Lust is the Problem, Chastity is the Solution

We live in an over-sexed culture.  One need only to stand in line at the local Wal-Mart and look at the magazine rack to see this reality played in full Technicolor before our eyes.  Brooke’s recent post on Modesty and Women sparked some interesting points in the comments,  which I would like to discuss.

As Catholics, we understand that our humanity is a gift.  Our bodies and our sexuality are  gifts given to us by God.  We should not be afraid of it, nor be ashamed of it.  It is a fallacy to believe that a Catholic should not speak about “sex”.  Our God created it, our Church guards the truth about it, why should we be quiet about it?  Sex was not created to be shameful. When sin enters the picture, there enters shame.  However, it would appear especially in the baby boomer’s generation, and the generations preceding them, that the topic of human sexuality was taboo.  Something as powerful as human sexuality cannot be kept under wraps.   No wonder the hippie generation introduced the “sexual revolution”, and back-lashed against “Puritanism”.  With their parents’ silence on the topic of sexuality, and the local church mostly silent about it, the only logical direction for that generation was to swing to the other side of the spectrum.  On a side note, this pendulum swinging attitude is a human thing, and we will see this occur in almost every aspect of life.  Where balance is not present, and St. Thomas Aquinas really drives this home, we’ll fall into the extremes.  This is not a healthy place to be; neither mentally and emotionally, nor spiritually.

The problem is that even though the Catholic Church in her wisdom has never been silent on this topic for 2000 years (as we have lamented about before), from the Bishop to the laity’s ears is a journey of a million miles.  Even when it landed on the desk of the Bishops and priests, as the age of relativism was coming into full swing, no one would say anything about it.  In doing so, the local churches did a great disservice to the laity and so when the great Sexual Revolution of the 20th Century broke out, we lost many souls due in large part to the lack of catechesis they received.  The truth is, if these confused Catholics had known what the Church taught about human sexuality, and even now, if people TRULY knew the Church’s understanding of human sexuality, things would be vastly different.  Though Blessed John Paul II began his Wednesday audiences about human sexuality now called “The Theology of the Body” in the 1980’s, and Pope Paul VI released his prophetic encyclical “Humanae Vitae” in the 1960’s, they lay quite dormant until recent times.  Now these theological time bombs  are being used more for damage control than for initial catechesis.  I digress.

Brooke’s recent post on modesty received some very interesting comments.  The loudest cry from Brooke’s interlocutors was that Brooke was focusing on women more than men. In her defense, she was only speaking about one particular aspect that applies to her as a woman.  However this is where I get down to the bigger topic at hand.

LUST IS THE PROBLEM!

Lust is the antithesis of charity.  Charity is what we as Catholics believe we were created for.  We were created by Love (Who is God Himself) and for love (We need love to live and be happy) and to love (to selflessly offer our lives for God and others in service).  God has stamped into our bodies this very reality by endowing us with our sexuality.  We were made for communion – exclusive communion with someone who we can be one with, and our love produces a new life.  In so doing, God has mirrored the Trinitarian relationship of the three persons of the Trinity into human sexual relationship between a man and a woman.  Bl. John Paul II truly drives this home in his “Theology of the Body”. However, with the fall in Eden, sin and concupiscence entered the world and our understanding of love twisted.  This was not an issue that only one of the sexes had to deal with.  Just as we cannot love in a vacuum, we cannot sin in a vacuum either. I am not going to go into the details of this fact, but if we take any sin and run it to the end, we will see that it not only negatively impacts our relationship with God, but also with others.

Lust is something that most of us deal with.  It impacts all of us in different ways.  I’m not going to go into the psychology of lust for both sexes, but I will say that each sexual drive is triggered differently.  Both experience these in varying degrees, however men tend to be more visual and women tend to be more emotional.  Lust, like any other sin, takes something good, and twists it.  The gift of sexual desire is a very good thing. Lust twists it into something completely other.  Instead of sexual desire being a gift of self, it twists into selfishness.

