Why I Am Still A Virgin at 22 By Sarah E. Hinlicky

10 09 2013

I Am Still A Virgin at 22: Here are My Reasons  By Sarah E. Hinlicky

Okay, I’ll admit it: I am twenty-two years old and still a virgin. Not for lack of opportunity, my vanity hastens to add. Had I ever felt unduly burdened by my unfashionable innocence, I could have found someone to attend to the problem. But I never did. Our mainstream culture tells me that some oppressive force must be the cause of my late-in-life virginity, maybe an inordinate fear of men or God or getting caught. Perhaps it’s right, since I can pinpoint a number of influences that have persuaded me to remain a virgin. My mother taught me that self-respect requires self-control, and my father taught me to demand the same from men. I’m enough of a country bumpkin to suspect that contraceptives might not be enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or disease, and I think that abortion is killing a baby. I buy into all that Christian doctrine of law and promise, which means that the stuffy old commandments are still binding on my conscience. And I’m even naive enough to believe in permanent, exclusive, divinely ordained love between a man and a woman, a love so valuable that it motivates me to keep my legs tightly crossed in the most tempting of situations.

In spite of all this, I still think of myself as something of a feminist, since virginity has the result of creating respect for and upholding the value of the woman so inclined. But I have discovered that the reigning feminism of today has little use for it. There was a time when I was foolish enough to look for literature among women’s publications that might offer support in my very personal decision. (It’s all about choice, after all, isn’t it?) The dearth of information on virginity might lead one to believe that it’s a taboo subject. However, I was fortunate enough to discover a short article on it in that revered tome of feminism, Our Bodies, Ourselves. The most recent edition of the book has a more positive attitude than the edition before it, in that it acknowledges virginity as a legitimate choice and not just a by-product of patriarchy. Still, in less than a page, it presumes to cover the whole range of emotion and experience involved in virginity, which, it seems, consists simply in the notion that a woman should wait until she’s really ready to express her sexuality. That’s all there is to say about it. Apparently, sexual expression takes place only in and after the act of genital intercourse. Anything subtler—like a feminine love of cooking or tendency to cry at the movies or unsuppressable maternal instinct or cultivation of a wardrobe that will turn heads or even a passionate good-night kiss—is deemed an inadequate demonstration of sexual identity. The unspoken message of Our Bodies, Ourselves is clear enough: as long as a woman is a virgin, she remains completely asexual.

Surprisingly, this attitude has infiltrated the thinking of many women my age, who should still be new enough in the web of lies called adulthood to know better. One of my most vivid college memories is of a conversation with a good friend about my (to her) bizarre aberration of virginity. She and another pal had been delving into the gruesome specifics of their past sexual encounters. Finally, after some time, my friend suddenly exclaimed to me, “How do you do it?”

A little taken aback, I said, “Do what?”

“You know,” she answered, a little reluctant, perhaps, to use the big bad V-word. “You still haven’t . . . slept with anybody. How do you do it? Don’t you want to?”

The question intrigued me, because it was so utterly beside the point. Of course I want to—what a strange question!—but mere wanting is hardly a proper guide for moral conduct. I assured my concerned friend that my libido was still in proper working order, but then I had to come up with a good reason why I had been paying attention to my inhibitions for all these years. I offered the usual reasons—emotional and physical health, religious convictions, “saving myself” till marriage—but nothing convinced her until I said, “I guess I don’t know what I’m missing.” She was satisfied with that and ended the conversation.

In one sense, sure, I don’t know what I’m missing. And it is common enough among those who do know what they’re missing to go to great lengths to insure that they don’t miss it for very long. In another sense, though, I could list a lot of things that I do know I’m missing: hurt, betrayal, anxiety, self-deception, fear, suspicion, anger, confusion, and the horror of having been used. And those are only emotional aspects; there is also disease, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. As if to prove my case from the other side, my friend suffered a traumatic betrayal within a month or two of our conversation. It turned out that the man involved would gladly sleep with her, but refused to have a “real relationship”—a sad reality she discovered only after the fact.

According to received feminist wisdom, sexuality is to be understood through the twin concepts of power and choice. It’s not a matter of anything so banally biological as producing children, or even the more elevated notion of creating intimacy and trust. Sometimes it seems like sex isn’t even supposed to be fun. The purpose of female sexuality is to assert power over hapless men, for control, revenge, self-centered pleasure, or forcing a commitment. A woman who declines to express herself in sexual activity, then, has fallen prey to a male-dominated society that wishes to prevent women from becoming powerful. By contrast, it is said, a woman who does become sexually active discovers her power over men and exercises it, supposedly to her personal enhancement.

