It is so difficult to keep climbing up a mountain when you think you should have already reached the summit.
You knew it was a lofty trek when you started, but with each mile, each false summit, each treacherous pass, more and more travellers are turning back, saying it cannot be done. Even some of your guides, men and women stronger and more skilled than you, are turning around.
How true this has been in the areas of marriage, sex, and sexuality as of late.
Even within the Church, many have grown numb to divorce, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, pornography, and lust.
You who struggle personally travel an increasingly lonely path with fewer people cheering you on and crowds beckoning you to accept “reality” that the summit you’re after is out of reach.
Among the arguments beckoning you to give up, perhaps one of the most persuasive is this: If you’ve tried to change your desires and you’re still not free, it’s because you’re working against who you really are.
- If you’re tempted by sex outside marriage, well, you’re only human.
- If you’re tempted homosexually, God made you a gay man or lesbian woman.
- If you’re tempted by porn or lust, it’s only natural for you to indulge.
- If you’re tempted by divorce, you were meant for (God designed you for) a different spouse.
In other words, recurring temptation means something about your identity, that saying no to the desire is saying no to who you really are.
This is not so.
Can we experience freedom from persistent temptations? Yes, absolutely! And I pray you do! But the peak we’re after is not called Freedom from Temptation. The summit we’re climbing toward is Christlikeness.
Our goal is to learn to give ourselves as a loving, self-donation to God and others, just as Christ did and does.
Freedom from temptation is not the same thing as love.
We can feel so badly because we find within ourselves desire for that which God hates. Do these competing desires make devotion to Christ more difficult? Sometimes certainly.
But who demonstrates a purer love, the one who says yes to God because he feels drawn nowhere else, or the one who says yes to God despite feeling drawn somewhere else?
It could be said, in fact, that those who experience recurring temptation and yet obey from the heart, these are demonstrating a greater love.
By all means, hope, pray, and seek freedom from temptations. And be smart to avoid temptations that you can. But do not be discouraged at internal temptations that persist. Remember, the pinnacle of Christ’s ministry, the summit of His love for you was demonstrated not on a cruise but on a cross.
Let us know if we can help.
I’d value hearing from you. What helps you keep going when you are tempted and tired of the journey?