Episode 87 – Digging Into (and Dealing With) Desire, with Christopher West
Join Josh this week as he and guest Christopher West discuss desire, eros, eggs and much more.
***This is part of a much longer conversation that Josh and Christopher had, we will link the full audio below***
…the body is meant for the Lord, The Lord is meant for the body, this is our faith…
…invite Christ to come near in the area of desire and sexuality…
…eros is the upward impulse of the human heart towards everything true, good and beautiful…
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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Join Josh this week as he and guest Christopher West discuss desire, eros, eggs and much more.
…the body is meant for the Lord, The Lord is meant for the body, this is our faith…
…invite Christ to come near in the area of desire and sexuality…
…eros is the upward impulse of the human heart towards everything true, good and beautiful…
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
All right, everybody. I’m very excited today because I’m sitting across the table from a friend of mine. A voice a heart, a mind, a body. I love this guy. Thanks, brother. Some of you know, called CRISPR. We call we call on these cars we go. Christopher West, Christopher. Man, I’m excited that you’re gonna do this with us today. So
Christopher West 0:47
Josh, I’m really glad to be here.
So we’re going to talk about bodies, and desire, and sex and stuff like that things
Christopher West 0:56
a lot of Christians are not so comfortable talking about, yeah. Why is that? Why are we Why are
we not comfortable? Cuz it, it’s powerful. And it’s gotten out of out of control. And we go out, and this is this is crazy. And because, well, let’s start there, because it’s powerful. And it gets out of control. And we don’t know what to do with that. And so instead of talking about it, and bringing it to the cross and bring it to Christ, we try to push it aside, shoving the closet and
Christopher West 1:26
the water that way. I have this image of like, if you were to invite Jesus over to dinner, do we think of him as the you know, there are certain people when you have the dinner, you feel like you have to clean the house, right? And then there are other people like family members or close friends like, Oh, you know, Josh is coming over. It’s not like I clean up everything. I mean, I might do a little cleaning. But there are there are a little there are certain people, right, yeah, that you’re just so comfortable with, like, come on in. Yeah. And you’re not like scrambling to throw stuff in the closet or sweep stuff under the rug. And I think we’re afraid that Jesus is one of those guys that we need to clean, get everything cleaned up in our lives before we bring them over to dinner. Yeah. And if we do that, if we’re like shoving everything in the closet and making it look nice for Jesus to show up, I can tell you where Jesus is gonna want to go. As soon as it comes in that house, he’s gonna say, hey, let’s go take a look over at this closet. And for a lot of us the stuff that’s in the closet. Not to make this the be all and end all of our sinfulness, but we know darn well that our brokenness shows itself very particularly in our sexuality, and in our desires, particularly our sexual desires. And that scares us. And I know in my experience traveling the world, sharing this biblical vision that I learned from this crazy Polish guy called john paul the second. I have seen over and over and over again, we construct a spirituality. That is really disincarnate. Yeah, we we want the body in the sex stuff over there and our spirituality over here because that body and sex stuff just makes us uneasy and uncomfortable. So we put it in the closet, we hide it, we sweep it under the rug, and we just want to live spiritual lives. But this is not our faith. My faith is one of incarnation, our faith is one of bringing physicality and spirituality together. The Word was made flesh. This is our faith. The body is meant for the Lord Paul tells us and here’s the next line, which is the real kicker. The body is meant for the Lord. And then he says, The Lord is meant for the body. This is our faith. This is our faith. And we get a little tripped up I think, in some of the lines of St. Paul and some of his teaching where he says, live by the Spirit, not by the flesh. Right? The Spirit leads to life, the flesh leads to death. We think he’s saying spirit, good body bad. Well, that’s impossible, because it’s impossible for there to be heresy in the Bible. He’s not saying your body’s bad and to live by the Spirit does not mean we reject our bodies. Because right in the next line, he says, if we live by the Spirit, we are opening our bodies to the indwelling of the Spirit because of the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, Josh, then that same spirit is going to raise your mortal flesh that Spirit dwells in your mortal flesh. Also, Paul tells us so there’s that integration we’re after and it’s a it’s a difficult journey because just living a spiritual life, and kind of throwing the body away in a puritanical approach to the body and sexuality. That’s a lot easier. john paul, the second actually says, when we take that approach, it’s a loophole, to avoid the requirements of the gospel. The requirements of the gospel means we are required in what Christ invites us to, to undergo a radical interior transformation, radical renewal of our minds, our hearts, the way we see the way we think the way we live, we’re called to a radical purification of our desires
