Humans are made in the image and likeness of God, according to the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis 1:27). The Hebrew words selem (image) and demut (likeness) basically mean representation. Some scholars state that the words suggest counterpart as well. God created humans – male and female – to represent God’s Self, to be partners of the divine. What an intimate, privileged relationship! (And one that regrettably has been abused too.)
Life partners – or any partners for that matter – also represent each other. What one person does reflects (positively or negatively) on the other person. In a power dynamic relationship, the obedience of the submissive reveals as much about the dominant partner as it does about the submissive. Also, our relationships, among other things, of course, reflect who we are and who we want to be. If as a submissive I want to be more generous and loving, I will seek out a partner who will help me realize my desire. Partnerships are admittedly not easy, for they require growth, communication, patience, and so many other challenges and virtues; but they allow for some of the most privileged and profoundly intimate relationships known to the human experience.
It is hard enough to represent another human person, but how in the world do we represent God, in other words, the Trinity, Agape (Love), pure self-gift? We simply cannot be and/or do what typically is understood about God: omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (all present), etc. We can, however, strive to be who we are: fully human, fully relational. As representatives of a fundamentally relational God, we have only to offer ourselves authentically to others. And the divine shows us a way to do it through the Incarnation: God becoming human, the divine revealed in the life (the relationships, of course), death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (More on the Incarnation and Jesus in future columns.)
Offering ourselves to another or others is far from easy given the requisite vulnerability, honesty and trust, especially for kinky folk who have heard all too often that we are anything from strange to perverted or even worse. But sharing who we are with another is central to being human, and it is at the core of Catholic living as well. May we represent Love, pure self-gift, with our partners in wonderfully intimate ways.
Originally posted October 17, 2010