One of the great achievements of the sciences in the last decades is the discovery that we are free to determine who we become. We are autonomous. While this is true, the aphorism that no man is an island remains true today as it’s always been. We flourish best when we rely on others, especially on God. So in this vein, the human person is most flourishing when he or she is in a relationship with others. God recognized that man should not be alone, and so remedy his situation by providing for him a suitable partner. It is in this partner that he finds his identify. It is in his mate that he discovers that he is meant to live in a relationship. It is this partner that allowed the man to break the silence for the first time. “ This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). Man furthers realizes that his relationship flourishes when he is living in a communion of persons. It is when he gives himself as a total, selfless, free, and reciprocal gift that transcends his very being that he finds happiness.
This picture fits man best before the original fall. With the fall, man’s mind and body were opened to disorder. A kind of hiatus is created between he and his creator. It throws a veil before his eyes. He no longer sees the other as companion, but rather as objects to be used. He no longer sees the other as a gift for he can now “see”. He doubts the goodness of the creator and begins to see God as a rival who limits his freedom. He no longer sees his or her human nature as a gift received from the creator. “His communion with the other is transformed into a relationship of domination over the other”. That’s never been the plan however.
What does all this tell us? There was indeed a time when we were autonomous because we were in harmony with God. That was before the fall. Then we did not see as if in a mirror. Now we must understand that we are not capable of sound choices anymore because we failed. Yes, we are free to determine whatever we want to become, but the fall conditions that becoming. We cannot become something that left its mark on the hearts of others without God. We are free as long as we live and move and have our being in the law of God. So, to truly love in a way that live a scar in the soul, we must be monitored by the author of love himself.
Though the tendency to see the other as an object to be used–erotic love is a reality, but if our lives are monitored by the law established by God, that love will be transformed into agapic love. If struggle there is, if consistency is a challenge, that’s no reason to give up; we must not settle for the basics; greatness is our destiny. To make our life a masterpiece is the goal. That’s achievable not on our effort alone. The man Jesus Christ is our advocate and lodestar showing us how to get there. We need to rely heavily on his grace who epitomizes how we were meant to be and live. He redeemed us from the curse of the fall. We are not autonomous outside of that redeemer. Our self-determination will always be filled with frustration unless we understand that there is no freedom outside of the bubble, so to speak, created by God for us after the fall.