In 2010, Bob Rice put together a list of six tips – six things you can work at – when you’re fighting the battle for sexual purity (something many of us have to do). If you prefer to watch them in a set of ridiculously awesome YouTube videos (see above), check out “Ben and Barbara’s six tips for Sexual Purity” which took Bob’s writings and made them into videos. Bob is a former youth minister and currently a professor of Catechetics at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He spoke at the Holy Trinity Parish Youth Rally in 2011, and this six-part series is his advice on how to live up to God’s goal of purity. It’s still good advice, so I want you to read it and live it. I’ve also put together some further tips meant to encourage you in the battle against porn addiction, which you can read at www.thirdplaceproject.com/apersonfirst. Bob’s tips are:
This is part three of the series: “Avoid”.
A common phrase the saints have told us is that if we want to avoid sin, we must avoid the beginnings of sin.
The best place to stop a ball from rolling down a hill is at the top of the hill. So the most effective way to fight sexual temptation is to stop it before it starts, and avoid situations that would encourage it.
The virtue that helps us in this is called prudence. Yes, that’s where you get the phrase, “don’t be a prude” from. What people are telling you when they use that phrase is that you should be more open to sin in your life. Nice, isn’t it?
Though our culture mocks those who are prudent, Scripture has a very different attitude toward them:
“The fool believes any message, but the prudent man looks where he is going.” (Proverbs 14:15)
The world would like to blindfold you, spin you around three times, then push you off a cliff. To be prudent is to be wise. It is to be virtuous. A prudent person wouldn’t end up alone in a bedroom with someone of the opposite sex, even if it was just “to talk”. A prudent person wouldn’t become drunk and by doing so lose control of their ability to say no, or their ability to fight off someone who won’t listen to that no. A prudent person avoids the beginnings of sin.
Here’s an example, at least for guys: The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. It’s not Playboy. It’s not even Maxim. It’s Sports Illustrated! But once a year it is filled with beautiful women who are almost naked. The imprudent person (i.e. fool) would say to himself, “Well, it’s not like they are naked, so it’s okay.” He might even be a foolish to justify it by saying something like, “Well, God created the body beautiful so it’s okay if I look at it.” Yeah, right. There’s a huge difference between noticing that a person is beautiful and staring at a sexually provocative model.
Here’s something we all need to understand: sin is never satisfied. It always wants more. Looking at the image of a virtually naked woman leads a man to look a picture of a completely naked woman, and then a video of a naked woman with a… you get the idea. It’s the same when we date someone. It starts small. Some strong sexual innuendo in a text message or conversations on a phone. An embrace where the hands move a little too freely. Like rolling a ball down a hill, our sins gain momentum until it’s too late to stop and the next thing we know is we crash against the ground.
How can we stop such rapid descent? At the beginning.
Be smart. Be prudent. Don’t play with this, it’s not worth it. The stakes are too high. And the gift that God is offering is too great to not take it seriously.
Next blog: Trust
(Copyright 2010 www.bob-rice.com)