"Are you so busy in life, that you missed the UNLIMITED LOVE, that came searching for you?"

Saturday 5 January 2013

Who is to be Blamed... or May be Something More?


This posting is never to offend the spirit of the protesters in Delhi and all those who are campaigning not only for a speedy justice to the victim, but also for a better tomorrow where women will be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. This is rather with regards to a poster that I happened to notice on the internet and the newspaper held by a protester with the message "Don't tell me how to dress, tell them not to rape".

I had no problem agreeing to the point made by the reporters / bloggers regarding the tendency of blaming the victim for the rape. But I found the message was overlooking some points that we need to seriously ponder upon.

There are two questions here.
  1. Who is at fault? Rapist or the 'modern' youth (male/female) who believes nobody should question the kind of costumes of his/her choice? (The word modern is in quotes, as it may represent a majority, but not all the youth of today)
  2. Can I do something to ensure the security of mine and my loved ones from a sexual assault?
I am trying to address these questions one by one.

1. Who is at fault? Rapist or the 'modern' youth who believes nobody should question one's choice of costumes

There are different types of people who end up becoming a rapist. For e.g.
  1. One who things he is above law, and no one will dare to question them. Even if they get booked, they use their influence and finally manage to get away.
  2. One who fears being caught, but is so overcome by lust that he things more of gratification than the consequences.
  3. One who have had sexual encounters before, and thinks that the victim may cooperate in the course of the attack.
  4. ...
  5. One is tempted by the immodest dressing of the woman and thinks that the she is inviting a sexual encounter, and he uses force when she objects.
There could be varying degree of gravity, but no one can escape saying that he raped someone because he was forced into it. Either he did it by a clear choice, or he was so weak at will to make the right choice even if he knew in heart that it was gravely wrong. So, rapist is surely at fault.

I see many women (and even men) getting men wrong. They think that men are typically very strong morally. When they find that they aren't, they brand those men as bad. Your brother, father, your most trusted male friend or colleague have generally something in common - they are by nature attracted to an attractive person of the opposite sex of visual appeal. It need not be lust. Whether it is lust or not depends upon the way he deals with this attraction. If the man responds with selfless love, and treats the person with respect, he wins over lust. It requires the grace of God to be pure at heart. But if one sees her as an object to be used, he gives in to lust. Jesus forbids lust in heart (and branded it as adultery already committed), but the advocates of "freedom" thinks that it doesn't matter what goes in your mind as long as you do not harm anyone. The 'modern' youth, who thinks he/she has the right to choose any attire when appearing in public, also feels that it is OK to wear revealing costumes and a flirting attitude, and that at the same time has the right to be protected by the civil authorities from any attack or sexual advances from a potential harasser/rapist.

What's the big deal? Can you not stop at harboring lust (I don't care if you do) and refrain from making any sexual advances?

Well, the truth is, one who has indulged in lust has already lost self control. Do not expect them to exercise any further self-control if they get an opportunity to harm you.

But how about the cases where the victim was dressed modestly, and fought valiantly against the assaulter? How can you accuse the victim in this case and sympathize with the rapist?

I think it is pretty clear that I am in no way defending the rapist. It is an irony that the rapist feeds his lust with pornography, dance bars, "intimate scenes" from new generation Bollywood & Indian movies (not to mention Hollywood that was 3 generations ahead of us in this) and from the careless ways some of the 'modern' youth dress up in public (I am sad to see such specimens during CHRISTIAN WEDDINGS here in Mumbai). Anyone who willingly allowed oneself, one's loved ones, or one's models or artists to be instrumental in feeding the lust of the onlookers in public is badly in need of repentance and healing from the merciful God. And then, the rapist may end up venting out their lust with an attack upon an innocent victim, who never in her life entertained lustful eyes.

