As my regular readers know, Mondays are letter days.


You might find me a bit sour or unpleasant, so I thank you for your patience in advance, and I hope not to impose on it.  I know that you have written eloquently on matters of good and evil, and I find you persuasive, but to what point do you let reality intrude in your deliberations?

Personally, when it comes to sex, I have come to the conclusion that in order for the act to take place certain organs must be gorged in blood, and that blood has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the brain.  Which means that sex makes you stupid.  To use syllogisms on people who are temporarily stupid is a thankless task, and you should not be surprised that the lessons do not take root. 


Two opposite errors must be avoided.  One error is to think that people will automatically act in the way that is good for them, even without the long, patient discipline of virtue and the grace of God.  The other is to think that no one will ever act in the way that is good for them -- that no one can develop virtue, and that encouraging people to do so makes no difference.  You are avoiding the former error, but not the latter.  I know a lot of people who practice chastity and marital faithfulness.  Don’t you?  If you don’t, maybe you are looking in the wrong places.

There is no guarantee that a person will never be stupid under the temptations of passion.  For our tendency to burst into flame from a spark, medieval natural law thinkers used the word fomes, meaning “tinder,” long before there was a sex hookup app by that name.  Even so, temptation is much more manageable if one has long practiced purity.

By the way, purity is not merely negative, a no or not lacking character of its own.  Those who "get it" aren't just not-doing something; they are doing something.  By living as they do, they are pursuing goods of beauty and integrity that impurity undermines and sullies.  Even today most people have some idea how this claim might be true in the case of faithful marriage.  It is true in the case of chaste singleness too.

And no, I don’t usually use syllogisms on people who are wallowing in filth.  But there come moments when they wonder if filthiness is all there is.  At times like that, sometimes glimpses of light trickle into the mire, and we can talk across the railing of the sty.  They may even make up their minds to escape.

We shouldn't be surprised that sexual purity is so poorly understood.  In our day it is hardly known at all.  It is like a lovely blue planet orbiting a faraway, undiscovered star.  Yet even today it is possible to live there.