aren’t Hold on, hold on. So I’m gonna come back to this loophole. I want to hear more about that. Going back to the, to the bedroom back to sexuality and spirituality or the or the closet, like the one of the things that that is, the most troubling about that is that without his presence without connecting those parts to him, then they remain out of control. They remain darkened, objectifying other people hurting us. And I think, I think that, that, that when you start the conversation by saying, like, we have this idea of what he’s going to be like, when he walks into our house, I think that piece right, there is one of the most formidable challenges that people have to invite Christ to come near in the area of desire and sexuality is because what is the expression on his face? What are the words that he says, what does he do when he sees what’s really in the closet? And, and, and when we say, like, even the stuff that we can’t get to stay there, like, it just bleeds out everywhere. And so maybe you don’t even come over Jesus, cuz I can’t keep this crap down, you know, like, and I think I think I’ve told this before, but I had an old mentor, when I used to visit adult bookstores as part of my own struggles of this stuff. And the last time I did I remember one of the things this guy said to me, said, Josh, next time you go, bring Jesus with you, and he’s there anyway. And it’s interesting, cuz I’ve told people that and they’ve, they’ve reflected it back to me, and I think they’ve heard it in a way that was very different than what my mentor was suggested. Yes, they’ve heard it as him saying, if you think Jesus is there, you won’t do it anymore. Which maybe for some people is true, but that’s not what he was saying. what he was saying was, if you’re gonna be there, be there with him, because he is there with you and I, and that that was radically like, it was uncomfortable. It was weird. But in some ways, it was. It was comforting, because I felt like I needed him there. I can’t get out of that place on my own. I never do like I I can’t even get out of the parking lot on my own. I need Jesus near there. So
Christopher West 7:40
So we say in the creed that Jesus descended into hell, huh?
Ah, so, okay.
Christopher West 7:49
He’s in our hills, the hills that we dig for ourselves. So you choosing to take your desires to that adult bookstore? That’s you digging a hell for yourself? Yeah, it was, yeah. But your your friend or mentor, whoever it was, who said that to you? He’s absolutely right, Jesus has descended into our health, to light them up. So that we can see for ourselves the hell that we choose, because He’s inviting us to choose a glory that we’ve yearned for all along. But because we, and this is looking at my own life, I’m not just trying to theologizing the abstract here. So let’s, I’m going to talk about my own experience here. I know when I have dug my own hills, it’s because I feel a desire for something. But I don’t really believe God wants to satisfy it. So I need to take in that paradigm. When I feel that ache when I feel that hunger, when I feel that desire for something and I have the construct, God’s not going to satisfy this. I can’t bring it to him. This is this is just not even in the in the purview of anything that falls under something I’d bring to God. Then I have to take satisfaction into my own hands. One of my mentors put it this way, he said, he said, every temptation comes down to one temptation. It’s the temptation to believe that the satisfaction of the deepest desires of my heart is totally up to me. So when you’re when that person said to you, bring Jesus with you, he’s already there. He’s absolutely right. Because Jesus has descended into our health, to pull us out of them to bring us into the feast, the banquet, the satisfaction of our desires. This is what Christianity is, and this is what I, in my experience. A lot of people don’t understand Christianity is for hungry people. Christianity is for those who feel this yearning for a satisfaction that nothing in this world can satisfy?
So let me let me pause for one practical thing here because I’ve encountered this a few different times. And I’m I’m, but I think it’s worth just articulating the the realities of what Christ has done. I think there’s, at least in the circles that I I’ve run in my Christian journey. There’s sometimes talked about just as historic events, things that happened a long time ago, Jesus was born. Jesus died on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus descended into hell. Or sorry, not in that order. Send it to hell rose from the dead center to heaven, He will come back. Yeah. And they weren’t they they are moments in time. Yes. But but there is this mystery that what? He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yes. Like,
Christopher West 10:54
I will never leave you I will never forsake you. Its present now.
Then Yeah. And that that’s a different, like, if followers of Jesus can take hold of that, like all that Christ has done, all that he is stuff that he is he is doing present in your life. He’s He’s there where you are like, that’s a radically different way to live Christianity than just, I learned these lessons from the historic, you know, from what the bible tells me Jesus did for us and right.
Christopher West 11:20
And here’s where I just you’re putting your finger on something so important, I think it’d be worth our time to unpack it a little bit, right? Like, where is this presence now? And I say start with your desires. So I’m just going to ask you right here, just what what grabs your heart? What do you love? Don’t Don’t give me the answer. You think I want to hear or you think somebody else wants to hear? I want to know really and truly, in Josh Glaser’s life what what grabs your heart what awake awakens you What makes you say, I want to give time and energy to that it gets me up in the morning. I want to read more about that or learn more about that or I want to go do that. What is that thing that grabs your heart and awakens you?
So two things I’ll share one is the sad thing is I think a lot of times I don’t even know like parties like what is it? And I’m just kind of lost and would you think I mean to be person I think in some ways it speaks to the the way that I live disconnected from my desire. So monos like the first thing is like, well give me some time to think about it like I got one Christmas which is favorite food.
