In contrast to the overly positive views often presented towards the word ‘yes’, I think we underestimate the power of the word ’no.’ Of course, this is not to say that ’no’ is always a good thing, such as using it to shirk responsibilities, but it does a fine job of differentiating us from animalistic drives.
Saying ‘No’ to the Animal
If we were to present to a dog a cooked chicken breast, and assuming that dog is in good health with nothing that would indicate an aversion to eating the breast, he is almost inevitably going to consume it. Often times, even when an animal is already full, they still come to the master’s table to beg. It seems as if this animal cannot say ’no’ to the proposition of food, at least under normal, healthy circumstances.
This is a key tenet with materialists, who make every effort to further animalize man, as if he cannot say ’no’ to certain propositions such as food, sex, and other earthly pleasures. While man may experience hunger or arousal, these stimulations are not indicative of bodily needs; they are indicative of desires. Let us never conflate the two. Once understood that these are simply desires and not needs, we can take the most common-sense step forward to prove it: deny those desires, and see what happens.
If we were to deny ourselves food, assuming that we are in a healthy condition, we quickly discover that most hunger is desire for food rather than need for food. It is true that with food we can carry this fast only so far before we suffer, but until that point is reached, we find that most hunger is just habitual desire. If we wish to feel true hunger, it takes many days of fasting, perhaps even months depending on the amount of body fat present. If we approach that point, food becomes a need.
An easier example of denial would be immoral sexual activity. As I have written in the past, sexual pleasure just is not a need in the individual sense; nobody has ever died because they did not climax. Again, in this domain, it seems that simple animals cannot help it; when I watch my chickens, I do not see my roosters pondering whether or not their “sexual needs” are being met. It seems no absurdity of the imagination to think that maybe the roosters cannot say ’no’ to the opportunity. I know however for a fact, that if I were to pen up my roosters away from hens, preferably out of sight of hens, they would not die for lack of sex.
But here man is different yet again, and while I will not rehash too much of what I have already said in earlier posts, I must frame things correctly. Moral sex is between man and woman joined together in marriage without contraception (if you do not like this proposition, I invite you to read my link above where I show that this is the case, or consult the Catholic Catechism). All othere forms of “sex”, from masturbation to whatever new degeneracies the LGBT people think up, are immoral. What man’s power of saying ’no’ has to do with all of this, is that he is not compelled toward these immoral acts, he is tempted toward them rather. He has the awesome power of looking at the degenerate pleasures presented, tempting as they may be at times, and saying ’no’ and walking away from them.
Compulsion vs. Temptation
To all who think clearly, the header is quite obvious, but to those overcome by the passions, temptation seems a lot like compulsion. When in the throes of concupiscence, orgasm seems like a compulsion; when in the throes of habitual hunger, food seems like a compulsion. But this simply is not the case, for if the one experiencing these feelings denies them, he finds that they were never compulsions after all.
In our materialistic world however, we are not given this extremely important distinction, and are instead taught that they are the same thing. We are made to believe that saying ’no’ to these things is, at the very least, “crazy”, and at the most, “will kill you.” But it is the power of ’no’ that allows civilization to work at all. If man said ‘yes’ to every fleeting, foolish passion that came over him, civilization would be impossible; we would all be savage animals, murdering everytime we feel angered, engorging everytime we feel hungry, among many other uncivilized activities.
Our power of ’no’ is what makes things that may be compulsions to simpler animals just temptations to us. If we instead conflate compulsions and temptations, then it seems we are no better than my concupiscent roosters who lack understanding of ’no.’