17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.
A sixteen-year-old Augustine arrived at Carthage to continue his education. Right at the beginning of his stay he went through some morally distressing experiences, which he recalled and described in his Confessions. Not only does he present the facts but assesses their significance for his spiritual development.
"So I arrived at Carthage, where the din of scandalous love- affairs raged cauldron-like around me. I was not yet in love, but I was enamoured with the idea of love. … I polluted the stream of friendship with my filthy desires and clouded its purity with hellish lusts; yet all the while, befouled and disgraced though I was, my boundless vanity made me long to appear elegant and sophisticated. I blundered headlong into the love which I hoped would hold me captive, but in your goodness, O my God, my mercy, you sprinkled bitter gall over my sweet pursuits. I was loved, and I secretly entered into an enjoyable liaison, but I was also impeded myself with fetters of distress, laying myself open to jealousy, suspicion, fear, anger and quarrels."
Augustine’s painfully honest words leave no doubt that after an idle year in Thagaste, where he spent a good deal of time in bad company, he came to a big city and indulged his passions. He recalls them with sorrow and assesses them in a clearly negative way. First and foremost, he tries to be honest with God, himself, and the reader. Sex is a gift from God that requires special care, humility, and responsibility. Lent is a suitable time to take another look at this important aspect of our lives. In its assessment we too face the dangers of both exaggeration and whitewashing. Some people cannot jettison the heavy baggage of negative experiences weighing them down, even after years of trying. They can even believe that God has forgiven them, yet they cannot forgive themselves. Others follow the spirit of our times and fail to notice their own faults, however serious they might be.
“Lord, enable us to properly assess our behaviour. Help us to seek and accept forgiveness from you, from others and from ourselves”.