Friday, March 12, 2010

Clueless about Love

As seen on

Apparently, lust is not out of fashion. Sure, it’s been around since the time of Adam and Eve’s dubious deed. But I’m always fascinated by how it’s re-packaged.

Take the recent winter Olympics. They’ve come and gone, and America did pretty well in the medal category. To much of the unsuspecting public, the events appeared to be very family friendly and were good, clean fun. What most people didn’t know is that inside the veritable fortress called the Olympic Village, in which the Olympiads are basically prisoners in their own castle, there is a much darker side.

For years, the athletes train and sacrifice for their one shot at glory, and after they compete in their event, they are able to let their hair down. But apparently, they also let their zippers down.

For among the nearly 7,000 athlete and officials, 100,000 condoms were distributed to them free of charge. That comes out to about 14 condoms per person. Yet, what’s most remarkable is that the Canadian Foundation for AIDS (CANFAR) had to fly-in an “emergency” supply of 8,500 condoms, “much to the relief of [the] libidos of the Olympic Villiage.”

Apparently, they have been handing these out like candy since the Games in Barcelona in 1992. But this is the first time they’ve nearly run out.

Rewind to 2008 where the Chinese also provided 100,000 condoms at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Their reasoning? “There are many young, strong, single people in the athletes’ village and, like everywhere, some will fall in love or other things so we need to make condoms available.”

Certainly maybe some people will have the experience of what they think love is. But I think it’s the “other things” of why this condom supply is needed. In the words of Matt Syed, commenting on his experience of the “sex fest” called the Olympics:

There were the gorgeous hostesses – there to assist the athletes – in their bright yellow shirts and black skirts; there were the indigenous lovelies who came to watch the competitions. And then there were the female athletes – literally thousands of them – strutting, shimmying, sashaying and jogging around the village, clad in Lycra and exposing yard upon yard of shiny, toned, rippling and unimaginably exotic flesh. Women from all the countries of the world: muscular, virile, athletic and oozing estrogen. I spent so much time in a state of lust that I could have passed out.

Ah, so here’s the real truth. The distribution of thousands of prophylactics was never about love in the first place. It was always about satisfying unbridled lust.

To much of the modern world, they don’t even bat an eye at this situation. They think this is normal. They think its “normal” to distribute “extra-small” condoms so that 12-14 year-old boys can indulge their lusts. They think its “normal” that at the World Cup this summer in South Africa will distribute one billion condoms, with 42 million of them being shipped from Britain, so that the 45,000 visitors from foreign countries can entertain themselves with the 42,000 prostitutes being shipped in.

It should come as no surprise that when John Paul the Great made the statement that husbands do not have permission to lust after their wives, the media went berserk on him. In their eyes, he’s the abnormal one (as one commentator put it, “I’m not sure what you Italians do with your wives, but we Americans, we lust after our wives.”)

For the vast majority of the modern world, they see no difference between love and lust. Just check the latest Cosmo and you’ll never see the word “love” anywhere on the cover. For they truly believe, with the whole of their libido, that this is the way the world is, and this is the way its supposed to be, that if you love someone, you swap bodily fluid with them, have a 30-minute “intimate” relationship with them, and then move on.

The problem is: it’s not normal. The way things are is not the way it’s supposed to be.

For the problem with all this excessive use of latex is not just that condoms break and slip off, age, deteriorate in even the best of conditions, can be broken in their packages, have allowable rates of manufacturing defects, the 10 to 16 step process for safe usage is often not followed, or that bodily secretions can get around and over a condom even if it performs perfectly.

The main problem is that there’s no condom for the heart. For the human person was created to make a sincere gift of himself (Cf. GS 24), a.k.a. to love. If he is going to be fulfilled, he has to pour out the whole totality of himself, not holding anything back. The human person is made for love, and we have a duty to always see every person as someone to love, and not as an object to use. Lust always reduces a person down to almost the level of an object (we say almost because a person can never lose their inherent dignity as a beloved son or daughter of God). An act of lust can never be an act of love because the two are polar opposites, for when a person becomes an object of use, love is sure to grow cold.

The sexual act speaks the language that I give myself totally to the other person. In our heart of hearts, we want to fully give ourselves and fully receive another. We don’t want a wall up between ourselves and the other, especially in this most intimate act. And when someone is holding something back, even if a verbal agreement is made, somehow, someway, it is going to affect the relationship it a very negative way. The generations of those who have contracepted have left behind a legacy of divorce that witnesses to the damaging effects this has had upon the fundamental relationship of marriage.

If sexual desire becomes merely expression of the urge to merge, then the total gift of self becomes compromised in an act of using another person for one’s own selfish gratification. In other words, love is replaced by lust. And if what we’re doing is not love, then we’re not going to be satisfied. And this is exactly why the modern world, in the words of Mick Jagger, can’t get no satisfaction.

When Jesus talks about lust, he wasn’t being a joy kill. He wasn’t trying take away our fun. He was trying to point to the fact these erotic fantasies won’t ever quench our desires for eternal love. Most importantly, He was trying to show us that there is a different way to feel, think, and act that is in accordance with our dignity and what will truly satisfy, long after the one-night stand has ended.

Maybe after all those condoms have been distributed, and all those hearts have been broken, people will start to wake up that the old way of “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” just isn’t working. Maybe they’ll try another way. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll get a clue.

Steve Pokorny, the Director of TOB Ministries (, specializes in speaking to youth and young adults about the gift of their sexuality. Steve has an MA in Theology and Catechetics from Franciscan University of Steubenville, an MTS from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies, and has received training from the Theology of the Body Institute. He currently serves as Associate Director of the Office of Marriage and Family in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. He is Associate Editor for Catholic Exchange's Theology of the Body Channel (, and his blog is He is married and lives in San Antonio. You can contact Steve at


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