We just knew the fun little fact that “98% of Catholic women use contraception” had to be steeped in bias and blatant error.
Sex is an odd thing to discuss during war. Yet it was precisely this topic that was discussed on October 11, 1942—in the midst of the turmoil of World War II. The discussion was a BBC broadcast given by C.S. Lewis in which he discussed the matter of sexual morality in the Christian tradition. I highly doubt that a man of his genius would broach a subject he deemed to be irrelevant to the times. For Lewis, the ongoing physical struggle of World War II did not supersede the ongoing spiritual struggle for the soul of England—a struggle unremitting since the Fall. Today we lack a systematic physical war, but we most certainly do not lack a spiritual war. Sex is still important. It is still something that needs to be discussed, only I fear that I may not be the one capable of discussing it. So, I hope you will allow me to stand upon the shoulders of Lewis and rebroadcast his incisive discussion on sexual morality and what this means for us today.
Lewis is no sanguine Christian; he knows the condition of man, and he knows the difficulty of modern day ‘sex-talk.’ Not a man to typically mince words, Lewis plainly asserts that “Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues” (Lewis 95). The reason for such unpopularity is that it seems substantively contrary to our nature: the most ‘natural’ inclination to modern man is his sexual inclination, and anything to the contrary seems oppressive, counter-intuitive, and Victorian. Lewis is aware of this disposition and he thus approaches the problem logically—he proposes the only two tenable answers left to this quandary: either Christianity is mistaken in its sexual morality or our instinct has gone amiss. Clearly, Lewis argues that it is the latter that is in error and he proceeds to delineate his argument by appealing to nature itself:
The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.
Lewis is appealing to the Natural Law, the law inscribed on our hearts and which is a reflection of the eternal law. In other words, Lewis is arguing that we are directed to a particular end and therefore our nature reflects the means by which we obtain that end. Lewis is essentially saying that just because we have natural appetites does not mean that they are under our whim. Complex things come with instruction manuals, and there is no doubt that sex is a complex thing. It has a few purposes, but Lewis just focuses on its biological purpose, which is procreation. But the question Lewis is concerned with is whether we should indulge in something simply because it is there, and if there is such a thing as too much indulgence. Lewis affirms that there is such a thing, and modern man’s indulgence in his sexual appetite has reached the level of excessive.
Anyone who reads Lewis knows that he has a penchant for images, so it is no surprise that Lewis buttresses his original claim, that our sexual instinct is perverted, by employing a thought-provoking analogy:
Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us? (Lewis 96)
Lewis responds trenchantly to the objection that, perhaps, if such a world existed, it would only reveal a societal state of starvation—that the preoccupation with sex is not due to corruption but to starvation. However, given the number of abortions each year, the sales revenue for the contraceptive industry, and the degree of sexual saturation in our media, it is quite difficult to argue that we suffer from sexual starvation. Another invocation that this image renders is the fact that many, I would hope, who came across such a civilization would instantly know that something has gone wrong with the appetite to eat. If not pornography but films of steak and eggs littered our internet, if magazine covers proliferated with photos of sandwiches and salads, if men spent hours each day looking at videos of women making roast-beef sandwiches, there is no doubt that it would become clear to everyone that there is a pandemic of a perverted appetite for food. If this would be the case, then why is it so difficult to discern that our sexual instincts have suffered the same fate? Lewis’ answer will most undoubtedly perturb the modern mind: “Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before” (Lewis 97). Perhaps, in addition to spiritual decay, the reason why the sexual instincts perversion is so hard to detect is that we now have means to make such detection difficult. If means were created to mitigate the effects of obesity or, even, eradicate them altogether, and if there were machines that would reproduce food to avoid famine, then the perversion of our instinct to eat would be quite difficult to detect as well.
