Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reclaiming the Sacred Body

As I continue to research topics regarding chastity and sexuality, I realize that our culture has truly profaned the sacred.

We have a weekly newspaper in town that features a social calendar. I used to suggest to the women attending my dating workshops to pick up a copy and scan the various groups and activities available. Joining new groups or trying a new activity can help a single person enlarge their social circle. While looking through one of these weekly publications, I noticed a sex column. I won't give the writer any added exposure by mentioning his name, but suffice it to say this column left nothing to the imagination. It was vulgar and raw, treating sex as nothing more important than choosing the menu for dinner.

The topics discussed were so explicit in nature that I was surprised to see it available in a free newspaper, which are quite plentiful in the bars and restaurants around town. I was disgusted by the content, and angry.

I was angry because I knew the type of belief system this column encouraged. Men and women both were treated as sex objects and sex was only seen as a means to an end, a brief satisfaction of bodily lusts while rating the sex partner in terms of how well they performed.

It is easy for me to focus on such craziness, but since returning to the Catholic church, I realize my response needs to change. Instead of changing other people, I need to change myself first. Sinners who have no understanding of their need for a Savior are going to behave like sinners. Sinners who understand that need are going to consistently progress toward holiness.

Our bodies are sacred. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two shall become one flesh."

But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Cor. 6:15-20

For women, dressing modestly is a wonderful way to reclaim their bodies as being sacred. For singles, it is important to establish boundaries regarding the type of physical affection you will give. A single friend had a wonderful solution to her need for touch. She treated herself to professional massages at least once a month. I thought that was fantastic. We all need the human touch but if you're single, you many not get it as often as you'd like. Professional massages are a great way to not only improve your overall health, but it's a safe way to receive this human touch.

What did Israel and the church do with the sacred? It was covered, hidden, or elevated. It was given special honor. Reclaiming the sacred will not happen overnight, but there are steps we can take each day to reach our goal. it may include:

  • Curtailing entertainment that profanes the sacred, such as R-rated movies, TV shows, books, magazines, and newspapers
  • Carefully selecting friends who share your values
  • Deleting off-color email jokes and asking the person sending them to not send those types of jokes anymore
  • Walking away from a group who are sharing sexually-explicit jokes
  • Meditating on the Bible
  • Attending Mass faithfully
  • Reciting the rosary

When we fill our minds with the things of God, we become more sensitive to sin and its consequences. I know that since I started to pray the rosary more often, I am much more conscientious of my actions throughout the day. Praying the rosary in the morning orients me in the right direction.

I also cannot speak highly enough of renting film classics if you want quality entertainment. I'm a big Frank Capra fan ("It's a Wonderful Life" is my ultimate favorite.) and any film that has Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in it is sure to bring a laugh. There were so many great actors during "The Golden Age" of movies that you will have a difficult time choosing which one to watch first. It is immensely refreshing to watch a movie that doesn't automatically focus on the sexual antics of the characters.

Our bodies were created first for God. I pray that I would remember this and encourage others to do the same. When it is dark, focusing on the darkness won't bring about the light. May we all be lights to this darkened world.


Rachel said...

Hooray for the old-school movies. I hear people make fun of the old Hollywood production code that kept movies clean; but clearly the rules were needed to reign in the smut.

I was so blessed to be raised Christian with the message that there's a better way than just sleeping around if you feel like it. I think women and teenage girls especially would sometimes be glad for a good reason to say no!

X said...

So funny that Tracey and Hepburn made "clean" movies when he was a Catholic adulterer.

Mary Rose said...

Angela, that is true. Maybe I shouldn't have picked Hepburn & Tracy, but they did produce some very funny movies.

My point is that film classics are usually much more tame in the sexuality department and have little violence. For instance, my husband and I are big "Rambo" fans, but the last one produced was simply outrageous with its gore. We both didn't care for it.

You know, I love Bing Crosby, too. He was Catholic but yet had a hard temperament and it was alleged he verbally abused his children.

If you'd ask my my absolute favorite, it would be Jimmy Stewart, hands down. Next would be Bob Hope. Any movie with Bob Hope in it is a guaranteed laughfest!