When someone sins against purity, the devil uses two very destructive lies to keep that person down. The two lies are actually the same lie, but they sound like opposites. In this way your enemy tricks you into believing they are the only two options you have. You need to make sure that you know and acknowledge only the truth about yourself.
Don’t say “I am no longer pure.” After sin it is true that your soul needs cleansing in Confession. You will also need to work with God on purifying your focus and desires. But the “I” in “I am not pure” includes your entire person, soul and body. So it leaves the lie in your heart that your body is no longer pure or objectively good, no longer beautiful or sacred because of what you did with it. Your heart instinctively knows this is not true, and you cannot bear the burden of shame this lie brings. Sadly many people see no way out and live in this shame.
Or, protesting that the former lie cannot be true, they fall into the second trap of believing our enemy’s “opposite” lie.
Don’t say to yourself, “It didn’t matter. It’s not that big of a deal. Other people have done worse anyway.” This lie promises relief from shame, but it brings no relief only sadness. If your actions with your body don’t matter that means your body does not matter. Again, that is a serious, debilitating lie, for how sad and pointless is my life if the body I live my life in does not matter? And it is the same lie, for the first lie says “your body is now worth less” whereas this lies says “your body was always worthless.” The enemy HATES your body for he hates the image of God, so this is exactly what he wants us to believe.
Instead, acknowledge the full truth. “My body was, is, and always will be, glorious, beautiful, and sacred. Because of its great value it deserves to be treated with the highest purity and honor. But I used this beautiful gift for self-absorbed sterile pleasures. I allowed it to be lusted after and used. But my body is still glorious, beautiful, and sacred, so I will not fail again to respect its glory.”
And be gentle with yourself when you say, “I did not honor my body.” Maybe you failed out of ignorance. That isn’t your fault! Maybe the passing pleasure of that sin looked incredibly sweet and you didn’t want to miss out on happiness. It is true that you deserve happiness. Or maybe you were feeling overwhelmed with loneliness, despair, fear, isolation, bitterness, insecurity etc. So you gave in to a sin that promised relief from your pain. All of those feelings are very understandable and can be extremely hard to bear. The problem comes if we choose to focus on those feelings instead of what our bodies are worth.
So to avoid failing your body in the future, do these two things. First, avoid the near occasion of sin. Our heavenly Father asks us to promise Him this every time we go to Confession, because He loves us so much and knows how much we need to do this. Avoid temptation and compromising situations like the plague! Your body is worth the highest level of protection.
Second, spend time every single day with Jesus, ideally in His bodily presence in the Eucharist, and ask Him to remind you how much your body is worth. If you know this truth you will not act out of ignorance again. If you remember this truth, you will remember what will truly bring you joy, and that this deceptive lie will only let you down hard. And the more you hear Jesus speak the truth over you, the easier it will be to hold on to that truth and act accordingly, no matter how oppressive your feelings happen to be at the moment.
Do not be afraid to ask Jesus how much your body is worth. He has already told us and He is longing to remind you. He died on the cross for the sake of our bodies, to save both our souls and bodies, so that we could be resurrected body and soul to spend eternity physically present with Him. Jesus said your body, the one you’re sitting in right now, is worth every drop of God’s Own Blood. And Jesus cannot lie.
So go to Him all day every day, and never forget your worth.
Sarah Larue is a 28-year-old author of nine books, who loves her Faith and loves writing, and is happiest when putting them together. Her latest series That They Might Have Love is for all Catholic young women who want to seek God first in their love lives and find greater love and joy when they are single, dating, and married.