What God commands is what is best for us, but what He commands is not exterior to Himself, because it is nothing more than communion with Him.
"That will settle the Westians!" I shout, in a manner similar to Thomas Aquinas before St. Louis the King many years ago.
Here is the dilemma that Matt McGuiness is in, which he is struggling to enunciate in his three-part "Second Look at Pornography" being published in installments by CNA.
- God has given us Desire, but if we follow our Desire we might end up addicted to porn or frequenting bordellos.
- But if we repress our Desire we are neglecting a gift God has given us, a gift He wants us to cultivate.
McGuiness and all the Westians see that the answer to the degradation of sex is not the repression of sex. Eros is a god in ancient Greece, a god who becomes a eunuch by the time he turns into lovable little Cupid on Hallmark cards.
The Westians are quite right in seeking the reclamation of Eros. On the one hand, Eros is degraded when it turns to smut, fornication and contraception; on the other hand Eros is degraded when it's castrated and made into a harmless imp who sells flowers on St. Valentine's Day. The hedonists are wrong to indulge it; the Puritans are wrong to repress it.
But what McGuiness, at least, fails to see (or so it seems) is that the key to all of this is not putting more and more emphasis on Eros (which McGuiness mistakenly calls "desire"), but in channeling or canalizing this Eros in the way God commands us.
Does God want communion with us and is that communion so intense and so "erotic" that it takes the form of a nuptial feast in Song of Songs and Revelation and elsewhere in Scripture? Yes. But how are we to prepare ourselves for the coming of the bridegroom? How are we to prepare ourselves for this nuptial?
By vigilance: staying awake, keeping our lamps lit, and following God's Law, the Law that is written in our hearts.
The Westians suspect that emphasizing God's Law, or the means to follow God's Law more perfectly (Confession, prayer, devotions - all things that McGuiness dismisses as more or less worthless) will result only in the Puritanical suppression of Desire and cause us perhaps to act out on our impulses even more egregiously when things just get too bottled up and we can't take it any more.
But what the Westians don't recognize is that God's Law is not "exterior to Himself" because God's Law is intrinsic to God's nature, and following His Law is nothing less " than communion with Him."