Pauls writing about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, he seems
to speak of marriage as being a remedy for concupiscence, about spouses
fulfilling the marital duty, in a way to me that seems quite utilitarian
and base. He also speaks about not depriving one another for fear that Satan
will tempt them. That doesnt seem to me like freedom, purity and holiness,
but rather that spouses must get their fix lest they sin further.
Paul seems to laud the unmarried state but grant the married state as an
allowance for those who are unable or unwilling to control themselves. Regarding
advice to the unmarried, Paul speaks of marriage and its associated troubles,
and his desire for others to be spared these troubles, one of which I would
think would be the constant danger within marriage of sins of lust and the
challenge to avoid them, all the while striving for holiness. Later in that
chapter, Paul speaks of a man with strong passions marrying the virgin he
is engaged to. This he says is no sin. Although Paul again holds the unmarried
state at a higher level, he still says that those who marry because of passion
commit no sin. But it seems to me that those who lack self-control outside
marriage and are burned up with lust and marry because of it are not really
marrying for the right reason. How do we reconcile Pauls words here
with my understanding of the faith presented on your website? It seems like
a higher, narrower and much more noble way than what Paul is proposing, or
at least making allowances for.
aint Paul was such a great Apostle
because he had such a great influence both on the early Church and on the
development of Christian theology through the centuries. All of the great
saints, including even the littlest of the great saints,
Saint Thérèse, experienced a profound Pauline influence on their
Accordingly, even my own work
draws inspiration from Saint Pauls writings. All that has been deeply
transformed by love cannot help but be concerned for what is noble
in the sight of all (Romans 12:17).
Consider, therefore, some of
the things Saint Paul wrote and how my understanding of the faith presented
on this website is in complete accord with them.
if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you
put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your
mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing
. . .
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in
heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking
out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of
on then, as Gods chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and
forgiving one another. . . .
love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another
with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow
slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure
in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse
them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the
same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil;
be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.
Yes, be concerned for what
is noble in the sight of all.
Then ask yourself how often you
ever notice anyone in your parish doing any of these things! Most likely
you will see overwhelming preoccupation with the
and pride; competition;
impatience; intellectual arrogance; disunity and factions; self-absorption
in heathen, secular entertainments; and
resentment, victimization, and anger
Why should this be? It happens
because too many Christians have become lukewarm in their
faith and have grown slack in the zeal of fighting
the spiritual battle between the soul and the
Now, to get to the point of your
question, its important to remember that Saint Paul was known as the
Apostle to the Gentiles. Consider, then, to whom Paul was writing.
He was not writing to Jews who knew full well what it meant to love
the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with
all your strength. Paul wrote to pagans and heathens whose religious
culture concerned itself either with appeasing the gods or with
gaining power and escaping death.
So when the Corinthians heard
the words salvation and eternal
life preached, the primary question for many of them was, What
do I have to do to make this God give me eternal life? Their focus
was on getting something, and their underlying attitude was,
What is the least I have to do to get into
Paul did his best to correct
the Corinthian misperceptions by preaching to them the nobility of
love (see 1 Corinthians 13), and he emphasized
the difference between the flesh and the spirit (see Romans 8). But many
of the Corinthiansjust like many persons todayeither did not
want to hear him or they perverted the idea of love into something
more of their own liking, something less noble and, well, more of the
It must have been with a heavy
sigh that Paul wrote the passage to which you refer. Its as if Paul
were saying, All right, if you arent going to listen to me, then
go ahead and do what you want. Getting married
will at least prevent you from committing the sin of fornication. As for
lust, well, if you ignore what
I have told you about love, your life is in your own
Note carefully that
a willingness to risk the doom of your soul for the sake of temporal pleasure
is in itself an act of concupiscence.
The Higher and
The way of noble love is
the higher and the narrower way. This is what Saint Paul preached, and this
is what I endeavor to explain on this websiteand so we do not need
to reconcile the two. The real discrepancy is between the nobility of love
and this age: the secular culture. Paul
encountered this truth, and we still encounter it today. Its the same
yesterday and todayand it will be the same until the
Psychological Healing in the Catholic Mystic Tradition
by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
A treasure of a resource for psychological
and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites is now available at your fingertips
in book form with a comprehensive index.
Psychological defenses help to protect us from
emotional injury, but if you cling to the defense mechanisms that were created in your
childhood and carry them on into adulthood—as most everyone does unconsciously—your quest
for spiritual healing will be thwarted by overwhelming resentments and conflicts.
Still, God has been trying to show you that there is more to life than resentment and
conflict, something so beautiful and desirable that only one thing can resist its pull:
So now, and in every moment until you die, you will have a profound choice between your
enslavement to old defenses and the beauty of God. That decision has to come from you.
You will go where you desire.