Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mere Christianity: Book 3: Chapter 5 (Sexual Morality)

The Fight For Chastity

For this post, I wish to mostly just share Lewis' thoughts on Chastity as an encouragement for those who may struggle with it.

 Lewis starts off by saying "Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian Virtues.

He spends a lot of time arguing about the evidence that shows our instincts as, not bad, but disordered, and why we should recognize that and strive for the virtue of Chastity. He also says that our societal views are flawed. I'm not going to talk about that... there are other people more qualified in making that case, and if you want, you can find this chapter and read Lewis' arguments.

Rather, I want to make a case for hope in Chastity. I want to examine how Lewis says we can be cured... and indeed, his words are encouraging.

What Makes Chastity Hard?

1) "Before we can be cured, we must want to be cured." Many of us may pray for Chastity, but in our heart we may secretly be adding "but not just yet".

2) We Begin to feel that our desires are natural, healthy, and reasonable.  This makes it hard for us to resist them, and in fact, we may begin think that resisting is actually the thing that is unnatural.  This, of course, has a basis of Truth... because our desire in and of itself is good.  It must not, however, be acted upon outside of marriage. We must remember that "for any happiness... quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary".

3) We think that it's impossible.... and therefore we resolve not to try.  We may ask, "is it possible?", but indeed if we are to be truly holy we have no choice, and as Lewis states, "one must do the best one can." "You may get some marks for a very imperfect answer: you will certianly get none for leaving it blank."

And there we begin the wonderful questions, What can we do? What hope do we have?

 1) Remember that we are not alone in this struggle.
            "After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.  Very often what God first helps us towards IS NOT the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.  For however important [any one virtue] may be this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still."  "We learn... that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven."!

2) Again, we must WANT to be cured.

3) We must KNOW what we are fighting.  Just as a general studies his enemy to know how best to fight him, we must know as much as possible about our sexuality to be able to know best how to control it.

4) Finally, we must REMEMBER: "that the center of Christian Morality is not here".
         In other words, "If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong.  The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.  All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual.... For there are two things inside me....They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self.  The Diabolical self is the worse of the two.  That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute."

This is a fight we can win.

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