I like eggs I like eggs. You like eggs. I love eggs. What
Christopher West 12:31
like give me your favorite like if it was right here in front of you. But oh, I can’t wait to eat that. So
this this man made him this morning. So eggs that are that are a little bit runny. Hmm. Put some monster cheese on top of Ocado delicious Oh, yeah. And maybe it’s good like multigrain. Like dense bread. Awesome. Yeah. Delicious.
Christopher West 12:50
All right. So you’re right, you’re right there. So you don’t you don’t have to make something up. You just go to where your desire is. Guess what? Are you ready for this? I’m ready. Go. Jesus is in those eggs. He’s wooing you, in all of your desires. Go on it reincarnation is real. To say that the Word became flesh does not just mean 2000 years ago, he was conceived in the womb of this woman called Mary. Right? It means that all of creation if we could say it this way, and I think we can and it’s even fitting to do so because how did how did Christ come into the world through impregnation right through a divine impregnation that was on the human level virginal? Right. All of creation is impregnated with the divine. And this is not to say it’s divine. See, that’s the mistake of paganism or pantheism. Right? It’s doesn’t mean creation is divine. But in in eastern Christianity, they love this word. divinized. Yeah, right. The goal of all of creation is to be divinized. That’s what happened when that young Jewish woman named Mary said yes, to God’s wedding proposal. Right. This is what she’s the embodiment of all of Israel. Right? She is the fulfillment of the yearning of Israel. Israel is longing, aching, pining for the coming of God. And it happened in this woman. It happened in this woman, she’s daughter, Zion, she’s the fulfillment of the yearning of Israel, she becomes the dwelling place of the Lord. Better is one day in your courts, Lord than 1000. elsewhere. One thing I asked one thing I seek one thing I desire to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, right? This is the yearning This is the cry of Israel. This is the cry of that young Jewish woman. Come, come come a year and I ache I pined for the coming of the Lord. Right. The Bible begins with the marriage of Adam and Eve in an earthly paradise. It ends with the marriage of Christ in the church in the heavenly paradise. The first human words spoken in the Bible is the yearning of the bridegroom for the Bride. At last you are the one bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. The final human word recorded in the Bible is the yearning of the bride for the coming of the bridegroom, come, Lord Jesus, come, come, come. That’s the cry of the human heart for the coming of the Divine into the created order. Right. This is our faith, the divine has come into the created order. This is what Eastern Orthodox theology calls divinization, the making divine, where God is right in Scripture, God shares his divine nature, right? We are called to become participants in the divine nature. When you when you start to see the world this way, when you put these glasses on, you start to see Jesus in all that he’s created. You start to see everything was created for Jesus through Jesus in Jesus. This is right in Scripture. So this is what I’m saying. Jesus is in the eggs. So yeah, so come back to this because so a few things happening for me as you’re talking. One is, I’m like trying not to interrupt because you’re because we’re doing a podcast, but I just would like, yes, yes.
That’s what I longed for. I mean, I can feel it I long for Jesus. Yeah, nation. I want his spirit like just trenching. me. I mean, yeah, that kind of, you know, marination. And I also, I’m thinking about that, that, you know, my pause and being like, well, am I really hungry for like, which I think also connects to so many times of a waiting, longing, wanting that, that fusion and being like, you know, crickets kind of waiting long still. And I think about people I know who, in their, in their longing, the stuff that they are aware of just kind of walking in this painful ache that isn’t going away. And, and I think that’s one of the reasons that people start to turn this stuff off. Because I, how long do I have to? I mean, I know we sound like the psalmist here,
Christopher West 16:58
but how long Oh, Lord, as to where it is? How, yeah, how long? How long. That’s someone when you’re in touch with that, how long? How long. That’s someone who’s feeling the cry of the heart for the divine. Right? We long ache, pine yearn to participate in this divine life, you’re digging for something for something because I just can’t help but think of what I learned from from one of my mentors. And this is the same guy. His name was Monsignor Lorenzo Alba city. He was a close friend of john paul, the second son, I had the privilege of studying with him. And he’s the one who really awakened me to this stuff that Jesus is in eggs. And I know that people out there hearing me say that they’re just rolling their eyes. So I want to spend some more time if we can try and unpack what I mean. Because if we don’t understand that, that that desire you have for those eggs and and I saw it on your face when you were describing it, right that’s the smile, right? Something gets lit up when you’re describing the light like kids are
all rolling their eyes if they’re listening to this. They are
Christopher West 18:05