Do you know that out of the active internet users (old, young, adolescents and all), majority have seen porn videos - many of them very frequently, and a few of them stumble into it once in a while accidentally or purposely. (See any statistics on the net, for e.g. this). Feeding lust with inappropriate content, live or through media has a huge impact on human behavior  In India and in most countries, there are strict laws to curb Drug abuse and trafficking. But sadly, we legitimize lustful behavior by allowing inappropriate movies with A Certificates. Whether 18+ or below, consuming the depiction of sexually arousing images is not healthy. Media is all set to promote fashions that are not healthy. And our 'modern' youth is all after imitating their favorite celebrities in the name of freedom of choice.

To conclude, the rapist is clearly at fault. But equally at fault is a culture that encourages and entertains lust in any form. Hanging rapists in public can scare the potential rapists to some extent, but cannot correct their attitude towards women. What we need is a change in behavior and a healing of lust through selfless love.

2) Can I do something to ensure the security of mine and my loved ones from a sexual assault?

Immodest dressing clearly sends a wrong signal to others. There is no end to a debate to define what is immodest. I believe that we should properly cover our bodies. The dress should be long enough, loose enough. One can look beautiful without compromising modesty, and such people earn respect and love from others. They will have healthy friendships, and will meet genuine people who want to enter into a meaningful relationship with them. According to Pope John Paul II, the opposite of love is not always hatred, but many a times lust. And love is the antidote to lust. I fully agree to this from my experience.

This does not guarantee 100% safety as an individual. As mentioned before, an innocent person could be a victim. But at least one does not invite danger due to own mistake. I hope most of you can relate to what I have said, and especially women know better than me how to avoid attacks, such as avoiding to venture out alone in odd hours in unsafe places and so on. These hold good regardless of how one dresses up.

I keep the shoe-rack in the drawing room, and bank documents in cupboard. But if I have gold or money of substantial value, I keep most of my money in the Bank account, Gold in the Bank locker or at least in a Safe Locker at home in a safe room. I do carry with me valuable items like laptop and smartphone to public places, but I pay a lot of attention to guard them from a potential theft. I can't walk careless about my possessions and then lament with a board saying "Do not ask me where to keep my gold, but ask them not to steal" in the event of losing them. We should do our best to guard the gold, and then only expect police or authorities to help. At least for some time I cannot expect thieves to stop their job, though I would love to see their conversions. It's no longer the thief's problem, but mine. I have my vested interest to protect my assets.

Similarly, our safety is our concern, and not of the rapist. Rather than looking at modesty as a moral police's preaching, or male chauvinist's blame-game or trivialization of the issue, but rather as a safety measure; safety from a potential assaulter and also from causing anyone's fall that leads to risking eternal life.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Advance of Gay Movements!

Homosexual Activists: 'Confession: A Roman Catholic App' is 'Cyber Spiritual Abuse'
http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=40364

Homosexualists to Force Anglican Church Weddings in UK
http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=40382

Apparently everyone in the world seems to uphold "Freedom of Expression", "Religious Freedom" etc., but when someone lives authentic gospel values and expresses it, he/she is judged as fanatic / religious extremists...

Wednesday 9 February 2011

China and the War on Girls Through Female Infanticide

http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=40274

And radical feminists really don't care that girls are being slaughtered...

Fox rejects John 3:16 Super Bowl ad (Catholic Online)

Fox rejects John 3:16 Super Bowl ad, considers it controversial
http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=40241

By Shirley Evans
2/6/2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
For a company that bills itself as 'fair and balanced,' Fox's actions seem to tip the scale in one definitive direction.

There are no preachers or ministers in the ad, no church or even a cross. The ad shows sports fans wondering aloud what the phrase "John 3:16" painted on a football player's eye black could mean, followed by a simple response: look it up.

BIRMINGHAM, AL (Catholic Online) - Millions of dollars are made every year off the sale of 30-second Super Bowl commercial slots. These ads are frequently out-of-the-ordinary, hilarious, controversial or even downright depraved. This year, however, Fox Sports has labeled one seemingly innocuous Super Bowl ad as "religious doctrine" and much too offensive to be aired.

