Friday, July 17, 2015

The Parable of the Tiger (Human Sexuality)

Dear Francois,

It is almost midnight. But I want to answer your letter right away.

You write that Christ hasn’t heard your prayer. I ask you, what did you pray for? That he would deliver you from being a man? What do you want? To be without sex? To have no more desire at all?

What you speak of is not possible. All that one does, one does either as a man or a woman. Your sexuality is in your waking and sleeping. It is present with you when you work and when you pray. In your holiest feelings and in your purest prayers it is there.

If you believe in Christ, then you know that your body has become a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you pray for the mutilation of the temple, then Christ will not hear you. Christ wants to make you capable of living with your manhood. 

Must the one who believes flee from love? I know there are many Christians who withdraw themselves and who turn their backs on it. They avoid the opposite sex and think by doing so that they are especially mature and redeemed Christians.

They fool themselves. He who believes does not flee.

You can’t run away from your manhood: it belongs to you; it is a part of yourself.

Let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time there was a tiger. He was captured and put in a cage. The keeper’s task was to feed him and guard him.

But the keeper wanted to make the tiger his friend. He always spoke to him in a friendly voice whenever he came to his cage. The tiger, however, always looked at him with hostility in his green, glowing eyes. He followed every movement of the keeper, ready to spring on him.

The keeper was afraid of the tiger and asked God to tame him.

One evening, when the keeper had already gone to bed, a little girl got lost in the vicinity of the tiger’s cage and came too near to the iron bars. The tiger reached out with his claws. There was a blow, a scream. When the keeper arrived he found dismembered human flesh and blood.

Then the keeper knew that God had not tamed the tiger. His fear grew. He drove the tiger into a dark hole where no one could come close to him. Now the tiger roared day and night. The terrible sound disturbed the keeper so that he could no longer sleep. It reminded him of his guilt. Always in his dreams he saw the torn body of the little girl. Then he cried out in his misery. He prayed to God that the tiger might die.

God answered him, but the answer was different from what the keeper had expected. God said, “Let the tiger into your house, into the rooms where you live, even into your most beautiful room.”

The keeper had no fear of death. He would rather die than go on hearing the roar of the tiger. So he obeyed. He opened the door of the cage and prayed” “Thy will be done.”

The tiger came out and stood still. They looked into each other’s eyes for a long time. As soon as the tiger noticed that the keeper had no fear and that he breathed quietly, he lay down at his feet.

That is the way it began. But at night the tiger would begin to roar again, and the keeper would be afraid. So he had to let the tiger come into his house and face him. Again he had to look the tiger directly in the eye. Again and again. Every morning.

He never had the tiger completely in his power “once and for all.” Again and again he had to overcome him. Every day brought the same test of courage.

After some years the two became good friends. The keeper could touch the tiger, even put his hand between his jaws. But he never dared take his eyes off the tiger. When they looked at each other they recognized each other and were glad that they belonged together and that each was necessary to the other.

Francois, you have to learn to live with the tiger, courageously, eye to eye. For that purpose Christ will set you free. 

(From I Loved a Girl, by Walter Trobisch, reprinted in My Beautiful Feeling: Correspondence with Ilona, by Walter and Ingrid Trobisch) 

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