A friend shared the following excerpt from C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity yesterday:
“When an adolescent or an adult is engaged in resisting a conscious desire, he is not dealing with a repression nor is he in the least danger of creating a repression. On the contrary, those who are seriously attempting chastity are more conscious, and soon know a great deal more about their own sexuality than anyone else. They come to know their desires as Wellington knew Napoleon, or as Sherlock Holmes knew Moriarty; as a rat catcher knows rats or a plumber knows about leaky pipes. Virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog.”
This excerpt applies directly to an email I almost sent a woman named Julia Allison recently. She's apparently a media maven who talks about pop culture and dating on morning shows and writes magazine columns, etc. I stumbled across her on twitter then read some of her blog posts, several of which tracked a recent break from dating and casual sex (which are apparently the same thing in NYC). There was also a New York magazine article or something entitled No More Sex in the City in which she and others were mentioned for their intentional celibacy, as though people not having sex on purpose was some sort of eccentric trend.
While I decided it's probably not fitting to directly email this stranger about her sex life, I felt immediately compelled to start a dialog with her about why it felt so surprisingly right, peaceful, and healthy to abstain from sex. I wanted to say that perhaps at too immature an age most of us start following our physical impulses before we understand their far-reaching consequences and it's not until 10 years later that we wake up and say to ourselves, "Wait a minute, is there another way to do this? Is this the best way for me to live my life?"
Lewis' thoughts in this excerpt sum up my point beautifully. So many dive headlong into the fog and handicap themselves from ever seeing clearly again -- without knowing there's an alternative.
So here's Julia Allison, whose entire being is begging for a change, and she stumbles into a fleeting moment of clarity. I really hope there's somebody in her life with enough perspective and love to say she's on to something.