I am behind on blogging AND my book... but here is a teaser for chapter 5.
Virtue is tied to our ability to feel. In deed, it is the worst offenders, rapists and abusers and murderers of the worst sort who have lost the ability to feel, to empathize with others, and their victims in particular. On the other hand, the ability of the Father and Son to comprehend all things we suffer, and they suffer with us. The ability to empathize is a trait common to all righteous men and women.
Empathy is important because it is necessary to us to be able to feel joy. So many of the 'little' indiscretions of virtue are hazardous because they dull our ability to feel, or at least the ability to feel as deeply and passionately as we could.
The ability to feel is important because joy is the measure of our creation and our reason to existence. If we can not feel, we can not fulfill the reason we were created for. The result of Laman and Lemuel's sins were that they were past feeling. Likewise,
Likewise, the rules given in the Word of Wisdom pertain to our bodies and their ability to feel and act. By governing and bridling them within the boundaries the Lord has set, we enhance our ability to feel joy. These boundaries and rules for the word of wisdom are the laws that pertain to taking care of our body.
In fact, one of the original Seven Deadly Sins, was Gluttony. It was not that food was evil, nor that Christ himself did not partake of food, but that we must govern that passion, or it will govern us.
Those who have abused illegal drugs in search of a high, in the end, can feel nothing at all. And while, the chemicals associated with sexual passion are natural, that is all the greater reason to obey Him who is the Creator of our bodies and spirits.
In fact, it is by taking our sexual passions out of the context of a permanent relationship, that we weaken our passions, and paradoxically, make it more addictive.
It is God who has created all these things. He created them because they are good and enjoyable, but like all potent things, they must be used with care, and in the proper way. That means we do not dull or ignore our feelings, but nor do we allow ourselves to carelessly act upon our passions. Our passions, if acted on without self-control, are destructive and self-defeating.
Now, I hasten to add, that in our age of excess, that as whole, I admire nuns. Their dedication is admirable, even if we disagree on some doctrinal points. Kathleen Norris, in her book, “The Cloister Walk” quotes a prioress, “Celibacy is not an excuse for being unhappy or uncharitable, to stuff feelings down, to become angry, or an iceberg…The worst sin against celibacy is to pretend to not have any affections at all. To fall in love is celibacy at work…Celibacy is not a vow to repress our feelings, it is a vow to put all our feelings, acceptable or not, close to our hearts and bring them into consciousness through prayer…the worst thing that we can do is to deny our true feelings and become rigid, afraid to relate.”