Theology of the Body // Continence

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Ephesians 5:1-20

The desire to emotionally connect with someone is a strong desire. Having a relationship can be something that we wish for more than anything. Relationships can seem like fairy tales at first. You meet a charming prince and before you know it, you’re on your way to happily ever after. Having emotions and desires, and being in a relationship are all good things. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship or having a loving, passionate love in your life.

What we need to keep in mind is that love is not a feeling or a sentiment, but a choice. If we want to be in a good, healthy relationship, we need to love ourselves as much as God loves us. Many of us have had relationships where the fairy tale turned into a tragedy instead. What we can learn, going forward, is how to maintain our integrity and authentic self.  

A lot of people think that relationships are always about how we feel and what our desires are. While having love is part of being in a relationship, the most important thing we need to know is that we need to look at love from God’s perspective. Part of that includes not allowing ourselves be consumed by our emotions and the desire to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in one. Today’s passage from Ephesians 5 gives us a guideline on practicing what I call “emotional chastity.” No matter what kind of lifestyle we lead, practicing emotional chastity gives us an outlet for channeling our love, whether it be through our marriage, our families, or our careers.

Ephesians 5:8-10 says,

“Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” The best way we can practice emotional chastity, the ability to discipline ourselves, is to center our lives on pleasing God first. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

When we channel our desires so that we desire to do God’s will first, everything else falls into place. God wills us to serve others before tending to our own egos, and calls us to be more considerate and compassionate. At the same time, we can also learn to love ourselves as we are, the way that God loves us, without relying on a relationship or some kind of outside commitment. As long as we remember to love ourselves and remind ourselves that God loves us, we can find our center and not seek love from lesser things.

Reflect: Where do we tend to seek our love from? Why do we look to things aside from God? What are some ways that we can do what is pleasing to the Lord?

Act: Read over the passage from Ephesians and find ways to practice gratitude in your daily life.