“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. (Matthew 5:27-30)
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)
The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be. (Matthew 6:22)
Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
The aim of this instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
So turn from youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
Tear out our eyes and throw them away? Cut off our hands and throw them away? Jesus doesn’t mean these words (Matthew 5:29-30), does he? Not literally, of course, but he does use these extreme examples to emphasize how seriously he takes our sexuality and our purity of heart. He wants us as Catholic men to look at women with the greatest respect, not as objects to be used for our gratification. He wants us to value our sisters as children of God and treat them with the dignity they deserve. He wants us to be willing to fight the battle for sexual integrity with our eyes, thoughts, and actions. The starting point in this battle is an honest examination of our conscience in this vital area of sexual purity.
Jesus tells us that the “lamp of the body is the eye” (Matthew 6:22). When our eyes and our thoughts are focused on doing our jobs, caring for our families, and reading God’s word, then we are “filled with light (Matthew 6:22) and “shine like lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). However, when they are looking wrongly at inappropriate media-or wrongly at other women-they can bring us into darkness and shame. How am I using my eyes? How am I using my thoughts? Am I looking at — or imagining — the Lord, or am I looking at — or imagining — images that cause lustful thoughts to reign in my mind?
What about my body? If I am married, do I maintain a loving respect for my wife by showing physical affection purely and selflessly? Have I avoided inappropriate physical contact with other women? If I am single, are my relationships consistently chaste? Whatever my state in life, do I seek to keep the Lord always first in my thoughts and actions so that I can ward off lustful temptations? Do I love him above all things-even above my own pleasure and satisfaction?
As you ponder these questions, let the Holy Spirit be your guide. If he brings to mind some areas that need correcting, take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to get right with the Lord and with yourself. Remember that no matter what you’ve done, Jesus can make you pure and innocent again. Never underestimate the power that forgiveness can bring to your life. And don’t be afraid of what your confessor may think of you. He’s heard it all before anyway! Just be open and honest, remembering that Jesus is your comforter, healer, and deliverer.
So let’s give our whole lives to Christ. As we surrender our hearts and minds to Him, we will receive the grace and power to master disordered sexual desires and experience a godly wholeness and integrity. The reality of heaven, the promises of a faithful God, and a healthy fear of offending God with sexual sin will work together to form in us a deeper dependence and trust in the Lord.
St. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:22 to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.” The battle for sexual integrity is not a battle to be fought alone. We need the support and prayers of other brothers in Christ standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us.
As we take the necessary steps, no matter where we are right now, the Lord will empower us to win the battle for sexual integrity. So keep asking the Spirit to mold you into the image of Christ. The world is waiting for our witness as men of God!
“Thank you, Jesus, for your mercy. I repent of any sexual sin in my life, and I ask you to heal me and purify me. May I use my senses and actions only to build your kingdom and to focus on what is true, good, and holy! Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your work in my life. Help me to live a life of sexual integrity. I want to be steadfast in following you and your word. I want to be a clearer reflection of your love and mercy to others.”
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Spend a few minutes pondering the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What impact do they have on your view of sexual integrity/purity?
- The article talks about being “willing to fight the battle for sexual integrity with our eyes, thoughts, and actions.” The recommended starting point is “an honest examination of our conscience.” How would you rate how well you are doing, based on the following questions posed in the article?
- How am I using my eyes?
- How am I using my thoughts?
- Am I looking at-or imagining-the Lord, or am I looking at-or imagining-images that cause lustful thoughts to reign in my mind?
- If I am married, do I maintain a loving respect for my wife by showing physical affection purely and selflessly?
- Have I avoided inappropriate physical contact with other women?
- If I am single, are my relationships consistently chaste?
- Whatever my state in life, do I seek to keep the Lord always first in my thoughts and actions so that I can ward off lustful temptations?
- Do I love him above all things-even above my own pleasure and satisfaction?
- Why is the Sacrament of Reconciliation an important part of the battle for sexual integrity? Do you feel it is sufficient, just during Lent and Advent, to take advantage of the graces of this Sacrament? Why or why not?
- What role does your relationship with Christ, and living a Christ-centered life, play in your battle for sexual integrity? What steps can you take to deepen that relationship?
- Why is giving “our whole lives to Christ” and surrendering “our hearts and minds to Him” another important part of our battle for sexual integrity? If you have never done this, take some time to do this with the other men in your men’s group.