This is an absurd lie. That kind of gender-war sexuality results only in pyrrhic victories. It’s a set-up for disaster, especially for women. Men aren’t the ones who get pregnant. And who ever heard of a man purchasing a glossy magazine to learn the secret of snagging a wife? Sacrifice and the relinquishing of power are natural to women—ask any mom—and they are also the secret of feminine appeal. The pretense that aggression and power-mongering are the only options for female sexual success has opened the door to predatory men. The imbalance of power becomes greater than ever in a culture of easy access.

Against this system of mutual exploitation stands the more compelling alternative of virginity. It escapes the ruthless cycle of winning and losing because it refuses to play the game. The promiscuous of both sexes will take their cheap shots at one another, disguising infidelity and selfishness as freedom and independence, and blaming the aftermath on one another. But no one can claim control over a virgin. Virginity is not a matter of asserting power in order to manipulate. It is a refusal to exploit or be exploited. That is real, and responsible, power.

But there is more to it than mere escape. There is an undeniable appeal in virginity, something that eludes the resentful feminist’s contemptuous label of “prude.” A virgin woman is an unattainable object of desire, and it is precisely her unattainability that increases her desirability. Feminism has told a lie in defense of its own promiscuity, namely, that there is no sexual power to be found in virginity. On the contrary, virgin sexuality has extraordinary and unusual power. There’s no second-guessing a virgin’s motives: her strength comes from a source beyond her transitory whims. It is sexuality dedicated to hope, to the future, to marital love, to children, and to God. Her virginity is, at the same time, a statement of her mature independence from men. It allows a woman to become a whole person in her own right, without needing a man either to revolt against or to complete what she lacks. It is very simple, really: no matter how wonderful, charming, handsome, intelligent, thoughtful, rich, or persuasive he is, he simply cannot have her. A virgin is perfectly unpossessable. Of course, there have been some women who have attempted to claim this independence from men by turning in on themselves and opting for lesbian sexuality instead. But this is just another, perhaps deeper, rejection of their femaleness. The sexes rightly define themselves in their otherness. Lesbianism squelches the design of otherness by drowning womanhood in a sea of sameness, and in the process loses any concept of what makes the female feminine. Virginity upholds simply and honestly that which is valuable in and unique to women.

The corollary of power is choice. Again, the feminist assumes that sexually powerful women will be able to choose their own fates. And again, it is a lie. No one can engage in extramarital sex and then control it. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the moral nightmare of our society’s breakdown since the sexual revolution. Some time ago I saw on TV the introduction of the groundbreaking new “female condom.” A spokeswoman at a press conference celebrating its grand opening declared joyously the new freedom that it gave to women. ?Now women have more bargaining power,” she said. “If a man says that he refuses to wear a condom, the woman can counter, fine, I will!” I was dumbstruck by her enthusiasm for the dynamics of the new situation. Why on earth would two people harboring so much animosity towards each other contemplate a sexual encounter? What an appealing choice they have been given the freedom to make!

The dark reality, of course, is that it is not free choice at all when women must convince men to love them and must convince themselves that they are more than just “used goods.” There are so many young women I have known for whom freely chosen sexual activity means a brief moment of pleasure—if that—followed by the unchosen side effects of paralyzing uncertainty, anger at the man involved, and finally a deep self-hatred that is impenetrable by feminist analysis. So-called sexual freedom is really just proclaiming oneself to be available for free, and therefore without value. To “choose” such freedom is tantamount to saying that one is worth nothing.

Admittedly, there are some who say that sex isn’t anything nearly so serious or important, but just another recreational activity not substantially different from ping-pong. I don’t believe it for a second. I learned most meaningfully from another woman the destructive force of sexuality out of control when I myself was under considerable pressure to cave in to a man’s sexual demands. I discussed the prospect with this friend, and after some time she finally said to me, “Don’t do it. So far in life you’ve made all the right choices and I’ve made all the wrong ones. I care enough about you that I don’t want to see you end up like me.” Naturally, that made up my mind. Sex does matter; it matters a lot; and I can only hope that those who deny it will wake up to their error before they damage themselves even more.

