When we talk about the Theology of the Body, we usually talk about guarding our eyes and not revealing too much of our bodies, but what about our guarding our hearts and not revealing too much of our emotions?
The TOB is about the whole person, body and soul, and that certainly includes our emotions. Therefore, emotional chastity is just as important as trying to be physically chaste. Unfortunately, it’s a lot trickier. On the one hand, as I mentioned here previously, finding a spouse requires us to open ourselves up to another person and the possibility of love. But in doing so, it is easy, especially for women, to get a little carried away and fill our minds with unbridled sentimentality that ignores the truth about our relationships.
Like Elizabeth, I’m a work in progress when it comes to emotional chastity. I’m certainly not expecting or even hoping for a “perfect,” fairly-tale relationship, nor do I blindly see perfection in the men that I fall for. Nevertheless, the romantic “madwoman of the house” is alive and well inside my head and, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I often let myself be a total daydream believer. In fact, this post is largely prompted by the fact that not too long ago I made a complete fool of myself under that mad woman’s influence and probably permanently damaged a wonderful friendship that had developed over the past year. Stupid, stupid girl.
It may sound a bit harsh, but I think this point from St. Josemaria’s The Way is good advice for those of us who struggle with emotional chastity:
“If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee! Your poor heart, that’s what scandalizes you!
Press it, squeeze it tight in your hands: give it no consolations. And when it asks for them, say to it slowly and with a noble compassion — in confidence, as it were: ‘Heart, heart on the Cross, heart on the Cross!’” -The Way #163
More good reads: A few weeks ago the “Bright Maidens” explored the topic of emotional chastity. Their posts:
Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters
Cootie Shots and Conundrums
Easy Bake Love Story