Be a Man!
It seems a fair few people in the blog community have been writing on chastity/purity lately. I’m not purposely following the trend; I just rolled a die to pick my topic like usual and happened to roll this one. A brief note to the women folk that this post is for them too; I thought about making the title more politically correct and ‘inclusive’ but couldn’t think of anything as catchy. Whenever I say man just think back to old times when it was in reference to all of mankind/humanity.
One of the hardest parts of being a man, arguably, is staying chaste and pure. I know I for one have struggled with this quite a bit in my… since forever. I’m not sure when exactly it started but I can remember doing stuff that ‘felt good’ since I was a kid, and then once I got to high school I learned what masturbation was and decided to give it a try and, like I’m sure every guy knows, couldn’t stop for the longest time. It didn’t help that I didn’t know according to my faith it was a sin until my last year of high school. Of course I also got hooked to porn at some point, because you can access thousands if not millions of pictures and videos online just by googling it. For me that actually started out because of curiousity. I wanted to know what a woman looked like without clothes on, I knew what my body looked like but was curious what a girl’s body looked like, but I stumbled upon pornographic material and was hooked almost immediately.
Today’s culture does not help with being pure and chaste either. Magazine covers with inappropriate pictures are at nearly every till in almost every store, movies are loaded with lustful romance and sex scenes and the schoolroom is filled with rude conversation. As a teenager I thought that stuff like touching and gratification was just part of a relationship. Thankfully my parents had taught me abstinence so I never went all the way but unfortunately I didn’t really know my faith and I didn’t really know what respect for women was so I still did more than I’m proud of. A lot of people think that chastity equals abstinence. It doesn’t. Abstinence is simply waiting for marriage to have sex, which is a good start, but it permits you to take part in whatever kind of sexual activity you want that isn’t full out sex. Chastity (in my words) is the act of honouring yourself and others by acting purely; that is to say it’s keeping your sexual desires in check completely. No touching, no sensual gratification, in some schools of thought it even excludes macking (making out).
How do we fight this?
It’s important first off to recognise that you are not alone. A survey done in the last decade showed that 99% of American males have masturbated at least once, which, because surveys suck, actually means 99% of American males admit they have masturbated at least once. I imagine porn has similar numbers, and women aren’t excluded from this struggle. The numbers may not be as high but quite a lot of girls struggle with masturbation and/or porn as well. Talking to someone can make a huge difference. The biggest gaps from masturbation in my life have been caused from having a brother in the faith to fight with; to cheer each other on, to check up on the other, to pray for one another. It sucks to have to admit it but it makes a huge difference.
Fight fight fight. If you don’t try, you will not succeed. That means you can’t even allow yourself to think about it. The Imitation of Christ has a fantastic passage about dealing with temptation. It basically says that if you reason with temptation you’ve already lost. Rather you must deny the enemy at the door, do let him gain any access to you. That means as soon as the thought pops into your head you say no and pray it away. Another important thing to recognise here is that sexual desire is not evil. Sex is an awesome, beautiful gift from God and we ware meant to want it. What is wrong is not using it as He intended and abusing that gift. When you fail which everyone does from time to time and I have done many, many times is, admit you messed up but don’t sulk and look down and hate yourself. Remember that you’re trying and you’re human and get up and try again to do better this time.
There’s a lot of material out there that can help too. Bad Catholic recently published a post on why porn sucks that shows some great information on pornography and Matt Fradd is an awesome anti-porn activist who has some great material on fighting the good fight against porn as well as striving for chastity including a blog post I really like he put up not too long ago. I recently found and listened to Matt Fradd’s interview with former porn figures “The Ugly Truth” which does a great job of exposing the lies of porn and showing why instead of supporting the industry we need to fight it and pray for those trapped in it.
As much as we may try to belittle the monstrous things that masturbation and porn are and how degrading they are to our person, it’s important to know that they are terrible disturbers of the peace and that if we as men or women take part in these willingly then we are degrading the way we see each other. It’s hard, but you don’t have to be as swift as the coursing river, have all the force of a great typhoon, have all the strength of a raging fire, or be as mysterious as the dark side of the moon to succeed. You just need to try and fight as hard as you can, set rules and boundaries, and be humble and ask for help of either friends and God or at least just the big Guy himself.
Here’s a little prayer I came up with that continues to help me a lot in seeing others with respect and fighting to stay chaste and pure.
Lord god, thank you for making me a man,
help me to be the man you made me to be,
a man of strength, honour, and virtue.
Help me to not see women in lust,
for they are your most beautiful creations.
But to see them for their true, pure beauty,
As you would see them through your eyes, Lord, with love and respect.
Once again Lord, thank you for making me a man.
Help me to follow your example Lord Jesus, as the perfect man,
And that of your foster father St. Joseph, Mary’s most chaste spouse.
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