The commercial refers to the Bible verse, John 3:16, for less than 2 seconds, painted on a football player's eye black.

What indoctrinating language or insulting image could be depicted in this ad? None. This ad is banned simply because the commonly repeated Bible verse, John 3:16, is its premise. There are no preachers or ministers in the ad, no church or even a cross. The 30-second spot shows sports fans wondering aloud what the phrase "John 3:16" painted on a football player's eye black could mean, followed by a simple response: look it up. The viewer is then shown the Web address www.lookup316.com.

Many football players have written notes on the black smudges under their eyes, originally meant to block the glare of sunlight off of sweaty faces. Sometimes the eye blacks bear team logos, short notes to loved ones or, in the most recognizable case of University of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, Bible verses.

John 3:16 contains the core of Christian faith: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Someone who is unfamiliar with the Bible verse may not even understand the reference. Those that are familiar with it may or may not choose to visit the website, but no one is informed of its meaning during the commercial. However, Fox Sports has decided that the mere existence of this phrase is enough to warrant banning the ad from the Super Bowl.

The John 3:16 commercial was produced by Fixed Point, a religious advocacy group based in Birmingham, Alabama. The group was set to pay about $3 million to have the ad aired on Fox Sports during the Super Bowl this Sunday, which will reach over 100 million viewers.

Religious leaders have expressed disappointment and confusion, especially since Fox commercials tend to be riddled with profanity and offensive images. Ads in the past have shown men kissing each other and scantily-clad women, among other sexually suggestive imagery.

However, the message of John 3:16 will get to the public regardless of Fox's views. Since the ban, Fixed Point has purchased local TV commercial spots in Alabama. The commercial will not air in other states, but is circulating quickly over the internet.

For a company that bills itself as "fair and balanced," Fox's actions seem to tip the scale in one definitive direction.

Thursday 20 January 2011

TOB Reflection - Sexual Attraction vs. Lust

We'll have some music to start with...


Now a brief intro to the Theology of the Body and Christopher West's mission. (From a short interview)

Now, let me share something from that I learnt from my experiences in the light of the Theology of the Body (TOB) taught by (soon to be declared Blessed) Pope John Paul II (JP2). This is about the way we clothe ourselves. I mean 'clothe' in its literal sense, and not spiritual, such as clothe in salvation, purity, poverty etc.

With a highly broken and abused sexuality, it was very difficult for me to confidently confront women. Having for so long considered the beauty of woman as something to be looked upon with lust, I faced difficulty in the initial days of my Christian walk. It was through the loving motherly & sisterly care and love of the prayer group members that God used to teach the value and strengths of a woman. Personalities with a healed sexuality or those growing towards it are among the things that charmed me when I read the biographies of saints, that gave me the confidence that it is possible.

These days it is very common to see girls wearing mini skirts and very less clothes; and guys wearing transparent clothes. It is not because they can't afford more clothes, because they appear to be as expensive as or even more expensive than normal clothes. In the last two years, we were finding it difficult to get a high waist or even medium waist jeans for my wife, since in most shops only low-waists are available. We are also often forced to dig up T-shirts and tops with a decent neck, finding only a small percentage satisfying even our moderate needs. This givens a clear indication of something:- our culture has easily accepted the fashions promoted by the media. Things that used to make us raise our eyebrows two years back are now well-accepted.

TOB is the first teaching that I have seen that narrated in detail about "nakedness without shame". The Pope points to our Guru Jesus who invites us to look at the situation "in the beginning". In the beginning, man and woman were naked, but they did not feel shame. Had they not sinned, we all would have today looked at each other with the same freedom that our first parents then had. So parents would have been comfortable before their adolescent kids appearing as they are; naked, so would be young men and women studying in the college. We would have seen the image and likeness of God imprinted in our souls that is made visible by our bodies. Without the corruption of sin, our bodies would have been even more beautiful, not requiring any make-up, hair dyes, deodorants, anti-ageing creams etc., for they would not have suffered any wrinkle or spot. That was the power of original innocence. Dress was not in God's original plan. Imagine how much expenditure would have been avoided!! Today itself I had to shell out around 5K during the tempting end of season sale.

