Monday, October 03, 2005

Temptations

We each have different temptations. If you put me in a room with every known narcotic, it would be no temptation. I would sit there, bored, with no real temptation. So for me to resist "temptation" is no big deal. I do have real temptations. Why do you think I killed free cell and solitaire on my computer?

Each of us has their own sexual attractions. I see it as similar to the way baby ducks imprint on the first thing they see, as their mother. It is likely our sexuality is crafted in a similar but much more complex way. Since attraction of the forbidden also comes into play here, nature and nurture are mixed in a way difficult to untangle. It is like depression that can have a physical, emotional, or spiritual cause.

Being familiar with OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the thing Howard Hughes had), it has some interesting implications for "urges". In OCD, someone can have an obsession that is not real. Like thinking; if they go for a ride, there will be a crash, or their clothes have become "contaminated" from dropping to the ground, or they are not clean, and must shower for hours, because they don't "feel" clean.

With behavior modification training, it is possible to actually change the way the brain works about these things, (proved by PET scans). While we are messing about with things we only know dimly, & are far from having any kind of true understanding, it may be possible to manipulate our "urges". Our simplistic ideas need to change.

If/when we do understand how to manipulate these basic urges, great care will need to be taken. Like with medications for depression and ADD, often the temptation will be to try to fix the inconvenient, rather than pathological. We may lose part of what makes us human.

Knowing all are fallen, no one is immune to temptation, means it isn't just a matter of finding "safe" people, who won't be tempted. I have always found it interesting Billy Graham refuses to be alone with a woman. Is that being hyper-vigilant? Or is it knowing your weakness, and not putting temptation in front of you?

The Catholic decision about Gays and ordination, can be seen as removing temptation, but is likely to be too broad a brush, akin to the Moslem practice of hiding women from view, so no man can be tempted. When we impose limits on who can serve God, we must be very careful we don't tell God; "You can't work that way.", and miss a leading of the Spirit. God seems quite fond of using broken pottery. Just read the Bible. This has major implications for the PCUSA, if we are truly to hear God in this, liberals will need to understand there is no right to ordination, and evangelicals will need to understand God may be working in unusual places, and for each of us to truly listen to God.

Jesus was tempted as we are, but his great temptation would have been to just skip the suffering. Not to become fully human. Here is a poem on the subject.

I Became Man

The devil tempted Me
not to be truly human.
Tempted Me to just
skip the suffering.

When I was tempted.
The offer was real.
I became fully man
and suffered with you.

Because I love you
I came to suffer.
I truly suffered for you.
Endured pain for you.

On that cross I hung
bearing full weight of sin.
The nails were real
driven into real flesh.

I died on that cross.
To free you from sin.
Then rose in three days.
With vic'tory over death.
(Matthew 4:1-11)
Inspired by homily by Fr. Michael M.
┬ęPresbypoet, February 13, 2005

Is this one of our temptations, to resist God when he calls us through suffering to be refined and transformed?

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