Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Saddest Emails

I get a lot of emails, kids. There's a lot of drama out there beyond my 17th century Scottish attic.

Women love men who don't love them back, and men pursue women who are alarmed by their attentions. Men and women have great hopes, based on not very much, about other men and women who eventually dash those hopes. Men and women struggle to be chaste in a world that laughs at chastity but merely says "Sucks to be you" to those who suffer the age-old hurts that accompany vice.

The saddest email I ever got, which appeared in my in-box as a no-reply comment, was from an anonymous young woman who said she had "slipped" only once and now had HIV.

I am reminded of this today by an email from a Catholic woman whose lukewarm love interest has just told her he has herpes. She doesn't yet know if she does.

"Go to the doctor" I wrote.

Before the spectre of venereal disease, that's all I can say. Break it off with the jerk. Go to the doctor. Get tested. Find out. I'm really sorry you are suffering.

It shouldn't take an incurable disease to make a woman see that the man who won't commit to her but still hangs around is clear and present danger to her happiness. Sometimes, however, it does.

The sickness of our age is that we privilege the will over the intellect. We prefer to think the world is what we want it to be, not what it is. Perhaps the most extreme and visible example of this is the man who has his genitals surgically removed, swallows umpteen hormones, dons huge high-heel shoes and tells everyone around that he is now a woman. Thanks to the sickness of the age, some governments and societies choose to humour him. It is unlikely that they will be woken up by some child shouting "The Empress has no vagina!" Children don't usually know exactly what is wrong with the man dressed as a woman, though they may certainly shrink away in fear and confusion. They have not yet learned how to lie politely.

We also prefer to believe that pre- or extramarital sex won't hurt us. Although individual Catholics profess to be--and often are--well-versed in the Gospel of Life, part of us is troubled and convinced by the siren song of the chattering classes that says there is nothing wrong with pre- or even extramarital sex. After all, we all know very nice people who got or get "away with it." The thing is, though, very, very, very few people will admit to ever having contracted a venereal disease or anal cancer, or of having had a problematic secret pregnancy that just ... miraculously went away.

Sometimes I think our age is floating on an oil slick of dreams over the ocean of reality.

Thanks to the extended adolescence of people in the West and the stultifying effects of political correctness, it is harder and harder to do this, but we must all be rooted in reality. Christians are mocked by a herd of horoscope-readers for believing the Gospel, but the Gospel is based in the historical realities of a community in relationship with Reality Himself. In order to live in correct relationship to Truth, we must be rooted in the truth. We must constantly demand of ourselves the truth. And one of the truths, the very hard truths, is that we are sinners and we screw up.

It is not a good idea to tell others far and wide that your sexuality is troubled by sinful desires and actions. To do so shows a lack of laudable decorum and dignity. But you must, must, MUST tell yourself. Even if your sexual sins are minor, you must keep an eye on them and yourself.

Being beset with sexual temptations and even giving in to the least of them does not make you a bad, worthless person. It makes you a person in search of God's mercy like everybody else. To give into sexual temptations--for whatever reason--while pretending to yourself that you are not is simply irrational. If you sin, for God's sake know that you are sinning. Admit it to yourself if to nobody else. Give up your idea of yourself as a special, pure, sexless being, superior to so many other people you know, and try to do better. Don't just give it up as a bad job and do worse, or rationalize what you are doing as just fine and "at least I'm not a slut like So-and-so."

Satan is the Father of Lies. We are lied to all the time. But, worse, we lie to ourselves. We don't want to believe that sex makes us vulnerable to disease, or that condoms don't always work--especially in frantic, hurried, under-the-bushes situations--but it does, and they don't.

There's an HIV awareness poster in my local medical centre that shows a hot gay guy with his head on the chest of another hot, presumably gay, guy. The one visible face glowers at the camera in a smirky, sexy way. It strikes me as crazy to fight HIV among gay men by showing them erotic images, but there you go.

This particular poster says "Relationships don't protect you from AIDS. Condoms protect you from AIDS."

This is the stupidest thing I have read in a medical office in my life. Surely what protects multitudes of people from AIDS--and a host of other STDs--is the dread, not only of getting it, but of giving it to the people one loves, or of having to tell loved ones that one has it and why. Next to the sexual abstinence of chaste Single people, the best protection against I know against AIDS is a marriage between a man and a woman who love each other devotedly. Love is not the same thing as sexual attraction. Love is love, not sexual desire, and any adult you want to be around knows the difference.

The greatest relationship on earth is the relationship between you and Truth. If you remain firmly rooted in reality, you will be a hundred times safer than if you live in dreams.

The truth will set you free of lies, and it can also keep you safe.


Justina said...

Thanks for writing this, Auntie. Love without mercy.

Another problem with pre-marital sex: Getting more involved with mr Wrong and staying with him much longer than you probably would have otherwise.

Sara said...

Wow. This is the week of hard-hitting posts.

But I echo Justina in saying thank you for writing this. These are things we need to hear.

Anonymous said...

This is one of your best posts ever! So true, and staying rooted in reality is a life-long battle, not just one for singles!


Seraphic Spouse said...

Say, rather, love without lies.

Teresa B. said...

I wish there were talks like this in my Church when I was in my late teens and throughout my 20's ('80's & 90's)! Great post!

Alisha said...

Solid gold.