The other day, I heard something deeply disquieting. At first, it just made me wrinkle my nose and think, Huh, that doesn’t sound right. However, the more it settled onto my heart, the more it troubled me.
Over coffee with a close friend of mine, I found out that some wonderful, holy, and dedicated young Catholic men in my community were being taught that women are a distraction in their formation as men of God and the formation of their faith.
It’s important to note that these young men are not in a seminarian discernment program. Because in that case, this advice would actually be very wise and prudent.
But seeing as these are just young men striving for holiness and balance in their lives, I found this to be a very alarming statement, as well as an enormous disservice to both men and women.
Why? Well, let’s start with the word distraction.
What is a Distraction?
Distraction is defined as, “…something that distracts: an object that directs one’s attention away from something else” (Merriam-Webster).
Okay, well, at first that doesn’t seem too off-base. Women are the pinnacle of God’s creation, so of course we’re going to turn a few heads!
However, I think the synonyms for distraction provide a more accurate definition for the context we’re looking at: disturbance, interference, hindrance.
Now, let’s look at the claim women are a distraction to men in their faith journey, replacing the word distraction with one of its synonyms.
Women are a disturbance to men in their faith journey.
Women are an interference to men in their faith journey.
Women are a hindrance to men in their faith journey.
Does that sound off to anyone else? Are women truly a disturbance, interference, and hindrance to men in their journey towards sainthood?
I mean, I’m biased (being woman and all)… but absolutely not.
One of the most crucial pillars of being a faithful man—or woman—of God is taking responsibility. Not only for our actions, but for how we nurture our faith despite what personal obstacles we are met with.
Spoiler alert: women (and men) are not these personal obstacles. What are these personal obstacles, then, if not women? If not men?
These personal obstacles are concupiscence and sin.
Sin is a Distraction from Holiness
In reality, sin is our only distraction from holiness, from sainthood. Sin is what leads us astray from God. It is what obstructs our view of what is good and holy and true. Sin is what hinders our ability to give ourselves completely to God.
Sin is our distraction. Not women. Not men. To teach that women are a distraction to men, or vice versa, is a grave injustice to both parties.
How are men and women ever supposed to understand God’s true vision for the vocation of marriage, a sanctifying relationship, when we are taught our future spouse is distracting us from God?
How are we ever supposed to develop relationships, friendly or romantic, with our brothers or sisters when we believe they are the reason we are falling down in our faith?
There is nothing inherently obstructive about a woman’s presence to a man’s faith, or a man’s presence to a woman’s. In fact, God actually shows us it is the complete opposite.
How We Were Created
In the beginning, He made us for one another so we may be battle partners to fight the good fight against sin together.
The Catechism tells us, “God created man and woman together and willed each for the other…he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other…” (CCC 371,372).
He, the Perfect Creator, knew that men and women needed each other to help one another reach sainthood—hence, the holy vocation of marriage.
Women aren’t the reason men fall down in their faith, temptation toward and consent of sin is. And sin is something that no one can force you to do. It is a conscious choice made by ourselves to disobey God.
Our sin or distraction is not rooted in a particular person, but rather, in ourselves. As the Catechism states, “Sin is a personal act…[and] the root of all sins lies in man’s heart” (CCC 1868,1873).
It’s time that we start taking responsibility for our shortcomings in our faith rather than blaming them on an outside force. Because, while we may be influenced by certain circumstances or people, in the end, it is always our decision to sin.
Being True Helpmates Toward Holiness
Does this mean that men and women should deliberately be distracting or make it difficult to avoid temptation and sin? Not at all. We have to remember that while the men and women are not inherently a distraction or sin, how we choose to treat each other can easily become one.
This is why we are called to help protect each other’s purity; not only for our own soul’s sake, but for the sake of the other’s soul as well.
It is our responsibility, out of love, to help each other achieve sainthood. This journey is a difficult one already, why not help lighten each other’s load?
When we love how God created us to, we are not a distraction from each other’s faith. Rather, our relationships become one of the most beautiful and holy sources of strength and sanctification.
God made us for one another. And it is good.Why Women Aren't a Distraction #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Payton Kline is a desert baby who, after dancing ballet professionally in Minnesota for a stint, moved back home to sunny Arizona. She now studies English at Arizona State University and enjoys embracing what the season of college brings—including (but not limited to) rock, paper, scissors tournaments, people-watching on the lightrail, and long coffee-talks with friends. When she isn’t writing, you can find her playing with her big-fat-orange-kitty, Henry, or watching early 2000s rom-coms with her tribe of girlfriends.