When the Gift of Sexuality Becomes an Occasion for Sin
Sins of a sexual nature are common among many people today. Much of the struggle is directly related to the fact that people do not take advantage of having a spiritual father. If you are your own guide the struggles with sexual passions can be beyond your ability to fight, leading to despair.
Our body is a temple that has been bought with a price. We do not, therefore, own our own bodies. The 60’s mantra of the women’s movement that laid claim to the right of a woman to abort her baby is the ultimate result of the misuse of human sexuality. The good that came out of the women’s movement regarding equal pay, equal opportunity, the end to discrimination, and the right not to be sexually exploited, was good and just. But the idea that women can make the decision to abort a child is unjust, because such belief ignores the right of a child to life. The unborn child is unable to speak out for her rights, so must have the protection under the law, just as does the woman.
That a man would see as his right to expect sex with a woman because he took her out to dinner and a movie, is yet another example of the wrongful view of the role of sex in one’s life. Our bodies belong to God, and our sexuality should only be expressed in ways that are sanctioned by God’s law. One need not be embarrassed by struggles with masturbation, or falling into other temptations of a sexual nature. Our sexuality is a gift from God, and is meant to feel good, but it is also a gift that has been given for a purpose. It is through sexuality that our species increases, and through which a man and a woman become one. The sexual act between a husband and a wife is meant to unite them as one flesh, bringing them closer to each other in a bond of love. For this gift to be used in any other way is to trespass against God’s intent.
Because our sexual drive is so powerful, it can be hard to control without the help of an experience spiritual guide. In an age where sexual expression is seen as one’s right, and where the view that one can not be fulfilled if they are not sexually active, keeping oneself chaste can be a daunting task, indeed. If everyone is doing it, how can it be wrong?
For a Christian to be selective as to which commandment he is going to keep is illogical. We don’t steal because we know it is against God’s commandments, and we don’t murder another person because we know all life is precious. Yet we think nothing of coveting another man’s wife, or sleeping with someone for the sake of personal pleasure. An unborn child is dispensable because she is the inconvenient result of an evening of sexual gratification, and the future of costly child support.
Our human sexuality is a sacred gift from God. For the celibate monk or nun this is a gift from God that we offer back to God, as a sign of our love and desire to be united completely to the Lord of Lights. To the unmarried it is a gift that is to be saved for the marriage bed, where one gives of oneself to one’s spouse.
Without the help of a spiritual father or mother, abstinence can seem impossible, especially given the powerful drive of our sexual nature, and the pressures of our society to express our sexuality freely. For the young man or woman who is bombarded with the tales of the sexual exploits of one’s friends, the struggle for purity can seem impossible. One more reason why we need to surround ourselves with friends who are committed Christians, and who know the importance of living lives that are centered on Christ.
Frequent confession with one’s spiritual father or confessor is a tool that can make all the difference in our struggle to be free of sinful passions, and triumphant in our goal of purity before the Lord, who loves us so.
With love in Christ,
About the author
Fr. Tryphon is the Abbot of the Monastery of the All-Merciful Saviour, which was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory. The Monastery is under the omophore of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.