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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I am getting overly upset about society’s portrayal of women as sex objects. . . . I would just like to be able to not have an emotional reaction every time Howard Stern comes on, or I find the Maxim magazine my boyfriend hid under the couch. I just want to not care. . . . This is, obviously, having a negative effect on my current relationship. I am interested in self-help. . . . I don’t want the “easy way,” I want the cold hard truth.

Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• Images of Service
• The Real Problem
• Three Sins
• Changing How You See Yourself

 
Well, if you want the cold hard truth, you shall have it. Sit down.

 
Images of Service

To begin with, imagine one group of women who do not concern themselves with make-up, or fashion, or mindless chatting and texting on their cell phones. They aren’t troubled by how society “sees” women. They’re nuns, and they have dedicated their lives to serving their God in devout prayer and selfless service.

Now, maybe this image, as perfectly Christian as it is, is a bit too difficult for you. So imagine another group of women who also live in calm certainty about their lives: married women who through Holy Matrimony have bonded with their husbands—as their husbands have bonded with them—in devout service to their God. To them, marriage is not a way to fill their emotional emptiness with self-satisfaction, but it is an act of lifetime service to God through family with undoubted fidelity and no escape clause but death.

Most likely, that’s still an image that makes you nervous. In fact, it makes almost everyone nervous. For example, most persons in this world today cannot sit in a car without turning on the radio to drown out their emotional loneliness.

 
The Real Problem

So let’s look at your real problem. You say you have a boyfriend, and I can imagine that you are not living in chaste anticipation of Holy Matrimony. You’re involved in a sexual relationship, and that in itself causes the very problem that troubles you.

Once you strip the concept of “relationship” of its chaste and holy dignity and reduce it essentially to a self-satisfying sport—a game designed to drown out your emotional loneliness—then you place yourself on the playing field as a blatant sexual object in full competition with all the other players. Any woman who has a more pretty face or larger breasts or more shapely legs, or who is taller or thinner or more rich or more socially connected or more glamorous or more fashionably dressed is, by definition, a rival and a threat to your security. And even if in anger you try to assault the gaze of the world with body fat, tattoos, body piercings galore, and purple hair, you don’t really leave the playing field, you just take up new, sometimes covert, tactics in the competitive game.

 
Three Sins

Moreover, when you do step into the competition, you commit three sins.

1.
  

First, you defile Christian charity, because competition is a rejection of the Christian call to be mutually cooperative (Philippians 2:3-4).

2.

Second, you evince a lack of trust in God; instead of praying for God’s will to be done, you take matters into your own hands to get what you think you need.

3.

Third, you incite lust, because, to be competitive with other women, you have to dress sexy to get attention, and sexy is, well, certainly not a Christian virtue.

 
A woman in jeans—or leggings— is a woman in sin—and it all goes downhill from there.

 
Changing How You See Yourself

So, in the end, realize that you can’t be a Christian by doing what “everyone else” does in an anti-Christian society. Realize also that you can’t battle society itself. You can’t use politics to change the spiritual blindness of human society. All you can do is change how you “see” yourself. And when you learn to see yourself from the perspective of true love and self-giving, not from the perspective of personal desire, you shall have found the cold, hard truth about genuine, meaningful life.

 


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