dad is a dead dad is eggs, right? It’s like It’s like me in a good beer. I mean, I when I when I get a good job so much more manly. Not a dark beer. Or you know what, okay, pretzels. I love pretzels. And that’s not very manly. And I’m not afraid to admit it. I love a good crunchy salty pretzel, but it’s got it’s got to be there are principles I don’t like all right, and I’m very particular about my pretzels. And I have I have had divine encounters in in enjoying a pretzel. And this is this is all of creation is shot through with, you know, as a Catholic, I would call it sacramentality. And by that we mean visible things, physical things, communicate spiritual things there. Everything in creation is a sign of something beyond itself. Right? Paul talks about this in Romans chapter one, that that. And this, this comes back to our question about sexuality and disordered sexuality. Romans chapter one contains the most precise and insightful wisdom on what distorted sexuality is, what is it? It’s false worship. Paul says, you look at creation, and you have no excuse because creation is a sign of the Creator. Right? But rather than rejoice in creation, in a way of lifting you to the Creator, you stop at the creature and you worship the image of God rather than God. Right? And what happens when we worship the creature rather than the creator? What happens Paul says, God gives us To our disordered desires. That’s what disordered desire is because what is desire? What’s the deepest desire of the heart? St. Augustine said it best. You have made us for yourself. Oh God, and our hearts are restless, to we rest in you. We are made for God. The yearning, the ache, the pining we feel for something is a yearning for if we’re honest, if we’re honest, and I don’t want to just theologies here, I want to I want us to look at our hearts, because these truths are in there. Since I was a little kid, I have felt this pining aching something in my bones. I’ll never forget in kindergarten, when I first saw Stacey Reed,
wherever she is,
Christopher West 20:50
oh, my good God in heaven. I still remember seeing those brown eyes. She was in the afternoon kindergarten, and I was in the morning, kindergarten, or maybe it was the other way around. I don’t remember. But this day, we were having a field trip. And the two kindergartens were coming together. We’re going to a farm. And I walked in and I saw, I saw my brown eyed girl. Her her Her eyes were like pools of mystery. And there we are at the farm. Everybody wants to milk the cow. I don’t want to milk the cow. I just want to be as close to this girl Stacy as possible. Right? Like something was just awakened in my being at how old are you in kindergarten. I don’t know. Something got stirred. But also with it. There was like the shame. I can’t tell anybody. There’s something connected to this that’s exciting, and mysterious and deep and powerful. But also there’s something I don’t want to tell anybody about it. I don’t want to tell my mom about it. In fact, fast forward a little bit. I’d never saw her again until third grade. My parents switched me from public school to Catholic school in third grade. And I was so depressed go into the school. I didn’t know anybody. My best friend was still at the public school and, and I walk into that classroom feeling totally out of place. I don’t know a single soul. And I walk into the classroom and who do I see? Stacy Reed was at this Catholic school. I hadn’t seen her since that field trip day. And I say thank you, Mom and Dad. But I couldn’t tell. I mean, I’m Stacey Reed invited me over to her house one day in third grade to play. I didn’t want to tell my mom about it. Why? Where did I get this idea that this attraction I had to this girl was somehow something I don’t tell my mom. I’m ashamed. There’s a shame. So there’s something in the human heart connected with these desires. Specifically, this whole male female thing, this whole sexuality mystery. There’s a shame connected to it. And we see it very insightfully unfolded right in Genesis, you know, the first effect of original sin is shame about our sexuality. And what we forget is these very important words of Jesus. In the beginning, it was not so. Right. So he made us naked without shame. He made us naked without shame. Why were they naked without shame. And this is these are all things I learned from this teaching from john paul a second called the theology of the body. I know we’re meandering. Here, we want to get back to eggs. I want to share some things from my mentor here that I just dug out of my, my bag here. If you
stray too far, I’m going to I’m going to jump on to something else. You’re saying they’re going to be further but when we
Christopher West 23:44
