Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Theology of the Body, Week 5

Truth and freedom: this is the chapter I should turn to every time someone says, "You teach Theology of the What? Isn't that just a bunch of rules? Wouldn't you rather be free?"

I'm often tempted to write these TOB posts from a slightly secular perspective so as not to turn off any non-theist readers. If you will just bear with me, push through the little cartoon flags labeled "annoying" that pop up, it will be five to ten minutes of your life. The words won't bite.

We often confuse independence with freedom. We were created for freedom, true freedom that we get to choose because of the gift of free will. "It is for FREEDOM that Christ set you free." Galatians 5:1


Does freedom mean no rules? Are we free if we throw off every rule we can recall, ignore any guilt that creeps in (because it is just a result of a conservative society anyway, right?), ignore how often we lie to keep up the lifestyle we want to live, and call ourselves "liberated?"

If you believe in God or if you do not, I guarantee those guilt pangs crop up occasionally, faint as they may be. Maybe it happens when you change the bedsheets, maybe when you realize you saw that rushed trip to the store for condoms as an "emergency," or maybe it's when you finally have to sleep alone one night after several nights with your significant other or several insignificant others.

"Freedom is not the ability to do anything we want. Rather, freedom is the ability to live responsibly the truth of our relationships with God and with others." - JP2

I often hear the argument, "Wow, that's great. You're waiting for marriage, I admire that. I just don't believe it's right for me." Right for you versus right for me?

Okay, so if I walk up to you and slap you in the face for no reason and say, "It felt right to me," how does that argument hold up? If I hired a guy to come into your house while you're sitting at the breakfast table with a bowl of Frosted Flakes to tie you up and steal your flatscreen... it felt right to me, so you shouldn't have a problem with it. How is that argument sounding right now?

Objective truth exists. Sometimes it feels inconvenient to us, so we "change the rules" or throw them off all together.

In a speech he gave to college men, the Venerable John Paul II said:

"I feel that I must make God's Truth and will fit into my perspective, and my concern is whether or not they are convenient for me. If it is convenient or helpful to me, well and good, but if not, I refuse it and leave. There is the temptation to place myself above Christ, especially when he asks something of me. Maybe this temptation to follow our own inclinations and wishes to place ourselves beyond Christ is found particularly in the field of sexual morality because it is here that Christ makes demands on men."

It is so true that our society more often applies relative moralism to sexual topics than to anything like racism, murder, theft, etc. It extends to abortion, which abortion supporters say is not murder, perhaps because the baby in question is a result of a sexual act.

Deep in our hearts, there is a standard that sends out red flags and guilt. We try to ignore it because we worry following it is going to confine us or make us un-free.

The way to freedom is by desiring to do what is good. Your actions must line up with what is true in your heart. Your hearts must desire the good so the rest of our lives can be about doing what is good.

If freedom comes from desiring what is good and choosing it, happiness comes from those who do not need "the rules." Choose God above all else and your actions will lead you to happiness and freedom.

There is a reason you feel good after you help someone. When you use your free will to do what is good, you have tasted freedom. Attempt to release the internal constraints (selfishness, lust, pride, etc) that keep you from doing what is good. Train yourself in freedom.


Either you will control your passions or your passions will control you. Many of you may have heard the song that came out before I even knew what sex was, "Bad Touch" by Bloodhound Gang:

"You and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals / So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel."

Uh, do I have to comment on that?

If you're upset while reading this post, if you're thinking "but it would be so hard not to have sex so that can't be right," if you're wondering why someone like me who is sitting on her high horse thinks they can tell you that you're stuffing down the guilt... ask yourself why it's upsetting you. Why does it bother you to read this post?

Is sacrifice worth it if freedom is the goal? Any fear we feel when thinking about controlling our passions may be a sign that our hearts are seeking true freedom.


Katy said...

I have been waiting for your next TOB post! It was a good one! And definitely agree with you!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for watching for it, Katy! We only meet once a month, I wish it was more frequently.

Liesl said...

My book club just read a chapter on objective truth... I guess objective truth works for some people but not really for me... haha juuuust kidding!

Great post! I love TOB, I wish we could require people who get angry when reading posts like this to learn about TOB (I've watched the Christopher West series a couple of times) because that's how I came to understand it infinitely better!

vitaconsecrata said...

such a wonderful usual!
i think it's important to remember why we are all put here to begin do God's will, not our will.

Christine said...

quite awesome. mad props.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, y'all!

Liesl- hahaha. And, agreed!

Tina- You speak the truth!

Christiney- Thanks, homes. What it izzzz

Jim said...

If I'm a Catholic ninja, then you are a Catholic Samurai. Congratulations on a fine piece of writing. This is better than many homilies have heard.

practicalcatholic said...

I think it's great that you're blogging the theology of the body, it seems to be catching steam among Catholic laity and I think you're exactly right to think of rules the way you see them.

Great defense of objective Truth, and more importantly, you convey your thoughts excellently. Good work.

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