Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Utter Depravity Versus Almost Utter Depravity

Before I begin this post, I would like to make the following comment. I am posting this knowing that this isn't a view held by ALL Protestants. Secondly, it's not an attack, but is simply a bring forth the fullness of the Theology of the Body in a Catholic context and to show the necessity of Almost Utter Depravity. That being said, let us begin.

There are two views about the effects of Original Sin. The Catholic view is that sin has had an amazingly powerful effect on the world. We are almost hopeless. However, there is a trace of goodness in our being, an echo of Original Man.

The other general point of view is a general Protestant one, specifically Calvinist. It states that man is utterly depraved, that he can do nothing good on his own without the help of Christ.

The reasoning behind the Catholic point of view is that we are a creation of God. Since we are a product of God, we are made to be good. However, almost all of us are born with Original Sin (the exception is, of course Jesus and Mary). We are made good, we are, however, distorted by Original Sin. Since we are created by God and are thus good, there must be a stream of that goodness left over.

What does this all have to do with marriage? Glad you asked.

You see, many people in the world today see marriage as their "get out of lust free" card. They think that if they're married that it justifies their lusts. By taking an "utterly depraved" mentality, they think that they can never do anything good. However, this is a distortion of the Gospel. Christ redeemed humanity, giving them the grace to do good deeds and to grow in holiness. It is true that we cannot do anything good without grace, but life itself is a grace, is something that is intrinsicly good because it is a free and unwarranted gift from God. Therefore, we are able to pull away from lust.

Lust is not supposed to be the norm. We all have to deal with it, but we can't just give up because of the fact that we're sinners. Christ redeemed us as sinners so that we may grow in holiness through the overabounding grace thanks to His death on the Cross. The grace that flows from the Cross gives us the ability to pick ourselves up and grow closer to our original calling.

Therefore, we cannot see marriage as a "cop out" for lust. Instead, it is an opportunity for holiness. It is an opportunity to grow in love for one another and to grow in receiving God's grace. It is an opportunity for full co-operation with God's will. Marriage is supposed to give us the grace to overcome lust, not to throw ourselves at its feet and accept defeat to it. No, lust is the distortion that is a result of Original Sin. Christ has conquered sin for us, and is calling us back to that communion of persons, to that total, faithful, fruitful, and self-giving act of love.

This is why marriage is beautiful, but also why it's not something we should run to because of lustful desires. We can't presume that because we have lustful desires that marriage will either affirm those desires or make them better. For some, marriage is indeed the vocation in which we can conquer our lustful desires. For others, it is through a vocation to the priesthood, religious life, or single life that one is able to conquer it. The point is to recognize the problem as soon as one realizes it's a problem (ie NOW!) and to ask Christ to help redeem your thoughts, words, and deeds so that you can grow in a loving relationship with everyone. Our vocations do give us that special grace, but God will give us grace whenever we ask for it, so we must confront our lustful weaknesses now if we hope to grow in holiness.



Anonymous said...

The difference you describe in the area of depravity is where the Protestant church seperates into Calvanism and Armenianism (sp?) Personally I consider myself a moderate Calvanism. I do believe in the utter depravity of man apart from Christ. If man wasn't utterly deprave from birth I don't believe we would need Christ. My pastor preached a very good sermon on this if you are interested in the Protestant views. If you are interested let me know and I'll send you a link.

On the marriage thing. Paul tells the church in Corinth that it was better for them to remain single (because they were being persecuted...not a great time to start a family) unless they couldn't control their lust, in which case it was better to marry then to burn with lustful passion. Lust to me is a sexual covetess over someone you don't possess. When you become married your body is no longer yours it is your spouse and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

ps...that long comment was from Bethany in case you didn't guess.