Rousing Her Radiance: Day 31
‘He will be the foundation for our times—a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge: fear of the Lord is key to this treasure.’-Is. 33:6
Every Christian can be bought. The unthinkable becomes a thought then desire; a look becomes touch, the hug a kiss. Adultery inches its way into our hearts and blazes to burn vows, ministries, a family, a friend, people God entrusted to us.
Let’s focus on ministers. Most Christian leaders never intend to seduce anyone. We vow to flee fornication, even its appearance, and live faithful lives. But boundaries wear thin under pressure; historic temptations become current. The faithful helper who loves us now in the trenches may no longer be the spouse who has grown distant due to our neglect. That fresh face and body and spirit loves us new, awakens dormant need we forget we had.
Most infidelities occur in service of the Kingdom: a well-intentioned task or mission with another who rouses us onward then arouses us. The greatest sin: not the arousal per se but denying it. We quietly stoke the potent mix of flesh and Spirit that enlivens us through the relationship.
In the end, our downfall is pride. That could never happen to us, to me. Jesus uses humble self-awareness to gently expose us before we are exposed.
We come to our senses. Fear of God provokes us. We could lose Him. That’s why the Catholic Church calls sexual sins ‘mortal’ ones. Josef Pieper says it best: ‘I could be separated by sin from the Ultimate ground of my being.’ Really? What’s so bad about a little sweetness in the dark with a friend? A lot. Sex unites us with another and makes us theirs. When illicit, it threatens union with the One to whom we first espoused ourselves.
That’s a big deal. If we have become dull in our moral conviction here, worldly in our thinking, we need to wake up and fall before the Sovereign Lord. Father Alfred Delp writes: ‘Fear of God means knowing the absolute dominion of the Lord of all’ in our thoughts, affections, and physicality. Many of us are not inclined to recognize and reverence God in this way.
He rouses us. Illicit lovers divide not only our bodies but our spiritual communion with Him. That’s why adulterous David cried out: ‘Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done what is wicked in Your sight, so You are proved right when You speak, and justified when You judge’ (Ps. 51:4). And that’s why St. Paul reminds us that the body, first and foremost, is for the Lord—illicit bonds fracture our primary communion with Him (1 Cor. 6:12-20).
Holy fear of God must be aimed also at a fear of wrecking other lives, however tender and ‘meaningful’ the illicit bond. We kill people softly with sexual sin: spouses and children and congregants and the lover herself who deserved better than our self-serving seduction. When I am tempted by another, I think of Annette. I think of my children. I think of the other’s family, spouse, and kids. I think of the people who need me to be chaste. Would I say or do those things with Annette present? My kids? My Living Waters group? Unsexy.
I try to cultivate a chaste fear of sin, my sin. I could be lost to idols in the form of people or images of people. I am just vulnerable to sexual stuff. A long history of porn and ‘gay’ stuff humbles me and invites me into merciful self-evaluation more than I would like. I’d rather have a healthy respect for sin than heed it. I want to be faithful, all the way around.
My choice is to stay humble: aware that I could fall, be bought. That gives me holy fear. I tell others the truth of that fact in the specifics of the struggle. Usually that works. Holy fear requires holy earthy friends who also tell the truth of their lives so that together we can be true.
It’s so basic. The disconnection from reality at the core of our lusts is healed only through connection with reality, Jesus, who is present in whole-enough members. Only the Church keeps us humble and holy, one humiliation at a time.
‘Thank You Jesus for exposing pride. We haven’t energy to lie anymore. We just want You. And in truth we want what’s best for everyone, especially those we love most who need our chastity and trust. Help us to be faithful. We aren’t good at that. But You help us to be good. Be patient with us as we find those members that we can trust to help us overcome sin. May holy fear prompt us to break the silence. We want to reflect You more nearly. We want to shine as a radiant Bride.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’