How do you know if you truly love someone? Is it when you have a powerful romance with intense feelings? Is it simply a deep desire to be with a certain person? St. Pope John Paul II reveals THE indicator of true love for another: a profound sense of responsibility to care for their heart.
Today’s episode of All Things Catholic examines that reality through the lens of Adam and Eve’s relationship before the Fall, giving you keys to understand how this mystery of love can unfold in your own relationships.
Snippet from the Show
Ask God to help you to tear down the walls of shame and sin in your marriage so you can care for your beloved and have a greater sense of responsibility for their heart.
What is the True Measure of Love?
- Saint Pope John Paul II on Love (4:33)
“The greater the feeling of responsibility for the person, the more true love there is.”
- Genesis 2:25 (6:22)
“And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”
St. Pope John Paul II (JPII) Unpacks the Concept of Shame
What does it mean for Adam and Eve to be naked and unashamed? First let’s define shame: shame is when we are afraid of another seeing us as we are, we are afraid of being vulnerable.
JPII suggests in his Theology of the Body, that God’s original plan for marriage was for there to be no shame between the couple, using the first couple, Adam and Eve, as an example of this (Genesis 2:25) They were able to fully be themselves and to share their souls with each other.
Imagine you’re in a marriage like Adam and Eve…
Before the Fall, there was no sin, no selfishness, no use in marriage. Adam and Eve had total trust and security in their relationship, and sought the good of their spouse at all times. Because of this, they were able to fully love one another as God intended it, and were able to be fully intimate with each other, without the barrier of shame.
- Saint Pope John Paul II
They lived their marriage “Looking at each other with the vision of the Creator.” They looked at each other like God looks at them.
- “Freedom exists for the sake of love.”
How did God look at Adam and Eve?
“And it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) God is delighted in humanity, he rejoices in us. Just as we are, Adam and Eve are his children made in his own image and likeness.
When Adam looks at Eve, he sees more than just her physical beauty, her purpose as a “helper” (Genesis 2:18), and as a feminine companion. He saw her as a daughter of God, that she was made in his image, and that she is very good. Adam is in awe over the gift of Eve, and the fact that she chose to be with him.
Adam and Eve had free will.
God created Adam and Eve with free will, meaning that when God created Eve, she didn’t have to marry Adam, she didn’t have to give her life to him, but she did anyway. Eve gave up all the other things she could have done for herself in the garden and chose to give herself fully and intimately to Adam, to serve him, to seek his good, and to give herself to him.
My Baseball Card Analogy…
I love to collect baseball cards, and there’s one particular card that I have that is worth a lot: a Nolan Ryan mint condition (brand new) rookie card. It’s worth thousands of dollars, and if the slightest scratch, bend, or mark is made on the card, it loses thousands of dollars in profit.
Now imagine I hand you that baseball card. How would you feel? Nervous? Anxious? Honored?
That’s what Adam experienced when God handed him Eve in Creation. Eve, something much more valuable and important than a baseball card, was given to Adam by God, and then chose, with her free will, to love and serve him wholly and selflessly. Adam is holding the heart of Eve in his hands, and is in awe of this gift God has given him. He had a profound sense of responsibility for her heart.
How can we model our marriages after Adam and Eve’s Marriage before the Fall?
The first step is fostering that attitude of responsibility for the other. Think to yourself:
- “How can I help my spouse today?”
- “What does my beloved need from me?”
- “How can I honor my husband/wife with my words, actions, and thoughts?”
The more we create an environment to treasure, honor, and respect our spouses as something much more important than a Nolan Ryan Rookie card, the more we will show them that they can give their hearts to us, and we can give our hearts to them.