Printed here is Andrew’s “The Two Wills of the Lustful Man”, a wonderful reflection on the place of love and lust in the human condition. I have re-printed it here with permission. If you struggle with pornography usage, lust or any other sexual sin, this is something you need to read, re-read, and re-read again.
The Two Wills of the Lustful Man
Andrzej Andrew Gieralt
You’d probably think you’d never betray the woman you love. This is even easier to believe before you meet her. You might say, “I’ll always be faithful, especially because I’ve had to try so hard to win her heart”. You know how much of a treasure she is, so of course you wouldn’t hurt her in this way. Now, my blogs tend to be really harsh and I know this, and I tend to have fun with it, but this time, there’s nothing to make light of. This is bloody tragic, but it’s true – it’s not as hard to betray as you think and, sorry, but you’ve already done it.
What do I mean when I say ‘the two wills’? Well, I’d imagine you know already because you must have felt the exact sentiment countless times. You are built for love and you know it. You want to be the man that God made you to be and you want to give yourself up for the woman you love, whether that is your girlfriend to whom you will propose, your wife, or someone you don’t know yet. Whatever the case, you love her. You understand that concept. Part of you is driven to perform such incomprehensible feats that you never would have done if you hadn’t loved her. You expect that you’d easily skip a big job interview if you had only that one chance to see her. You even want to give things that you love doing up for her; you want to make those sacrifices for her. All of these things are that which the first will entails.
The second will, however, is the exact opposite. St Paul talks about this and posits it very clearly when he says “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing,” (Romans 7:19). Men are drawn so terrifyingly easily towards lust. In this secondary will, this evil will which you hate, you are drawn far away from her, and far away from God. I’m not sure why it happens, but I’m sure there are all sorts of scientific reasons why man, who is so in love with a woman that he’d literally and without hesitation die for her, explicitly and knowingly chooses to look lustfully at another. He watches her degrade herself and in total honesty he enjoys it. Perhaps the more he degrades herself, the more he praises her. All the while, she pretends to love him, to smile at him, to look him in the eye, but she truly, deeply, despises him for looking at her and wanting her and taking and giving nothing in return. This is the same man who would die for his wife in an instant.
The worst part is, during the whole ordeal, there are two parallel thought processes that occur. Hence the two wills. There is the rational mind that tells the man “You know you hate this, and you know you’ll be miserable because of it, and you know you have real love for a woman in your life, so just stop.” All the while, there is the primitive mind, the thoughts that urge him forward, that remind him how attractive the images he craves are and how, in some twisted and false way of which he is fully aware, they are good. Thus, he is convinced and unconvinced simultaneously.
Therefore, in doing so, we betray not only the woman we love, but also ourselves. I would also go so far as to say that we betray all women, because our inferior will wants them to do these things for our pleasure. Any of them. It doesn’t matter who, as long as she’s in front of our eyes, doing the things our beloved would never do because she actually cares about her soul. Not to say that the woman on the screen does not; she may be deeply troubled, as is often the case, but she is not the kind of woman we would fall in love with in reality. We fell in love with the woman we did because she is virtuous. She would never do anything like that. We love that she respects herself, and we respect her all the more for it. And yet, we also falsely love the exact opposite behavior. The level of treason is so deep and terrifying.
This is exactly the sort of behavior Jordan Peterson is talking about when he says human beings are capable of far more evil than they think. No one believes they are capable of betraying the woman they love, the woman they’d die for, the one who is the embodiment of transcendent beauty, a window into the divine artistic mind, and yet they do this so often. Precisely the one who doesn’t know who he will love in this way, the one who doesn’t yet realize how difficult it is to follow through on the mandate of “I’ll die for you,” but ‘knows’ he’d do it, is the one most prone to betraying her most frequently. He might think “Maybe I’ll never really meet her,” or “Who am I, that I should be allowed to love such an amazing woman?” So he resorts to the only thing he can find satisfaction for – not his true will, his superior rational will, but is primitive will. He is not fulfilled, as John Paul II points out, and he will only create a deeper void in himself that he will never be able to fill.
I wish I had a solution to the problem I just outlined. Other than prayer and fasting, little practical tips like limiting one’s computer access to public places, and accountability, I can think of nothing. But such is our fallen nature – we will never be able to get rid of the secondary contradictory will within us, no matter what we do. Temptation will always be there. It’s not a wonder at all that Augustine lamented his past. Perhaps in contrast to Augustine, I believe that we can always reject the act every time. We are ultimately always in control. That, I think, makes it far worse when we fail, but also far better when we succeed. It can’t be said that we can do it without God, though, but I do think He gives us the tools we need to choose the good every time over the bad.
This should be our standard. To choose the good every time. I don’t know how to do it. Let me tell you right now – I need to go to Confession. So you do, probably. Let me ask, how long has it been? Oh, wonderful, you lasted three days. Or a week. But then you did it again. Are you proud of those few days? You should be, considering how bloody strong that secondary will is. But you also shouldn’t be. You betrayed her again. Why would you do that? Let me be clear: I am not talking to “you”, but to you, myself, and everyone else. I’m struggling to figure myself out here, and hope this may help you as well.
To end on a somewhat less utterly tragic note, we ought to know that God is always willing to forgive us if we are repentant. Never forget that when you follow your secondary will, you are, with full awareness, rejecting the good that God gives, and you know that you have access to His mercy. It is reprehensible to take it for granted like that, and I wish I could coherently state how much I hate doing that. That’s why this concept of the two wills is so important – they’re both there, simultaneously. The one telling you what you’re doing is wrong wants you to stop, but the inferior will only submits to a point, still holding you far tighter than the superior will, saying “It is wrong, so I will repent, but not yet.” We echo Augustine: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.
So let this be an apology to any woman who might be reading this. Collectively, we have betrayed you, and we will most certainly continue, but know at the very least that we absolutely hate doing it and want to tear our brains out once our lucidity returns and our inferior will is put under control. That will never excuse it, though. We are at your mercy and at God’s, and beg your forgiveness. It is for you that we struggle at all rather than simply give in and forget our guilt and choose to live in failure which can so easily consume us. And so I beg you to pray for the man that you love, because he will die for you, truly.