It is appalling that feminism has propagated lies so destructive to women. It has created the illusion that there is no room for self-discovery outside of sexual behavior. Not only is this a grotesque lie, but it is also an utterly boring one. Aside from its implied dismissal of all the world’s many riches outside the sexual domain, this false concept has placed stultifying limitations on the range of human relationships. We’re told that friendships between men and women are just a cover until they leap into the sack together. While romance is a natural and commendable expression of love between women and men, it is simply not the only option. And in our sexually competitive climate, even romantic love barely deserves the title. Virginity among those seeking marital love would go far to improve the latter’s solidity and permanence, creating an atmosphere of honesty and discovery before the equally necessary and longed-for consummation. Where feminism sees freedom from men by placing body parts at their disposal in a bizarre game of self-deception, virginity recognizes the equally vulnerable though often overlooked state of men’s own hearts and seeks a way to love them for real.

It is puzzling and disturbing to me that regnant feminism has never acknowledged the empowering value of virginity. I tend to think that much of the feminist agenda is more invested in the culture of groundless autonomy and sexual Darwinism than it is in genuinely uplifting women. Of course, virginity is a battle against sexual temptation, and popular culture always opts for the easy way out instead of the character-building struggle. The result is superficial women formed by meaningless choices, worthy of stereotype, rather than laudable women of character, worthy of respect.

Perhaps virginity seems a bit cold, even haughty and heartless. But virginity hardly has exclusive claim on those defects, if it has any claim at all. Promiscuity offers a significantly worse fate. I have a very dear friend who, sadly, is more worldly-wise than I am. By libertine feminist standards she ought to be proud of her conquests and ready for more, but frequently she isn’t. The most telling insight about the shambles of her heart came to me once in a phone conversation when we were speculating about our futures. Generally they are filled with exotic travel and adventure and PhDs. This time, however, they were not. She admitted to me that what she really wanted was to be living on a farm in rural Connecticut, raising a horde of children and embroidering tea towels. It is a lovely dream, defiantly unambitious and domestic. But her short, failed sexual relationships haven’t taken her any closer to her dream and have left her little hope that she’ll ever attain it. I must be honest here: virginity hasn’t landed me on a farm in rural Connecticut, either. Sexual innocence is not a guarantee against heartbreak. But there is a crucial difference: I haven’t lost a part of myself to someone who has subsequently spurned it, rejected it, and perhaps never cared for it at all.

I sincerely hope that virginity will not be a lifetime project for me. Quite the contrary, my subversive commitment to virginity serves as preparation for another commitment, for loving one man completely and exclusively. Admittedly, there is a minor frustration in my love: I haven’t met the man yet (at least, not to my knowledge). But hope, which does not disappoint, sustains me.

Sarah E. Hinlicky, a writer living in New York City, is an Editorial Assistant at First Things.

 





Should We Have Sex Whenever We Want?

8 09 2013

If sex is good why should we have it all the time

Just because a thing is good, this does not mean that it is without boundaries. For example, because sleep is good, imagine that you decide to sleep until one in the afternoon on a school day. You walk into school with the creases from your pillow still embedded in your face. When your teacher asks where you have been, you yawn, wipe the drool from your chin, and remind him that sleep is good and so you were enjoying sleep. You add that when you go home you will probably eat thirty pounds of Girl Scout cookies because eating is good, too.

Needless to say, while sleep and food are good, they do have their limits. Similarly, the good gift of sex has its boundaries as well—and the boundary for sex is marriage. When we take sex outside of marriage, it is like taking fire out of the fireplace. The beautiful gift can quickly become destructive. But what about the fact that sex feels so natural?

Suppose that one day at work I decide to have an affair with my secretary. When I come home, my wife Crystalina asks how my day was. I tell her that work went well, the drive home was pleasant, and that I cheated on her. Upon hearing this, she throws my belongings onto the front lawn. To ease her pain, I point out how “natural” the affair was. Needless to say, she would not be comforted. She is well aware that the fact that sex is natural is not a sufficient reason to engage in it.

Although pleasure is a natural result of sex, it is not the purpose of sex. If you confuse the purpose of sex (babies and bonding) with the additional benefit of pleasure, you abandon love and use the other person as an object of lust.

When people argue that couples should be free to have sex outside of marriage, they do not realize what they are asking for. “Liberating” sex from the confines of marriage is like liberating a goldfish from its bowl—not a great idea. In the same way, the intimacy of sex was never meant to be separated from the total intimacy that makes up married life. It was not meant to be “free.”

