By Jan Bilewicz,
There is a colossal difference between those who struggle, and sometimes fail, and those who sin and remain in sin, or fail to put up any struggle at all. To fight a series of losing battles does not mean losing the war
Hello again! Not long ago I read something very interesting and, without further ado, I will share it with you. Some big scientific institute in New York recently conducted a survey of people’s sex lives in nineteen countries, including Poland. Alas, the findings were very sad. It turns out that only 20% of men and 18% of women are happy with their sex life. Imagine! On the average, only one in five men finds his sexual relations satisfactory. In Poland, it is even worse than the average: only 12% of men and women find enjoyment in sex; the rest see sex as a “unpleasant chore.” (Alcoholism, hedonism, and pornography are the most common reasons for this.) At the same time, the mass media present sex as an endless paradise on Earth, when in reality it turns out that the vast majority of people find it a “unpleasant chore.”
But not to worry! In a moment I will tell you what you must do if you do not wish to belong to this large group of unfortunates. No one should ever doubt the fact that God wants sex to give people pleasure. More that this, your God and my Creator intended sexual intimacy to be a feast, a spiritual banquet, a source of authentic joy. This is God’s plan! Moreover, God has told us what we need to do in order to enjoy sex! Yes, He has told us! And He is not mistaken, since it is He who created us as sexual beings. If a computer designer knows how his creation works, and knows how not to damage it, how much more so does God our Creator. In the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, our Creator tells us how not damage our sexual life and our life as a whole. The problem is that our society is full of experts and educators and (in so-called “youth magazines,” on TV etc.), who consider themselves more knowledgeable than God. What ignorance! It is like the computer builder issuing instructions that you must handle the machine with care, while some smart-aleck stubbornly claims that if you feel like it, you can drop the computer on the floor. “Do not be afraid,” he says, “You will have a smashing time of it! Go ahead!” Well, who knows, you may really have a smashing time of it. It is in giving advice like this (and they call it “modern” or “scientific!”) that these experts spend their unhappy lives, making the lives of others as unhappy as their own.
What does God say in the Sixth and Ninth Commandments? That you must remain pure in your thoughts, desires, and actions even before marriage; that sexual intimacy is reserved exclusively for marriage; that you will find joy and satisfaction in sex only if you wait for marriage. That is how our Creator planned it. He wants us to be chaste even before marriage, so that we may mature emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, learn self-control in sexual matters, and thus — to love. In marriage we reap the fruits — bitter or sweet — that we sowed while remaining or not remaining pure for marriage.
Playing with fire
Even while maturing, we can destroy our ability to enjoy sexual intimacy in marriage — to enjoy sex as a feast, a spiritual banquet, and a source of authentic joy. Pornography is the most effective way of destroying our ability to love. It is present everywhere, freely accessible, and extraordinarily seductive. Parents do not speak of it at home. Religion teachers will not touch the subject in school; but then our politicians tell us it has to be — as do all kinds of porn dealers and Mafiosi.) Without any sense of the danger involved, youngsters reach for a pornographic magazine or video. The effect is immediate. Even the briefest contact with pornography will have an effect on a maturing boy. A boy finds it hard enough to practice self-control in sexual matters, but now his self-control will be impaired for sure and express itself in — self-abuse! A new experience, very pleasant at first! A new situation, which he is unable to cope with — to the extent he wants to do it at all! If he receives the Sacraments rarely, and prays little, he is powerless against this rapidly acquired habit, which soon grows into an addiction.
Of course, it happens that some, strengthened by God’s grace, struggle against the habit and succeed. Others persevere in struggling against it, despite frequent failure. This too is important. There is a colossal difference between those who struggle, and sometimes fail, and those who sin and remain in sin, or fail to put up any struggle at all. To fight a series of losing battles does not mean losing the war. The war is lost only where there is no struggle. It is quite a different matter to give up the struggle and surrender to the enemy, or even regard him as a friend.
What happens when a man addicted to masturbation begins married life? Obviously the habit does not disappear the moment you receive your marriage license. To kick the addiction requires considerable personal effort; the more so, as after the wedding the man must struggle against his tendency to think that in this area, of all areas, he no longer needs to make any effort at all. Was this the reason he got married?” he asks. To continue making an effort? That is often how he thinks! And how wrongheaded he is! Imagine his wife. At first, she thinks she must be so attractive, because her husband cannot bear to be without her. She even begins to feel a little proud of herself. Gradually, however, she discovers that she is being treated as an object. And indeed, she observes correctly! How can she be satisfied, how can she be happy, when their sexual relations consist in the husband masturbating with the help of her body? How can she be happy with an addicted wretch for a husband, who lacks any ability to control his sexual urges — and what is worse, thinks he is a superman. And when he leaves home for a day or two, the poor wretch has to excite his own genitals — because, well, he is addicted to it. And yet his wife is the person closest to him. She would like to be proud of him. But how? She would like to loved by him, respected by him, and all he does is use her as an object of his selfish pleasure. It is enough to make her sit down and cry..
