Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Excerpt from the Conclusion of "The Meaning of Virtue"

Life, being as it is, my book on the meaning of what virtue really is, goes by starts and jumps. But it is close to done! And the goal is to be done by Christmas. But I just discovered a wealth of material on narcissism...... later.

But for now, this is the conclusion. Enjoy!

Virtue is not merely an important commandment, or an important aspect of the Gospel – it IS the central goal of Gospel. It is the Abrahamic Covenant, and the uniting of families in eternal marriage, both our immediate families, and the families of all who will repent, both in the world, and in eternity. It is what exaltation and godhood consists of.

Faith, Virtue, Knowledge..... these are the beginning of the traits we need to be partakers of the divine nature and to be like God, as are Faith, hope and charity. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and the amount of charity that we have is limited by how virtuous we are. Enduring love for either that special someone, or even for the rest of humanity necessitates actual virtue.

We are virtuous so that we might be filled with love. Pornography and non-marital sex were brought forth to destroy sealings and both loving and covenant relationships. Virtue impels us to empathy, while forcing us away from narcissism and pleasing ourselves. We can not serve two masters, for the spirit that impels us towards one, is in opposition to the other. We can not be unvirtuous without losing both the capacity to hear the still small voice of the Spirit of God, and eventually, the cries of man. Virtue is inseparable from our ability to feel. We are temples, and we must understand the body is holy.

The Fall of Man brought a change in our natures, so that unless we are continually spiritually reborn, we become carnal and sensual and devilish. Not only did it bring a separation from God, it also set man and women at variance with each other. We were given weakness, so that we might be humble, and so that we can be humble, and by our humility, draw near to Christ. We need to overcome and tame our weaknesses, so that we can filled with love. Abusing the hormonal highs of intimacy saps our passion slowly, while increasing our hunger. It focuses us on ourselves.

We must be born again, over and over again. We need to see our bodies as sacred, so that we treat them as such, and become holy ourselves. We can not treat the body lightly, either ours or anothers, without seeing ourselves or others, lightly. If we do not understand ourselves as holy, we do not comprehend ourselves as children of God. We need to leave the World behind even while we must live in the midst of it.

But virtue is not simply for its own existence – it is the proper relation of husband and wife and family. Mere celibacy is not sufficient to receive the blessings this commandment is predicated to reach. Though if we can not marry, celibacy should be joyful. Joy is not optional.
The center of the Gospel is the Family. It is the enduring unit of organization in Eternity. When we leave this life, we take nothing, but what we have learned, who we are, and the eternal bonds of family we have forged and sealed in this life. Virtue is what sustains those holy bonds, and even what makes them possible. This is the heart of what the Abrahamic Covenant is, and the central feature of our final exaltation. Our relationships are inseparable from our exaltation. No one is saved alone.

Eternal marriage is consecration at its finest. We can not fully accept Christ, without accepting this law. This is not something we can casually remove from the Gospel or alter to suit modern sensibilities, because is both the goal and the living of the Gospel. Immorality is a subtle idolatry. Virtue is worship, and is the consecration needed for exaltation. For many of us, is it the defining sacrifice (Abrahamic Trial) where we truly give our all and like Abraham, put everything we cherish on the alter. This moment of personal Gethsemane is something we all must pass through, if we wish to become like the Son of God.

Virtue has everything to do with coming back into the presence of The Father and The Son.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is Casual Sex Destroying Empathy?

There is an interesting article by Susan Walsh on her dating advice site - Is Casual Sex Destroying Empathy?

A recurring theme in conversations about dating is the general lack of empathy between the sexes. Women feel that men just want to use and discard them, with little consideration of their emotional needs. Men feel that women focus on just a few alpha males, ignoring all the good guys who are relationship material. (The alpha males have no complaints.)
I’d never thought specifically about empathy vs. narcissism but it turns out they’re technical opposites. The Empathy Deficit, an article in last Sunday’s Boston Globe, explores the rise of narcissism in relation to the decline of empathy among college students. Keith O’Brien begins by pointing out that despite young people being more wired to one another than ever before, there’s a lack of emotional connectedness showing up in studies. We know more about one another than in any previous era, but we care less. A new study at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found that college students are 40% less empathetic than they were 30 years ago, with most of the decline occurring in the last ten years. (emphasis mine)
And why is this? In short, the sexual market place being what it is, people are rewarded for their narcissism.

The contemporary narcissism epidemic is well documented. My Are You Dating a Narcissist? post is one of my most frequently read, and still receives comments after more than a year. I also get many hits on the 20 Identifiable Traits of a Female Narcissist post. And we know that male narcissists are often very successful with women – in a sexual marketplace that rewards narcissism without limits, it is hardly surprising that men would respond to those incentives by cultivating traits that women find sexually attractive.
Since the definition of hooking up means “having zero expectations of further contact,” there’s little incentive to know one’s sexual partner, and if we don’t know them, we can hardly be expected to have an emotional response to their distress....... Researchers don’t believe that college students have lost the capacity for caring. It’s more a case of the incentives rewarding not caring.
Narcissism is significant because it is the root cause of the entitlement complex our culture seems to have become caught up in, as well as a loss of empathy, and obsession with materialism and greed.

This is the real meaning of the verse, "Bridle your passions that you might be filled with love".