weave our way back here, but this stuff is important. So I was saying I’ve had this ache. I’ve had this longing since I was a little kid. And then I told the story of Stacey Reed and kindergarten, right. So my, in my Christian upbringing, the basic message was that desire, that thing you feel is bad. It’s only going to get you in trouble. You need to repress that. But follow these rules, and you’ll be a good upstanding Christian citizen. So that’s what I tried to do because I wanted to be a good upstanding Christian citizen. But you can only starve yourself for so long. And I call that whole approach the starvation diet gospel, right, which is not a gospel at all. It’s a false gospel, starve yourself and follow these rules. This is not our faith. But if you think that’s what Christianity has to offer, pretty soon you’re gonna find yourself very attracted to what I call, as you know, the fast food gospel, which is the secular culture is promise of immediate gratification, for the hunger and let’s be real, the fast food tastes good going down. Yeah, we wouldn’t eat it. If it didn’t. You wouldn’t have gone to that adult bookstore if there wasn’t some semblance of sense satisfaction. Yeah, right. That’s right. Some reward some semblance of a reward that you get. So I went for the fast food pretty fiercely. And I came to learn the hard way. Yep, you can die from starvation. But you can also die from food poisoning. And in my freshman year of college 1988, I found myself on my knees saying God and heaven if you exist, you better show me why you gave me all these desires, because they’re getting me and everybody I know into a hell of a lot of trouble. Do you have a plan? What is your plan? And long story short, what I I went searching, I went looking and I discovered this teaching some few years later, early 90s now called the theology of the body from john paul the second. He was the pope at the time. And he told me for the first time that that ache I felt when when I walked into that kindergarten classroom and saw Stacy read that ache I felt when I heard Bruce Springsteen sing on the radio for the first time when I was eight years old. That ache I felt when when I started dating my girlfriend in high school, and she was gorgeous. And we were together alone, and she puts her hand on my hand, she’s just rubbing my thumb with her thumb. And I’m like, Whoa, that ache has a name. And it’s good. This is the first time I heard that ache is good. The God put that a third has a name. And it’s called arrows, er o ‘s. Now, I hear that word in my early 20s. And all I can think of is something pornographic. The erotic right in my mind was just the pornographic. And and john paul the second said, No, no, no, no, no, you’re confusing the word arrows with another Greek word porneia. And I’ll never forget reading this line, he says arrows is the upward impulse of the human heart towards everything true, good and beautiful. Setting arrows is the upward impulse of the human heart towards everything true, good, and beautiful.
So there are people listening, I’m not one of them. But there you go. Really?
Christopher West 27:33
Okay. So really, in our so what I’m defining there is how God created arrows in the beginning. This is why they were naked, and felt no shame, because that’s how they experienced arrows as the desire the upward impulse of the human heart towards everything true, good and beautiful. They were naked without shame, because what they saw in looking at each other’s naked bodies, was just what we were saying earlier, they saw sacramentality, they saw the revelation of a divine mystery. They saw heavenly mysteries revealed through their naked bodies. That’s what they saw. Here’s the tragedy with original sin. We went blind. We look as Jesus says, but we do not see. So what’s the first invitation of Jesus in the Gospel of john? Number one, he says, What do you want? It’s an invitation to get in touch with our deepest desires. And then number two, he says, Come and become one who sees right there we have in reverse. From in these two first lines of Jesus in the Gospel of john, he is reversing the effects of the fall. He’s saying you if you want to follow me, you got to get in touch with your deepest desire. And you got to let me teach you how to see what you really want to see. right in the beginning, they saw all of creation, as a revelation of the Divine. In other words, they encountered Jesus in the eggs. they encountered Jesus in the flowers, they encountered Jesus in the trees and the birdsong and the cricket song in the stars and the sun, the heavens, Declare the Glory of God right. This is this is this is a biblical vision right from the start. All of creation in the in the book of Genesis, creation is unfolded as the temple as the tabernacle as the dwelling place of the Lord. He walked with them in the garden, the garden was the dwelling place of the Lord garden, interestingly, also has these connotations of the womb, you are a garden and closed my sister, my bride, right? The garden is the place of life, the womb is the place of life. And eventually, in the beginning, the garden God walked in the garden right walked in the US in the garden, he was present God was present there. That’s all a foreshadowing of the incarnation, where God becomes present in the garden of Mary in the garden of her womb, right. So so all of all these mysteries, they had glimpses of them they saw they saw as God saw they saw creation rightly. Original Sin blinds us.
Okay, okay, let me I don’t want you to lose track. But yet, I want to I want to pause here for a minute because as I’m still working this stuff out of my own my own life, my own eyes, like what you describe, you know, Adam, looking at Eve’s naked body, even looking at atoms, naked body, their eyes, chests, her breasts, yes, I mean, all genitals, their genitals, I was going to say you sent me we have to say it, we got to talk about it. This is what they saw, to say to say, I am looking at this whole person. And it’s not. First of all, this is it’s not lust, it’s, it is arousing. It is enticing, it is joyful. It is sexually stimulating, but it’s not wrong.
Christopher West 31:00
It’s so foreign as foreign is because all we know is the fallen experience of it.
