C.S. Lewis diagnosed the human race as “far too easily pleased.” He wrote, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea” (The Weight of Glory).
My mud pie making has always been driven by a seeking of pleasurable experiences by immediacy of satisfaction. There’s been no holiday at the beach because mud pies were easily made, easily fashioned and easily discarded after my evening play.
In her recent book psychologist, Jill Slattery says, “Every choice to compromise sexually is more than a moral failure; it is a choice to refuse the ultimate joy and pleasure for which we were created.” I am not one for fire and brimstone fundamentalism but her statement had me thinking about messages of the Church about sex and sexuality.
The all-pervading message in the New Testament is love in self-revelation. So where, theologically, does that leave lust? In leaves it in the realm of considering its value, its place, and its capacity for expanding self-actualisation.
Ayn Rand, objectivist, said 57 years ago;
The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer—because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut.
A very precious friend said to me 5 years ago;
Ayn Rand is certainly correct, but there’s nothing wrong with an occasional brainless slut.
But it is here I leave you with St Anthony (pictured ‘suffering’ above) and St John Cassain (quoted suffering below) as I finish this post.
St John Cassain said 1650 years ago:
…The struggle with a spirit of lust is a fierce struggle, longer than others, a daily struggle, and only a small number of people come to total victory. This struggle begins with the first ripe growth and does not finish until all the other passions have been mastered.
In this struggle, it is necessary to use two weapons. For the achievement of a perfect and pure chastity, bodily fasting is not enough (though it is of the utmost necessity). On top of that, compunction of soul and unremitting prayer against that most unclean spirit; then, constant study of the Scriptures together with prudent works, physical labour and hand-work. These things keep the heart from unchastity and bring it back to itself.
Above all, deep and true humility is needed, without which one will never attain victory over any passion. Victory over this passion is a freeing for the perfect purifying of the heart, from which, according to the words of the Lord, flow forth poison and grave ills: ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, … adulteries, fornications’ and so forth (Matt. 15:19).
I can understand why Anthony went to live in a cave – with dreams like the one depicted in the painting above I’d go live in a cave, too! *sigh* Boy have I got a long way to go ;-)