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Are you spiritual or carnal?

July 24, 2014

I was happy to learn that a grandnephew of mine is part of a boy band in Manila that won a competition recently. His mother, my niece, diligently sends me videos of his performances. I can’t help but make time to see them, in spite of my tight schedule.

At least, seeing them makes me reminisce my younger days when I too was part of a band. The difference was that mine was a seminary band and my performances were limited to certain audiences and occasions. His would bring him to public concerts and dimly lighted clubs.

Still, the viewings would provoke me to make certain observations and considerations. Like, how different the singing style is now. That’s to be expected, of course, But there seems to be a deliberate attempt to appeal to the sensual.

Somehow we can make that conclusion, tentative at least, because of the reaction of the audience. I can’t help but notice the shrieking of girls and some boys, and the look of awe on their faces, that clearly show a mere knee-jerk behavior.

This is where the difference is greatest. But let me hasten to say that such difference may just be a matter of taste and preferences due to differences in age, culture, temper of the times, etc. to which tolerance and mutual respect should be exercised. But we need to clarify a few things.

Certainly, looks play a big part of their formula for popularity. With hair colored, brushed up or spiked, faces slightly made-up, skin-tight pants and shirts that literally follow the contours of their physique, some metallic accessories pierced or dangling somewhere, the boys simply inflict swooning on their audience their age.

Their movements and choreography include swaying, grinding, shrugging and twisting that definitely are flammable and electric to youthful sensitivities. Many in the audience are left completely defenseless and floored.

It seems to me that things are arranged in such a way as to give free rein to the primitive urges and hormones, detached or still unconnected to the directing influence of right reason, let alone, of faith, hope and charity.

As we can see, our urges and hormones, and the world of the senses in general, or the aspect of sensual pleasure in our life are not bad in themselves. They just need to be directed by right reason, and especially by faith, hope and charity.

These latter, to be cure, do nothing to suppress or annihilate our urges and hormones which are an integral part of our humanity. What they do is simply put them in their right places or on the right track so that these senses, urges and hormones truly express and affirm our real dignity as persons, and not just objects or animals.

In other words, when left on their own, these senses, urges and hormones can be dangerous, since they would be deprived of direction. They would simply remain on the level of the material and the worldly that is proper only to inanimate objects or to animals, but not to us as persons, and especially as children of God.

They would simply be subjected to laws of physics, chemistry, sociology, economics, politics, etc., but not to the moral law that would consider us in our totality as persons with intelligence and will, freedom and responsibility.

Let’s hope that we can be more aware of this concern and comply with its requirements. At the moment, there seems to be a worldwide trend toward pure sensualization or carnalization, leading us, especially the young, to be merely carnal, instead of being spiritual, to use terms defined by St. Paul.

It’s important that we develop a certain sensitivity to this concern because otherwise we would all be deluded by a very treacherous virus, a sweet poison that can truly harm us individually and collectively.

To repeat, this is not at all about suppressing or disparaging in any way the value of the senses, the urges and the hormones, and the sentiments, feelings, passions that they produce. Neither the value of the physical attributes we have.

We just have to realize more deeply that they need to be ruled and directed by reason and ultimately by faith, hope and charity. Otherwise, we can be accused by Christ himself who once said of some people –

‘They look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’ And citing a prophecy of Isaiah, he said, ‘Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes…’