If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Please, Lead Us Not Into Temptation

I read an important article on CNN the other day. You can read it here.  The author's piece got me to thinking of an essay I wrote many years ago. Let me preface my posting of it below by saying it is quite difficult for me to publish it on the blog. I don't like to air my proverbial laundry for the world to read. But I know I am not alone in this problem. I share it with many, many others. More than most people probably realize. And we all need your help, ladies. Please. Lead us not into temptation.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10).

It’s not something Christian guys usually talk about. We aren’t supposed to have these thoughts. But when I approached a friend from church, his answer encouraged me to poll another friend. Then another. Then another. Age doesn’t seem to matter. It’s the same for all of us – teens, college age and older. Even much older. Everyone I spoke with grapples with the same temptation common among many Christian men.

I don’t know much about women’s struggles with their sexual nature, but I sure know about men's conflicts. Society bombards us with sexual images. Billboards, photos in weekly news magazines . . . even some lingerie advertisements in local newspapers can rival centerfolds in earlier era Playboy magazines. Short hemlines can fuel a man’s imagination to full throttle. Tight clothes that accentuate every nuance and curve can drive us to distraction. Plunging necklines and unfastened blouse buttons – ladies, let me be completely honest. We need your help.

At work, at play, even at church – most Christian guys wage nearly constant battle with their thought-life. Sometimes we win the skirmishes. Sometimes the battles rage so fiercely we not only lose, but we feel wounded even after bringing our sin to the Cross.

Yes, we understand the desire to look attractive. Who among us does not care about personal appearance? The multi-billion dollar weight-loss, clothing and grooming industries give evidence of that basic need in each of us.  However, when our Christian sisters adopt the world’s definition of attractiveness they often become, instead, seductive.

We don’t deny responsibility for our own sins. We don’t rationalize God’s commandment to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  But we do ask you, please be considerate of our conflicts and, in Christian love, don’t add to our sensory overload.

St. Paul said he would never again eat meat or drink wine, if doing so would cause a weaker brother to stumble (Romans 14:1-23). “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food” (verse 20). I don’t think it misses the Holy Spirit’s intent to add, “or for the sake of fashion.”

Ladies, when it comes to sexual thoughts and lust, we are indeed your weaker brothers.  So we plead – be beautiful. Be graceful. But also seek God’s view of beauty and grace. And seek, too, Biblical standards as to how to dress in public.

We will be very grateful for your loving response.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty, and encouragement that to be beautiful does not equal being sexy. Many women, especially the younger set, feel their only value is in if they are considered sexually attractive by men. We receive this flawed belief from many sources, including men, and those same sexualized images. They falsely portray the idea that if we do not look like the models, we have nothing to offer- that men ONLY care about what we look like on the outside. And because of the curse, and "a woman's desire shall be for her husband", it is a longing to be wanted that will never be completely filled by any man. Only God can fill that empty place, but many women try to fill that need by being wanted in the only other way that seems possible by men. I will continue to be careful not to cause men to stumble, and hopefully men will realize that a woman dressing provocatively is probably stumbling too, and longs to feel beautiful on the inside, but is too afraid to show it. It's a sad world, isn't it? We can all help each other if we stop looking to each other to meet needs only God can fill.

Richard Maffeo said...

Thank you for your very insightful comment, Anonymous. For those who might not know the source of your quote: "a woman's desire shall be for her husband" -- it's from Genesis 3:16.

I had never thought that women who dress provocatively might also be looking for acceptance at a deeper level than I -- or even they -- realize. It is good to get your perspective.

Sinco said...

A very gracious message to the ladies my friend.

Anonymous said...

Nicely put Rich. Struggle yes- but we have victory in Christ and the Apostle Paul's instruction to "flee"


Anonymous said...

I am looking for declaration, most probably, done by Pope John Paul the second instructing the church to change the words 'Lead us not into temptation' to 'do not abandon us at temptation' or something similar. Thank you so much.

Vincent Palmier (palmierv@yahoo.com)

Richard Maffeo said...

Hello, Vincent. I am not familiar with the declaration you cite. The Greek word used in the Lord's prayer for 'Lead" (Lead us not into temptation" is eisphero -- which only means to "lead," "to bring", etc.

The Catechism addresses the section this way: Why did Jesus express this petition so paradoxically? Surely, "God is no tempter to evil and he himself tempts no one, but everyone is tempted by being drawn away and enticed by his own passion" (Jas 1:13-14). The Catholic Catechism explains: "Do not lead" means both "do not allow us to enter into temptation" and "do not allow us to yield to temptation." What we are imploring is "the Spirit of discernment and strength" (CCC 2846, cf. Mt 26:41).

Hope that helps.