And to say, in addition to that, that it that it points people towards God, I mean, like, so the idea and I want to keep practicing my own brain like that Adam could look upon Eve, and vice versa. And something in that look, was so filled with with dignity and honor and kind of all of you are like him, you were like our Creator in in these in all of these ways. And to have that fused with the desire and the joy and the ecstasy, like Yes, yes. I can’t I mean, I could hardly wrap my brain around it. But I want I want more
Christopher West 31:41
Amen, we all that’s what we want. That’s what we’re made for. Even though you say I feel this, my stomach goes, what I want is what I want, what I yearn for, right, this innocence of the gaze, this innocence of the longing, we have lost that innocence. And and these are mysterious things. We, you can’t diagram them on a blackboard. And we need images, we need analogies. We need metaphors. We need poetry to try to understand these deep, deep mysteries. And here’s here’s an analogy I have I’ve come up with. I like to say God gave us arrows to be like the fuel of a rocket that has the power to launch us to the stars, to the infinite to the eternal, to everything true good and beautiful. Remember arrows is that upward impulse towards everything true good and beautiful. That’s that’s my idea of the rocket engines. But really, and truly there is an enemy who does not want us to reach the stars. Yeah. And his goal is to invert those rocket engines. We This is what we experience. This is lust. This is arrows that’s been to us another Greek word. lust is arrows divorced from a Guppy in the beginning before sin, arrows expressed a Guppy In other words, that you said they were aroused by one another. Absolutely. But what was the sentiment of that arousal in their nakedness? The sentiment was Adam saying to Eve This is my body given up for you. And yeah, this is this is how what’s the new commandment Jesus gives us love each other as I love one another as I have loved you, the Jim the Golden Nugget, the pearl that I’ve taken away from john paul, the second theology the body is that that gospel call to love one another as Jesus loves us, was chiseled by God, right in the sexual difference when he made us male and female in his image and likeness, and said, Be fruitful and multiply. Who is God, he’s in eternal life giving communion of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the image in which we are made. God Of course, is not sexual. God’s not made an image as male and female, right? God’s not sexual. But we in our sexuality, here we have to define our terms. What do we even mean by that? Because culture uses the term in a very different way. Sexuality refers to maleness and femaleness. Male and female, he created them. That’s maleness and femaleness. That’s sexuality. Our sexuality is a glimmer of the Trinitarian communion. A man’s body makes no sense by itself. A woman’s body makes no sense by itself. Yeah, seen in light of each other unless we’re blind. Yeah, and of course, look around in the modern world. We are blind to this. Yeah. What are we blind to? We’re blind to the image of God stamped in our bodies. In fact, there is a we are hell bent on trying to erase this image of God by trying when we try to erase gender, where you’re trying to erase the image of God in us. And what is that image? It’s a call to life giving communion. This is the theology the true biblical theology of human sexuality. But we’re blind to it, because we look, and we do not see. But here’s the good news. This guy Jesus is in the business of given sight to the blind. But we got to let them into our blindness. We got to let them heal us. And look at the intimacy that demands. Look at the way he healed. It was always with his body. He would stick his fingers in people’s ears, he would spit on their tongues, he would spit in their eyes with saliva, mud, and he smeared on their eyes. Are we willing to let Jesus be that intimate with us? Are we willing to let him touch us in our most painful places, the places where we are most blind, where we are most ashamed where we are most broken? If we’re not willing to let Jesus touch us there, we cannot be healed because he will not heal us against our will. Yeah, right. Now, we were back to generation and regeneration. Every human being was generated generated without being asked. We couldn’t give our consent to our generation, because we didn’t yet exist. But here’s the difference that the Creator has for his creature. He will not regenerate us without our consent. So I don’t know about you, Josh. But I want to say yes, I want to say yes to being regenerated. I want to say yes to letting Jesus touched me, in those most painful, painful, painful, shameful places. If we don’t let them in those places, we’re going to we’re going to put on pious masks. We’re going to pretend we got our sh it together. And and religion, faith, Christianity will become plastic, and will live double lives will be holy on Sunday, and then behind closed doors will be indulging our disordered desires that we haven’t known how to open to Jesus for healing. And you can only repress them for so long before they come out at the seams. I mean, look what’s going on. I’m just speak as a Catholic here. Look what’s going on in the Catholic Church right now, with all the sexual abuse crisis. That’s what happens when you throw away the twisted up clay. Because you can’t really get rid of it. When you try to repress those disordered desires, they’ll be back and they’ll be back with a vengeance. And they’ll come out behind closed doors in the most distorted, perverse messed up ways. And we that’s our that’s the modern leper right there. Those who act out in the sexually perverse ways. And guess what, we all have our issues there. So I’m not trying to single out some segment of the population. But that’s sexual disorder is the modern leprosy. We are so afraid to be touched here. Yeah. And we set up a culture saying get those perverts out in the church, right, we should get those perverts over there, get those people who have other sexual problems out of the church. And we cast them out like they did with the lepers 2000 years ago, right. And Jesus goes out to meet them and touch them to bring healing. We need to let them touch us in these places. We need to
Yeah, our land loan land this plane get there I go to the cross. And I think about there we go to the cross. And I think about Jesus, our Creator being stripped naked, hanging on the on the cross for us. And that and that and the parallel between that that initial tree in the garden. Yep, yep. And the tree that Jesus hung and died on.
