The Battle for Purity, by Edward P. Sri

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The battle for purity is ultimately fought deep in the recesses of the human heart.

By Edward P. Sri, Catholic Education Resource Center

Edward P. Sri. “The Battle for Purity.” Lay Witness (March/April 2006): 24-25, 43. For more on this topic, see Edward Sri’s book, Men, Women and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility (Servant Books). The following is based on Dr. Sri’s book, Men, Women and the Mystery of Love


howardOur hearts were made to love, but since the Fall, they have been tainted by a desire to use others. This effect of original sin is seen perhaps most dramatically in our encounters with the opposite sex, wherein our hearts often are drawn to the other person more for the emotional or sensual pleasure we may derive from them than for any true commitment to what is best for them and their true value as a person. In this reflection, we will see that chastity is so much bigger than simply saying “no” to certain sexual actions we may commit in the body. In the end, chastity is a matter of the heart.

Chastity: Yes and No

The word chaste literally means “clean,” and Christians have used this word to describe the particular virtue that moderates our sexual desire. But this is not because sexual desire itself is somehow unclean or dirty. In fact, John Paul II then Karol Wojtyla warns against a negative view of chastity that turns this virtue into a mere suppression of sensual desire (“Just don’t have sex before your married!”). In this negative light, chastity becomes merely “one long ‘no.'” And this kind of suppression can have serious consequences for the human person: “Chastity is very often understood as a ‘blind’ inhibition of sensuality and of physical impulses such that the values of the ‘body’ and of sex are pushed down into the subconscious, where they await an opportunity to explode. This is an obviously erroneous conception of the virtue of chastity, which, if it is practiced only in this way, does indeed create the danger of such ‘explosions'” (p. 170).  ….

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