HOLINESS IN LOVE

Love and holiness are concepts that might seem polar opposites of each other but are in fact intertwined with each other.

Love served on a platter of holiness tastes ambrosiac.

However, it is just as difficult to love wholly as it is to maintain holiness in love. Holiness in love does not refer to chanting the name of God ceaselessly or sermonizing on spirituality at all times. Holiness in love is a call to guard the sense organs and mental perceptions against unholy intruders just because you have decided to present your unalloyed self to a special person.

WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN HOLINESS IN LOVE?

· When you love a person, s/he is special. S/he occupies a place in your life like none other. It would be an injustice to present a deliberately defiled unrepentant self to that special person. You wouldn’t gift a broken pen or half-eaten chocolate to anyone, would you?

· There is a moral standard set in place against unholiness. Does it really matter? It does. Entertaining unholy intruders sears the soul and the spirit, just as it defiles the body. But, then who decides the moral standard? What may be unholy for you, may simply be fun for me. Why then drag morality into the picture and make a big deal out of it?

· We are created in the image of a holy God, who is love. Holiness is a part of our DNA. When we think of ways to fiddle with holiness, we fiddle with our DNA which is more than mere biology. Consequently, love gets the beating.

· Pleasures of holy love are richly rewarding. While the pleasures of unholy love offer momentary gratification, pleasures derived out of holy love are perpetually gratifying as it soothes the soul and strengthens the spirit.

HOW TO GUARD OUR SENSE ORGANS AGAINST UNHOLY INTRUDERS?

First, it is important to identify the unholy intruders. Be it having fun at the expense of a dirty joke, flirting, watching soft/ hard porn, mere sexual fantasizing or physical intimacy before/ outside the marital relationship – these are unholy intruders into the holiness of love. These intruders destroy all the potentials for enjoying love to the fullest extent. Hence, it is vital to identify them.

Second, erect mental and physical barriers. The next step after recognizing the unholy intruders is to block their entry. If you have more idle time, develop a constructive hobby. If you have peers who challenge you into entertaining any of the unholy intruders, part ways with them. If your body secretes high levels of hormones which push you towards welcoming the unwanted intruders, build up a regimen with the help of professionals to deal with it.

Third, say NO to experimentation. Thomas Alva Edison once burned down his lab in the course of his experimentation to discover the incandescent bulb. Alfred Nobel blew up quite a few rocks and boulders while experimenting with dynamite. Neither Edison’s lab, nor the rocks blown up by Nobel were restored to their previous forms ever. There are enough explosive precedents of experimentations in love across all cultures and generations. Need we experiment further?

Fourth, tap on the strength from God. God is Love. He provides the necessary restraint to safeguard our minds and bodies so that we can cherish love in its totality and holiness. It is not easy to prevent the unholy intruders from sneaking into our lives merely by self-determination or vows of chastity. Missiles cannot be encountered with rifles. Missiles need to be encountered with missiles. That is precisely why all nations keep their military arsenal well-stocked with missiles!!

WHAT ABOUT THE SLIPS?

It is easier to give a dictum to follow than to follow the dictum. Slips do happen!! Big stalwarts have fallen flat in surrender to the unholy intruders. Temptations often knock at the door. Discernment between mood uplifting fun and unholiness is rarely pondered upon. When slips do happen during unguarded fragile moments, it is vital to recognize the sin, admit to self and God, repent for the same and resolve never to repeat them. And the, of course, to erect stronger barriers than before.

SHOULD YOU ACCEPT DEFILED LOVE?

I know of a man who had guarded himself against all possible unholy intruders, just to be able to love the special person who would come his way. When he realized that he was in mutually reciprocal love with his friend, he also realized that she had been emotionally bound to two others before (which he already knew as her friend).

It was a tussle for him. He remained true in his love as he was in his friendship with her, but it took a while for him to come to terms with the fact that he would be receiving what he called ‘a third-hand gift’.

What helped was the fact that she was true about her past, was true with him all through and admitted to having sought God’s forgiveness for those seemingly silly affairs. Overall this was God’s strength that helped him brush off her past and accept her with loving holiness.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, remember truth and forgiveness are vital keys. Genuine slips need to be forgiven when truly repented for. Unintentional unholiness needs to be forgiven in acceptance as well. Victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse deserve the healing and bliss of holy love. God heals the broken with His love, and so He expects that we give the scope to the broken for healing by showing our love.

Love is an intense emotion which rules the world. The consequences of love dying in the world that we live in would be disastrous. What can keep love from dying is holiness. This is not only true about romantic love but also true for all relationships.

When there is holiness in love, all the other virtues discussed earlier in the week – Justice, Truth, Equality, Kindness, Respect and Acceptance, Patience would be largely visible.

