As I covered in early December with Part One - The Fall of this series, Adam and Eve went from being naked and unashamed to having to cover themselves up because they were now inclined to look upon each other with selfish motives instead of seeing through the accidentals of the person to the essence of the person created in the image and likeness of God. Having an inclination toward sin we now must dress with modesty to facilitate the curbing of this inclination toward the sins of the flesh.
Dress for Success with and for God
This segment today deals with modesty, something you find abundantly in traditional circles, but lacking greatly for the most part in Novus Ordo company.
You may not realize it, but many "good 'Catholic' women" insist that it is okay to dress like a harlot because it is ("good to behold and pleasing to the eye") their body and they mistake the concept that their body is "good to behold and pleasing to the eye" for anyone to look at. Part and parcel of society's slide toward hell on the slippery slope.
These women claim defiantly that they can do with their bodies what they want with it and if presenting yourself to the public in a way that one would present themselves to their husband on their honeymoon leads men to sin then that is the man's problem and not the "ladies", or more accurately if ladies are to women what gentlemen are to men, the "woman's" or "whore in appearance's" problem.You can see where the serpent continues to accelerate his activities. I wonder how many women who make this claim spend the morning looking in the mirror contemplating the lustful looks that they will get later in the day and how beautiful or special those looks will make them feel.
It seems that most women who embrace all that the Catholic Church teaches have rightly garbed themselves in proper, modest clothing; wearing appropriate dresses that reach to the ankles and take great care to cover their shoulders and front bodice. Contrast this with the vast feminine majority who have conveniently convinced themselves that a dress or skirt to the ground is outrageously hotter than shorts and tank top. I have seen these light fabric dresses and they do not look that warm to me nor do the ladies that wear them look uncomfortable in the slightest. And if they are, then traditional Catholic ladies offer it up in reparation for sins as all Catholics are taught to do. What the women who dress the way our culture dictates say though is that "It is already 100 degrees out and these people in the long skirts think they are better than us" (yes these women are over the age of five) or something to the effect that it is nuts to wear a long dress if it is warm or hot out. Do you see how the devil slithers in to plant rationalization for being immodest?
My question to these women who want to wear what they want is not rhetorical. I really want to know from them if a light fabric dress or skirt is that much warmer at all? I really do not know in that it has been a while since I have worn a dress. In fact, the last dress I wore was my baptismal gown and I can only thank my parents for that. The reason I ask is because it seems to me that some women get incredibly defensive when confronted by this issue and feel they are being attacked personally when the topic comes up. I would think if I was comfortable morally with the way I dressed that such a topic would not bother me in the least. In fact I would admire the person for raising the bar a bit as opposed to immediately jumping to the conclusion that I was being condemned. I believe it was Saint Paul who said rebuke with charity in season and out of season. It would be more of an inspiration to me if, for instance, someone could share their belief that you need to pray four hours a day to be a better Christian. Well if I only prayed two hours a day I would think wow maybe I could pray more. I would not think to myself, "How dare he suggest such a thing and offend me like that. I'm good enough as I am and I do not need to improve."
I give the prayer suggestion as an example of how people continually live in denial in order to avoid suffering or "extra work." In God's Grand Design there is no "extra work". He is very economical in that all our good works get rewarded 100-fold; but what is that to those who are concerned only about how they are perceived and with the here and now?
I am not saying that not praying four hours a day is as bad as dressing immodestly. But speaking of prayer just think how many hours you could pray if you woke up an hour earlier to pray, prayed during the time when you would normally watch TV, while traveling to and from work and count the daily Mass time as part of the 4 hours. Four hours might not be that hard after all. In fact, is not wearing modest clothes and bearing up under whatever comfort one might have to forego in public a prayer of penance? I would think so if that is the intention - to please God, not man.
I use the prayer analogy because the same holds true regarding modest dress. It takes a little humility to say I can do better. Or even to admit what I am doing may not necessarily be wrong or sinful but I have room for improvement. Wherever you see statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary she is totally modest. Note, I am not referring to the aberrations that pass as modern art that totally demean and blaspheme Our Lady. Throughout the history of her approved apparitions, she has always appeared in a gown draped to her ankles. Even though her clothes may change within the countries she has appeared and during the various centuries she did appear, she was always modest. Never has the Blessed Mother compromised her modesty. No pants or low cut blouses; no skin above her feet or below her neck is seen. Not in the 5th century and not now. It is not a mere coincidence that our Lady dresses modestly. I believe the Blessed Virgin is the prime ideal for modesty and purity. I admit that going from immodest to modest dress, from pants to strictly skirts and dresses or from form-fitting to loose may be difficult to follow initially, but a truly virtuous person should at least be able to admit that such dressing is possible and that they can do better and give some credit to those who raise the bar a bit higher rather than condemn or be jealous of the people that make you take an honest look at yourself.
