In a two-part series on blogs about chastity, I wrote how the desire for sex is not in itself bad. And after that, I wrote on the importance of aligning our sexual desires with appreciation towards the value of a person through his/her identity rather than their mere sexual values.
To make this topic a trilogy, let’s ponder chastity as (more than anything else) a right ordering of our senses.
“Where our hearts go, our bodies will follow.” -Lisa Cotter
What we do with our bodies nurtures our souls. Hence, the importance of sacraments that happen through the body, to nourish our soul. Therefore; chastity should start with our senses and thoughts—both of which have more power than we realize.
Because, if we’re letting our eyes, the windows of our souls, view immoral sexual content, videos, or magazines, or we look to other people with a desire to use their body for our selfish reasons, then our relationships with other people are going to become opportunities to act out these thoughts.
If we’re exposing our ears, the pathway that leads to the depths of the soul, listen to obscene and coarse language, material, music, or we partake/start conversations with others that are speaking of others in their physicality (no examples are necessary, you’ll know when you hear it..) then these thoughts are going to “train” us in how we think about the people we spend time with.
If we’re using our lips, the ignition of a passionate fire meant to breathe life into the soul, to speak words of lust or to partake in meaningless kisses through an impulsed desire for pleasure, then we’re training ourselves to devalue and diminish the actual luster that this expression of love let’s us experience.
“Man must learn to be the authentic master of his innermost impulses, like a watchman who watches over a hidden spring, and finally able to draw from all these impulses what is fitting for ‘purity of heart.’ ” -Theology of the Body
Chances are you can pinpoint a couple things you do or encounter on a daily basis that stop you from seeing love as God intends it to be. For me, it was the music I listened to, movies I watched, social media I consumed, and even the people I spent time with. After enough time of “fasting” from these few things, I found myself experiencing, seeing, and partaking in more meaningful, personal encounters in my jobs and even my relationships.
Emotional chastity allows us to value ourselves and others through divine and pure love. When we stop perceiving love as a way to seek some form of selfish gratification from the people we encounter (this can be sexually, mentally, or emotionally), we truly understand the price Jesus paid in the cross, and what it means to gift yourself to those you love.
Rightly ordering my senses influenced my morality and spirituality in ways that surmounted my person hood. Instead of having this “dark cloud” over my head when I thought about sexuality, I see a radiant white light that seeks more.
Since I am my body, I knew the way I “nurtured” my body was starting to “nurture” my humanity and spirituality. By internal discipline of the senses and with help from the spirit of God’s love (prayer & grace), I began to rid the old ways and crack open the window that leads the infinite.
If you’ve ever been madly in love with someone, you know that the passion of the infinite is an inner stirring that motivates you in incomprehensible ways. You also know, that this isn’t prudish, lame, or “Victorian.” It’s so powerful, so good, and it leads you to ecstasy, bliss, and total euphoria. It’s divinity in it’s sincerest and purest sense.
This desire we all have for erotic love is the “inner power that ‘attracts’ man to the true, the good, and the beautiful” (JPII). Eros leads us to God, and leads us to a purity in heart which allows us to see, taste, touch, and know the goodness of God. Eros is the motivation that allows us to expand our personhood and partake in the mystery of who God is (love).
“When passion is set into the whole of the spirit’s deepest energies, it can also become a creative force; in this case, it must undergo a radical transformation.” -John Paul II
Chances are, we all need a radical transformation in our emotional views on sexuality. The devil is having a field day destroying and tempting us with the counterfeits of God’s plan for true erotic love and passion.
Let’s win the battle. May this be a proposal for you, to use your senses (these five powerful little tools) to appreciate God, to appreciate neighbor, to find and experience the love that God wants to gift to us. Let’s keep our relationships modest, and will the good of others in all we do. Only then, can we truly experience the true motivation and way God intended passionate love to glorify our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls.
Do it for yourself. Do it for your future spouse. Do it for God.
Feeding our souls with sacraments and prayer (true ecstasy) fills our hearts with divine love. And then, as long as we remain open to this divine love (and ask for it in prayer) we then become deep wells of divine love and give that love to others through the gift of self (the gift of the body). Pouring divine love out of our hearts into our actions, thoughts, desires, and relationships.
Well, my heart is melting and my soul is enriched, so I’ll end here.
Thank you, Jesus, for the virtue of chastity. It is in practicing this virtue that we ready ourselves in the ways in which we can experience the bliss that awaits us in Heaven, right here on Earth.