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.