The Christian struggle for purity
Sins of a sexual nature are common among many people today. Much of the struggle is directly related to the fact that people do not take advantage of having a spiritual father. If you are your own guide the struggles with sexual passions can be beyond your ability to fight, leading to despair.
Our body is a temple that has been bought with a price. We do not, therefore, own our own bodies. The 60’s mantra of the women’s movement that laid claim to the right of a woman to abort her baby is the ultimate result of the misuse of human sexuality. The good that came out of the women’s movement regarding equal pay, equal opportunity, the end to discrimination, and the right not to be sexually exploited, was good and just. But the idea that women can make the decision to abort a child is unjust, because such belief ignores the right of a child to life. The unborn child is unable to speak out for her rights, so must have the protection under the law, just as does the woman.
That a man would see as his right to expect sex with a woman because he took her out to dinner and a movie, is yet another example of the wrongful view of the role of sex in one’s life. Our bodies belong to God, and our sexuality should only be expressed in ways that are sanctioned by God’s law.
One need not be embarrassed by struggles with masturbation, or falling into other temptations of a sexual nature. Our sexuality is a gift from God, and is meant to feel good, but it is also a gift that has been given for a purpose. It is through sexuality that our species increases, and through which a man and a woman become one. The sexual act between a husband and a wife is meant to unite them as one flesh, bringing them closer to each other in a bond of love. For this gift to be used in any other way is to trespass against God’s intent.
Because our sexual drive is so powerful, it can be hard to control without the help of an experience spiritual guide. In an age where sexual expression is seen as one’s right, and where the view that one can not be fulfilled if they are not sexually active, keeping oneself chaste can be a daunting task, indeed. If everyone is doing it, how can it be wrong?
For a Christian to be selective as to which commandment he is going to keep is illogical. We don’t steal because we know it is against God’s commandments, and we don’t murder another person because we know all life is precious. Yet we think nothing of coveting another man’s wife, or sleeping with someone for the sake of personal pleasure. An unborn child is dispensable because she is the inconvenient result of an evening of sexual gratification, and the future of costly child support.
Our human sexuality is a sacred gift from God. For the celibate monk or nun this is a gift from God that we offer back to God, as a sign of our love and desire to be united completely to the Lord of Lights. To the unmarried it is a gift that is to be saved for the marriage bed, where one gives of oneself to one’s spouse.
Without the help of a spiritual father or mother, abstinence can seem impossible, especially given the powerful drive of our sexual nature, and the pressures of our society to express our sexuality freely.
For the young man or woman who is bombarded with the tales of the sexual exploits of their friends, the struggle for purity can seem impossible. One more reason why we need so surround ourselves with friends who are committed Christians, and who know the importance of living lives that are centered on Christ. Frequent confession with one’s spiritual father or confessor is a tool that can make all the difference in our struggle to be free of sinful passions, and triumphant in our goal of purity before the Lord, who loves us so.
With love in Christ,
Thursday July 6, 2017 / June 23, 2017
5th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. Fish Allowed
The Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in memory of Saving of Moscow from the Invasion of Khan Achmed.
Synaxis of All Saints of Vladimir.
Martyr Agrippina of Rome (253-260).
New Hieromartyrs Alexander, Alexis, Peter priests (1918).
New Hieromartyr Mitrophan archbishop of Astrakhan (1919), bishop Leonty of Enotaeva, and those with him.
New Hieromartyr Maxim, bishop of Serpukhov (1930).
St. Artemius of Verkola (1545).
Translation of the relics (1714) of St. Herman, archbishop of Kazan (1567).
Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probus, Lollius, and Urban, of Ancyra (4th c.).
Pskov Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, “Tenderness” (1524), Zaonikeevsk (1588), and “Vratarnitsa”(1894) Icons of the Mother of God.
Venerables Joseph (1612), Anthony, and Ioannicius, abbots, of Vologda.
Translation of the relics of Venerable Michael, fool-for-Christ of Klops Monastery (1482).
Virgin Etheldreda of Ely (England) (679) (Celtic & British).
St. Dionysius of Polotsk (1182).
St. Nicetas of Thebes in Boetia (1079) and his disciples Theodore, Gregory and Daniel.
The Scripture Readings
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
The Song of Mary
46 And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.
17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient— 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, 21 but as it is written:
“To whom He was not announced, they shall see;
And those who have not heard shall understand.”
Plan to Visit Rome
22 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers Send for Him
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
The Parable of the Sower
13 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.