruton, op. cit., pp. 241-242.

[28] David Pickering, Cassell’s Dictionary of Proverbs, London: Cassell, 2001, p.  293.

[29] Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, V, 2, 285.

[30] Winston, op. cit., p. 297.

[31] St. John Chrysostom, On Marriage, II, 4; P.G. 41:223.

[32] St. John Chrysostom, Encomium to Maximus, 3; P.G. 51:230.

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