Another reason for this difficulty, Lewis argues, is the fact that “for the last twenty years, we have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex” (Lewis 97). In contrast, the reason why food obsession is more obvious than sex obsession is because we have not been inundated with lies concerning food, and thus we all know the consequences of food obsession, such as obesity, gluttony, and using up precious resources. There is no propaganda extolling us to eat as much as we want when we want to, or that it is “natural” to eat profusely. However, lies about our sexual appetite have been proliferating for centuries, with more complexity and vigor than ever before. The consequence of such proliferation is inflation. The sexual appetite, like any other appetite, grows by indulgence, and the underpinnings of such growth, of our actions, is a false ideology—an ideology that says the problem is not active sexual appetites but inactive ones, that the reason for the present mess, if it is indeed still called a mess, is our many years of repression. Freud wanted to liberate our sexual appetite from its societal coma, but what he really liberated was our ability to reason and our reliance on our conscience, which in turn enslaved us to pop psychology as a means to solve the mystery of human nature. Lewis responds with the simple observation:
They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess.
The reason why Christianity is not looked to as a repository for sexual instruction and edification is because people, quite falsely, assume that Christianity has nothing to offer to the discussion, that, in fact, Christianity is the cause of such hatred of sex and that the religion is antithetical to one’s sexual appetite. However, Lewis contends that when people encourage others to not be ashamed of sex because of the act itself or the pleasure that it induces, Christianity follows the same script, and may even have wrote it:
The old Christian teachers said that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is not, would actually have been greater….Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body—which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness..” (98).
However, the problem is when they mean that we should not be ashamed of the present state of the sexual instinct. As Lewis argues, “If half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips…” then there is something of which we should be ashamed (99). There is nothing natural about the present manifestation of our sexual instinct; the oddest contradiction in our modern culture is that moderation is encouraged in almost every facet of life except in one’s sexual life. If the present state of our sexual instinct were what is natural, then the natural course of action would have been gradual decimation of our species: for the sexual appetite is no longer life giving but soul-destroying.
Now the question remains: what are we to do with this mess? Lewis offers an incremental solution to combating the immense sexual perversion of our society. First, he wisely asserts that in order to be cured, we must want to be cured. Physicians, much to their chagrin, must respect our wills. The Grandest Physician must as well, for God cannot contradict Himself and thus He cannot break his promises. He cannot grant us free will and then revoke it because we are too foolish to know how to use it. The difficulty, Lewis argues, is that such a desire cannot rest solely on a verbal commitment, but that it must entail our whole being, for it is our whole being, not our language faculties, that is affected. Lewis uses the case of St. Augustine to demonstrate this fact: St. Augustine, as you may know, wanted chastity and incessantly asked for it; however, chastity did not come so easily for St. Augustine, and this is because his heart contradicted his mouth. As Augustine’s mouth begged for chastity, his heart silently asked for more time.
Lewis acknowledges the difficultly of praying for and seeking chastity, for he knows that everything in culture urges you to give up the inane quest and to stop resisting what is “natural.” The issue, Lewis asserts, is not that Christianity’s demand for chastity outside of marriage is unnatural, but that it is perfectly in accord with what is natural and it is other principles which attempt to control nature that are artificial. For example, the principle to indulge in one’s sexual appetites whenever one feels inclined is an artificial principle; it is influential because it is based on truth—the truth that the sexual act, in and of itself, is good and natural. This truth becomes falsified when one adds, “whenever and however one wants.” Lewis, however, is not unrealistic and is fully aware of the extent of our natural ability to overcome falsehood. He knows the propagandistic culture, the fecundity of exposure to it, and the burnishing market for its display:
In the first place our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so ‘natural’, so ‘healthy,’ and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour (100).
With this in mind, Lewis remains consistent with his Christian realism: he does not pretend that we are capable of achieving chastity on our own, but that it is only with God’s help that this virtue may be realized. Realizing still the difficultly of this, Lewis offers some consolation in the reality of our failure: “After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again” (101). Trying for chastity, when one realizes the essential nature of it, is not voluntary—rather it is necessitated by our very nature and by the world we live in. One cannot remain moderately chaste, for there is no such thing, and to attempt a middle ground approach in this world will result in a groundless approach; the ground upon which we stand is ever shifting and moving to perdition—to stand idly on it will only move you in the same direction. Lewis is aware of what imprudence posing an ‘optional question’ to a self-disparaging student would be, namely, that faced with an optional question, one does not consider how one does it but whether one can even do it at all. Faced with a compulsory question, the student is forced to answer it: the answer may be wrong, but the attempt alone will procure some points; you will doubtlessly get no points for leaving the question blank. Lewis profoundly contends that “virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog” (102).
