The Fruit of Chastity

Max Lindenman has a good post up, on how to write about sex, when one is Catholic.

Since we Catholics tend to do that a lot
(one of the frankest bit of Catholic writing on sex I have ever read — and appreciated — was Elizabeth Duffy’s essay on the subject, included in Hallie Lord’s Style, Sex and Substance), I appreciated Max’s very honest take on his own evolution on the issue:

A few weeks ago, Joanne McPortland wrote a piece comparing Catholics to BDSM submissives. In sharing the post on Facebook, I noted it had followed close on the heels of a piece where I compared Catholics to the gay cowboy protagonists of Brokeback Mountain. What I was too ashamed to add, though, was that Joanne, like Heather, had an actual point . . . I on the other hand, was being cute and arch purely for the fun of being cute and arch.
Also a few weeks ago, I referred to an abortive gay encounter. Even now, it strikes me as a reasonable decision, undertaken for an honorable purpose. That purpose was to remind readers of the dangers of stereotyping: since I resembled the gay stereotype, part of me remained convinced my attraction to women was just a passing phase. The proposition obsessed me to the point where I simply had to test it. Simpleminded thinking had, in this case, encouraged me to sin, and the sooner Catholics stopped thinking in those terms, the better things would be for everyone.

But even so, part of me remained aware that — now that I’m all grown up and picking my way through a brand-new plate of neuroses — being straight-but-not-narrow has become cool . . . A couple of well-meaning readers called the post brave, but really, in today’s climate it was anything but; in plain English, it was trendy.

I was particularly taken with his last few graphs, in which he recounts some powerful insights from a 60-something year-old sister who has little experience in the sexual world and yet demonstrates the fruits of chastity, which she bore beautifully: the ability to really listen, to enter into communion and community with each person, and therefore to “know” them in a way that is insightful and immediate and is as true a “knowing” as any sexual intimacy can be. This is the sort of richness which is part of the “office” of chastity, to which we are all called and yet from which we so often run.

So yeah, Max’s piece: you’ll want to read it all.

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