Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sexual Temptations: A Passive Approach Will Not Suffice III

Sexual Temptations: A Passive Approach Will Not Suffice continued:

For men, chastity requires the constant practice of putting sex in its proper context. Women do this more instinctively. For them, sexuality has a connection to life and the pain that is involved during child- bearing. Even with the use of contraception, the possibility of getting pregnant looms in the back of a woman’s mind. She is the bearer of life and the one who is most closely connected to that life. Compartmentalizing sex and divorcing it from its consequences is rarely an option for her. Even after a long and arduous day, sex can be just one more chore for her. It rarely serves as an escape from life’s demands as it can for a man. No, all of her ducks, so to speak, have to be in order. Any rifts between her and her husband need to be resolved before she considers sexual intimacy. Therefore, sex for a woman is naturally interwoven with childbearing, relationships and the larger context of life. As such, she is more apt to see the God-given purpose of sexuality more than her male counterpart.

What is said about women cannot be said about men; especially when he is left to his own natural instincts. For a man who lives without the aid of divine grace; for a man who does not daily exercise the virtue of chastity in ways that our Lord prescribed; sex is something that can easily stand alone. In a worst case scenario, a man can behold the beauty of a female body without giving the slightest thought to her personality. It is a brutal fact but it is true that a man can have sex with a woman he hates and still enjoy it. Such a fallen disposition explains why certain men are capable of rape and why even more men consume pornography on a large scale. It stands, therefore, that not only is the invocation of God’s grace necessary for him, but sexual wholeness requires repeated acts of the will and the use of his reasoning ability to put sex in its proper life-giving and love-giving context.

One would think that marriage would alleviate the sexual tensions men experience in our media-driven culture. But the fact is that the sin of watching pornography is confessed in Sacrament of Reconciliation, in large part, by married men. One reason for this is that man is conditioned by our culture to have a sexual appetite that is disproportionate to what most women are willing to deliver. When a man’s libido is constantly provoked by sexual images on the television, from the magazine racks at the grocery store and even on the billboards on the highway, it creates unrealistic expectations he may have for his wife.

And keep in mind that a good wife is a good mother; and a good mother- especially with a lot of children –is constantly on the go and emotionally invested in a number of different household projects…not to mention a job she may have in addition. As the demands on her are increased, so too is her need to emotionally disengage herself from those demands. Then, and only then, can she be able to think about sexual intimacy with her husband. With that said, it is understandable why a man who constantly absorbs sexual images and a wife/mother who constantly absorbs all the demands placed on her may experience discord and frustration with each other.

In addition to reasoning his way through sexual temptation as stated in part two of this series, the man has to play the part of the priest- the high priest of the family, so to speak. Each time his libido is awoken from the bombardment of images, and each time his wife is too exhausted to even think about sexual intimacy, the husband finds himself at a crossroads. He can relieve his tension a number of sinful and unhelpful ways or he can offer to God spiritual sacrifices. In a spiritual sense, he has to take his sexual urge to the altar of his heart and sacrifice to the Lord what he is tempted to satisfy unlawfully.

What is not commonly understood by men, however, is that with each time a man consents to die to himself in this regard, he grows holier, stronger and more pleasing to God. He is, without realizing it, born to new life. Dying in this way, he makes much spiritual progress. Without this frequent meditation, a husband may grow to resent his wife and, as I said, the seduction of pornography and adultery may get the better of him.

St. Paul says, "Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire..." Again, it is this manly and "violent" approach to lust, and vice in general, that leads to peace of soul. Indeed, with sexual temptations, man must be proactive and aggressive. After all, the choice is a matter of heaven or hell, salvation or damnation, eternal life with God or eternal despair. Our Lady of Fatima assured us that more souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh, i.e. sex. These considerations, in addition to the benefits of offering spiritual sacrifices, should also be the content of men's meditations. Indeed, every man should think about how chastity pleases our Lord and how lust provokes His displeasure.

In response to sexual temptation, a passive approach will not suffice for a man. Being too passive, a man runs the risk of making sex his master instead of his servant. And as some of you know, the obsession with sex can be a cruel master.