Temptation is never fashionable
Speaking of temptations, raising the bar higher, and admitting you could improve, let us now speak about dating someone that we know from the beginning is someone we would or should not consider for the Holy vocation of matrimony. I speak to this subject because this was a problem I had and figure perhaps other people have the same problem or are raising children that might run into the same problem. Naturally I never even considered back then that such a thing might be wrong. We think, or should I say, we avoid thinking, in a way that is very convenient for our current life style.
When Jesus suffered in the Garden and while He was dying on the cross He had in His mind the sins of all man-kind, each and every individual sin of each and every individual that ever walked or would walk the planet and this grieved Him so.
He also saw the times when each of us would be tempted and would not succumb to that temptation for His sake and this was a great consolation to Him during this salvific trial of great suffering.
Here we must consider what sin is. Sin is that which goes against the moral order that God has set up and is thereby something that is disrespectful and offensive to God, detrimental to the one who commits the sin and detrimental to all others in the Mystical Body of Christ for when each sin committed, no matter how personal, the whole Mystical Body of Christ is brought down. So too, each good act raises the Mystical Body of Christ back up. I believe this is what Saint Paul alludes to when he says that he makes up for what is lacking in the suffering of Christ. You see, some do what they think is the minimal amount that they have to do to get saved - woe to them if they fall short of this goal - while others willingly endure sufferings for the sake of the souls that otherwise would not make it.
Since the fall of man - mankind has been afflicted by concupiscence i.e. he has been inclined toward evil - preferring what he perceives to be an immediate good in and of itself for the sake of itself and for the sake of himself which thereby leads to choices that tend to be selfish or self-seeking, not motivated by the love of God but motivated by the love of self apart from the love of God.
This concupiscence gives man the tendency to take a good and use it for a reason that is less than good or evil due to improper or impure motives or under circumstances that render the act immoral.
For instance, God gave us food so that we may live and He also made eating pleasurable because of its vitalness for life and because of the love He has for us. God wants us to enjoy that which is necessary for keeping ourselves alive and the human race in existence. Now when we eat merely for the sake of eating, merely for the pleasure it gives us and eat things that are not good for us on a regular basis we commit the sin of gluttony. For our body is a temple of the Holy Ghost and when we disrespect our body we are showing disrespect for our Lord who created our body and used His body as the Redemptive instrument when He died on the cross so that our bodies may rise from the dead on the last day and join our immortal souls in Heaven.
Only by transforming from Eros to Caritas to Agape can true love last
The same holds true for sex. God created sex for the propagation of the human race in order to populate Heaven. Sex in and of itself is a good when used in the proper context and is evil when used in an improper context. The proper context is a life-long commitment between a male and a female that God calls in marriage. The fruit of marriage is children who are dependent on both their mother and their father to be available to them, to love them, to teach them, to provide for them, to nurture them, to discipline them, to instill in them moral values and to bring them to Christ. These things are difficult to do for your children when you are not there. The raising of children is a two person job and those two people are fittingly to be the ones responsible for bringing them into the world. God established the Natural Law of procreation with the family unit, providing us the perfect ideal of this with the Holy Family where Mary was the Heart of the Family, Joseph the Head of the Family, and Jesus, in setting the example for us all, the perfect obedient Son.
Joseph and Mary were totally chaste. Their love was truly the highest kind of love - agape - for love of God. Marriage partners can also be chaste and attain this degree of love in regards to respecting the other and striving to give to the other. In fact, no marriage will survive if it is built on eros alone. That is why there are so many divorces today and misery, because of selfishness. If one wants to be happily married, one must be totally selfless and love God thoroughly. Modesty and chastity go hand in hand. In marriage this does not necessarily mean the husband and wife refrain from sex, but treat the act as a gift from God, not an erotic pleasure for self gratification. Pleasing God and your betrothed is the essence of sex as God intended. Sex between a potential mother and father that have committed to God and each other for life within the Holy bond of Matrimony that God ordained through the order of the Sacrament is good, holy, and absolutely necessary for God's plan to come to fruition. Sex is also pleasurable because it is vital to life (the preservation of the species) and the procreative act is also pleasurable, I believe, for the secondary reason of holding the couple together during the difficult times that inevitably arise when fallen man tries to get along in a relationship and perhaps also as a motivational factor to our adding to the family of God's human race, one soul at a time, so the vacant seats of the fallen angels can be filled in Heaven giving glory to God for eternity. The alleviation of concupiscence is a great aid in quenching the fire of passion that sometimes consumes the majority of people in existence who are plunged into the whirlpool of eros.
