How imperative is it, in the Sermon on the Mount, to pay attention to Christ's connection of the man's looking at a woman with lust to his having committed adultery with her in his heart.
Christ's words do not necessarily equate lust in terms of "desiring to possess", as though that's what leads your eyes. He defines it in terms in which you have already born the seed of adultery through your lustful fascinated gaze, and thus already committed adultery with her in your heart. He extends the definition outward - even as he is getting to the heart of the sin.
Could we not say, blessed is the man who, exercising self-dominion, turns his eyes away from a woman, for he has shown reverence for her and her body in his heart? When the man no longer experiences this custody as "negative", but experiences such custody in the fullness of "relation to the other subject, who is originally and perennially co-called" - that is man attaining mature purity:
"Purity of heart is explained, in the end, by the relation to the other subject, who is originally and perennially "co-called."" (TOB 49:7)
West's is an anti-purity because he defines his in refusing to recognize that custody of the eyes is relational. And what he does define as being relational is focalized in the gaze of the one gazing at another. (Read that sentence a second time.) And that is, in fact, a self-perpetuated inversion; it is an anti-purity which is impure.
For purity is ultimately relational, and simply relational. Purity in its maturity retains the same "practices" as those with which it started, but more and more in life "according to the Spirit". You do not end with your own impervious purity defined in its victory by being able to gaze at what, before, you lusted after. That is akin to the great manifestation of impurity called masturbation. It's "purity" looking at itself. It is "purity" that is impurity as humility looking in the mirror is pride.
In TOB, John Paul II defines mature purity in Pauline terms of "life according to the Spirit", in which the gift of the Holy Spirit, called Piety, realizes the charismatic dimension of purity in the specific choices one makes in the sphere of moral purity. The "desires" of the Holy Spirit are stronger than the desires of the concupiscence (TOB 51:6), and "In this struggle between good and evil, man proves to be stronger thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, who, working within the human spirit, causes its desires to bear fruit in the good." (TOB 51:6)
Note that nowhere in any of this do you see the removal of "antithesis"; nowhere in any of this do you see a putting aside of what West cheaply terms "coping mechanisms".
Before this though, there is purity in its general sense - purity that is defined in that it is the opposite of dirty: "When we say "purity" and "pure", in the first meaning of these terms we indicate the opposite of dirty." (TOB 50:2)
This would be purity in its moral (ethical) sense. And it is not to be isolated solely to that of the sexual sphere at all. This is another area in which Christopher West is exemplified as being sexually obsessed, and is another key to understanding why his ideas of purity are hopeless.
In TOB, John Paul II writes:
When we speak about purity in the moral sense, that is, about the virtue of purity, we are using an analogy according to which moral evil is compared with being dirty. Certainly this analogy entered and became part of the realm of ethical concepts from earliest times. Christ takes it up and confirms it in all its extension. "What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean." Here Christ speaks about every moral evil, every sin, that is, about the violations of the various commandments, and he lists "evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, blasphemy" without limiting himself to a particular kind of sin. It follows that the concept of "purity" and of "impurity" in the moral sense is a rather general concept, not a specific one: thus, every moral good is a manifestation of purity and every moral evil a manifestation of impurity. The statement in Matthew 15:18-20 does not restrict purity to only one sector of morality, such as the one connected with the commandment "You shall not commit adultery" and "You shall not desire your neighbor's wife," that is, the one that concerns the reciprocal relations between man and woman connected with the body and the corresponding concupiscence. (TOB, 50:4)
The purity that comes before the "mature purity" of life "according to the Spirit" is not only the antithesis to what is sexually impure. Though it includes the sexual sphere, moral purity (that is, what is clean by dint of opposition to and avoidance of what is unclean) is not to be reduced to the sexual sphere. That would be a rather negative thing to do to reduce it that - eh, Christopher West?
Isn't that beautiful: "Thus, every moral good is a manifestation of purity".
You mean I don't have to be enslaved to some pan-sexual cyclic programming whereby my purity is forever defined by dint of reduction to the sexual? Thanks be to God!
If every moral good is a manifestation of purity, then what would these moral goods be?
They are these: "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-mastery."
Self-mastery. But what about that "negative" term that West pins on this manifestation of purity that is a moral good called self-mastery? Pope John Paul II simply was not referring to custody of the eyes as a negative purity in an objective sense. He was not saying it is objectively a negative purity. For behold:
The ethos of redemption contains in every context--and directly in the sphere of the concupiscence of the flesh--the imperative of self-mastery, the necessity of immediate continence and habitual temperance. (TOB 49:4)
Yet, temperance and continence do not mean--if one may put it this way--being left hanging in the void: neither in the void of values nor in the void of the subject. The ethos of redemption is realized in self-mastery, that is, in the continence of desires. In this behavior, the human heart remains bound to the value, from which it would otherwise distance itself through desire, orienting itself toward mere concupiscence deprived of ethical value...On the ground of the ethos of redemption, an even deeper power and firmness confirms or restores the union with this value through an act of mastery. The value in question is that of the body's spousal meaning, the value of a transparent sign by which the Creator--together with the perennial reciprocal attraction of man and woman through masculinity and femininity--has written into the heart of both the gift of communion, that is, the mysterious reality of his image and likeness. This is the value that is at stake in the act of self-dominion and temperance to which Christ calls us in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:27-28). (TOB 49:5)
John Paul continues right after this - and pay attention here - with these words:
This act can give the impression that one is left hanging "in the void of the subject." It can give this impression particularly when one has to decide to perform it for the first time or, even more so, when one has created a contrary habit, when one has habituated oneself to yield to the concupiscence of the flesh. Yet, already the first time, and all the more so later when he has gained the ability, man gradually experiences his own dignity and through temperance attests to his own self-dominion and demonstrates that he fulfills what is essentially personal in him. In addition, he gradually experiences the freedom of the gift, which is, on the one hand, the condition for, and, on the other hand, the subject's response to, the spousal value of the human body in its femininity and masculinity. Thus, the ethos of the redemption of the body is realized through self-dominion, through temperance of the "desires" when the human heart makes an alliance with this ethos...when the deepest layers of his potentiality acquire a voice, layers that the concupiscence of the flesh would not allow to show themselves. These layers cannot emerge when the human heart is fixed in permanent suspicion, as is the case in Freudian hermeneutics. They also cannot manifest themselves if the Manichaean "anti-value" is dominant in consciousness. The ethos of redemption, by contrast, is based on a strict alliance with these layers. (TOB 49:6)
Custody of the eyes, which comes under self-dominion and temperance and continence, is not what hides the "deepest layers of his potentiality". It is the concupiscence of the flesh that hides his deepest layers. Self-dominion causes an alliance with those deepest layers of his potentiality. Freudian hermeneutics and Manichaean anti-values are not aversion of the eyes, are not custody of the eyes, are not temperance, are not self-dominion.
Oh, and I do not apologize for the extended quotes. Frankly, if you're going to quote from TOB, you need a lot of context. All italics in TOB quotes are Pope John Paul II's.