Sin and Safe Religion
In college I knew of young men who were apprehensive about kissing their girlfriends because they might have a lustful thought. One individual of my acquaintance, for this same reason, refused to hold hands while on a casual walk around campus or a lovely stroll through the park. He avoid all sensuality out of fear for his soul. Apparently these fellows imagined that marriage would magically focus their sexual appetites into virtue; they made no effort to develop modesty and chastity at this stage of their relationships. They expected the young women they admired to be virtuous—modest, for example—but mostly, it seemed, so they would not succumb to sin. Any sensuality was a near occasion for sin, and so all sensuality had to be kept at an unbridgeable chasm’s length.
As you might imagine, these individuals, so focused on avoiding their sexuality, failed time and again to master it. Of course! They weren’t even trying to master it. Holiness for them was merely the absence of sinful deeds, not the fruit of self-control that comes from taking the risks of living life as someone with a body. In a real sense, they were trying to escape their bodies. They were afraid of them, fearful their appetites and passions and sensations would lead them to spiritual ruin. Their disposition was unhealthy, psychologically and spiritually, unfair to themselves and to others.
From what I could tell, this attitude and behavior was religiously motivated, at least to a degree, and emerged from a religious focus on sin. As you can really focus on only one object, to focus on sin is to blur all else. When all you do is focus on sin, and when that is the primary perspective of your religiosity, then you will likely approach religion mostly as a sanctuary from sin and spiritual harm rather than as a tool for physical and spiritual wholeness. Avoiding sensuality is one result of focusing on sin; there are others.