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The Struggle Against Lust

Man consists of soul and body. Many ancient religions and philosophical teachings spoke of man's soul being created by God, while the body supposedly came from the evil principle from the devil. Orthodoxy teaches otherwise. Both the soul and body of man are created by God. According to Apostolic teaching, after the mystery of baptism, man's body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and the members of the body - through union with Christ in the mystery of Holy Communion - are members of Christ. Therefore, man will pass over into the future eternal blessedness (or into eternal torment) with his entire being - both the deathless soul and the body which will be resurrected and reunited with the soul before Christ's judgment. This means that, while caring about one's soul, an Orthodox Christian must not leave the body without attention. One must guard it - guard it in an Orthodox way - not only from illnesses, but also from sins which corrupt, defile and weaken it. Among such sins, the most dangerous and harmful is licentiousness - the loss of chastity and bodily purity.

It gives us no particular joy to bring up this subject ... but it is impossible not to mention it, since without a doubt it is the sin most dangerous for youth.

We are speaking of fornication, of corruption and sexual degeneracy which are without a doubt the most terrible wounds of contemporary mankind. It is difficult to enumerate the terrible consequences which follow after this sin, like an inseparable shadow. We will not speak of specific illnesses which so often result from a disordered life, but most to be feared is the final judgment of Him, Who commanded us to lead a pure and undefiled life...

How is one who wishes to preserve oneself pure and chaste to struggle with the temptation of this sin? The answer is simple: first of all by purity of thought and imagination. It is often claimed that sexual need acts with such insurmountable strength that man is powerless to withstand it. This is a falsehood! This is not a matter of "need" but of depravity and lechery and results from a person's unrestrained provoking of himself with thoughts and desires. Of course such a person builds upon the natural sexual inclination to an excessive degree and this brings him to sin. An Orthodox Christian, however, who is God-loving and strict with himself will never allow, never permit that bad desires and thoughts possess his mind and heart. In order to accomplish this, he will call upon God's help in prayer and by the sign of the Cross and struggle against such thoughts the instant they appear. By effort of the will one will bring one's thoughts over to prayer or at least to other more edifying subjects. If one allows oneself to be inflamed by impure imagination, it means that one has depraved and ruined oneself. In order to struggle with bad thoughts, an Orthodox person must firmly turn away from and quickly depart from all that can elicit these bad thoughts. Our Savior was not speaking in vain when He so strictly warns us of the impure, lecherous gaze - and the gaze Christ warned us about went no further than looking. So dangerous is mental temptation.

There are many temptations: a general degeneration of morals and a departure from a pure, ordered Orthodox life, a disturbed and harmful relationship to marriage and married life these cannot help but act upon the young soul. Added to this, there are motion pictures and literature vying with each other in praising sin and describing it in the most alluring colors, with complete shamelessness. Contrived music, dances and entertainments so blind contemporary paganized "Christian" society that it no longer perceives their sin and harmfulness. Various types of obscene humor are now quite acceptable in society. All this is a spiritual rottenness and pestilence, corrupting and killing the mind and heart of man - this cloud of temptations moves upon the young, developing soul of humanity.

Blessed is the one who from youth to the end of ones days has remained pure in body and soul. Blessed is the one who is brought with the fragrant freshness, strength of untouched power of the soul and body, into a bright wedded union consecrated by God through the Church, or who preserves all this to the grave in the radiant purity of virginity and chastity! God blesses only two paths for man on earth: either the holy path of Christian marriage, an indissoluble union of two hearts, or else a higher and holier path, a path of virginity, a consecration of oneself to God and neighbors, - holy monasticism.

Terrible is the end of the path of him who disdains, ignores and stubbornly violates the laws of Orthodox purity and truth given by God, thus killing the soul.

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