WITH LOVE AND PATIENCE NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE

The car lurched forward, jerked and stopped. Sameer said in a frustrated voice “Aanya you have to slowly leave the clutch and press the accelerator simultaneously. How difficult is it to comprehend?” Aanya was near tears “You’re sitting next to me and rolling your eyes is pressure enough for me. Don’t shout at me. Have patience na… It’s my first day learning how to drive a car.”

Kaushal came home in a very bad mood. He was snapping at the kids and Suhana at every small thing. Nothing they did was right according to him. The kids scuttled away into their room on the pretext of homework. And Suhana was left alone to face the wrath of Kaushal. Suhana was simmering inside and was ready to blow her top too. But at the right time, her mind reasoned that she needs to deal with this situation with some patience. Kaushal was on his notice period in the office having been asked to resign. The pain of being treated unfairly in the current job and no other job in sight was taking a toll on Kaushal.

Shruti was bedridden for last one year after the accident. She was beginning to lose hope that she would ever walk again. She was so dejected that she had stopped trying also. No amount of cajoling was pulling her out of this stoic mindset. Aayan was at his wit’s end. But he knew he had to keep his patience while dealing with Shruti or else he would never be able to help her out of this dark pit of depression.

There are innumerable such instances in our daily life. Among all the relationships in our life, we have the maximum expectations from our spouse. There will be times when the behaviour of your spouse will irritate you or frustrate you. But before you lose your cool think about what the other person’s emotional state is. Maybe their heightened emotions are making them behave unreasonably. So be patient. Don’t react immediately and look for a better way to deal with the situation.

No, I am not saying always put up with their bad behaviour but do put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and think maybe at this moment they need your empathy and not your equal and opposite reaction.

CHASTITY IN THE LAND OF LUST

Understanding Lust:

I have seen people using lust and love as similar meaning words on many occasions. But the meanings of these two words are completely different.

Unlike love, lust is extremely self-centered, it never allows a person to see anyone else but himself or herself, it lets a person focus someone’s physical body than their inner beauty and it lets a person to have physical intimacy than establishing a deep emotional bonding with another.

Let me explain how lust can affect a person…

Have you ever seen a drunkard blabbering on a road tottering from this side to that side of it? Yes, we all must have witnessed it many times on the streets.

Do people take him seriously whatever he says in that fully drunk state? No, because we all know it very well that the drunkard is not in his own control.

Lust is a state something of that kind. It is an experience of intense carnal urges and unbridled sexual craving. Lust is not an emotion, but it involves the experience of fleshly enjoyment with anticipation of sexual pleasure.

Mary C. Lamia, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and psychoanalyst says, “Lust provides a rare window through which you can view your vulnerabilities as you are swept away by your imagination.”

But the condition is, only if we can realise about our vulnerabilities then we can learn from it for a future reference otherwise we move towards destruction gradually.

Depth of Lust:

We all know, how different companies produce different products for their customers according to what they wished in their minds. In the same way, the media produces different films and series basing on the mindsets and desires of people of this world today.

Would you believe that the psychological disorders which I had studied while doing a counselling degree are now slowly being accepted as sexual preferences or choices?

Let me explain…

BDSM which has been unknown to most of the people previously has become popular among many today. I feel very scared to even think about it even.

I watched a series recently on the same subject and was amazed how it ended. A married woman who loves her husband a lot. The husband is a very good man and loves his wife as well. They didn’t have any problems whatsoever. But the woman always feels very lonely staying all the time at home when her husband is at work. She eventually meets a man on a chatting site who insists her to meet him at his place. She doesn’t agree initially but thought of giving a try as she is attracted to what the man used to write about sexual submission and dominance. And finally, she visits him and submits to his dominance. She suffers from a psychological issue later on and to help her out, her husband comes to know about her secret life. The story ends with the husband releasing his wife to that man. Message of the story was – Lust won over the chastity of marriage.

Examples like the above, are many, I can’t list them out all here.

Famous psychiatrist and author Judith Orloff, M.D. rightly says, “As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen how intense sexual attraction is notorious for obliterating common sense and intuition in the most sensible people.”

Crimes Led By Lust:

Lust is an intense mental state which leads a person to commit heinous and soul stirring crimes.

The Bible mentions a good king who fell for a beautiful woman, slept with her and to marry her, he murdered her husband craftily.

We are aware of the crimes against women and children in the forms of sexual abuses, molestations, rapes caused by lust.

Have you ever heard about ‘Lust Murder’? Wikipedia explains, “A lust murder is a homicide in which the offender searches for erotic satisfaction by killing someone”. I was shaken literally when I read this sentence.

Apart from strong sexual urges, lust can also depict intense cravings for food, money and power as well which ultimately leads to various small and big crimes happening daily around us. Lust of money leads people to rob things from others. Lust of food makes people sick and obese. Lust of power creates disparity in the country and war situations around the world.

Chastity against lust:

In this context of lust, talking about Chastity seems meaningless and impossible. Isn’t it? It looks like Chastity has been swallowed up by the lust of human beings in this world. But we all are aware of the consequences; lust can only lead us to destruction.

