Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spiritual Jenga

Ok. So I'm just going to say it- I occasionally have a problem with purity (& I don't think I'm alone!). In the Church, I notice this is an issue most associated with teenage boys or sex addicts, but what about ordinary single adults? I know the Catechism has definitive things to say about it, but I don't often hear the wisdom of the Catechism acknowledged with favor.

When I was a Protestant, things stayed between me & God. I “repented” & called it good. As a Catholic, I'm immediately aware that I'm forfeiting unity with the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. Still, I try to reason: God knows my heart; I try my best 99 ¼ % of the time... One cookie won't hurt... I can always go to confession...


I'm told my issue is normal, natural, human. Even my confessor doesn't consider it a sin. He says its not hurting anyone & goes on to cite archaic misnomers about male sexuality in particular & how that shaped the Church's understanding of what constitutes sin. So where does that leave the ladies?! I know how “normal, natural & human” it is for guys AND gals, but I don't agree that its something that can be sanctified in the eyes of God on its own. If I can choose to go against this one thing the Magisterium teaches, whose to say I can't go against another? What happens if I begin picking & choosing for myself what I really believe is sin or not? If I truly believe God has given authority to the Church to declare what is sin & what is not, to dispense grace & forgiveness or to withhold it, its detrimental for me to entertain the idea that I can skirt one issue & not another. Its like spiritual Jenga.

All this began with missing Mass on Sunday. I had just returned from a week in the woods & I was tired. Things had to be sorted, cleaned & organized. I wanted to stay in my pajamas & just take the day slow, so I did. I tried to cling to my confessor's past assurance that it was “o.k.” to "make up" a Mass during the week, but my conscience wouldn't let me rest. I stumbled onto the battlefield & the 'desire that gives birth to sin' took me down in short order. If missing Mass was a sin, I had to wait till Saturday to confess it anyway. That gave me a full week to rack up a list & really make my 10 minutes in the closet count. Of course I'm being facetious, but sometimes I find myself entertaining that mentality. I felt bad about my sin, but then... not really. I'm more embarrassed than anything.

In the meantime, I've been haggling with my Maker. Isn't this a God given right & privilege of being human? Why should I be any different? And here's what I believe He said: “Offer your sexuality to Me & do not let yourself be mastered by anything. Its not a gift or a right. It just “is”, like eagles find their prey or hares makes nests in burrows... This is your cross to bear in the moment. For now, I have called you to this. Can you be content with the now? Can you be patient?”

Sigh. I was hoping for something like “Its ok, My child, I understand.” . I took issue with the idea that sex isn't a gift or a privilege... What is it then? And if it “just is”, why aren't the animals subject to the same morality we humans are? Why can't we do as they do? The simple answer is that God made His covenant with us, not them. Sex is indeed a natural part of life, but for us, its a right & privilege only within the confines of marriage. The gift isn't for everyone, contrary to popular opinion. Outside of marriage, no matter how good it feels, it actually becomes a curse, a sin, a burden. Is it my fault that “love was awakened before its time?” No, but its my responsibility to submit to God now. To do otherwise is to steal a gift that isn't mine to have. 

But its my body! I should be able to do what I want, shouldn't I?

Just because Jesus brought us grace doesn't mean we're free to do whatever we want now. Yes, my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. So what? It doesn't mean anything to me if I don't understand why the Holy Spirit considers me prime real estate. Sexuality in general has always been an incredibly holy thing in God's eyes & I think we tend to forget that... We seem to think its innately ours, purely base & human; first, for our pleasure & secondly for procreation. But while we may own the functions & desires of our bodies, we don't actually own the right to seek fulfillment of those desires outside God's gift of marriage. Its incredibly frustrating to hear & I keep trying to trust that He knows best... But sometimes, honestly, trust sucks.

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