Bought With A Price
Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of god

V. The Gift of Sight

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

Amidst the suffering and pain caused by the evil of pornography, we are called to be a people of hope, to behold the image of God in others, and to restore our use of sight by focusing on the goal of our faith and the final end of our sight.

The Church has always described heaven as the contemplation of the Lord face to face. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God (Mt 5:8). Our Lord speaks these words at the beginning of His public ministry. Thus He Himself reveals the connection between the virtue of purity and the faculty of sight. As the Catechism explains this Beatitude, Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God (CCC 2519).

This Beatitude describes first an essential characteristic of the blessed, of those who have entered into the joy of the Trinitarian life (CCC 1721): they are pure of heart. This description serves also as a moral exhortation: we are to seek such purity of heart. In a general sense, purity of heart refers to the human person's capacity for love. It indicates a heart dedicated entirely to the Lord, not divided by passions or desires contrary to Him. Since [t]he heart is the seat of moral personality (CCC 2517), purity of heart means moral uprightness.

Yet purity of heart has a particularly close association with human sexuality - that essential aspect of the human person that concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others (CCC 2332). In this context, the Beatitude indicates specifically a heart purified of selfish or base sexual desires - a heart that does not view or desire another for selfish pleasure or gain. Purity of heart refers to the integration of one's sexual desires and actions with the truth of human sexuality and genuine self - giving.

The Beatitude's second part describes the reward for the pure of heart: they shall see God. Every Beatitude expresses some aspect of heaven - in this case, the vision of God. To "see God" has, first of all, a metaphorical meaning. It refers to the knowledge of God, the ability to "see" Him intellectually. Yet to "see God" or to possess the "vision of God" is not only an analogy of heaven. Rather, it has a profound literal sense as well. Because the human body will be raised on the last day, the just will literally "see" God with their own eyes. As such, to "see God" describes the ultimate longing of every human heart and the final purpose of human sight.

The Incarnation of our Lord brings to man the ability to fulfill the desire to see God. In his Gospel, Saint John gives eloquent testimony to this: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (Jn 1:14). In his first letter also, Saint John bears witness to "[t]hat which was from the beginning. which we have seen with our eyes" (1 Jn 1:1). In the Person of Jesus Christ, God speaks to man face to face - and man sees the face of God. Indeed, it would not be too much to say that our Lord came into the world precisely to enable us to see Him. Thus, in His healing of the blind (cf. Mt 9:27 - 28; 12:22; Mk 8:22 - 23; Jn 9), He reveals that He has come to restore the original purpose of our sight. Most of all, by His death and resurrection, our Lord redeems us and thus enables us to enter heaven, into the very presence of God.

Saint John , in fact, equates the vision of God with salvation itself: "[W]e know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 Jn 3:2). Through our sight of Him we become like Him. By gazing upon Him, we receive salvation. Thus does the Church speak of heaven as "the beatific vision" - that is, the vision that makes us blessed. Thus did Saint Irenaeus write, " The life of man is the vision of God. " Here we see Him "in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (1 Cor 13:12).

Drawing upon Scripture, the Church has continually reflected on this desire for and promise of the vision of God. She describes the virtue of faith as a way of seeing God and His truths. She describes contemplation - the height of prayer - in similar terms:

Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy cur used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the "interior knowledge of our Lord," the more to love him and follow him (CCC 2715).

This ability "to see" spiritually has implications for the moral life: it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as 'neighbors'; it lets us perceive the human body - ours and our neighbor's - as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty (CCC 2519).

Our sight, more than just a physical ability, also serves as an important means for understanding faith, heaven and salvation. Indeed, its proper end and fulfillment is the vision of God Himself. Man's final purpose is caught up with his ability to see. With this profound truth in mind, we can better appreciate the grave threat pornography presents to the human soul, to the family and to society.

Next Page: VI. Conclusion
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7