One woman explained, “So-called sexual freedom is really just proclaiming oneself to be available for free, and therefore without value. To ‘choose’ such freedom is tantamount to saying that one is worth nothing.”[1] When we divorce sex from marriage, we inevitably meet with disappointment. We are trying to grab the privileges of marriage without accepting the commitment and sacrifice that must accompany the gift of total intimacy.

__________________Chastity.com





Porn Ruining Sex Life of Millions

16 08 2013

Millions of people have no more groove in bed — and it’s all because they’re addicted to pornography, according to a report in Psychology Today.

But the problem is much more serious than simply either being good or bad in the sack, it’s a physiological issue causing a new generation of men to lose their libidos 30 years sooner than expected.

How did this happen?

According to the report, overexposure to sexually explicit images and video have caused men to lose interest in ordinary sexual encounters — including experiences with a real woman:

Today’s users can force [their] release by watching porn in multiple windows, searching endlessly, fast-forwarding to the bits they find hottest, switching to live sex chat, viewing constant novelty, firing up their mirror neurons with video action and cam-2-cam, or escalating to extreme genres and anxiety-producing material. It’s all free, easy to access, available within seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

After a period of time, excessive porn watchers overstimulate a neurochemical in their bodies called dopamine — the drive behind every “want” and “desire” that humans feel we need to “overcome.” But with your libido in constant drive mode, your dopamine reaction will become numb and, eventually, you won’t be aroused by the same experiences as before.

This occurrence is similar to veteran drug-users describing their need for stronger mind-inducing chemicals in order to receive the same “high” they once had. In the same way, porn-addicted men will need more extreme sexual experiences to feel the same kind of arousal.

It’s an endless cycle and if you think Viagra will help, you’re wrong.

Sexual-enhancement drugs work by breaking down a blood vessel dilator called cGMP and this is what causes an erection. If your libido is over worked, the drugs can only cause a physical erection, but a pleasurable sensation cannot be achieved.

The only cure is to avoid internet erotica at all costs, but this will be “one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done,” says the study.

In order to have “normal” sex again, a “reboot” period — six to 12 weeks — is needed by completely letting go of your pornographic nature. Addicts can experience a temporary loss of libido altogether as well as “insomnia, irritability, panic, despair, concentration problems, and even flu-like symptoms.” For more information, read the Porn Circuit 

Article is courtesy of businessinsider .com





The 24-year old Virgin

1 06 2013

24 year old virgin

Sex. The topic that dictates the plotline of every TV show, be the driving force behind all movies and be the hidden meaning behind every song lyric innuendo. What used to be a topic that was only acceptable to whisper about in the privacy of your own home is now part of our everyday interactions. Ever catch an episode of Sex and the City? Ever listen to a rap song or secretly play Boyz II Men every night? Ever put on an action flick because you know the hero is going to have a steamy make-out sesh just as the villain starts raining bullets down on his ass? Now let me pose a different sort of question: if we are so aware of everything even remotely involved with sex, what does it mean to be a virgin anymore?

Yes, I said it. VIRGIN. It used to be “shocking” to discover anyone was having sex at all, and now it’s “shocking” to discover anyone isn’t having sex. How many twenty-somethings do you know who are virgins? None? One? That crazy kid who never leaves his dorm room long enough to have a social interaction that could lead to, well, any real human contact? Well let me squash that stereotype for you [I’m sure he left his dorm room once to buy more Ramen and a backup power cord for his backup laptop]. We’re out there. And we’re not all ultra-Christian, ultra-Mormon, really ultra-religious anything. We’re not ultra-conservative, have ultra-overbearing parents, ultra-sheltered anythings. In fact, if you met some of us on the street or [gasp!] at a party, you’d be hard-pressed to suspect a thing. You see, we don’t actually have flashing neon signs that say VIRGIN ALERT over our heads.

We’re not even all prudes. Some of us have friends of the opposite sex. Some of us have been kissed a few times. Some of us get wasted and dance on tables and make-out with the dashing British boy from Intro to Psych. Some of us haven’t spent the night in our own beds after a party. Some of us have been in long-term relationships. Some of us have done things a lady doesn’t mention in mixed company.

