I'm reading two books by Catholics: One is fine (except that I don't agree with the sentiment that birth control has no use in the world, but that's minor), but the other is making me batty. And yet, for some reason, I'm going to finish the latter one ... but not before I rant a little. I read the second chapter last night (just two chapters in and I'm already crazy), and I promised myself I wouldn't go on until I wrote something about it.
This is going to be an unusually raw post for me, and I apologize to the squeamish. Both Catholic authors have expressed that women and men are not the same kind of person with different plumbing but that there are real differences between the two sexes. I get that. It's just that in the book about modesty, there seems to be the conclusion that the different sexes are incapable of certain types of sin. Obviously, women react to everything emotionally while men get a hard on from everything they see. No woman has ever had sex just for pleasure; no man has ever wanted an emotional connection with his partner. And ladies, it's our job to dress modestly so we don't invite men to sin, because goodness knows they can't control themselves. Lousy beasts.
I think of a particular section of the second book of Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. Simon, Kristen's former betrothed, is always in love with her; in this particular instance he feels that ache when he spies Kristen wearing her wimple differently in the south of Norway than she did up north ... even though he's married to her little sister. It was still modest fashion--just different. Who's at fault here?
I said in a previous post that I don't wear headcoverings all the time because they mess with my head. So I guess it's my fault that I've surely turned a few heads (heads of men who love fat, short women) because I didn't follow the Bible entirely. And on the flip side, why do I feel a clunk in my brain like a brick falling from a height when I see chest hair (I like 'em hairy--other ladies can have the namby-pambies who wax), or when I see a certain character from Girl Genius, or when I see the new Doctor? Is it because I'm a freak?
The Orthodox are all going, "Ha! It's the passions!" Of course it's the passions! Everyone's got 'em no matter how much you try to assert in your book that only men have passions! I still prefer modest fashions (why do you think I bought the book in the first place?), but not because I see it as my personal responsibility to keep all men from sinning. If that's your presumption then 1) you're pompous, and 2) I wish you luck on that front. I'm blessed to belong to a group of Orthodox Christian women on Facebook who discuss modest dress and headcovering. I can say with 99% certainty that they'd all agree that they're modest for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of lustful men. And then they'd add that men need to take care of their own business.
So what's a passion? Try this on for size: You're a man. You see a pretty lady in a provocative outfit. You feel that clunk like I feel, and you now have two choices: You can fight the clunk (that'll be my new rallying cry: "FIGHT THE CLUNK!"), or you can have lustful thoughts. The clunk is not sin--it's just the invitation to sin. It's what you do with it that matters. Next, try me on for size: You're me. You see the latest released pictures from the set of "Doctor Who" with Peter Capaldi. You can either think, "Yay! New cover photo for Facebook!" or you can think, "Rowr." And I'm not always good with thinking the former (I like 'em mature too--no one's more thrilled than I am that Chris is going gray early). I don't like being open about my sins, especially where my seemingly-perfect marriage is involved, but I have a point to make. And that point is: We're all vulnerable. So that's why I'm glad I chose Orthodoxy--it's a real understanding of human nature, which is great and varied and doesn't fall neatly into little groups along gender lines.
Maybe I won't finish that book.