Thus, as a Catholic, we cannot avoid the tension of attempting to be who we were created to be while attempting it in such an aversive and counter-virtuous world. We must remember, “the Lord God is my strength; he will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills” (Hab 3:19). The temptation to do otherwise may seem stronger, much stronger than your will, but it must always be remembered that being is stronger than non-being, life is stronger than death, and truth is stronger than falsehood. The fact that temptations seem so immensely tempting is part of the lie that it is built upon. St. Paul reminds us that God will never allow temptation to fully crush your will (1 Cor. 10:13), and that God will always provide the means by which we resist the temptation. The Church teaches that “human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace” (CCC 1810). Lewis’ wisdom reflects the wisdom of the Church in this regard. Attempting virtue is always preferential to not attempting inasmuch as swimming to the coast is always preferential to allowing yourself to drown because the coastline seems too far. We must not worry about our failure either, for failure in attempting to be like Christ will only remind us how much we need Him: “the only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection,” Lewis writes (102). Perfection may seem like a foolish mark at which to aim, but this very mark is not a mark set by man but by God (Lev. 20:26), and God never breaks His promises.
Here is a link to an interesting book review, Sexual Economics, that explores the “sexual script” that young Americans act out and how it affects the “sexual economy” of America. Worth the read! Has anyone read Premarital Sex in America? Please share your thoughts on the book and the review.
Most Christians, and a lot of non-Christians, are familiar with the story of original sin. Adam and Eve were created. They were told not to eat of that one tree. They did, after being beguiled by the Devil, in the form of a serpent, and boom: the rest of mankind shall suffer the consequences of sin in the world. It’s hard for us to imagine life before the Fall and before sin entered creation.
Even though we are familiar with this part of the story, I think that the consequences part is a bit hazy at times for us. Before the Fall there wasn’t just no sin in the world. There was a harmony that existed in all of creation—between God and man, within man himself, between man and other men, and between man and nature. After sin entered the picture, all of these areas are adversely affected.
Now it is difficult for man to come before God sincerely and honestly. We see in the Bible that after Adam and Eve sinned they hid from God. We do this in countless ways still when we ignore our consciences, when we don’t make time to pray, and when we don’t ‘own up’ to the sins we commit. This leads right into the second effect: man also suffers discord within himself. It’s no longer easy for a man to know himself, to turn to God in his heart, or to choose what is good. Catholics call this concupiscence—when we are inclined to choose evil. All of our days we will toil to choose what is good and what we know is good.
Naturally, man’s relationships with other men suffer as well as a result of sin. We struggle to treat others justly and to be generous. We struggle to listen to others and to believe them. We struggle not to use others for our own ends or to get things we want. As a general rule, now instead of delightfully skipping along the smooth path to the Kingdom together people have become saint makers.*
And finally creation itself is affected by sin. God didn’t intend for there to be natural disasters, cancer, or children born with deformities. There are countless examples we can see in the world itself. And looking at this shows us the real meaning behind St. Paul’s words, “All of creation has been groaning …” Romans 8:22?
Original sin is perhaps the easiest of Catholic doctrines to defend because deep down we know that things aren’t as they ought to be.
But what does this have to do with Catholic Sexpectations?
This means that as Catholics we can expect there to be disharmony in the sexual realm as well. And it could be looked at in the same fourfold manner mentioned above.
Man and God
How many times have you heard the phrase (whether on TV, in jokes, or after a sermon or homily), “Keep your religion out of the bedroom!” Keep God out of the bedroom. Keep God out because we can hardly imagine God being with us while we are doing what we do in the bedroom. We can’t imagine God because God doesn’t have a body. The Catechism tells us that God cannot be defined as male or female. And sex has been so twisted and degraded that it’s hard for us to not be ashamed of sex even though sex is good and holy. Sin affects us in this way—that we separate this and want to hide it from God, the Author of Life and Creator Himself.