And then the sin entered the human dimension. First consequence was that their eyes were opened; and they realized that they were naked. They covered they body members with fig leaves weaved together. Then they went hiding for the fear of facing God.

The simplicity of the Scriptures often 'deceives' the proud hearted. They think that they know these 'books' very well. That was why I always wondered why opening of eyes is such a bad thing. Afterall what was their fault? They were seeking the knowledge of good and evil. Was not Solomon blessed for asking this same favour from the same God? Why in the first place did God forbid the fruit? Was he afraid of man knowing right and wrong and thus become like Him?

With TOB as well as the traditional interpretation of the Church, one comes to the understanding that the forbidden fruit is the temptation to disobey God and in some sense to play God by deciding what is good (and right) and what is evil (and wrong). (You can see that this same problem is the heart of all the evils today prevalent in the world where Church faces the greatest challenge - Relativism, Atheism, Abortion, Contraception, Homosexuality, Radical Feminism, Liberation Theology, Marxism etc. Rather than discerning what is good and evil as Solomon prayed, we tend to decide what is evil and what is good.) It is a denial of the revealed truth or revelation from God. It is not only disobedience of God, but also a lack of faith and trust in God. It is a faith in the father of all lies that God is someone who wants to hold something for Himself, and if you get hold of that you can be like God and does not need to depend on Himself (need not submit to His authority). It has no comparison to Solomon's prayer. They didn't desire any good. They wanted "to be like God" apart from God. Little did they remember that God created them in His image and likeness, that they were the crown of creations. They didn't know that their foolishness to get hold of "something that God withheld from them" would one day be cancelled by sending His only begotten son for us to be the sacrificial victim. "He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?" - Rom 8:32

TOB teaches that man and woman knew that their bodies revealed a nuptial meaning of their existence. ie. they were created to be a gift to each other. This was clear with Adam's first love song - "here is at last, the bone of my bone, and the flesh of my flesh". But with sin, their vision became corrupted by "lust". They "opened their eyes" to see each other as things to be [ab]used rather than as gifts to each other. They knew that a terrible corruption has occurred. "Ah... what have we done to ourselves??" To save each other from lustful vision, they decided to protect themselves by wearing their ameteaurly made clothes. God later on gave them a professionally made clothe (with animal skin). Pope JP2 says that though shame was not in the original scheme of things, it nevertheless gave the awareness to protect themselves from lust, and hence in the current scheme of things (after the original sin) shame helps.