So what exactly is stopping us from sealing the deal? Now, before you start calling me super traditional, wait-until-I’m-married-before-I-even-think-about-wearing-anything-but-white, born and bred virgin, let me begin by saying that is far from the truth. I personally don’t see the point in waiting until your wedding night to be left with what can only be a very awkward encounter with the person you just pledged the rest of your life to. Yikes. There is a good chance that I might never get married. And not in an “I’m going to die an old maid” type of not married, but I don’t feel it is a critical part of my life necessary for happiness with the poor guy I choose to spend my dying days with.

What is it then? Is there something overly righteous about us that we haven’t succumbed to the peer pressure of society? If you’re going for shock-value, try walking into a room full of your peers and shouting SUCK IT WORLD, I’M A VIRGIN as loud as humanly possible. I haven’t tried it, but I can only imagine what would follow [in the very least some brave soul should eek out a that’s what she said joke]. I guarantee you’d be treated differently afterwards. There would be the pitiers [when you’re a virgin you get a free-pass on making up words]: “Oh you poor precious thing! Don’t you worry child, someone will deflower you someday.” And the freaked out: “Yeah, so when I asked you on that date the other day, I forgot I had to see my aunt’s best friend’s nephew’s brother-in-law’s cousin’s kid in her second grade play debut….” And don’t forget those who will find words to be too advanced for their level of understanding: “I mean, it’s no big deal…. Um… Yeah… I mean, I guess it’s kind of weird… but no, it’s cool….” Um, okay. What you’re really all thinking [besides those actually ultra-conservative and/or religious folk who are probably patting you vigorously on the back right now and inviting you to make a presentation on the art of celibacy to their ultra-conservative and/or religious club next Thursday]: “What’s wrong with her? That girl is such a prude.”

Now what I don’t understand is why I’m supposed to feel ashamed or embarrassed about the fact that I’m a virgin. If it’s not such a big deal to lose your virginity, then why is it such a big deal to still be a virgin? So what if I haven’t had a guy’s charms keep me enthralled long enough to pop my cherry? So what if I don’t have to worry about renewing my birth control just in case the boy I’m flirting with on Saturday night doesn’t bring a condom? I don’t think I should be looked at any differently because I haven’t indulged in the pleasures of a one-night stand with the hot guy from the bar or had a romantic stay at a B&B with a cute little four-posted bed covered in rose petals.

We are so inundated with the idea of sex that we pretty much just assume everyone is constantly locked in the thralls of ecstasy. Even doctors are skeptical of our virgin-ness. Like I’m lying to her when she asks my favourite question: “Are you sexually active?” When I respond with a dignified, “No,” she immediately replies with a skeptical, “Have you ever been?” Two minutes later I still find myself peeing in a cup so she can tell me that I am, in fact, not pregnant. Thank goodness, I was really worried that my sprained ankle was the result of a divine pregnancy.

When did it happen that being a virgin was no longer something considered to be, if not something you particularly care about yourself, something commendable? Is there an age that being a virgin goes from something we are respected for to something we should hide? So if we adhere to society’s absurd rules, we end up awkwardly clinging to our virginity under the veil of being sexually active. This, in my experience, usually only saddles you with the label “tease,” which only seems to be slightly more encouraging than the derogative undertones the word “virgin” seems to have developed. Announcing your virginity leads people to think you will be like that clingy crazy girl Vince Vaughn shags in Wedding Crashers or your greatest goal is to immortalize Steve Carrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

So why do virgins get such a bad rap? Is it that despite this open dialogue we think we have about sex, we’re all still a little embarrassed about it and therefore blame the “pure” for making us feel just a little bit of shame for exercising our carnal desires? Is everyone really as comfortable talking about it as they claim to be? Well, hate to break the news, but us virgins are not perfect. And we’re not any better than you simply because we somehow managed to build up a stronghold of will power against our sexual impulses [fun fact: even virgins have sex drives]. But you’re also not any better than us simply because you have experienced life’s greatest pleasure outside of childbirth [the jury is still out on that one being a remotely enjoyable experience, but rumor has it it’s not quite as trauma-inducing as the Miracle of Life video I passed out during in ninth grade].

