I have a new article up at NewEvangelizers.com.
I cannot imagine I have anything original to say about this topic, nor should I. The problem of lust as long been the bane of many human lives. It has destroyed families, ruined lives, and caused general guilt and shame to countless people.
Rather than catalog each sexual sin and why it is wrong, I will instead focus on the lusts in the heart. Yes, having sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin and therefore worse than struggling with a lustful thought. But if we can heal the disease at the source, we can keep it from becoming malignant. A person may avoid sexual contact with another (maybe not for lack of trying) but still have lust gripping their souls. But if a person can be free of lust in the heart, then it will keep them from committing mortal sin with another.
This sin itself as not changed. What has changed is the cultural intensity. Since the sexual revolution, sins that once remained private are now mainstream. What once brought shame is now an object of pride.
To be clear, we should not act as the elders who wanted to stone the adulteress to death for her sin. But even Christ acknowledged that she was not living the right way when He said to her “Go and sin no more.”
There are also several difficulties in speaking about this subject as opposed to others. A frank discussion about a person’s anger problems can be a path to healing. But a frank discussion about sexuality can actually lead another person to lustful thoughts.
CS Lewis and his best friend Arthur Greeves would share all of their secrets with each other as young men. To unpack the hidden burdens of the heart can be a great relief. But they also shared with each other their personal sexual fantasies and desires. It was something both men later regretted as it only served to stoke those illicit desires in them rather than relieve them of its pressures.
When talking about sexuality, we have to realize that if we get too specific with some people, this will only strengthen their lusts. And to make matters worse, everyone is the not the same in this regard.
We can easily say that we should avoid viewing pornography. But for some, regular television or music videos on youtube may provide too much temptation for some. I remember someone once got rid of all of their comic books because they found the images too tawdry Some may think this an overreaction if they do not find drawn images like that stimulating. But to this person, it may be too much to handle. Everyone’s temptations and triggers are different. This isn’t to say that we should be puritanical in our speech and avoid talking about this sin. We simply must do it with caution.
And before we speak about it, we must do our best to live chaste lives. We must model chastity. Of course, this is easier said than done. A priest once said to me that many priests experience their strongest sexual temptations during mass. The Devil knows that this is a sensitive point for many of us and the guilt regarding our failings here is deep. A famous theologian said of his struggles with pornography that it “sapped all of my spiritual strength.” The percentage of Catholics who habitually look at pornography, even Catholics who regularly attend mass, is staggering.
Many blame our toxic culture. And to be sure there are those who are constantly pushing the envelope of sexual degradation and exploitation in our media. The young are especially susceptible to this because this is the culture in which they grow. In The King and I, the children of Siam disbelieved the reality of snow because they have never experienced it. When adults try to explain to teens and children that the overtly sexual elements of our culture are not appropriate, all they may hear is the “Back in my day…” speech that makes us sound and feel out of touch.
So what is the solution?
You can read the entire article here.