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.
I’m working right now on our next CateQUIZ’em project, the topic of which is “Sex and Marriage”. I know a lot of teens who just came off a Steubenville Summer Conference are tuning in, so I thought I might dedicate the next couple of blogs to something we all struggle with: sexual sin.
So you want to be pure… but you don’t know how. Trust me, you’re not alone. Many times we echo the words of St. Paul:
I don’t understand my own behavior; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate… for though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not. (Romans 6:15,18)
This battle for sexual purity is not one that we can win on our own. We have to rely on the power of God. For as St. Paul later says,
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
And we are filled with this power of God through prayer. Prayer=Purity. There’s no other way. Because it is only by encountering the incredible and intimate love of Jesus Christ that we can turn away from the fake and shallow love the world is offering us.
Here are six tips to help you when you face sexual temptations. This first one is “Whatever.”
St. Paul wrote,
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is upright and pure, whatever we love and admire, whatever is good and praiseworthy—think about those things. (Philippians 4:8)
We need to fill our minds with things that are good, true, and praiseworthy. In nutrition we often hear the phrase, “you are what you eat.” Well, the same is true with our souls, except it’s not about what we eat but what we see and hear. If we watch a lot of sexually themed shows or listen to a lot of sexually explicit music, it effects the way our imagination works.
So when our imagination starts taking us to a place where we shouldn’t be going, the best way to stop that is to feed it with something good. Actually, it’s the only way. Because we can’t try to not think about something. It would be like me telling you, “Don’t think about pink elephants!” See? You just thought about them. So to tell ourselves, “I will not think about sex!” just makes us think about sex even more.
So when you start thinking thoughts that will lead you to sexual impurity, think… whatever. Think about Jesus Christ. Think about a friend. Think about something good or noble in your life. Don’t focus on eliminating the bad, but replace the bad with the good.
But that assumes there is some good in your head. If you are living a life that is saturated with sexual images and messages, then this won’t work too well.
The best way to fill ourselves with “whatever is good” is to spend time in prayer each day. To read and meditate on the Gospels. To experience the sacraments. To spend time in fellowship with other Catholics. And to cut off things in our life that lead us in the opposite direction. Maybe there’s a TV show you need to stop watching, or a musician you need to stop listening to. Or… a relationship you need to get out of.
The battle for purity isn’t easy. But through the grace of God it is one of the most beautiful victories we can experience. And trust me—the sacrifices we make are small compared to the glory of His gift.
Next blog: Flee!
(Copyright 2010 www.bob-rice.com)