“The great modern enemy of friendship has turned out to be love. By love, I don’t mean the principle of giving and mutual regard that lies at the heart of friendship. And I don’t mean what Saint Paul meant by love, the Christian notion of indiscriminate and universal agape or caritas, which is based on the universal love of the Christian God. I mean love in the banal, ubiquitous, compelling, and resilient modern meaning of love: the romantic love that obliterates all other goods, the love to which every life must apparently lead, the love that is consummated in sex and celebrated in every particle of our popular culture, the love that is institutionalized in marriage and instilled as a primary and ultimate good in every Western child. I mean eros, which is more than sex but is bound up with sex. I mean the longing for union with another being, the sense that such a union resolves the essential quandary of human existence, the belief that only such a union can abate the loneliness that seems to come with being human, and deter the march of time that threatens to trivialize our very existence.
The centrality of this love in our culture is so ingrained that it is almost impossible to conceive of a world in which it might not be so. And this is strange in a society in which the delusions and dangers of such love are all around us: the wreckage of many modern marriages, the mass of unwanted pregnancies, the devastation of AIDS, the social ostracism of the single and the old. Even those sources of authority that might once have operated as a check on this extraordinary cultural pre-eminence have caved in to the propaganda of eros. The Christian churches, which once wisely taught the primary of caritas to eros, and held out the virtue of friendship as equal to the benefits of conjugal love, are now our culture’s primary and obsessive propagandists for the marital unit and its capacity to resolve all human ills and satisfy all human needs. Far from seeing divorce and abortion and sexual disease as reasons to question our culture’s apotheosis of eros, these churches see them merely as opportunities to intensify the idolatry of eros properly conducted and achieved. We live in a world, in fact, in which respect and support for eros has acquired all the hallmarks of a cult. It has become our civil religion.” (Andrew Sullivan, Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival)
(HT: Wesley Hill)