And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Author: Robin M. Peacock

And Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Chastity for Men by Robin Peacock

The Book of Genesis records that "God created man in His own image...male and female He created them...and behold, it was very good." When sin entered the world, it became possible to abuse that which was created good. Sexual desire, with its many associated good effects on the person and the family, is especially vulnerable to abuse; we are seeing now in society the tragedies that result from misusing the good of sex. In an effort to help young people to learn how not to abuse this great gift, some far-thinking people have come up with the idea of chastity education. A great beginning!

But what is chastity? It's more than just abstinence from sexual intercourse outside marriage. Chastity is a whole outlook on life: a reorientation of the whole person toward that which is greater than himself. A chaste person is not trapped inside himself by the tyranny of hormones; he is free to see the bigger picture, even, if he is willing and open, the biggest picture of all--God's picture.

A great deal has been written, past and present, about chastity and modesty for women. This is good and necessary, for we all need encouragement in virtue. However, chastity for men, while not often discussed, is every bit as important. It helps them to understand themselves and the women in their lives and deepens the natural complementarity that, when accepted and worked with rather than fought against, brings joy and peace to the life of the spirit.

Any understanding of modesty and chastity for men must begin with an understanding of temptation. It is well known that, as a rule, men and women have different "hot buttons". The visual, for example, plays a larger part in temptation for men--the proliferation of Playboy clones is a symptom of this. (Only since the advent of the oddly named "feminist" movement [in which unsuspecting women are led to believe that only traditionally male activities are worthwhile, and are therefore induced to denigrate all that is unique to femininity--especially childbearing--in order to imitate men] have magazines like Playgirl attempted to make female sexuality fit into a visual, purely physical, "male" mold.) While it is very important for men to avoid making objects of themselves by putting more of their bodies on public display than is necessary, this (in my opinion as a woman) is not so much in order to prevent sins against chastity in the eye of the female beholder, but rather to keep the man's focus from becoming vain and self-centered. A person, male or female, who (so to speak) "wears his body on his sleeve" is generally doing it in order to attract attention--an approach which betrays an unhealthy and unattractive self-absorption. Ask a passing woman what she thinks of the shirtless man across the street, and she is likely to say, "Boring. He's too full of himself."

How, then, are women likely to be tempted against chastity? Most women who are not fooled by the superficiality and self-centeredness of the radical "feminist" movement tend to take the long view of life. Their sexuality is intimately connected with the relationship with a man. Such a woman is not so much interested in big muscles as in what those muscles can do. Can he provide the kind of environment in which she can live safely? Can he protect his family? Can he be trusted? Because her nature inclines her toward giving of herself, she looks for a man who is willing and able to do his part in a responsible way. Sexuality for her is part of a larger whole, not an end in itself.

So how does this open itself to abuse? Because she sees sexuality as part of a larger whole, she may assume that the man does too, for the sexual encounter is not an isolated act, but has repercussions throughout life. That's why the marital act is not--cannot be--a small matter. A generous nature is willing to open itself to union with another--not because it is incomplete without the other, but because it knows how blessed it is to give. God knew what He was doing when He willed that the creation of new people should arise out of the mystery of this union--the generosity and love involved in the union grow and shelter the vulnerable beginning of the new person. In the Sacrament of Matrimony, God makes available a reservoir of grace to support the family, to strengthen the woman's generosity and make generous the man's strength. Without this fountain of grace, as in a "casual" sexual encounter, the desire becomes fractured and fragmented, twisted upon itself to become self- serving. Both the generosity and the strength, unable to flow freely, get dammed up and frustrated; eventually they sour and harden into bitterness, cynicism, despair, destructiveness. It turns both the man and the woman against God and neighbor--and eventually against themselves. This is the intimate link between the "sexual revolution" and the skyrocketing suicide rate.

The chaste and modest man, then, shows respect for intimacy and commitment, both within families and between people and God. If he himself is not ready to enter into the union which is sacramental marriage, he does not "advertise himself as available", with the sort of looks and gestures calculated to attract the attention of women. (Women look more at actions and posture than at physical attributes-- prolonged direct eye contact, for example, can signal sexual interest.) This is not to say that a promiscuous display will have no effect; tight pants make it obvious where the wearer's mind is centered and tend to center the beholder's mind there too. A chaste man, when he is looking for the right woman with whom to be united, will "score more points" with her by being genuinely respectful, honest, and prayerful, than by taking off his shirt, swaggering and bragging, or treating other drivers rudely in a fast car. (If he is inconsiderate in public, he is likely to be inconsiderate in private.)

What about friendship? Most women agree that it is much better to fall in love with a friend than to try to make friends with a "lover". Thus, a chaste and modest man will strive to make his friendships good ones, and in doing so he gradually learns how to love. His friendships with women, married and unmarried, can be very rewarding ones so long as respect is maintained on both sides for the good of marriage- -either potential or existing. He will find that living chastely, modestly, and prayerfully makes for better interpersonal relations, preservation from many of the evils that plague society, and peace of mind and soul.

Robin Peacock and her chaste and modest husband, Tom, are members of Auraria Catholics.


Provided courtesy of: Eternal Word Television Network 5817 Old Leeds Road Irondale, AL 35210