Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
The overwhelming numbers of readers who read and commented on the recent guest post by Devin Rose entitled, Winning the Good Fight Over Sexual Addiction confirmed for me what I have known for some time, that there are large numbers of men who succumb to sexual temptation every day. Our modern society makes this temptation difficult to avoid. Television, magazines and billboards are full of sexual images meant to entice us to buy the next big product. The internet has made pornography more available than ever before and has removed the pyschological barrier that once existed when one had to physically purchase it from another person. This being said, there are still ways for men to fight this battle and to win it.
As with any other battle, the key to victory is having a strategy that can be put in place before the battle begins. I have to believe that most men are aware of the fact that each day they will be faced with sexual temptations. While I know that there are Catholics out there who believe that priests are somehow immune from this sort of temptation, this is the furthest thing from the truth. It could be that priests are under more attack from this particular temptation. One thing I know is that sexual temptation is real, especially for men, and the shame surrounding this particular sin hinders many from seeking the help they need in overcoming it.
Fr. Thomas Hopko suggests as one of his 55 Maxims for Christian Living that one should flee these types of temptations the moment they appear. I agree 100% with this strategy. Any temptation is easier to conquer when it is small and has not had the chance to grow.
One simple strategy that works for me when I am wise enough to use it is what is commonly referred to as “Custody of the Eyes”. Each day we all encounter people who are dressed in ways that cause our minds to wander to sexual things. We view advertisements, television shows and movies that can tempt us to focus on carnal desire. Maintaining custody of the eyes means consciously choosing to control what enters our minds through our sight. Redirecting our eyes immediately upon realizing we are being tempted is a powerful way to combat sexual temptation. It does require discipline, just like anything worth doing does. Creating a habit of resisting sexual temptation gives us one more weapon in the battle we face daily to do what is right. Looking away, rather than lingering upon images that lead to sin is one of the first steps in winning the battle.
For those of you who are engaged daily in this fight, what had been helpful for you? Please share your thoughts.