So we’re back to trees and fruits is life poured out there for us. And I think part of what you’re describing, go back to what you said earlier about how his what he did, then he is doing and I think it’s right. So the healing of memories is is the is meeting him and that is exactly right, Josh.
Christopher West 39:45
You’re just you’re just doing that you’re connecting the dots. Exactly right. That that experience just of letting Jesus into a memory to untwist what’s been twisted out. That’s how we see and experience and encounter Jesus. In his resurrection, in His death and resurrection here and now as a living presence, not just as a memory 2000 years ago, but as a living reality. Now,
yeah. So, from eggs to, can I try to Can I try to just touch back on those eggs to bring us full circle bring full circle and land the plane for
Christopher West 40:22
Okay, here it is. Here we go. So, a while ago, I pulled this out and I want to share some of it. It’s a little too long to share all of it. But this is Reflections of this mentor of mine Monsignor Lorenzo Alba city. And he begins with a quote from Jeremiah. You seduced me Lord, and I let myself be seduced. What defines our life, his interest and attraction? That’s why I asked you what, what grabs you know? And you said eggs. I love eggs. I love to eat that. I asked you what your favorite meal? What are we interested in? Or what are we attracted to? If you are interested in absolutely nothing, you are dead. Interest is a looking for it’s an impulse of your very existence, not just your mind. It’s your whole self that somehow needs to know more needs to see more is in search of something more. We’re in search of the ultimate mystery. We’re in search of to give it a name God. What does it mean to be interested in God? It’s not just a theological interest, although that may be part of it. It’s a problem that we intellectualize everything. It’s a problem with our theology stuck in the head. How do we get our theology out of our heads and live it from our hearts? We got to get in touch with our desires. Yeah, that’s what he’s getting at here says what I’m talking about is a search upon which you embark because your very life is involved. Pardon me for a vulgar, vulgar term, he says, but your arse is involved. If I do not embark on this search, I’ve been dulled. I’ve been anesthetized to the experience of my own humanity, and the humanity of others. If we are human, we have or better we are the search for God. In the flesh, huh. It’s a search for God in the flesh, because God meets us in the flesh. Right? So to leave our flesh behind, and here we’re, again, we got to understand Paul rightly to live by the Spirit does not mean we leave the flesh behind it means we open our flesh to the indwelling of the Spirit. Right? That’s the Christian life not leaving the flesh behind we profess belief in the resurrection of the body, right? Yeah. When the soul leaves the body at death. This is not normal or natural. The souls in heaven are awaiting the fullness of their humanity in the resurrection of the body. And a lot of what goes on in the Christian churches today dangerous is dangerously bordering on denying the very biblical creed of our faith in the resurrection of the body. We Super spiritualize heaven all the time, we think of our bodies as a shell. Yeah, right. We want to escape from this is not our fate. That’s the loophole. Yeah, it’s so much easier to reject the body to eschew the body than it is to let Jesus into those painful places, and memories and fears that we have connected to our bodies and let them heal us. Right. So getting in touch with our desires, you like a nice plate of eggs with a little what was the toast?
Just some kind of whole grains,
Christopher West 43:52
some kind of dairy, that crunching into the toes, and that taste of those kind of moist eggs and the monster cheese and what that does is you smell it as you bring it to your palate. Alright, that is all sacramentality I don’t know about you, Josh. But at the end of a meal, I love to eat so much. I love food so much. At the end of the meal, I’m sad. Why am I sad? Because it’s over. The joy is over. Yeah, right there in that sadness. And here I’m bringing it in for a landing right there in that sadness. I have three choices. I can repress the sadness and pretend I don’t feel it. And think that the the very desire to feel it to feel the pleasure of the food is evil. Right? And then I think everything in the physical world is evil. This is not our faith.
