Be Not Afraid: dating, attraction, and Theology of the Body

BY GUILLERMO MORENO
STAFF WRITER  

More than 150 people attended the talk “Be Not Afraid: Dating, Attraction and Theology

of the Body” in Pugliese Auditorium on the night of Oct.16. Sponsored by Corpus Christi

Household, the event featured Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, alumni from Franciscan University of

Steubenville and experts on the Theology of the Body.

Building on the content of Christopher West’s talk two weeks prior, the Popcaks gave a

presentation providing practical information on how to find the kind of love that God has in store

for everyone. While West explained the purpose of the desire for beauty, the Popcaks explained

what to do in order to find and live out love.

They pointed out that fear is a factor that prevents people from leaving their comfort

zones and opening themselves to dating and relationships. Fear can stem from rejection, hurt or

loneliness, but fear is not of God, they said. In order to find love, one must first find the perfect

love of God and thus overcome fear and answer God’s call to love. This involves an ongoing

prayer life, as well as actively living out the Catholic faith. Through a relationship with the Lord,

false “loves” are filtered out.

Preparation is required to answer the call to love and participate in the profound mystery

that is spoken of in Eph. 5:31-32. This preparation is what dating is about, said the Popcaks. One

must ask what to learn to live the love story that God is calling him to, and where that person is

with whom one is meant to live it out. After all, the union between man and woman ultimately

points to union with God, who reveals himself through others. In light of this, people must love

with God’s love in mind.

A key point made by the Popcaks was that before having a relationship, one must have an

identity. Above all, one must be aware of the charisms that God gave him, as well as who one is

as a person. Charisms are the gifts given by God to live out one’s mission in life, and awareness

of these gifts helps one discern who can be a helping partner in fulfilling this mission. This

partner will have similar charisms, enabling the two to embark in a mission in life together. With

this in mind, dating becomes easier.

While dating can still be intimidating, one is called to be brave, be open and be a friend.

The Popcaks explained that attraction to someone is God’s call to that person, and this includes

platonic relationships as well as romantic ones, for it is not good to be alone as Gen. 2:18 states.

Attraction to others is a call to serve and is a reminder to keep looking for God.

They also expressed that to be a friend means to wish to serve others, not to seek goods

from them. Use is not limited to the realm of sexuality. But friendship is the logical response to

attraction, and romantic friendship is the next step. In both cases, one seeks to serve the other,

but romantic friendship is more exclusive.

A requirement for building a healthy relationship is to love others more than one’s own

comfort zone. Ultimately, a healthy relationship comes from God and leads back to God.

Graduate counseling student Sean Monger said that the Popcak’s talk was “very

practical” and advice that he “could use to really become a better person.”One of the things that really stuck out,” said attendee Kiara Pirola, was “just go get to

know people. Just be friends, be kind … and don’t be afraid of friendship. … Just go have coffee

and relax. God will do all the hard work. You just have to … be paying attention to the signs.”

Greg Popcak is a professor at Franciscan University. Books by the Popcaks about dating

and relationships are available at the campus bookstore.

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