Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Purity

Purity is a funny thing. You can be impure in action and in thought, but it seems to me that one of the greatest temptations to impurity is to talk about purity. (Irony is not, of course, lost.) We talk about purity a lot and there are different approaches. One is what I call the Shock Approach. It goes like this:

Impurity is bad because PORNOGRAPHY. (In which I mean that some sort of sexual encounter is somewhat described, either in a positive light, as in a pure sexual encounter, or in a negative light...or else pornography is talked about in abstract terms.)

Then there is the Sentimental Approach which can be summed up as:

Purity is good because LAMBS AND KITTENS. (In which I mean that purity is seen as a glowing light filled action which can not but inspire those who encounter it with joy and Innocence.)

Thirdly there is the Intellectual Approach which generally proceeds thus:

It would seem that Purity is good because our approach to people ought to be grounded in HUMAN DIGNITY.

I always thought these approaches to purity were a little unhelpful, silly, or unhelpful. (Not a typo) For one thing, the Shock approach does not promote innocence or purity because it just talks about sex, which inherently won't make you impure but it certainly is not going to make being pure easier. Plus, pushing something like purity with shock just seems against the nature of purity (Intellectual Approach alert), which is unassuming and humble.

Being Sentimental is one my pet peeves, but I will not go ahead and blanketly condemn it. That would be silly. However, to reduce purity or any sort of virtuous endeavour to something which is meant to appeal to children, or appeal just to the emotional part of the self, the virtue may not last any longer than the emotion or your childhood. Which would be a shame.

Talking in the abstract, however, as the Intellectual Approach leads us to, is no more helpful. We can talk about how we are all made in the image of God and that means that we have human dignity (whatever that may mean), but without a firm relationship with Jesus Christ Himself, our understanding of God's Image and Human dignity will be rather stunted. 

In the end, the development of any Christian virtue, such as purity, can only come through a relationship with the Trinity. We can talk purity and push purity, talk modesty, gender roles, promote innocence, fight cynicism, but in the end we will do well only if we promote a culture of faith and spiritual renewal.