I was reading a few comments that were posted on the previous article and there were some legitimate points that were made that warrant further discussion.  A few folks discussed the concept of shame which is usually associated with sexual sin.  Shame is the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, or ridiculous, done by oneself or another.  Shame can also be defined as disgrace or ignominy.

When one commits sexual sin, they should feel shame, and in fact do.  This is normal and is a sign that the person has a conscience.  In fact, shame is necessary for a man to maintain his conscience in the pursuit of virtue.  One should not avoid the feelings of shame, rather one should face them and begin the process of overcoming it by the practice of virtue.  This is why sincerity is so important.  One cannot begin to heal until they face the shame of their actions, and thus St. Thomas reminds us that shame does not exist within the virtuous man.[1]  The tragedy of sexual sin is that often it is too shameful for one to admit their actions, so then they hide their actions with lies.  The more they avoid the shame, the deeper and more intense it gets.  The more intense the shame, the more removed from reality they become.  The tragedy is the willingness of the perpetrator to suspend their conscience even to the point where they risk their marriage, their health and safety, and the well-being of their family.  For those steeped in sexual sin, they are trapped in what appears to be a death spiral.  They use sex as a means of making themselves feel better to escape shameful feelings, which in turn only creates more shame, and the process repeats.  When you cut through it all, what this comes down to is a false belief that one does not deserve to be loved.  This is the tragedy of sexual sin.

The beauty of our Christian faith is that we know from St. Paul that there is no sin that can separate us from God’s love.[2]  The whole point of God incarnate was to restore what we had lost in the garden of Eden.  And what was the first thing that happened after Adam and Eve disobeyed God?  They realized they were naked and they were ashamed, so they covered themselves with leaves and when they heard God calling they hid from him among the trees.[3]  Anyone seeing a connection here?  Armed with this information, we can begin to look at ways of helping others.  Here are 5 suggestions for helping others and talking to your children about the beauty of sex.

  1. Atmosphere of Love – We should never be ashamed of who we are; we should only be ashamed of sin.”[4]  It is so incredibly important that each child knows that they are loved unconditionally, even when they disobey.  But, words are cheap, this needs to be backed up by action.  As parents we should want the best for our children, and our homes should be an environment that reflects joy, cheerfulness, and unconditional love.  For our friends, we should want that which is good for them.[5]  A true friend will correct a brother charitably and we should always remind others that, We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”[6]
  2. Set a good example – Children learn from their parents. We are the primary educators.  Speak openly about your feelings with your children and let them know that it is safe to discuss their feelings with you.
  3. Talk about sex in its proper context – When a child comes of age, it is a good idea to talk openly with them about sex. I read a quote recently that states: “Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground.”[7]  The most pro-sex institution in the history of mankind is the Church!  Read up on the theology of the body here at the Theology of the Body Institute
  4. Honesty and Sincerity – Being honest and sincere starts with ourselves. If we cannot be honest and sincere with ourselves, we certainly are not going to be honest and sincere with God and others.  Do not be afraid of seeing yourself as you are.  By virtue of your humanity, you are a sons and daughters of God and have immeasurable worth![8]  Be not afraid to let your children and others see your faults.  It is what you do with your faults and how you handle them that children and others see.  Holiness doesn’t consist in being perfect, rather it is found in never giving up, continuing to get back up again.
  5. Purity of Heart – Sexual sin is not something that just happens overnight. It is progressive.  If one is willing to accept foul language, improper jokes, and improper conversation, when temptation comes, he will fall like a house of cards.  Build a solid foundation of Love with your family and friends.[9]

In the last article, there were some pretty scary statistics, but don’t let those numbers scare you.  There is hope for those who struggle with sexual sin and I am convinced that those numbers are declining.  What is far scarier is what is happening to women.  In 2000, it was estimated that 6% of all persons that struggle with sexual sin were women.  In 2015, that number has risen to 20%.[10]  This is truly frightening as pornography effects women differently than men, and is far more difficult to combat.  But again, there is hope which will be addressed in the final segment of this brief series.

[1] Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 144, Article 4.

[2] Romans 8:38-39

[3] Genesis 3:7-10

[4] Attributed to the mother of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

[5] Aristotle’s definition of friendship from the Nichomachean Ethics.

[6] Homily of Pope Benedict XVI given in St. Peter’s Square April 24th, 2005

[7] G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy Chapter 9

[8] Matthew 10: 29-31, Galatians 3: 26, Galatians 4:7

[9] Matthew 13:3-9

[10] According to Dr. Patrick Carnes