And consider the husband himself. Deep down he too feels dissatisfied with such a state of affairs. For how can a normal grown man be happy when he is addicted, even though he may not call it that. What happens next? All too often, he will seek the enlightened advice of modern, progressive experts with ”scholarly titles” (maybe that’s why the think they know better than God), who tell them that the remedy for an unhappy sex life is “diversifying their marital life.” These “sexperts” draw their inspiration from watching pornographic films. That is their fount of knowledge! And so you can do it once in bed, then under the bed, then standing on one leg, then on one hand, then on your head. And this display of circus acrobatics they call “loving.” Standing on your head is supposed to restore new life to dying marital love. So there you are. But I thought that marital love had to do with enhancing communication, listening to one another, sharing one’s intimate thoughts and experiences, sincerity, tenderness, respect, sacrifice, seeking after the other’s good, forgetting wrongs, patience, praying and receiving the Sacraments together, etc. — not standing on one’s head. The poor wretches. They have got everything wrong — bottom side up. Having sex in some strange position may arouse somebody’s lust. Agreed. But lust is the very opposite of love.
So imagine the wife now. Not only is her husband addicted, but he also behaves as if he were nuts. Moreover, “diversifying their marital life” has wrought no change in him. Once more, he has simply been, as they say, “led up the garden path.” His addiction remains, and has even got worse. How can any normal grown man find satisfaction in turning what is supposed to be an act of love into a circus? Well? How?
A swig of rotgut
Can a person addicted to alcohol, for example, be happy with the fact that he drinks? Compare a drunkard with a wine connoisseur. Two completely different worlds! To the drunkard, a drink of alcohol brings not so much pleasure as relief. It makes no difference to him what he drinks, just so long as he relieves the addiction. To the connoisseur, a drink of alcohol brings pleasure, not relief. He delights in the wine he drinks, its bouquet, its taste, its hue. If you placed a glass of Tuscany Chianti of 1980 vintage and a glass of rotgut before a drunkard, he would chose the rotgut, because it gives him greater relief. And if he were to drink the Chianti, he would not appreciate what he is drinking or the subtlety of it. He would even be disappointed. What sexual intimacy can really be like is of no importance to the sexually addicted man. He is unable to see anything important or beautiful in it. It is not even important to him whom he has sexual relations with, be it with his wife or not. All he wants is a woman who is willing to relieve his addiction. He does not know what love is. It is too subtle a thing for him. He confuses love with lust.
A wine connoisseur never suffers a hangover, for he does not abuse alcohol — unlike the drunkard who drinks three times more than his organism can stand. Dissatisfaction with one’s sex life in marriage is often a “moral hangover” resulting from the abuse of sex. If marital intimacy is to be a feast, a joy, an experience of a mystery, a spiritual banquet, an act of love and tenderness, the most intimate act of mutual giving, it cannot depend on relieving a sexual addiction. You have to be free! Only a free man can experience marital relations deeply, and be satisfied with them.
Freedom is not doing what you feel like doing at any given moment, but the ability to choose what is good. Freedom is the ability to chose and do what is good, while refraining from doing what is evil. Choosing the good may be difficult. The temptation to do evil is always pleasant. But we must refrain from evil because where evil is, there is the Evil One. And where the Evil One is, there is always enslavement, blindness, destruction, suffering, and death. Writing down this definition of freedom a hundred times, or better still, five hundred times, or memorizing and repeating it twenty times every morning and twenty times every evening, will serve as an excellent antidote to the propaganda put out with the help of the mass media by all the gurus of the culture surrounding you — a culture that is rightly called “the culture of death.”
So far I have only said a small part of what I ought to say. It seems that the subject is a big one. I shall continue in my next letter. In any case, what is most important is that God our Creator intended the period before marriage to be a time of remaining pure in out thoughts, desires, words, and actions. Sexual intimacy is intended for married people — and married people only. That is God’s plan. Our own plans always seem a bit funny in comparison. You could make the following analogy. A piano is meant for playing, a table for eating. Some would like to eat on the piano and play on the table. Rather a clever one, eh? All the best to you and may God keep you!
Your older brother, Jan Bilewicz.
The above article was published with permission from Miłujcie się! in November 2010