Sexual Politics and the Eros of God: An Application of Pope Benedict's Radical Affirmation

[In "The Benedict Option: A Critical Review,", Sam Rocha points out Pope Benedict's revolutionary affirmation that there is eros in God. I take the opportunity to make a topical application of that insight.]

With all his theoretical acuity, Pope Benedict lays waste the false dichotomization of eros and agape. This is the key point of his first encyclical, and it is the basis for his particular rehearsal of social doctrine in part 2 of Deus caritas est, and thereafter. The relegation of eros to the earth, as absolutely non-divine, poisons every thing (as Nietzsche knew)--this common ideological assumption that God is agape and the creature erotic, and never the twain shall meet; and, boy, won't it be grand when we aren't erotic anymore!

It is revolting.

And you see this attitude everywhere. For our souls have died, and our hearts are stone cold. There is no eros in us anymore.

Witness the "controversy" over Mike Pence's not-meeting-with-women-alone protocol, wherein the anti-erotic quality of left and right reveals itself.

It is unedifying, this high leftist dudgeon being vented against a couple's prudential judgment concerning what is best for their marriage, as if the only considerations are political, as if conscience does not matter, as if each marriage isn't radically unique, as if love is uncomplicated.

The explicit moral requirements being met (without burdens being tied up which are mere figments of the busybody), each marriage should be allowed (!) to unfold in its unique way, as long as it is a matter of true mutuality (which obviously means at least that there must be no abuse--actually that first falls under "the explicit moral requirements being met" proviso).

There are things far more important than politics and power games. What use is it to gain the whole world, and not understand the first thing about love? Or to be a pharisaical enforcer of "gender equality" (and yet at the same time, somehow, of transgender fluidity)?

This leftist policing is totalitarian, fatuous, and asinine.

That said, recommending the "Billy Graham Rule" as a general rule presupposes a deeply skewed anthropology. And here we see the lack of eros on the "right." Eros is supposed to aim at the universal intimacy of the New Jerusalem. C. S. Lewis says it so well in The Four Loves: "As nature, for the nature-lover, gives a content to the word glory, so [Eros] gives a content to the word Charity. It is as if Christ said to us through Eros, 'Thus--just like this--with this prodigality--not counting the cost--you are to love Me and the least of My brethren.'"

Segregation of the sexes, as a general rule, is a perversion. And treating love on the model of possessive individualism is a modernist and consumerist fantasy. The privatization of love not only allows many homes to descend into the madness of abusiveness, or even "just" the casual quotidian brutalities of taking-for-granted: it causes us to forget why we are to love at all--bonum est diffusivum sui/the good is diffusive of itself. It causes us to forget what a household is meant to be in and for the world. And this incurvation is why society and politics have been stripped of love. Which brings us back to Deus caritas est.

I find it so strange that many rigorist conservatives avow excitement over Pope Benedict's teaching. In terms of orthodox radicality, he is of the same mind as Balthasar, and in almost every significant respect, he is even more radical than Balthasar--in, say, gestures towards universalism, or the social/political cashing-out of solidarity. On the question of the eros of God, the Balthasarian affirmation would be that there must be a supereminent basis for eros in God. What does Benedict say? Straight up, he affirms that there is eros in God.

Now, eros is more than a matter of relations between the sexes. It is the whole openness of heart and mind to reality, towards all that is other. It is our passion to know more and to love more. Would that we kept asking questions, kept being vulnerable to what is not me, kept having open and bleeding hearts. Would that we were alive to the wonder of it all. Would that we were as erotic as God.