Friday, July 23, 2010

Overcoming Sensulality

A friend asked me to address the issue of sensuality and lust.  The media, Internet, current attitudes toward sex, fashions, and the abundant presence of all the pleasures of life certainly make the struggle more difficult.


Two virtues will help you overcome sensuality --  temperance and fortitude.


Sensuality can show itself as a tendency to seek what is most pleasant or comfortable, even to the point of sacrificing what is truly good. Temperance is the virtue by which grow in our ability to govern desires for pleasure.  



When we practice the virtue of temperance, we call it by different names, depending upon the physical desire that we are restraining. The desire for food is natural and good; but when we develop an inordinate desire for food, we call that the vice of gluttony. 

Likewise, the inordinate indulgence in wine or other alcoholic beverages is called drunkenness, and both gluttony and drunkenness are combated by abstinence, which is temperance applied to our desire for food and drink.

Similarly, we receive pleasure from sexual intercourse, but the desire for that pleasure outside of its proper bounds--that is, outside of marriage, or even inside marriage, when we are not open to the possibility of procreation--is called lust. The practice of temperance regarding sexual pleasure is called chastity.

Temperance is primarily concerned with the control of the desires of the flesh, but when it manifests itself as modesty, it can also restrain the desires of the spirit, such as pride. In all cases, the practice of temperance requires the balancing of legitimate goods against an inordinate desire for them.

Fortitude--next post!

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