Man and Himself
We also struggle on our own, in our own hearts, with lustful thoughts, with objectifying, with disordered desires. There is a great discord within man. Even in the most loving of marriages, there is still the task for each spouse to accept that his sexual desire for the other is still limited by his natural, larger desire for eternal union with Love itself. People struggle with sexual confusion because of past hurts and wounds. Sexual desire is a gift given to man from God. After sin entered the picture, we got confused about how to use this gift given to us. And like with all gifts, if you use a gift improperly it doesn’t function as it is supposed to. This is true for sex as well.
Man and Others
We struggle to treat others as persons. In Love and Responsibility Blessed John Paul II writes that the proper response to a human person is love. And love is willing the highest good for the other; love is treating someone as if they are some one—a separate one, individual person, with a good end for himself apart from yourself. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “All Christian faithful are called to lead a chaste life” (CCC?). Chastity is the virtue that directs our sexual desires towards the good of the person. All of us—priests, singles, married, monks, women, men—are called to live out chastity. We are called to be chaste—not just to be refraining from certain actions or to be abstinent for a certain period of time; we are called to treat other persons with the love that is proper to being a human person.
Man and Nature
I don’t believe there are scientific studies that show that there is a certain same-sex attraction gene, but even if there were, I don’t think that I could honestly be surprised. The disharmony that entered the world after the Fall has effects that will reverberate through the whole history of mankind and while we tend to associate sin with only having spiritual effects, there is no reason why sin doesn’t also affect the physical realm. But as with the examples mentioned earlier, about cancer, natural disasters and being born with deformities, we know these to be unnatural. We don’t say that it’s normal to live without an arm to a child that is born without an arm. We teach them how to live as normally as possible without the proper health and function of the missing arm. The same goes for unnatural sexual tendencies—same sex attractions, sexual confusion, gender disorientation. None of these are natural, even if experienced from very early on in life, and therefore should not be deemed as the standard for a healthy, wholesome life. Calling these things natural, or accepting them as healthy for the human person, doesn’t result in them being any more natural than they are already. All of us are called to be chaste—and for each and every single one of us that will look different. Each of us is given the opportunity to glorify God with our bodies, and for each of us this will look different.**
As Catholics, as Christians, we can expect this. We can also expect the redemption won by the Blood of Christ to cover all aspects of our sexuality. It is only when we expect, and beg and plead, for the redemption won by Christ to wash over our sexuality as well that we can experience the true freedom that is appropriate for the Sons and Daughters of God.
* Saint Maker: that one person that God gave the gift and talent of rubbing you the wrong way consistently to, thereby, making you choose between vice and virtue. Choose wisely and become a saint.
** This topic is massive and will be covered in a future post separately
Check out Rebecca Barclay’s other posts
As Christians we are called to take all areas of life and render them unto Christ. Perhaps the way that this is most necessary in the present times is to take back the bedroom, and the marriage bed, for the sake of Christ. We live in a time where sex is used to in many different ways—from one-night stands to ‘free love’, from selling toothpaste to selling cars to selling children across seas. It’s used in jokes and it’s used in song lyrics. The question can be found on the tongues of the most sincere seekers to the most nonchalant: “What’s the big deal with sex?”
You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals
So let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel
This song debuted as the lead song for the Bloodhound Gang’s album “Hooray for Boobies” in 1999. I was eleven at the time, but knew almost all the words before quite understanding their meaning. The phrase quoted above states the exact problem with modern thinking in regards to sex, and this is exactly where we must begin as Christians. ‘We aren’t anything but mammals.’ If we were nothing but mammals, there truly wouldn’t be a problem with modern culture’s approach to sex. However, we are a union of body and soul—and we must figure out what difference our immortal souls make—both for sex and for the rest of life.
This is what separates us from other ‘mammals.’ We have within us the ‘breath of God.’ This breath of God, this soul we’ve been given–this is what is made in the Image and Likeness of God. The soul gives us two capacities above other creatures: the ability to know and the ability to love (free will). We are made in the image and likeness of God because we, like Him, are capable of knowing and of loving. The human person is a union of a body and a soul. Until we fully embrace this truth we will always be falling short of the holiness and greatness to which we are called. Christ came to set us free—and He came fully human and fully God. Almost all heresies and ill-thinking in theology are a result of misunderstanding the truth that Christ both God and man, fully; that we are a body-soul union, created to participate in Christ, fully.
