Love – It’s a Guy Thing

Men, here’s the good news. Love is not the gushy movie scenes your girlfriends used to drag you to, or the lyrics to that tune you wish you could get out of your head. Sure, love has a lot to do with emotions, and it makes you feel good, but these are not the most important parts of love, and they don’t always last.

The fact is that love – the topic men so often avoid talking about with their buddies or even their wives – is very much a guy thing. Don’t take my word for it, take God’s.

Action, resolve, toughness, perseverance, sacrifice – these are guy things.

“Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus said the night before he was crucified.

Now that's something men can relate to. Love is more about actions than feelings. In fact, love may involve overcoming your emotions to act in a loving way. Who, after all, feels like laying down his life for his friends, or even his family? The emotional fear of death must be overcome so that the true nature of love can be revealed.

Action, resolve, toughness, perseverance, sacrifice – these are guy things.

Let’s continue.

Here’s something you may not have heard from the pulpit lately, but it’s what the Church teaches: love is an act of the will. Look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1766): “To love is to will the good of another. All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good.”

Love involves first of all the will, not the emotions. Another guy thing.

Love also calls for blood, sweat and tears – the whole man and everything he can give for his beloved. This is the theme of so much literature, from the ancient Greeks to this day. Love bucks against boundaries, strives for the eternal, jumps the moon and runs all night to see his loved one.

After all, what man is not moved to the core of his being by the song “The Impossible Dream”? To strive “with your last ounce of courage” to “reach the unreachable star”? Corny, maybe, but stirring and inspiring, nonetheless. To love, men must have ideals, dreams, impossible quests, dangers and conquests.

Moving back to the religious path, we come to St. Paul. He had some wise words on love, which often get passed over in the emotional high of a wedding ceremony, where they are so often read. Take a moment to think about the words now in the context of male strength and virtue:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails....So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Notice how St. Paul says what love is not (jealous, pompous, rude), as well as what it is (patient, kind) and what it does (bears, believes, hopes, endures). This is an excellent outline of love, and it is something that men should feel very comfortable with.

Finally, let’s look at our present pope, Benedict XVI. What does he have to say about love? He wrote the book on it, or at least his first encyclical (teaching document) on the topic of love. Don’t let the Latin scare you: Deus Caritas Est means God Is Love.

Love and God may sound hopelessly feminine only if you think religion is only for women and children, or if you’ve given up that great quest to discover life’s deepest mysteries and reach the “unreachable star.” Religion – the quest for perfection, immortality, truth, beauty and ultimate meaning – most certainly is, or should be, a guy thing.

In his letter on love, Pope Benedict quite openly writes about men, women and sex. He says that eros, understood as sexual desire, is good and healthy. It is part of the love that God plants in our hearts, to draw us out of ourselves toward another. Yet eros unchecked can become a selfish desire that sees another as a sexual object rather than as a person.

Eros – immature and self-centered – must be tempered and purified by agape, which is, the pope explains, “the experience of a love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that prevailed earlier. … it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.”

You guessed it, a guy thing.