It was brought to my attention today that blogger Kirsten Andersen responded to my post called “When attraction is irrelevant,” which appeared on my blog in May, and on chastityproject.com last week.
I guess you could say she didn’t like it.
I responded to her criticisms in a comment on her post, which was published by Aleteia this morning. My comment currently awaits moderation. If you’d like to read her post in its entirety, click here. If you’d like to read what I originally wrote, click here.
I’d like to share Kirsten’s qualms, which center on what my friend Americo and I said in the post Kirsten criticized, and my clarifications, which are important clarifications to make:
“I’m honestly happy for Spenceley that she feels like she has spiritual justification to date men who don’t look like the stars of the next Marvel film, or whatever aesthetic she prefers.” -Kirsten
“I disagree that physical attraction isn’t a valid consideration when searching out a spouse.” -Kirsten
I neither wrote nor believe that I ought to date men who don’t look like [insert my aesthetic preference]. I also neither wrote nor believe that physical attraction isn’t a valid consideration when searching out a spouse (Americo never said that, either).
The post I wrote does not dispose of attraction as a factor in choosing who we date but is intended to challenge the reader to reconsider where attraction belongs in a hierarchy of standards. I do not encourage people to date others to whom they are not attracted.
The post I wrote also does not call all attraction irrelevant. It calls attraction irrelevant specifically when a person to whom you are attracted does not also bring out the best in you, when a person to whom you are attracted has no commitment to your sainthood.
“The fact that she was blown away by the very idea that dating a non-conventionally attractive person could be okay…” -Kirsten
I neither wrote that I was blown away by the idea that dating a non-conventionally attractive person could be okay, nor has that idea ever blown me away.
The post isn’t about what the world around a person says is attractive versus what a person him or herself finds attractive, anyway. The post was inspired by how blown away I was by the brilliance with which Americo articulated a very important truth: your attraction to a person does not obligate you to date him or her, and it is not enough of a reason to decide to do so.
“It sounds to me like what Americo meant to say was that Holy Spirit goggles are the spiritual equivalent of beer goggles, not their opposite, that just as beer goggles make physically unattractive people look better after a few rounds at the bar, Holy Spirit goggles do the same thing after a few rounds of Adoration or Scripture study.” -Kirsten
I don’t believe (and nor does Americo) that the “Holy Spirit goggles” to which we referred are designed to alter our visual perceptions of other people.
The point the post was intended to make was that when we seek first Christ, and are open to the Holy Spirit’s movement in us, He will refine our desires. Holy Spirit goggles turn us from people who stubbornly rule potential spouses out for stupid reasons (such as that they are not conventionally attractive) into people whose discernment in dating goes far deeper.
When we wear our “Holy Spirit goggles”, we don’t decide that a person isn’t fit for us because he or she doesn’t fit a specific, superficial mold — we toss the mold altogether. And we don’t confuse preferences (which are insignificant, such as “has a beard”) with standards (which are critical, such as “defines sex the same way I do.”).
“The bottom line is, it’s okay to pursue people you find attractive.” -Kirsten
I second this. And I’m sure Americo would third it.