The Bible stirs our minds with few thought-provoking questions –

“Can a man take fire in his bosom
And his clothes not be burned?
Or can a man walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?”

We know the answer very well. Lust is like fire, like burning hot coals that can burn our chest, our body if we embrace onto it. It can burn our feet if we walk on its path.

Chastity is also a state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse. Basically, chastity means sexual purity.

So, as human we can live in one or other way – live a life of purity or lead an impure life. We can’t stay in a 50-50 condition because, a tiny bit of impurity soils and spoils everything. Yes, I understand that we as human are not perfect, we have weaknesses but there have to have a constant striving within us for perfection – moving from impurity to purity. When we stay stagnant at a point, we stay impurity of lust.

In short, I want to mention a few helpful points for our striving towards Chastity in the land of lust. They are as under:

Guarding my eyes: The Bible says, ““I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman”. There’s a tendency in us to look at another person of the opposite sex with lust but when we prayerfully practice it not to do so, one day we see the result ourselves. Practice makes a man perfect. But there has to have goal setting and willingness to strive for a life of purity.

Guarding my mind: The Bible says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”The Bible verse doesn’t contradict the natural instinct of human beings getting attracted to the physical bodies of people of the opposite gender. In fact, that is how we are made! But, lust in the mind creates a craving for adultery in action – “a thought of having physical or sexual relationship with the woman I am looking at.”The eyes look at the woman, sends the message back and there’s a thought evolves in the mind instructing the eyes to look at the woman again and again. But when we guard our mind by constant striving, we can help stopping the lustful thought process and ultimately, we can hope for a positive result one day.

Guarding my steps: I always need to know whom I am following, what I am following. Am I feeding myself with filthy stuffs or feeding myself with good things? I can’t expect to be pure if I keep watching pornography. I can’t expect to be compassionate if I rear hatred in my heart. I can’t strive for chastity if I keep looking at this woman or that.

The Bible says,Don’t imitate the behavior and patterns of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” If I want to change the mindset of my community and the people around me then I have to first change myself. That is possible if I do what is right. I can do what is right if I know and understand what is right. If I follow what people are doing then I will surely be faltering sooner or later. I need to know where and how I am walking in my life.

Friends! Preaching is easy, practicing is very hard, and living it, is all the more difficult. It is a challenge for all of us to maintain Chastity in the midst of a lustful world but it is not impossible and also beneficial for us. Let’s keep guarding our eyes, our minds, and our steps.

Stay Blessed!

GOD IS HOLY

The basic meaning of the word HOLY is ‘to cut’ or ‘to separate’. When HOLY is used in reference to God, it refers to His complete separation from evil. Not even a hint of a blemish could be found in our God; He is completely pure. ― “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all”.

I remember an illustration given by Counsellor Ray Eicher in a conference in Dehradun. He took a clean jar and filtered a 2-litre bottle of drinking water and showed us asking whether we will drink water from it or not and we all replied in affirmative. Then he said that if he takes a little bit of rubbish on the tip of a needle and mixes it in the water in front of us and offers us to drink would we then drink or not… And this time our replies were a BIG NO. Then he said probably we would have drunk it if we would have not known the fact about the mixture of rubbish in it as it wasn’t at all visible to naked eyes.

Then he said that we all were created like the clean water in the bottle but we have gradually got soiled in our walks of life and hence, we lose the worth to stand in front of the Almighty because He is a Holy God. He can’t tolerate a bit of unholiness. He can’t tolerate a bit of sin within us. He hates sin and He will be denying His very self if He omits even a single sin.    

Have you ever been to that segment of the market where all defective products are sold with lesser price? If you mark, in some products the defects are not even that prominent and can be easily omitted yet it was rejected and placed in that segment. Even a little sin as we think makes us unholy and rejected by the Holy God. 

But it should be an encouragement for those of us who trust in His name when we realize that not the slightest evil or blemish could ever be found in God‘s nature because He is holy. There is absolute purity and total separation from evil attached with all His attributes. As we face the struggles daily to decide something in regards to evil or good there is no such struggle to be holy or to maintain holiness in God’s personality. He is absolutely holy and cannot be anything else than being holy.

Holiness may seem like a strange, almost negative, concept to us, because living in an unholy world has conditioned us to accept and be comfortable with things which are marred by sin. Since we live with that which is unholy every day, we are more shocked by purity than we are by sin! The very idea of holiness bewilders us.

The character of God that He is Holy should not bewilder and puzzle us. But that should be our strength and support. When we need help we always seek the face of somebody who is better, higher and wiser than us. And God’s character of HOLINESS authenticates all of His other characters. It gives us that confidence that He has no evil within Him. That makes us feel safe and secure with Him.

How humbly then do we need to worship our God who is so pure and holy? How careful we should be when we come close to such a God with our requests, who is without blemish and hates sin?

Let’s worship Him with reverence:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.

Stay Blessed!