A year of global lockdowns has had a number of unwelcome side effects. Among these is an upturn in bingeing, including a ramping up of the more sensual forms of self-indulgence, such as consumption of alcohol and pornography. Invariably, such activities paper over a far deeper need, and often spiral into addiction.
That deeper need is to realize that at our core, we are so much more than a bundle of material impulses, capable of feeling only fleeting satisfaction. We are, in fact, the creation and expression of infinite divine Love, God, and our only need is to discover just how capable we are of experiencing and living this deeply satisfying and joyful identity.
The unchecked inclination to indulge feelings of loneliness, boredom, anxiety, dissatisfaction, or anger is actually sensuality’s veil, which would keep us from seeing and feeling the very thing that frees us from these mental states: our oneness with divine Love, God. This oneness isn’t optional; it is the underlying fact of our identity as the reflection of God’s nature.
Uncovering this loving outlook in ourselves uplifts our thoughts of, and behavior toward, others. It also reaps the richest of rewards – companioning with God. As the Psalmist describes it, “As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment” (Psalms 16:11, The Voice).
This deeply satisfied joy is natural to everyone as God’s spiritual creation. Traits that can stem from self-absorption such as impatience or even aggression lose their hold as we awaken to the truth of our identity, grounded in God’s ceaseless goodness.
From this spiritual vantage point, we can discern the downside of preoccupation with sensual pursuits. Sensuality obscures our real identity, taints our perception of others, and makes God, good, feel distant. Sensual appetites steer us away from expressing and enjoying reality as the reflection of God’s healing love.
In this genuine reality, God, good, is not part of existence, but the whole. This wholeness leaves no place for a sinful, material self to impinge on anyone’s native consciousness of God and His creation. So when self-indulgence appears to obscure our spirituality, we can recognize this as untrue. Spirituality is true, and understanding this arrests sensual impulses. We shift the balance to the right side – where “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, English Standard Version) – by grasping what’s spiritually true, which is that God, good, is All, and that we each reflect this divine goodness. It’s this infinitude of God’s flawless goodness that truly defines us, whatever we might have been tempted by.
Accepting this to be true, we see that we are not sensual and never truly have been. The gospel record of Christ Jesus’ life shows that we are not alone when striving to recognize this as our reality – that the powerful help of Christ is always with us to illumine the spiritual reality right where we might seem to be struggling with sensuality.
Every glimpse of this truth refines our aspirations and actions and increasingly frees us from sensual habits. It brings out in us more of the qualities Jesus so consistently expressed, which include the opposite of loneliness, boredom, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and anger: patience, forgiveness, abiding faith, and affection.
This kind of transformation is illustrated throughout the archives of the Christian Science periodicals. A wonderful example is “No longer addicted to pornography” (Christian Science Sentinel, January 2, 2012). Step by step, a man found that gaining God’s view of his true identity overturned a physical sense of existence and satisfaction and dismissed the long shadows it had cast over his life.
Such is the healing promise of rising above the bondage of the false, finite senses, whether they are moderately or overwhelmingly misconstruing pleasure as material rather than spiritual. The discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, said, “Christian Science and the senses are at war” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 101). Battles in this war are won every time it dawns on us in prayer that Spirit, God, is All, so spiritual sense is our only sense. To this true sense, there are no self-indulgent mortals, only God’s spiritual expressions motivated by unselfed love. As sensuality yields to this reality, we walk with God ourselves and can help others do the same.
We’re each created to enjoy and express the fullness of God’s goodness, which is more than enough. We don’t need to turn elsewhere for “satisfying.” We can look into our hearts and affirm the sufficient, abundant joy of walking with God. And we can recognize in others who may be struggling with sensuality that this endless and satisfying joy forever belongs to them, too.
Adapted from an editorial published in the March 19, 2021, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
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