Q: I was wondering if you have any advice for guys trying to remain pure. I know a lot of my friends and I have struggled in relationships because we found it so hard to remain pure with all of the pressure around us.
A: Thanks for the email, and I want to affirm you for pursuing purity. Here are a few tips that come to mind:
1. Recognize the near occasion of sin
If we keep putting ourselves in situations of temptation, we shouldn’t be surprised that we keep falling to the same sin. We need to be willing to identify those situations, whether it’s lying on the couch with a girlfriend or surfing the internet late at night. Just like an alcoholic would be wise to avoid spending time in bars, we shouldn’t keep returning to the places where temptation is overwhelming.
2. Sin is worse than awkwardness
I think that one reason we end up in unwanted situations is because it would’ve been awkward or unsmooth to abruptly stop or back away from a situation if it’s a near occasion of sin. It’s better to be awkward and avoid sin than to fall into sin because we’re afraid of looking or seeming weird.
This is a form of prayer that has always been huge in the Church, but we rarely hear about it today. We are made body and soul, and our souls are intimately connected with our bodies. Our bodily actions affect our souls, as we all know. We feel this all the time when it comes to sin, but it’s equally true when it comes to virtue. Sacrificing, or saying no to good things (like food, coffee, snacks, etc.) teaches us to control our physical desires and helps us begin to have self-control over our heart’s desires. In my own life, I’ve seen that when I’m regularly fasting, my own sense of purity and my self-control are much stronger.
4. Confess regularly
My wife had a pretty typical college experience at a state school, and she always says that the number one standard of her purity in college was whether or not she was regularly attending Confession. It’s not just the “Catholic guilt” that makes us feel bad when we have to say our sins, we also believe that God gives us new graces to avoid sin in the future. This has been true in my life. When I’m in the habit of going to Confession, my mind and heart are less clouded by sin and I am strengthened to make choices to grow in virtue.
Continue to surround yourself with friends who encourage your faith. As a guy, we need other men to strengthen us and help call us on to holiness. My friends challenge me to see God’s plan when I can’t see beyond my immediate situation. In close friendships, especially in any sort of romantic relationship, it’s important to know that the other person shares your values. When Courtney and I were dating, it was a huge blessing to know that she was also concerned and vigilant about protecting our purity. It can be difficult to find people who share our desire for purity, but you should never have to settle for someone who either tolerates your pursuit of chastity or sees it as something to be overcome.
Be sure of our prayers for you, “that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:15).
Do you have a question about dating and relationships you’d like to ask Brian and Courtney Kissinger? Email them at [email protected] and your question could be the next blog post!