But when we allude to our concupiscence, our fallen human nature and our tendency to misuse things for our own personal pleasure we are talking about sin and the grief we added to Christ's burden on that terrible, wonderful day that He died for those sins that weighed so heavily upon Him. In order to lift ourselves out of the eros quagmire, we must be selfless and that means helping others not for humanistic purposes but rather out of love for God. When we have mastered that kind of charity to our spouse, family and neighbor we have reached the next level of caritas.
But caritas has its pitfalls if we stop there. Humanism can creep in and that leads to backsliding where we are back where we started at eros and our inhibitions betray us. Due to our fallen human nature we are no longer naked and unashamed. We try to control one another and use one another for our own gratification or benefit apart from the will of God and the common good of all.
When one becomes familiar with one who is not one's spouse and does not have the potential for becoming one's spouse, one puts oneself (due to our fallen human nature and our inclination to sin) in the near occasion of sin.
Unless a man is a eunuch or does not have the natural inclination toward a member of the opposite sex, familiarity is an occasion of sin. It is an opportunity to see someone for what they can do or how they can make you feel as opposed to seeing them for who they are and wanting only what would be beneficial for their immortal soul.
Of course, generally speaking, this does not apply within the family, or among relatives of the opposite sex. We can and should be able to hold and hug and be familiar with our next of kin. But this familiarity between members of the opposite sex does happen in the workplace. Women, now, for various reasons feel that they must forgo children and go to work or have children and go to work and neither of these atypical alternatives is a good situation for those inclined toward the marital act but not married. Neither is this a good situation for the family or the society as a whole. Avoiding what God made you to do for selfish reasons is akin to using a vacuum cleaner to mow the lawn. The vacuum was designed to pick up dust and dirt off the carpet but the vacuum says to itself, "I know I could us my manufacturer given ability to clean the carpet but I believe this limits me and holds me back. I am going to break the glass ceiling imposed on me and mow the grass. You are not fulfilling your designed purpose. You are going through your life burying your talents like the unfaithful steward. God is stern and expects interest to be made on the gifts He has given you. Saying I went through my whole life without killing myself and even managed to accumulate wealth in the process does not cut it with God.
Overcoming The Sexual Revolution
Men, now, due in great part to the sexual revolution and the pill, encounter many scantily clad women in the workplace. They are in a position now where they must interact with members of the opposite sex on a regular basis. The virtuous men have to interact with the scantily clad women without looking at them which is even more difficult. They now must juggle the appropriateness of their interactions maintaining a healthy balance between being cordial, polite, and courteous and being cold, rigid and standoffish.
But women in the workplace is how things are now, whether this is due to man's mistreatment of the woman, woman's warped perception of authentic freedom, some combination of the above and or other reasons - and women in the workplace is therefore something that must be dealt with by single and married men (and women) in a Godly manner.
When interacting with the opposite sex in the workplace I believe that we are to be civil, cordial, respectful and dress properly - but we must avoid undue familiarity due to the occasion of sin it presents to us.
Marriages are built upon relationships that start out as friendship. Talking, eye-contact which usually results from talking, a pat on the back, a hug, are all things that can form the basis of a permanent relationship with the responsibilities that come with it - in fact this is how most friendships that lead to marriage start.
Before the fall, all these familiarities between members of the opposite sex would not be an occasion of sin because of our oneness with God. We would be properly ordered and inclined to do the good and avoid the evil, do things for the sake of others and out of love for God without any impure or selfish motives.
After the fall we have married members of the opposite sex becoming familiar with those who are not their spouse, through the exchanging of flirtatious glances, touching in a way that is implied to be friendly but which is also done for our own personal gratification, and through the showing of the parts of the body (through immodest dress) that should be reserved to the spouse alone. These flirtatious glances, touching in a way that is implied to be friendly but are done also for our own personal gratification, showing parts of the body (through immodest dress) are not only occasions of sin but are sinful in themselves when one or more of the individuals is married to someone other than the one they are being familiar with and can even be sinful when neither party is married depending on motives, intent and circumstances. Immodest dress in public is always objectively sinful and is quite often an occasion of sin to many of those attracted to you.
The manner of dressing and the familiarities we have been talking about are sins against the 6th and 9th commandments and are forms of adultery when those being gawked at are someone else's spouse - for if a man even looks at a another man's wife lustfully he has committed adultery with her in his heart. If you would like to give yourself the chance to see the things we are talking about more objectively the questions to ask here is would you like women to look at your husband the way men look at you and would you like women touching your husband the way you let men touch you? Would you like your husband touching women the way you touch men? Actually this is not so much a question as to whether you would like it or not but more accurately it is a question of whether these actions are morally sound or not. When we do these things are we acting the way a faithful spouse should act? If not, let us change the way we are acting.
