Live Catholic Faith with eyes of pure love

Our Lord links the beatitude, Blessed are the pure in heart, to the sixth and ninth
commandments—Thou shalt not commit adultery nor covet thy neighbor’s wife. As Christ says:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one
who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew
5:27-28), equating lustful looks to adultery, the mortal sin that destroys our ability to see God in
other people on earth or in heaven. Is this exaggerated? Is looking at pornography really a sin?
Does it really hurt anybody?

Consider a young couple, boyfriend-girlfriend, walking down the street together, holding
hands and enjoying each other, when an immodestly dressed woman comes walking by. The
young man, being weak in this area, takes some glances at her… then, turning his head, his eyes
latch on to her… as he does runs into a telephone pole! Now how would his girlfriend react?
Hurt? Angry? You bet! But why? Because he was unfaithful to her with his eyes. His actions said
to his girlfriend: “Guess what, Honey, you’ve got competition and you happen to be losing that
competition right now.” Ouch! This would kill their relationship.

Looking at pornography says to God or to our Blessed Mother: “Guess what, God
(Mary), you’ve got competition and you happen to be losing that competition right now.” It
would be a mortal sin that would kill our relationship with him. So our Lord goes on to say:

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that
you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your
right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your
members than have your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

So, if your smartphone causes you to sin, replace it with a dumb-phone; it is better for
you to go to heaven without a smartphone than to be thrown into hell with one. The same could
be said of electronics in the bedroom or bathroom, FaceBook, cable television…—whatever is an
occasion of sin for us—it would be better to go to heaven without.

Some may think: “This is so negative. Do we have to go through life with blinders on?”
No, of course not. Our struggle can and should be very positive.

Let’s revisit our example. We see the young couple, boyfriend-girlfriend, walking down
the street together, holding hands and enjoying each other, when again an immodestly dressed
woman comes walking by. This time the young man doesn’t look. He pretends that he doesn’t
notice this voluptuous woman… rather he turns his head to look into his girlfriend’s eyes. Now
how would his girlfriend react? Happy… proud! His actions said: “I only have eyes for you.” It
said more than “I love you dear” hundreds of times over. We say this to our Lord and Our Lady
when we turn away from pornographic images or thoughts—it is a positive act of love for them.

The young man can actually look forward to and be grateful these opportunities—part of
daily life—to affirm his love for his girlfriend by averting his eyes from lust and toward the
object of his love.
This doesn’t mean he takes his girlfriend to a burlesque show to prove to her
that he is not going to look. No, he just avoids lustful shows and every occasion of sin.

So our affirmation of love includes the grave obligation to avoid the occasions of sin. We
need to avoid pornography—images and movies that provoke our sensuality—and any occasion
of pornography. Let’s not fall for the lie that says this is just recreational enjoyment and entertainment. It is egregiously selfish lust to use other people and oneself as “objects” for one’s own personal enjoyment.

Immodest dress, touches, looks, passionate kissing, thoughts, desires, memories,
imaginations, or fantasies, for the purpose of some sexual pleasure outside of marriage also
offends God and the love of our lives.

So, keeping our heart and eyes pure is really about love: “A heart that loves God and
neighbor, genuinely and not merely in words, is a pure heart; it can see God… Keeping a heart
free of all that tarnishes love: that is holiness” (Gaudete et Exsultate 86). Purity of heart is also
essential for a happy marriage. Let us pray that each one of us can live this in our particular state
in life so that our young people can follow an example of true love!