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Abstinence and spirituality

January 26, 2017
Mary Pecci
San Francisco

Re Elizabeth Travers’ comments in “Focus on charity, not sexuality,” (Letters, Dec. 15), I find that her perspective is quite common in the church. This begs the question: “Is this perspective really a practical approach to spirituality?” It’s interesting to examine the other side of the issue.

Using Ghandi as an extreme example, he gave up sex, asserting that when the spirit controls the body, rather than the body controlling the spirit, it leads to spiritual insights which are far more pleasurable than physical pleasures and guides your life along a heightened spiritual path. His wife affirms that it was a great struggle for him to overcome, but he finally succeeded. This is not to say that we should all be saints, but consider for a moment the down side of contraception.

Chemicals which interfere with the body’s natural rhythms have proven to lead to harmful and in some cases lethal results, as well as cause infertility. But what does it and other forms of contraception do to romance? It’s a known fact that anything that is readily available inevitably loses its appeal, while some are led to addictive behavior and pornography. Since the advent of contraception, divorce has become rampant, as was warned by an archbishop whose name I don’t recall. It turns out that he was right.

Surely, we should “focus on charity,” but this isn’t to say that sexual behavior isn’t an important part of our spiritual makeup and, as G. K. Chesterton has said, “It needs to be controlled by the will.” 

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