So familiarity with member of the opposite sex would probably not pose such a problem were it not for our fallen human nature though, dating someone that you would not consider as a potential spouse is, in and of itself, selfish, self-seeking and misleading even if we do not think of it or intend it to be that way.
Yet despite all this, we are to build one another up - and a friendly smile or a nice hug from a member of the opposite sex, in my perhaps not so pure opinion (when both parties are not married) can brighten one's day (in my case it can make my week) and lift someone up and be a genuine act of charity and kindness with the purist of motives despite our fallen human nature. Many times this can be the case for the one but not for the other (a person giving the hug may do so in an entirely pure way but the person receiving it may not take it that way or vice versa) and then the one is putting the other in the occasion of sin and is perhaps causing that person to sin.
Many times we can fool ourselves into thinking that our intentions and motives are 100% pure when in fact they are only 75% pure - at the most. We must deny ourselves, daily, take up our cross and follow Him. If for our personal sanctity we need to avoid raising our eyes to avoid the occasion of impure glances we me must do so without purposely intending to be cold or offend people by seeming not to care about them because we do not raise our eyes.
Suppose someone reading this right now feels inspired to raise their bar of sanctity higher but are in a quandary because they are already in familiar relationships with associates or fellow workers of the opposite sex. That is why Lent is so vital in conditioning us to curb our concupiscence through fasting, self-denial and prayer and it begins with doing all we can to avoid the near occasions of sin. We might wonder what such a fellow worker who is used to a big friendly smile from me will think when I ignore her or just give her a serious nod of the head. Should we even consider such an abrupt change from one day to the next?
The advice I was given by a very wise man was that we must wean ourselves from such situations by gradually avoiding the places where we normally both see each other if at possible. This can be done by staying at your desk more and walking around the hallways less for instance. But apart from that, perhaps just file this information away and use it when new circumstances arise. If you avoid familiarity to begin with you won't have to wean yourself from that familiarity later.
Now when I speak of women in the workplace in a derogatory sense I am talking about a general norm in a God-fearing society. One might call to mind the Christendom of the 13th century where a female would get married or become a religious and have either one full-time job devoted completely to God or they would devote themselves completely to God through devotion to their husband and children. Never was it expected of the lady to engage in the two full-time jobs of raising a family and leaving your house to go into the workplace which has become so prevalent in today's society which is no longer God-fearing or civilized.
That being said, since many do not believe in God or have a mistaken notion of Who He is, they would not consider giving their life to God or offering their life to Him through the most noble vocation of, spouse and mother, devoting their time to the raising of Godly children through being with their children at home and providing the wage earner with the comforts of turning a house into a home as devoted wife who does no more than what God expects of her.
I have not looked deeply into the women in the workplace issue and therefore I have not considered the issue apart from the perspective of the selfishness that is involved by the parents who agree that abandoning their children for a large part of the day 5 days a week during the years they are needed most by their children is the right course of action for them to take.
So my current thought on the issue unless I learn otherwise is that of course women
should be allowed to work - we can't pass a law that says only single women and women with children but no husband can work - and it would be ludicrous for women not to make the same amount of money as a man would make for doing the same job. In fact there should be more leniencies for the woman called to marriage whose husband loses his job when they become pregnant in regards to paid time off.
A God-fearing society would not be composed of numerous un-wed mothers who really do need to work - because no one would be having sex outside of marriage but a God-fearing society would have the support system of numerous people from large families that would be conducive to supporting the basic necessities for the single wage-earner family and the widow and her children in a reasonable fashion. Our money would not be going to irresponsible people but to unfortunate people. There is a HUGE distinction here that seems to have gone unnoticed other than to give us an excuse to kill our babies. Selfishness and the "me" factor, complicates things, "I want brand name this and brand name that and long vacations and two cars and the best of everything for everyone in my family so I just gotta work" does not come from a God-fearing person with the purest of motives nor does the "I gotta have sex and if I have children then that is society's problem and not mine" come from a God-fearing person. These people have no fear until Judgment day.
Society should be able to handle its own in a God-fearing world. For in a God-fearing world, people are not having sex outside of marriage, or aborting their children or using contraception, so in a God-fearing world there are big families and many people to support people in their old age or to support young widows and their children.
Women in the workplace, whether men are partially blame for this predicament or not is a cause of great rejoicing for Satan. He wins many souls through this route.
All these things I am saying sound ludicrous to the modern world and that is because Satan has turned the trick and we have fallen for it.