(Mary Beth Bonacci is an internationally known speaker and author. She can be reached at: Real Love, Inc., 6732 W. Coal Mine Ave., #228, Littleton, CO 80123, or you may visit her website at www.reallove.net.)
I’m on a new crusade. Last fall, I spoke at a Courage conference. Courage is a network of support groups, based on prayer and the twelve steps, to help Catholics with a homosexual orientation who wish to live chastely. Many of these people struggle mightily with their attractions, and Courage is a lifeline for them.
Earlier, I’d written a series of articles on masturbation. In the wake of that series, I received a lot of mail — from people who agreed with me, from people who disagreed, from people who apparently think I make up this sexual morality stuff all by myself. But most touching was the mail from people who struggle with all types of sexual sin.
I was struck by the number of single people I discovered who were struggling to regain the virtue of chastity after having been sexually active. These people were, and are, having a very difficult time. They’re attracted to chastity. They understand the meaning of human sexuality, and they want desperately to respect it. But the pull of previous habits is very, very strong. And they don’t know where to turn.
I have to confess that, in my fourteen years of chastity ministry, I’ve underestimated the seriousness of this problem. I give my little talks and write my little books, and I say over and over that anyone can live a chaste future, regardless of their past. And I throw out a few little platitudes about the importance of prayer and staying out of tempting situations, the I’m on to the next topic.
I’m beginning to realize that isn’t enough.
The human sex drive is complex. It’s all tied into our psycho-emotional selves, our self-image and our hunger for love. When something inside is “off,” it often manifests itself as an accelerated sex drive. In fighting sexual temptation, we’re often facing demons we can’t even begin to understand. And even for the healthiest of people, commencing sexual activity apparently trips something inside which is very, very difficult to shut back off.
Unfortunately, a lot of single people are discovering that the hard way.
I want so desperately to help these people. I want them to experience the deep inner joy that comes from real interior and exterior chastity. I want them to have healthy relationships and happy marriages. I want them to set sin aside so they can experience real intimacy with God.
Yes, prayer is the answer. Yes, the power comes from God, not us. But I think a lot of people need help and direction to find their way to God, to find their way to that kind of prayer, and to make the grace-inspired changes in their lives that will make chastity “stick” for them.
A friend of mine made an interesting suggestion. What about a Courage-type group for single, heterosexual men and women who want to return to lives of chastity? Would it help them to have support where they could admit their powerlessness, rely on God, share their struggles and receive spiritual direction?
This is where you come in. I’d like to hear from single adults who are struggling with this, or who have struggled with this. Do you think groups like this would be helpful? Would you personally get involved? Would you be comfortable sharing your struggle in a confidential group setting? If not, would the benefits be worth the effort to overcome your discomfort? Please, log on to my web site at www.reallove.net — right now — and tell me what you think.
Help me find out if God is really behind this idea.