Every teenager discovers the abyss of desire, but during the first years of that lifelong encounter, he/she does not understand the insatiable nature of it. Desire, in all its worldly forms, especially the impetuous sexual kind, is a bottomless pit. While it does lead to intense pleasure and a lot of fun, desire does not lead directly to lasting fulfillment.
As a person travels, through this life, deeper into the bottomless pit of desire, he/she will experience momentary satisfactions, but they are always short-lived, sometimes only instantaneous. Periods of yearning or striving between sexual release can be very frustrating.
True love, on the other hand, bears a sumptuous fruit called deep fulfillment. Our experience has shown that faithful lifetime union with one sexual partner provides the deepest expression of this fulfillment.
That spouse becomes, in fact, much more than a regular sexual partner. That person becomes, as life is lived, an invaluable partner in every avenue of life, not just the sexual one. In fact, the sexual union becomes, when healthily and regularly expressed, secondary in importance as the couple grows old together.
The sojourn of life, taken as a whole, is something like climbing up a mountain, and away from the abyss. When you are young, just starting out, you may be in a forest or some such occluded position, unable to determine your position in relation to everything else around. You are clueless and you don’t know where the hell you are.
Our experience shows that if you can find a life partner, the journey is much easier, and more meaningful, because you can share your thoughts and feelings along the way. Sharing burdens makes them easier to bear. The sharing itself is easier to accomplish if your partner is intimately familiar.
This climb up life’s mountain is strenuous; by the time you get to the top, you’re plumb worn-out. But guess what, when you reach that incredible height—with the life long lived in the distant environs behind you—the perspective is a broader panorama. You can see clearly where you’ve been and where you are; you can more accurately determine your location in relation to everything else around, and the wide world.
This is called wisdom; it is something you accrue as you ascend the mountain of this existence.
What about when you get to the top? I call that arrival maturity, or old age, or maybe, in some contexts, retirement. But guess what. You can’t stay up there forever; there’s not much to eat up there, and the only water is what falls from the sky, and it gets cold. So you have to walk back down. But hey, as you descend that mountain of life, you find the traveling to be less strenuous than the climb up was, and easier to manage because you know where you’ve been and you know where you’re going, and of course you have gravity working with you instead of against you. It’s all downhill from here.
That cliché could have a double meaning of course: it’s all downhill from here. The descent is not as demanding as the climb up, but it is degenerative, insofar as you discover that the old body, having ascended to the heights, ain’t what it used to be. In fact, it might be downright falling apart. So you need to take it slow and easy going down. Don’t get in a big hurry. Speed is for young bucks. Old folks can just enjoy a stoll.
Along the way, the abyss of desire has always beckoned, but together you’ve handled it well. If you haven’t handled it well—well, life goes on anyway, and you’re still kicking.
Our experience shows that having a community of support in the life expedition is quite helpful. But that help should be authentic, which means trustworthy, and consistent with our individual purposes, not diverting us from our chosen mission. In regards to the abyss of desire, that troupe of people with whom you’re sojourning must strengthen and encourage the faithful bond that further unites a man with his wife. The truly precious community honors the marriage bed and does not intrude upon the hard-earned bond.
That is very different than, say, other groups or entities (such as show business) in this world whose intent may be to titillate or distract faithful couples from their fruitful union. You know what I’m talking about—forces like tv or the internet or sketchy work situations.
Take Twitter for instance. It can be a fun little ditty; it can be a useful communication tool. But when an old fart like me get tweets from unknown women accompanied by suggestive pictures, it is a useless diversion; in fact, it’s damned dangerous, because it beckons me, deceptively, to answer the death call of the abyss instead of the faithful union that I and my wife have worked so hard to achieve. You may think, Freudian-like, that I’m repressing some legitimate desire to have sex with other women.
I’m not suppressing any good thing; I am resisting, to use an old-fashioned term, the evil so that the good can continue to flourish. I don’t care what Janis sang before she od’d. You don’t necessarily do a thing because it feels good. The deceptive allure of those online women, or live ones for that matter, is as hollow and misleading as an empty wine bottle, as short-lived as Eve’s apple which disappears in the eating of it or is cast aside to rot after a few bites.
Sexual fidelity in this life yields what we Christians call the fruits of righteousness. They are delicious, nutritious, and very satisfying. Couples who learn to truly love one another, learn also how to utilize the sexual union in a way that intensifies and simplifies their life purpose together.
Here’s one last thought about that downhill walk from life’s mountaintop. These days, we have a multitude of man-made medical procedures and pharmaceutical extenders to keep us propped-up so we can keep the journey going, instead of terminating at a point that it might have ended in earlier periods of history. So with stuff like blood pressure medicine and Viagra and whatnot around, the experience of aging on that downhill stroll is in a kind of uncharted territory. Be careful how you handle surgeries and chemical substances. Don’t eat the green acid or whatever.
And keep your sights set—not so much on yourself–but on the one for whom you have cared, and who has cared for you. Consider also those others whom you hold dear, and you’ll not stray too terribly far from the favorable course. Then lo and behold you encounter at the bottom of the mountain a valley of death that takes you, whether you like it or not, into the abyss that you were able to elude for so long.
You need fear no evil, but defeat it. Christ can help you with this.