Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"El buen amor"

I am sure few of my readers are scholars of Medieval Spanish. Those that are, or those who have taken History of the Spanish Language at Boston University, will recognize part of the title of the famous work by Juan Ruiz dating to the fourteenth century: "El libro del buen amor." Ruiz was a higher-ranking member of the Spanish clergy, a fact that did not stop him from writing over a thousand verses on carnal love, featuring dozens of women from all over the socio-economic, political, and ethnic scale.

If that wasn't enough to create an early church sex scandal, Ruiz added insult to injury by using religious language and Bible quotes to narrate his romantic encounters. The phrase "el buen amor," which for Middle Age society referred to love for God, was pilfered by Ruiz and used as a term for a successful sexual episode. Thus, what for Middle Age society was a black and white issue between salvation and sin was turned on its head by one author, starting a literary tradition of blending sex with religion, piety with physical love.

This Holy Week is yet another annual reminder of a different kind of love, a perfect love, a love so deep that it sparked the ultimate sacrifice: the humiliation and death of God's only Son for humankind. A love so great that it continues, steadfast and strong, despite our daily rejection. We, as Christians, are meant to transfer this divine love to our human neighbors as Jesus commanded us, saying:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This commandment, even in the best of circumstances, is never easy. It is hard enough to love those that love you in such a way as to fully mirror divine love. Harder still is romantic love. When sexuality, attraction, insecurities, and dreams of the future enter the scene it is near impossible to love unequivocally. Where do feelings end and generosity begin? How do we leave our own desires behind long enough to fully love, when our own desires are so tied up in the other person. Can Christ-like love and sexuality co-exist?

As I move into the adult phase of my life, I struggle to answer these questions, both from within a relationship and from outside of one. As a future minister I struggle with where my duties as a pastor end in regards to my own personal relationships and where my sexuality fits in to my spirituality. I hope my own search for "el buen amor" will not, like Juan Ruiz's, end in tensions and perversions, but rather harmony and resolution.

No comments:

Post a Comment