Damon Owens, executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute

Element of choice is a key part of love

By  Kevin Hurren, Youth Speak News
  • January 18, 2012

London, Ont. - In today’s society there is a lack of meaning associated with the word love, says Damon Owens, executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute.

“When you understand love and you’re able to see this beautiful vision of… what it means to be made in God’s image and likeness, you will be thrilled,” Owens told an audience of about 50 students and alumni gathered at his God, Sex and the Meaning of Life lecture Jan. 12 at King’s University College. “You will be excited and be compelled to live and to love in the fullness and not accepting the counterfeit love the world offers.” 

The theology of the body is a lens, a language, an approach that helps us understand what it means to be human, he said.

“What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God? Deliberately created male and female not just to be different from each other but to be different for each other?”

Owens framed the lecture around creation passages featured in Genesis and explained how these opening verses can “help unpack” important aspects of intimacy, such as the significance of honesty and choice.

Such verses included Genesis 19 and 20, when God gives Adam the opportunity to name all His creations.

“When we give something a name, we give it a special place in our world,” he said. “Whether it’s a nickname for a friend or the naming of a child, giving a name is like choosing to love. This is why Adam’s naming of Eve is so important because it signifies that he is welcoming her into his life and she is the answer to his solitude.”

Such themes resounded with youth in attendance, like student Paige Liznick, 19. 

“The idea that we not only have the right to say yes or no, but also the opportunity from God to make such a choice is comforting,” said Liznick. “It makes me feel as though God trusts me, so I can trust Him.”

Owens related such notions of choice with the story of Adam and Eve and specific lines of a marriage ceremony. He pointed out that the first thing the priest asks the soon to be married couple is if both are present of their own free will.

The lecture continued to emphasize how the ability to make such a choice strengthens the meaning behind the words.

“If you offer your love to someone and he or she can reject that love or can reply with ‘no,’ but ultimately still says ‘yes,’ then that acceptance means so much more,” said Owens. 

He also used personal anecdotes, humour and historical knowledge to convey his points on love and intimacy.

Used in an increasing variety of contexts, the word “love” is losing its honesty, he said. In the same way, the act of sex is losing its gravity.

Owens concluded his lecture by relating how a developed reverence and respect for intimacy can positively affect all areas of one’s life.

“This foundational understanding is not simply about sex. It’s not simply about marriage. It is, but when we get this foundation right, this origin of the human person right, it is now a way for us to understand every element of the creed as Catholics.

“A way for us to understand everything related to every sacrament, to every relation, to every purpose in life.”

(Hurren, 18, is a media, information and technoculture student at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.)

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