To be fully human, and to be holy, our bodies must be ordered to our souls and our souls must be ordered to God. This is what separates us from other creatures—the truth that we can order our bodies and our souls to God. Because we are a body-soul union and not simply a soul that has a body or a body that has a soul, we can’t just do whatever we want, though this is what Satan will tempt us to do.
Christ said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Satan works by taking the good and twisting it into something ugly and sinful. A lot of people make the mistake of viewing Satan and God as ‘equal’ in power. The truth is that Satan is a creature, a powerful creature, but a creature nonetheless. He can’t create evil—he can only take what is good and twist it to be used against its purpose. So, take a look at our culture. It is filled with promiscuity, sexual innuendos, sexual confusion and temptations. Clearly sex is something that is very good and Satan has done his best to twist it time and again so that we can hardly recognize the marital act as good or even holy. Sex is the mutual exchange of the complete gift of self between a man and a woman—physical gift, emotional gift, spiritual gift. Sex is called the ‘marital’ act because it is the embodiment of what married life is: the gift of yourself to another for the sake of love. And this is holy—created good, fallen into sin, and in the process of being redeemed. Holiness comes by way of struggle and strife. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by storm.” (Matthew 11:12).
Each generation and times have their own difficulties and trials to face. In the modern world we live in now, we breathe in the culture’s understanding of soulless sex. It is the atmosphere we find ourselves in at the moment, and because that is the case, it is difficult for us (even as Christians) to understand and fully live out Catholic teaching in regards to sexuality. Christians are mistaken in thinking that we are called to be chaste until marriage, and then we can be unchaste in marriage ‘because sex is dirty.’ The truth is that sex can, and ought to, be holy, each and every time a man and a woman enter into the marital act. Basically, all sex should be soul-filled sex.
People often mistake the Church’s teachings—“the Church thinks the body is bad, that’s why you can’t have sex whenever you want.” The exact opposite is the truth: the Church sees the body as so good that sex can only be so good when it’s viewed within the whole picture of human flourishing. The Church sees the body as soo good and, therefore, the soul is soo good and just as much a part of what the body does. The martial act, the total giving of oneself to another physically, is such a good act that it is impossible to separate it from the soul. It’s impossible to “have sex”, to “make love”, to “exchange fluids” without the soul. This is because the soul is the center part of the person—not the body. The soul animates the human person—it’s impossible to do anything without your soul. We can’t divorce our bodies and our souls, no matter how hard we try. What we do to our bodies affects our souls; how we treat our souls affects our bodies.
Christ didn’t come to promise us a life of ease, comfort, and pleasure. He did come to redeem us, by way of the Cross. And the more we turn to prayer and to the example of Christ and the Saints before us the more we will be able to let Him redeem us, through and through, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and yes, even sexually. As we stay the course we can look forward to the day when this earth shall pass away, and with it, the tension in each of us between our bodies and our souls.
Read more of Becca’s writing at her blog The Young Adult’s Guide to Taking Over the World – Oh Wait, I’m Catholic.
As a result of the recent birth control controversy, much ado has been made about the Church’s teachings on morality, particularly sexual morality. Often the charge that is leveled against the Church concerns her ‘rules,’ which are seen as archaic and oppressive. It has been my experience, however, that those who kvetch about the rules only do so because they do not agree with them. The reason why rules are satirized and scoffed at is that they are either misunderstood or understood clearly. Either the purpose of the rules are unknown and thus are confused for something we do not need, or they are clearly understood and believed to be needless and thus discarded accordingly. Thus, in responding to the charge that the Church enforces needless rules, which become most troublesome when they are made by Christians, one is required to reveal the foundation of such ‘rules.’ Revealing the foundations of the Church’s teachings on morality may illuminate the rules as not being superfluous additions to the faith, but necessary conclusions from the preordained doctrines of the faith. However, in order to determine the usefulness or the uselessness of the Church’s teaching on morality, it may be important to establish two kinds of rules: 1) rules that are external to the object and thus artificial, or 2) rules that are intrinsically found within the object itself.
