The following blog is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my book Freedom: Battle Strategies for Conquering Temptation. Freedom is an explanation and a step-by-step battle plan for men who struggle with temptation and sexual impurity.

I attended a Catholic high school that used to host a yearly presentation on abstinence. It usually consisted of someone telling us why we shouldn’t have sex and trying to scare us into chastity. Needless to say, the student body didn’t react well to this tactic.

After one of these presentations, I remember getting into the lunch line and overhearing my classmate say, “What a stupid presentation! Why should I wait to have sex until I’m married? I’m pretty sure my wife would want me to know what I am doing before I get married.” This is the type of comment I have heard several times, but it is faulty logic.So, let’s say you are a virgin, and you are engaged to be married. You don’t want to be inexperienced on your wedding night, so you decide to hire a prostitute one week before the wedding so that you can get in some practice. If your wife finds out about this, is she going to say, “Thank goodness you got in some practice before the wedding! I was worried that you wouldn’t know what to do.” Any virtuous woman would be disconcerted, to put it mildly, about the kind of man she married.

About ten years ago, I was channel surfing and discovered a “reality” TV show called Chaotic. It was a short-lived series about the courtship, dating, and marriage of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. Britney Spears was the sex icon of the era, and her sexual exploits were regularly captured in her music and personal image and then plastered upon the public eye. I didn’t watch the show for very long (it was almost unwatchable, which explains why it was canceled after five episodes), but Britney said something at one point that really caught my attention. Kevin asked her, “What makes sex really good?” She thought about it for a second and responded, “I think it’s good when you are really into the person.” In terms of sexual practice, she is someone who had supposedly done it all. Yet, she discovered that the most meaningful sexual intimacy goes beyond the physical act. Rather, it involves a deep connection between two people.

It might come as a shock to Britney, but she was not that far off from what God and the Church teach us about sex: that to be good, it must be bound up in love.

God’s Plan vs. The World’s Idea
Look at God’s plan for our sexuality as taught by the Catholic Church and as it relates to manhood. To be pure and true, sexual relations require love—not just any love, but a life-long commitment of love. This involves sacrifice, commitment, a mission, a bride, and not just a communion with that bride alone, but with God himself. Sexual relations remind us where we have come from (the union between Adam and Eve), tell our mission in the present (the union with our spouse within marriage), and give a foretaste of the eternal destiny to which we are called (complete and everlasting union with God in heaven). Seen in this light, sexual relations are a wondrous gift: selfless, meaningful, fulfilling, and sanctifying.Now let’s take a look at the world’s plan for our sexuality as it relates to manhood. It involves no permanent commitment and seeks self-gratification and pleasure as the highest goals. In the case of masturbation and pornography, there isn’t even a real person with whom we can communicate love. It turns our expression of sexuality entirely inward and our interest becomes concerned only with “fulfilling” our appetites and desires. Even in the context of a dating relationship between two people who may love each other, sex does not communicate true love, which requires a life-long, exclusive vow of commitment. Rather than expressing truth, sex between two such people is acting out a lie. By its very nature a lie cannot give genuine satisfaction. So I was not surprised when I read the finding of a Family Research Council study on which demographic of people have the most satisfying sex lives: devout Catholic married couples. Not only did they have more fulfilling sexual relations, they were intimate more often!

If you look at Cosmopolitan magazine covers you may see a headline like: 101 Sex Secrets to Change Your Life. The fact that some people seriously read these magazines, earnestly searching for kinky tips to improve their sex lives suggests there’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there. There is something within many a heart that is not being fulfilled, and so there are people who seek fulfillment by trying to gratify themselves through all manner of sexual immorality. But void of real love, no form of sexual arousal can fulfill our deepest desires.

I believe that it is this yearning for deeper meaning and intimacy that explains why so many males are drawn to pornography and masturbation. They are indeed “hollow men,” desperate for fulfillment. But they seek fulfillment in the very things that drain them of their masculinity. Without knowing and living the purpose and meaning for sex, men are doomed to fall for the cheapest imitation. And so they engage in sexual impurity.