Friday, July 6, 2007

On Ice Cream and Chastity

Chastity is the virtue, which excludes or moderates the indulgence of the sexual appetite. It is a virtue for the married and single alike, though most people today feel that once they are married it is something no longer pertaining to them. As much trouble as there is in the single crowd blowing this virtue out of the water, there are just as many problems with the married crowd.

The obvious transgressions of chastity whether single or married are not only common, they are celebrated – nothing you all don’t know already. But our culture’s scourge of sex outside of marriage is not the beginning of a rejection of chastity; it’s the culmination of a slow erosion of "hidden" chastity. What is this “hidden” chastity? Married Catholics using contraception.

Now I’m not going to go into why NFP is OK and the Pill isn’t, anyone who really cares can easily find these answers without much trouble online. But when we use any of the gifts God has given us in a way resulting in the object of our love being ourselves, and not Him, it is a bad thing. The bottom line is that contraception, even inside of marriage, is a sin of grave nature:

“Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”

- On Chastity in Marriage (Casti Connubii) Pope Pius XI

Try to say that in the pulpit today!

I read an article the other day I really liked. I’m going to borrow an analogy hinted at in the article, but I’m going to push it a weeeee bit further.

Let’s say I’m in a situation, oh ... let’s say I need to be fasting for a doctor’s appointment, where I am not able to eat anything. Now, I love ice cream and I got the craving (if you know what I mean) for the stuff. But since I need to be fasting, I have a little problem. Let’s look and see a few options I have to solve my little dilemma.

I could solve this problem by placing a spoonful of the ice cream in my mouth, chewing it up, and then spitting it into the sink. Or I could add a barrier. Maybe I could place a balloon in my throat, that way I could chew the ice cream and even swallow it. After that, I could pull the ice cream filled balloon up out of my throat and throw it away. Either way I get some of the enjoyment of eating the ice cream, but without digestion. But can’t we do better?

Oh, hey, what if I have a surgeon modify my throat and place a tube in it that would allow anything I swallow to travel down the tube and into the sink. Eating, chewing, swallowing, ... and still fasting! Brilliant!

But why stop there? I could eat my ice cream, swallow it, and feel full and satisfied if I just throw it all up. I then have gratification yet no digestion. But, who wants to stick their finger down their throat and throw up? We could maybe fix that by first swallowing a bunch of some laxative and follow it up with a few spoonfuls of ice cream. Now there is a chance that the ice cream may be digested, but the chances are far greater that it’s not.

Or I guess I could abstain from the ice cream now, and enjoy it sometime in the future when I didn’t need to fast.

Why do the ideas above sound so ridiculous? Because they go against the natural functioning of our bodies, against the way God made us. They try to circumvent a perfectly designed and working bodily process for selfish and irrational reasons. Unwilling to respect God's design and work with it, they show contempt by changing the plan to accommodate an individual's lack of self-control. The person places their own desires above their spouse and ultimately God.

For those who don’t know, Maria was a 12 year-old little girl who was killed stabbed 14 times) after she refused to give in to her rapist. While so many Catholic married couples are not even willing to abstain and practice marital chastity, she placed her love of God through her chastity above the love of her very own life. And today, by celebrating memorial of St. Maria Goretti, the Church places her stamp of approval on this prioritization. Never is one more alive then when they are dead to self.

St. Maria Goretti, so young yet so wise, pray for our children and ourselves!

2 comments:

Amy Caroline said...

Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for this! I don't think I have ever heard this explained quite so well.

diana said...

Very good analogy. People are used to satisfying every whim and urge.