For the record, it’s not like I planned to still be a virgin at this point in my life. In fact, I too would like to experience life’s second greatest pleasure [not to totally ditch the Virgins United club]. But I think that part of being a strong, independent woman in this evolving world is that not settling for less than I think I deserve. I think I deserve my first time to be with someone who loves me. Someone who respects me. Someone who gets where I’ve been and where I’m going. And I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I don’t think I should be ashamed that I haven’t felt strongly enough about someone to hand over the keys of my chastity belt yet. I don’t think I should have my virginity be labeled as “baggage.” I don’t think I should feel awkward about the fact that when I do lose my virginity, it’ll probably be a colossal hot mess of inexperienced fail. And I’m okay with that. Incidentally, dropping the fact that your V-card has had exactly zero transactions is a great way to weed out all the guys who were only signing up for that one-time big purchase. And to the guys [and gals!] that aren’t tripping over themselves running for the door, I tip my hat to you.

So while I applaud my friends that have followed Samantha’s weaving path through endless bedrooms in The City, I will wait. And there is no shame in waiting.

By Holly V. Furman and Kayla Jackson. This article was first published in Hellogiggles.com





Pornography will kill you: Strip tease act By C.S Lewis

21 05 2013

Pornography: Strip tease act

Suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theater by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly 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 when you can get a large audience together to watch a girl undress on the stage—strip tease act?
The Christian teaching on sex is very unpopular. Sex can only be had within marriage, and with complete fidelity to married partner or else, total abstinence. This, today, is considered impossible. Either Christianity is wrong or the whole world is.
Well then, let’s look at the facts. The biological product of sex is children, just as the biological product 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 that 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.

One critic said that if he found a country in which such striptease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving. He meant, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease act resulted not from sexual corruption but from sexual starvation. I agree with him that if, in some strange land, we found that similar acts with mutton chops were popular, one of the possible explanations which would occur to me would be famine.

But the next step would be to test our hypothesis by finding out whether, in fact, much or little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed that a good deal was being eaten, then of course we should have to abandon the hypothesis of starvation and try to think of another one.
In the same way, before accepting sexual starvation as the cause of the strip-tease hard core pornography, we should have to look for evidence that there is in fact more sexual starvation in our age than in those ages when things like the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Everyone knows that the sexual appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence. Starving men may think much about food, but so do gluttons; the gorged, as well as the famished, like titillations.
But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful

You and I, for the last twenty years, have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex.
Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,” they may mean “the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of.”
If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of 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. I do not say you and I are individually responsible for the present situation. Our ancestors have handed over to us organisms which are warped in this respect: and we grow up surrounded by propaganda in favour of unchastity.

There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance. God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.
Before we can be cured we must want to be cured. Those who really wish for help will get it; but for many modern people even the wish is difficult. It is easy to think that we want something when we do not really want it. A famous Christian long ago told us that when he was a young man he prayed constantly for chastity; but years later he realized that while his lips had been saying, “Oh Lord, make me chaste,” his heart had been secretly adding, “But please don’t do it just yet.” This may happen in prayers for other virtues too; but there are three reasons why it is now especially difficult for us to desire—let alone to achieve—complete chastity.

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.
Now this association is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth—the truth, acknowledged above, that sex in itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is “normal” and “healthy,” and all the rest of it. The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal. Now this, on any conceivable view, and quite apart from Christianity, must be nonsense. Surrender to all our desires obviously leads to impotence, disease, jealousies, lies, concealment, and everything that is the reverse of health, good humour, and frankness.
For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary; so the claim made by every desire, when it is strong, to be healthy and reasonable, counts for nothing.

Many people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) that it is impossible. But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility. Faced with an optional question in an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can. You may get some marks for a very imperfect answer: you will certainly get none for leaving the question alone. Not only in examinations but in war, in mountain climbing, in learning to skate, or swim, or ride a bicycle, even in fastening a stiff collar with cold fingers, people quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to.
We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. 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. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments and, on the other that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
Thirdly, people often misunderstand what psychology teaches about “repressions.” It teaches us that “repressed” sex is dangerous. But “repressed” is here a technical term: it does not mean “suppressed” in the sense of “denied” or “resisted.” A repressed desire or thought is one which has been thrust into the subconscious (usually at a very early age) and can now come before the mind only in a disguised and unrecognizable form. Repressed sexuality does not appear to the patient to be sexuality at all. When an adolescent or an adult is engaged in resisting a conscious desire, he is not dealing with a repression nor is he in the least danger of creating a repression.
On the contrary, those who are seriously attempting chastity are more conscious, and soon know a great deal more about their own sexuality than anyone else. They come to know their desires as Wellington knew Napoleon, or as Sherlock Holmes knew Moriarty; as a rat-catcher knows rats or a plumber knows about leaky pipes. Virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog. (This is an extract from “ Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis)








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