And when we live that way, too, that that just perpetuates this view of God that says don’t bring me that. That’s right. Don’t
Christopher West 44:57
bring this stuff that’s evil. This is not our faith. This is not our faith. This is not our faith. The other choice is to go back for more food. And maybe seconds is fine. Maybe even a little portion of thirds is fine. But eventually, I’m going to have to face the fact that I’m done my third portion. Right? And I, I can go back for more, but now I’m a glutton. Yeah. So what do I do? How about this, I let myself feel the sadness that my favorite meal is over or any meal is over, or my making love to my wife is over, or, or that concert that I was. So looking forward to that I went, I had such a good time. Now it’s over the joys of this life, all of them are fleeting. But all of them are meant to be in God’s order, signs of the promise, that plate of eggs that you love to eat, is a sign of a promise that there is a banquet that lasts forever, that corresponds to the ache and cry of your heart. So in that sadness, we can say, Lord, thank you for these eggs. Thank you, God for the joy I take in eating them. Thank you that this is a sign of your presence in the created order. We believe in a new heavens and a new earth. That means Somehow, I don’t know how it’s gonna look never been on the other side. But somehow you’re gonna have a resurrected experience of eating eggs. Right, you’re gonna live the fulfillment on the other side of all that you enjoyed here, it doesn’t get erased, it doesn’t get deleted, it gets fulfilled and completed in the new heavens and the new earth. And when we understand that, we understand the key that Paul is talking about, I’ve discovered the key for living contently. In this life, I’m happy when I’m well fed. And I’m happy when I’m not. Why. Because I’m not placing all my hope for happiness in finite pleasures. I’m placing all my hope for happiness in the infinite feast that awaits me on the other side. And when my desire when my rocket engines are redirected in that way, this is the good news. Christ came not to condemn those with inverted rocket engines. He came to redirect our rocket engines to the stars to the banquet, as our engines get redirected, that whole healing of memories story that I told, that’s Jesus redirecting my rocket engines to the eternal right? Then the meal or the concert, or making love to my spouse, all those beautiful pleasures that God has created, become so many glimmers of the next life. And if I have to go without them, if I if I can’t go to that concert, or I can’t go on that vacation that I was, I’m not crestfallen. I’m not I don’t lose my hope, because I wasn’t placing my hope or happiness in these things. That’s living a sacramental life seeing the good things of this earth as signs of the eternal mystery that’s coming our way.
So let me ask let me Let’s do this. Yeah. I want to just ask people who are listening for a minute just to think for themselves, like, what’s, what’s their longing? What are you longing for? Like, and if it feels, you know, something guilty comes up, like I’m longing for this and I shouldn’t or now it’s just this, it’s this and it’s a good desire, but it’s not not met. Or maybe it’s somebody’s desire, and I’ve got like, so with that question, kind of in their, in their minds in their hearts, would you close us in a word of prayers of opening those desires? Yes. And then we’ll close out that
Christopher West 49:08
lesson. And and I’m going to lead into the prayer with another little reflection from my, my mentor here. And the question he’s trying to respond to is just like you’re getting at, you know, there’s listeners out there and they’re, they just heard all the stuff we’ve been talking, they’re like, Well, what do I do? What do I do now? What’s next? So what must I do? It’s the question of the rich young man, what do I What do I have to do to enter the kingdom, right? Christianity, unlike anything else says that if you want to find this mystery, it’s already present within this world. Look inside your own humanity, look deeper into it, because that mystery was made flesh. The mystery entered this world and is seducing me in Every drop of rain that falls, it’s wooing me, you seduced me, Lord and I let myself be seduced. We have to allow the Lord to woo us through our desires. What must I do? I must allow myself to be overcome by beauty, by beautiful things, by finding the beauty that is everywhere. Life isn’t easy. Sometimes we panic. But through it all, there is this haunting seduction process. don’t oppose it. Allow yourself to be wooed and overwhelmed by beauty. That’s what the journey is all about. But again, the question comes, what must I do? My mentor, Alba said, he says, really, I tell you hang loose, let it happen. Suddenly, you’re being wooed wooing is not an abstraction. What are the real things you love? So maybe you’re out there thinking, Man, I don’t. I don’t even know what I really love. Well, you did when you were a little boy, or you were a little girl. So my prayer is that the Lord would open these memories. What were you attracted to when you were little? What was your favorite song? When you were a boy or a girl? What was your favorite TV show? What was your favorite movie? What was your favorite place in your backyard or the park down the street? What were the things when you were young, that excited your heart? Lord, I asked you to reawaken in all of us. Those deep desires, and give us eyes to see that all along you were wooing us, Lord, for the ways in our lives that we have absolute ties, the good things of this life and and not seen them as signs that point beyond but we’ve, we’ve sought ultimate satisfaction in these finite goods. Lord, when we do that, we’re like the unfaithful spouse. We’re like, those who don’t know you really love us and want to satisfy the desires of our heart. And we think we have to take satisfaction into our own hands. Forgive us, Lord, for the ways we have done that. Forgive us, Lord, for the ways we’ve turned the icons of your creation windows to heaven. We’ve turned these icons into idols into false gods. And you’ve given us up in our own disordered desires. As Paul says, Lord, forgive us for the ways we’ve gone in that direction. Forgive us for the ways that in the name of a false holiness, we’ve tried to repress our desires, and just put on a pious mask. I asked you, Lord, woo us, woo us through the deep yearning of our heart, and redirect our desire for you toward you. redirect our rocket engines to the stars. We ask this in the name of your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen.
Hey, we’ll have more notes in our show notes about Christopher and his ministry and his resources. So check him out. Christopher, thank you so much for talking to us today. Great to be with you again. Please get some eggs sometimes. Yeah. beer or beer.
Christopher West 53:32
eggs and beer.
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