Asexual Slump or Marvelous Desire? Day 39
‘To begin with: for Thomas Aquinas it is plainly self-evident--indeed so self-evident that it need hardly be mentioned even to those but moderately instructed--the sexual powers are not a “necessary evil” but really a good. With Aristotle, he says incisively that there is something divine in human seed. It is equally self-evident to Thomas’ thinking that, “like eating and drinking,” the fulfillment of the natural sexual urge and its accompanying sexual pleasure are good and not in the least sinful assuming, of course, that order and moderation are preserved. For the intrinsic purpose of sexual power, namely, that not only now but also in days to come the children of man may dwell upon the earth and in the Kingdom of God, is not merely a good, but, as Thomas says, “a surpassing good.” Indeed, complete asensuality, unfeelingly adverse to all sexual pleasure, which some would like to regard as “properly” perfect and ideal according to Christian doctrine, is described in the Summa Theologica not only as an imperfection but as a moral defect.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 154)
To direct well the stream of our sexuality, we need first to accept and be grateful to God for it. That means integrating bodily desire. The capacity for arousal and the awareness that certain persons prompt that response should not demonize us. We need to ask Jesus to help us to embrace both. The marvel of the body’s longing for feminine beauty and masculine strength is intrinsic and vital; it awakens something essential to sexual difference--softening a woman, enlivening a man. Desire can light us from within and set aglow our humanity.
The virtues--temperance and her little sister chastity, especially--help us here. Taking Aquinas’ lead that our sexual powers are good before they aren’t, we can realize that God made us sexual for the purpose of motivating us to step outside our spiritual ‘cells’, take a look, and cultivate relationships with people who appeal to us. God wants us to be fruitful, and probably have babies. And if that does not work out, at least we exercised the gift we are. We did not agree with the world, flesh, and devil that our gift is defective, our stream a deceiver. We stewarded our gift pretty well and can rejoice in the marvel of what it means to be made in His image. We know ourselves insofar as we have submitted ourselves in awe of Jesus to this ‘other’, as best we could.
Training in temperance helps direct these waters constructively, come what may. We learn we can experience desire without being consumed by it. Desire invites us to strike up friendship and to test the waters of deeper communion. As we saw in TOB, we are created for communion, not mere attraction. Engaging with desired ones helps us to sort out what is precious from what is impoverished in others, and in ourselves. We often see that we may be driven by vanity or by a childish longing to make someone something he or she can never be for us.
Yes, we may still lust. But thank Jesus, we can discern what is going on and take a step back before embarrassing ourselves. We learn to laugh at our foolishness and refuse to be pushed back by the real deceiver. Through Jesus, we shall keep rediscovering our lost fullness--what it means to be a gift that by His ‘yes’ to us keeps giving its goodness!
One thing people with same-sex desires must learn from which everyone can benefit: how to read our desires. Obviously, same-gender attraction, if heeded blindly, is the deadest of dead ends. No babies. But what a vista we discover when we discern what is happening in the disturbing awareness that one is attracted to a roommate, a colleague, a boss, or a pastor!
We ask Jesus to show us our hearts--the emotional need for connection or confirmation; we realize that we are lonely and not growing properly in our normal need for same-sex friendship. We may also realize that porn use has so polluted our vision that we cannot see persons properly. We cry out for power to refuse what is poisoning our potential for such friendship, and humility to seek the help we need to do so. We might ask, ‘what does this one possess that I wish I had and fear I do not?’ Engage with the One who knows and loves us most; He will help us not abdicate our goodness for others’ idealized attributes. Rejoice--we are learning to steward our streams in the light of love!
Yes, we are vulnerable. And so we bravely forego the lie that sexual desire is a ‘moral defect’; we proceed with courage to discover the gift we are and the gift we can welcome from others. Jesus helps anchor us in our gift with every flurry of feeling, every step of the way.
‘Jesus, You are beautiful in how You help us to steward our sexuality well. You free us from unnecessary shame and free us for the prudence necessary to make wise decisions based on Reality. As You walk with us, You teach us to integrate our desires and to offer ourselves well.’
‘Jesus, thank You that we are first and foremost citizens of Your Kingdom. Your saving purposes, the plans of Your heart, endure forever (Ps. 33:11). Patriotism and its partisan interests must bow before “Your will be done.” “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, who trust in His unfailing love” (Ps. 33:18).’