Though TOB is a lot more than all this, this is the point which I wish to highlight in this reflection.
  • The first point is that we all need to acknowledge the inclination all human beings have towards lust. We should not be shocked to find ourselves or our neighbors being troubled by lust. When we love ourselves and also our neighbors as ourselves, we should love as we/they are.
  • When we present ourselves before others, we must be charitable to the fact that my appearance must not trouble our neighbors in the area of lust.
  • Lust dominates when we look at a person as a thing, and not as a gift. If we look at a person as God's gift, we are filled with gratitude towards God and love towards the person. This way we can grow in dominion over lust.
  • Lust should not be confused with sexual desire. The former is a capital sin, and the latter is a gift from God. Sexual desire is planted by God in man and woman as they are created to be a gift to one another.
  • Our sexual desire needs to be liberated from lust, and to be directed towards the purpose that it is meant for. Lust leads to [ab]using oneself as well as the other[s].
We knowingly or unknowingly do our part to enhance our sexual attraction. There are a number of factors that contribute to this attraction. For example, Face, Figure, Color, Shape, Smell, Movements, other attributes such as Courteousness, Pleasing Personality etc. We almost know what it takes to improve the sexual attraction of man as well as woman. (Well the examples I am citing are common perceptions prevalent in the society, and I am not generalizing or trying to impose stereotypes.) For example
  • If a woman uses lipsticks we say it is quite normal. But when a man uses it (unless he is about to show up before the camera) we find it a bit bizarre. One might suspect him to be a gay. (Sorry if I sound prejudiced)
  • A woman typically is confident wearing a skirt only if her skin is not hairy, otherwise she would try to remove the hair from her legs before wearing it. Same is the case with a woman with mustache. On the contrary, a grown-up man with less hair on his legs is typically less confident to show up his legs for the fear of being mocked by others for looking feminine. Rather than showing his hardly-growing-mustache, he would rather want to appear clean shaven.
  • A woman with similar looking lips or eyes of Aishwarya Rai will get compliments for that, but a man having the same features may not get a similar treatment. Similarly a woman who has a muscular built similar to that of John Abraham may get appreciation in the body-building circles, but may not be appreciated in terms of sexual attraction.
(Some people don't like such comparisons for various reasons. But I share it only since I felt this is relevant to this topic.)

The point I was trying to make that you cannot separate our physical attraction from sexual attraction, because what is attractive for one gender may not be so for the opposite gender. So, when you shave your face or when you shape your eye-brows, you are enhancing not only your attraction, but also sexual attraction. That does not mean that it is done with the sole purpose of attracting the opposite sex, but rather to look attractive with respect to one's own gender. Hope I have made my point clear.

Man and woman have clear differences in the body. Even in the common members such as face, hands or feet a sensible person can make out that the LORD has designed man and woman physically different, yet beautiful in one's own rite. It is these differences that primarily invoke sexual attraction between man and woman. (Of course a lot of other attributes and traits also work together. Again sexual orientation of a person also matters, which is beyond the scope of this reflection.)

Now when sexual attraction is corrupted by lust, both self and the other become objects of pleasure. Man/woman cannot cultivate lust in himself/herself without driving out love for self and other, and before that, God. That's why even the most neatly-dressed woman may be looked with covetousness by a man when filled with lust. For the same man, it is possible that he is not troubled when he looks at his daughter or sister in short night-dress, because he loves them. (It is pitiful in the case of a man who harbors lust towards those even at home.) So let me upfront admit that lust cannot be justified by the problem with the way others dress up.

Having said that, it is very important to express your love for your neighbor by not giving him/her any chance to be look at us with lust. The usual prescription we all hear is "dress modestly". Well, that is included in my list too, but it's not on the top.
  1. Our body reveals the mystery of God. God is love. Love drives out lust. Love washes many sins. Remember that God loves and honors us. Remember that God loves and honors your neighbor. Love and honor ourselves and our neighbors, and we will see love replacing lust from all the gazes upon us. It is difficult for even the most dreadful sinners to look at Jesus and Mother Mary with lust. The more we look at them the more we are set free from lust.
  2. Those who look proud, interact only in small circles and keep themselves aloof from the rest are more likely to attract lustful gazes, for they do not entertain loving gaze.
  3. Of course, those who want to be looked at with desire will obviously get what they look for. Immodest dressing just the opposite of treating oneself with love and honor. It also offends love and respect to the neighbor, because it provokes the inclination of the neighbor towards lustful passions.
  4. Immodest behavior too attracts lust. A husband and wife showing affection publicly by intimate activities provoke lustful desires in an onlooker.
(The list goes on...)

To summarize, I have experienced that the truth that God gifted me through TOB is one that sets me free. Just setting my vision right brings enormous healing to my body, mind and spirit, and TOB is doing just that. It teaches the meaning in finding me and those I look around created in a certain way. As God said at the end of each day of creation - "It is good". It is also good to thank God for making me exposed to this truth.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!
God, heal us in the area of sexuality!

Friday 7 January 2011