flowers garden

The Blossom of Purity

6:00:00 AMCatherine F. O'Camb


Purity is a subject we often avoid when its meaning is unclear. We encounter several misconceptions of purity everyday when we are striving for purity. Several questions come to mind such as the meaning of being labeled as pure, the amount of time we are to remain pure, and the proper way to go about being pure. Although some of us have been intentionally educated in purity, for the majority of the time our understanding has ‘come about’ in our experiences. This has been either through our family, through the media, or through religious practices. No matter what, we still end up with unclear ideas.

Though there are many disordered ways of approaching purity, here we will discuss the “pure and insensual man.” [1] When a man who strives for purity falls under the idea of insensuality, he is predisposed to have less vital energy. In other words, he centers himself so forcefully on the concept of purity that it sterilizes his sexuality. Hildebrand states that this man sees “the lack of sexuality as an ideal and a place for the perfection of purity in an entire absence of the ‘sex instinct.’” [2] At first, this thought is convincing because it seems that the only way to be ‘purely pure’ is to abominate the realm of our instinctive sexual tendencies, but it is important to understand that eliminating our sexual instincts will not make us wholly pure.  



For instance, consider a garden full of beautiful plants such as that of flowers. Amidst the flowers, weeds sneak into the garden to threaten the flowers' beauty and growth. Sexual instincts are like the flowers and impure desires are like the weeds. The pure and insensual man would see the roots as impure. His automatic reaction to impurity, would be to pull the weeds out by their root. As this is greatly misunderstood, we must argue that the sexual instinct of man is not part of the weed of impurity. Rather, the sexual instinct is rooted in something good.

What then is the sexual instinct rooted in?

Sexual instinct is rooted in the human person; as such, it is intrinsically good and valuable. Then, we can conclude that the sexual instinct is a good thing because of its fundamental role in the human person. If a man were to cut himself off from his natural good, he harms himself, not fully living out his personhood. In the same way as a plant that needs to be tended to, sexual instinct must be cultivated so that it may not be overtaken by the weeds of impurity.

Now, we understand that the way in which the pure and insensual man’s strives for purity actually constricts his appropriation of the fullness of purity. Let us then not debunk the natural sexual instinct, but be like that of the garden-blooming, beautifully without the deception of the weeds.

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[1] Dietrich von Hildebrand, In the Defense of Purity. 27
[2] Ibid., 27

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