It has likely been overstated, especially within the JPII fanclub, one of John Paul II’s most famous quotes that “the opposite of love is not hate, but usury”.  I think this is definitely true and puts the Catholic view of Lust into perspective.  Choose to agree or not, but this is the basis of the Church’s understanding of love – that love is shown in a sincere gift of self.

CHASTITY IS THE SOLUTION

Chastity is about true love.  It is about having the freedom to be in control of our passions so as to be able to freely offer ourselves in a sincere gift of self.  Keep in mind that chastity is a virtue, that is a learned habit.  It is second nature for us to be selfish, however it is in offering ourselves selflessly that we become our best.  It is from chastity that many other virtues flow from and to.

In the case of Brooke’s previous post, modesty flows from a chaste heart.  Modesty seeks to protect the other from the sin of lust.  It also recognizes and honors the body as a gift from God, to be protected and safeguarded from those who would look on that body with disrespect; Similar to how the Church desires us to treat her Blessed Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Women offer to the world something that men primarily do not-beauty.  Now, that is not to say men are not sexually appealing, but most women find that their sexual desire is not elevated from seeing a male model, as from the idea of being emotionally connected with that male.  Think I’m wrong?  Look at the Twilight fad.  I’m sure the fact that Mr. Sparkly Vampire is somewhat (if at all) good looking, may play a part.  However, it is vastly related to his emotional connection with Bella that makes women enjoy this book more.  For most men, this book is nothing more than smarmy, emotionally charged, teenage angst.

On the flip side, men are vastly visual people.  The Porn industry is primarily funded by whom?  Men.  Who primarily provides this “entertainment”?  Women.  Take note, especially those who hated on Brooke’s post-THIS IS A CYCLICAL ISSUE.  Lust>Porn>Lust etc.  Though the pornography industry is a Billion dollar industry, the statistic do not include emotional porn that is peddled by mainstream Hollywood movies. Even more billions should be included in the numbers. But I digress again.

Modesty helps breaks the cycle.

Safeguarding the body is more than simply covering up.  It is a matter of the heart.  It was stated in a comment that many indigenous, African tribes have remained naked and it doesn’t cause a problem.  To this I respond with, “What is their idea of relationship”?  Exclusivity in relationship is non-existent in these tribes.  Along with rape being a constant in these circumstances, we also see instances of bestiality and incest.  Take note, there is a reason why the AIDS crisis still continues there, and it’s not because they have a right understanding of human sexuality.

Catholics understand that modesty flows from chastity.  Self-control also flows from this great virtue.  Consider the analogy of the two wolves within each of us.  One we’ll call chastity, the other we’ll call lust.  Which one lives depends upon which one we feed.  Chastity is the answer to the problem of lust.  Both sexes need to  live chastely and choose to safeguard and maintain modesty. The question is how do we feed chastity and starve lust?  Firstly, avoid the near occasions of sin.  Avoid those situations that encourage us to fall.  Secondly, and most importantly, pray.  Pray for a chaste heart.  Turn to Jesus in the Most Pure and Immaculate Host and ask Him to transform our heart.  Turn to the Sacrament of Confession, and receive the graces there that are necessary to overcome concupiscence. Turn to the Blessed Mother, and to St. Joseph her most chaste spouse and pray for their intercession, and ask the Lord for the grace to starve the giant wolf of lust.  If you’re struggling right now, know there is hope.  Seek recourse to these above mentioned things, and also turn to someone of the same sex who can hold you accountable to be pure.  If you need someone to chat to about this, throw us an email through the contact us page.  LOVE WINS.

In the Immaculata,

Chris

RESOURCES

www.theporneffect.com

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About catholichris

I am an orthodox Roman Catholic twenty-something husband with a passion for spreading the Faith, especially within the social media sphere. I work with Team Orthodoxy (orthodoxcatholicism.com), a Catholic social media team, dedicated to the work of the New Evangelization, in full fidelity to the Holy Father, Pope Francis and the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.

Posted on February 28, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. That comment about exclusivity being non-existent in African tribes is horribly racist. It is a sweeping generalisation aimed at denying the notion that standards of modesty vary depending on culture and worldview. African cultures wherein women bare their breasts do not do so because they do not value monogamy. Many of such cultures (such as the Zulu) are monogamous in relationships.

