These readings take people like me back to our seminary days when we were so thoroughly shielded from discussions of sexuality and romance, that on this Monday every year we boys were very troubled by the frank way the readings dealt with nakedness and love making.
We had repeatedly been told that it would be a mortal sin to let our thoughts dwell on sexual intercourse. When we were day students a pal of mine often made us take an extra hour getting home from school on busses. He would make us go by the Jesuit church for confession.
Later, we started thinking over what Jesus said in Chapter Twenty-two of Matthew. Namely, in speaking of the two commandments of loving God and neighbor, Jesus said, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” That left us asking how an impure thought could be so bad, when it didn’t take away from loving God and neighbor.
What we decided was that our love can either be pointed inward or outward. Acts and thoughts of self-gratification by turning our love inward, lessen our love for God and neighbor. Persistence in self-gratification would be mortally sinful by making it impossible for us to really love God and neighbor.
Our schooling made much of the need to cultivate purity of thoughts, words, and deed. While that is important, over-emphasis on it led to our under emphasizing our training to be kind in our thoughts, words, and deeds in our dealings with friends and strangers.