The artificiality of rules can readily be seen when one examines whether the rules that he is asked to abide by have any consequences to the state of his being. In other words, if it makes any internal difference whether one follows the rules or disobeys them. Rules of etiquette are such rules in that they are manmade and artificial. The fork going on the left instead of the right of the plate makes no difference to your being; you will only offend the arid sensibilities of aristocrats if you choose to rebel against the ‘proper’ placement of eating utensils. Thus, practically most rules of politeness are of the external variety, namely, that they do not make any difference to your being; they do not internally affect you if you do not abide by them. The rules of baseball are arbitrary and do not reflect the nature of baseball players or the baseballs that they hit. The rules are their because someone thought it convenient to construct a game based on those particular rules—changing them will not damage the nature of the balls, bats, or batgirls; they may infuriate the fans and the players, but such an infuriation is simply due to inconvenience, not because of some violation of their nature. These rules are asked to be followed because it would be either kind to do so or convenient; they can be altered, disobeyed or even discarded without any consequence to your nature, to what it means to be human
The second kind of rules is rules that matter and make a difference to your being; they are the rules that are intrinsically bound to the very nature of the object. In other words, they are the rules that are necessitated by the very nature of the object. “Cows do not eat meat” is necessitated by the very nature of a cow—the cow’s nature necessitates that it eats plants, not meat. These rules are fixed and cannot be altered or changed; they can be ignored, but doing so has consequences. The rule that man cannot live underwater without an external apparatus is necessitated by the fact that his nature does not allow him to breathe underwater. You cannot change this rule but only ignore it. Now, the question is whether the Church’s ‘rules’ on morality are an example of category number one or two.
Whether the Church constructs artificial rules of morality or serves as a repository for all the necessary rules can be seen if one considers our beginning and our end. God is our source of life; He is our Creator (Gen. 1:27) and we move and find our being in him. Thus, as the painting has an imprint of the artist on it, we are imprinted with the desire to know and love God. The Church’s ‘rules’ are founded upon the principle that man is made in the image of God, and thus man is made with a definitive nature—a nature constituted with inherent truths, truths that cannot be avoided inasmuch a man stranded in the desert can avoid the heat by wishing that he was in the shade. Our nature is ineradicable and fixed. We were made one way and not another way, and thus we must respect the Author’s decision to create us in the way that we were created. We can rebel against it, but alas, we would be rebelling against our own nature. We are made by God and for God, which means we find our destiny and fulfillment in God. Therefore, if God was our beginning, then He most certainly is our end. Experience continuously tells us that we desire happiness, and the Christian must ask himself if happiness exists apart from God. If an animal was made for the ocean, will it ever be satisfied until it finds it? Similarly, if we are made by God, then we are made for God. And if we were made this way and not that way, then we have to live according to the way that we were made.
Simply put, we ought to live a certain way. That way is not random, but is preordained from necessity; it is the only way to reach our end and to achieve our fulfillment in God. The Church, if we believe the Church to be what she claims to be, has been given the guide to life everlasting. It is important to note that in regards to faith and morals, the Church never creates but only receives. In this case, she has received the map to eternal life and this manifests itself in her teachings. In this regard, her ‘rules’ no longer appear as rules, but rather they appear as reminders. We are dignified sons and daughters of God, and we were made for a certain purpose, a purpose that cannot be paralleled by anything else, for it is the purpose, under which all purposes are subsumed. We are to live and act a certain way, for we were created for something that requires us to do so: eternal joy. Thus, the Church lays out the path on which we are to follow in order to reach that end, the end for which we were made. This trail is not arbitrary but preordained, and it was not designed to restrict us but rather to set us free. Freedom is always freedom from something, and in this case since God is the source of life, living as God designed us to live, and not living contrary to our nature and thus against God, is freedom from death. These rules that the Church is criticized for “creating” are what ultimately set us free; they are what ultimately prevent us from death since they are instructing us on how to live in accord with our nature. Adherence to these rules grants us life everlasting. To complain about and challenge the teachings of the Church is similar to the child complaining to his mother that the medicine she requires him to take does not please him. He would rather try something sweeter. Little does he know, however, is that the sweetness of the alternative is temporary and only makes his illness worse. How foolish are we who regard the Church’s teaching on morality equally distasteful because we want something sweeter, and how absurd of us to ignore the fact that it only makes our illness worse.