    We see that modesty varies even within Western culture – the Victorians found the sight of a woman’s ankle very salacious and scandalous. Now we don’t think twice when we see an ankle. In the era of the geisha, Japanese men went wild for the bare nape of a woman’s neck, while Regency-era women of England had no problem leaving the neck exposed.

    It would help your cause if you didn’t result to racist stereotypes and generalisations to make your point. While there are SOME tribal beliefs in Africa, Arabic countries, and in India that hold that raping a virgin will cure disease, it is not a blanket belief. While SOME migrant tribes in Arab countries may turn a blind eye to bestiality, that does not mean that the society itself encourages bestiality. Even Christians who try so hard to be chaste fall to perverse sins. Don’t try to make yourself look better by denigrating cultures you clearly don’t know anything about.

    • I was only making reference to a comment made on Facebook. I was not speaking in general.

    • It would appear you missed Chris’ entire discussion on balance. The ideas of the Victorians and the Geishas, and those other cultures that you mentioned do not have a balanced understanding of human sexuality as is held by the Catholic Church. Also, to submit that because of the failures of some Christians, that the entire teaching of the Church is false, is poor logic. Chris did not make mention at all of most of the things you mentioned, nor was his intent to make a National Geographic article. In his defence, he was only responding to the comment made to him and he was not presupposing anything concerning those cultures except that their understanding of relationship differs greatly from the way the Church understands relationship. When he spoke of the tribes, he did qualify that “many” not “all” engage in frivolous sexual activity and when he referenced “these tribes” he was referencing them, not the Zulus like you seem to imply. This was not a racist comment at all.

      • And it would appear that you missed my entire point. I have no problem with believing that a balanced view of sexuality is most healthy – I believe that. What I do have a problem with is stating that indigenous tribes do not value monogamy, allow rape and bestiality, etc. Like I said, it is a sweeping generalization that comes off as being racist. I assume you have both read C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” – he talks about how standards of modesty may differ from culture to culture, and how that doesn’t mean that culture A values modesty more than culture B. I’m not trying to suggest that running around in string bikini tops and booty shorts is acceptable. I AM suggesting that standards of modesty may differ according to various circumstances, and that it is not always an evil thing.

        Catholicism holds the truth. We do not need to denigrate others or write them off in order to convey that.

      • I would like to submit a clarification for those who were offended by some of the connections I make in this blog.

        1. I am in no way saying that the sin of Lust is a one sided issue. Both genders are spoken about in this blog, and both deal with lust similarly, but also they do differ in how they deal with it This is not a sexist statement. The intent was not to single out a certain sex with this. If I am wrong in understanding that men and women are different, please ensure I receive all of the facts from a psychological/scientific standpoint. I would also like to point out that what John Paul II says about the difference of men and women in his letter to women:Womanhood expresses the “human” as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way….Womanhood and manhood are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological. It is only through the duality of the “masculine” and the “feminine” that the “human” finds full realization. (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html).

        2. Concerning the comment concerning African tribes it needs to be noted that I would not dare speak in general. I need to apologize if this is how I came across. I did not intend to do so. I do not presuppose to know everything there is to know about African tribes and their attitudes on relationship. I make note of something Claire noted in the comments concerning the Zulu tribe who follow monogamy and their women are bare chested. This is a great example of a one of the Tribes that would not be included in this. Additionally, I am not necessarily implying that the tribes that are bare chested are the ones who deal with things like rape, incest, bestiality. I am however saying that some people in some tribes in Africa do not understand relationship as Catholics do. Thus enters lust and there we have the problem. In either case, even if they are bare chested and living monogamously , there is still a level of understanding that they lack that can only be understood in the light of Christ and the Church.

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
        2521. Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.

        2522. Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires ones choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is descreet.

        2523. There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body…. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies

        3. I am really unsure of how much more balanced I can be in terms of speaking about men and women. I remain firm that Men primarily offer their strength to the world and Women primarily offer their beauty. Please see the books “Wild at Heart” by John Elderidge and “Captivating” by Staci Elderidge to understand this fact better.

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