Giving in to Temptation

In the preface to his truly amazing book, Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett talks about the problem of characterising a celibate monk, Prior Philip within the novel.

He says, “the obvious drama would be that of a man fighting a terrible battle with lusts, but I could not work up any enthusiasm for that theme. I grew up in the 1960’s and my heart is always with those who deal with temptation by giving in to it. In the end I made him one of that minority of people for whom sex really is no big deal”

My first observation to this quote is how I, to some extent, have fought a terrible battle with lusts for most of my adult life through my intense attraction to my own sex, and I am a person for whom sex really is a big deal.

This concept of giving in to temptation as a method of addressing the needs of the heart, came as a surprise to me.

Perhaps the statement made is addressed to those who are free to give in to temptation, perhaps not, but for me to have done so would have risked the happiness of another, my wife, who married me in good faith nearly thirty years ago.

In the four years since I told my wife the truth about the feelings I have for my own sex, whilst still feeling an intense love for her, I have been able to explore what giving in to temptation might mean in the context of my life.

It means that I should no longer feel a sense of guilt for the thoughts I have, they are my own.

I should no longer suppress within me or reject the truth of my feelings but embrace them, love them, accept them as something which gives my life added special significance rather than for them to be a source of deep shame.

These recent years have been liberating for me as my mind’s capacity has grown to accommodate my marriage, my sexuality and my faith.

They have also been challenging because my years of struggle in isolation and fear over these issues have left a legacy of hurt which has been hard to overcome.

Dealing with the reality of my truth and expecting my wife to cope with it has been a challenge for her too, because I cannot unsay to her my truth.

I must assure her that her love for me is the overriding sustenance which I need in my life and that to give in to temptation in a literal sense to my sexuality, would not be in the best interests of my heart.

William Defoe