Over the centuries, Christian courtship in the West has become distorted into seduction, and seduction into unbridled fornication, the “hookup culture” we have today. Seduction and romance were gateways to normalized sexual sin because they facilitated fallen man’s propensity to self-love through carnal pleasure. Adam and Eve’s innate desire to please and love God was transformed through the fall into a vulgar narcissism where we eagerly abuse and desecrate the bodies of others. To target someone and perform a set of behaviors in order for them to “like” you, and then harness those affections into sexual pleasure, is a side effect of demonic narcissism that is normalized in our time.

Instead of pleasing God and instead of the humility and obedience to the Law of God and the Holy Church commanded by Christ, there now flourishes as never before truly diabolical pride: self-love, conceit, self-glorification, self-exaltation, vanity which oozes out of every pore, and seeking after popularity and earthly glory. This all leads naturally to hatred, envy, malice, and uncontrollable hostility, leading at times to frenzy, instead of to the mutual love and goodwill commanded by the Gospel… —Archbishop Averky in Enemies Of Orthodoxy In The Modern World

Imagine what a modern woman does to attract a man she likes. She will wear tighter or more revealing clothing, put on lipstick to mimic the color of her lips during a state of arousal, stare deeply into his eyes as if he were the only reason for her existence, bite her lower lip, purposely allow her chest, hip, or shoulder to graze the man’s body, laugh purposefully at his jokes, feign interest in his hobbies, preen ceaselessly, apply chemical fragrances to her skin, and deliberately conceal her personal flaws. This is but a sample of the manipulative weapons a woman uses when she methodically targets a man’s lustful tendency to get him to desire her for sex or love.

Why does a woman do this? To feel the emotional pleasure of being desired, to be validated through a man’s attention, to create a narrative that displays social value to her friend group (i.e. brag), to alleviate boredom, and to fulfill her own physically lustful urges. Each of these reasons is for the self: I want to feel good, I want to feel beautiful, I want to be desired, I want to experience physical ecstasy, I want to be loved, I want to be doted upon, I want to be happy, I want to be popular, I want to be in a relationship like my friends. In such a seduction, the woman deceives herself into thinking that she likes the man, or even loves him, but in reality her behavior is a projection of her narcissism. She loves only herself, proven by the fact that there is no pure sacrifice or virtue displayed in the seduction—only the expectation of gain. If that gain is not forthcoming, she halts the seduction (often in anger) and moves on to another target who can elicit the desired outcome. She sees a man as a character in a play that she scripted to appeal to her imagination and long-held fantasies that developed since childhood from consuming thousands of hours of secular entertainment and media. In essence, seducing a man allows her to be the princess in her own movie, someone who a man would die for, the ultimate confirmation of her perceived self-worth.

It’s similar when a man is seducing a woman. A man will claim he is fornicating for the physical benefits alone, but he is all too eager to share tales of his conquests, highlighting his need for emotional validation concerning his masculine prowess. Sadly, I fornicated with many women in my past not because I strongly desired them, but because I wanted to bond with other men by sharing all the details of the seduction and be rewarded with their commendation or laughter. If you were to ask the old me why I dived so wholeheartedly into carnal sin, he would answer you thus: I want to feel good, I want to feel masculine, I want to have fun, I want to show off to other men, I want to assert my superiority over others or get their attention, I want to be challenged, I want to think of myself as special or skilled, I want to be popular, I want to be the hero of my own movie. It was all done for my pleasure and egotistical needs. The women were merely supporting characters in the play that I had written myself for myself. It was so easy to forget about them after a short time because they were a mere instrument of my own pride and self-love.

For women, seduction is a gourmet meal while for men it’s like a trip to McDonald’s. Men want something quick and easy that fills the belly without a long wait, which is why it’s so much more common for a man to “take one for the team” than a woman. A man is more likely to see hooking up with any woman as a replacement for masturbation instead of the potentially life-changing narrative that women may prescribe to it. In both cases, the world revolves around the seducer and what he or she wants. The degree of patience may vary, whereby women are usually more patient than men since their sexual urges are less acute, but both use the other to receive material benefits, whether to the ego or to the body, and any authentic love or generosity displayed is only done to continue receiving benefits, remaining always transactional without serving a higher purpose.

All of the Holy Fathers, teaching on the spiritual life, with one voice agree that the root and source of all the passions is egoism or self-love, that is, unreasonable, wrongful love towards oneself. Egoism or self-love gives rise to three principal passions the three fundament roots of all the other passions: love of pleasure, greed, and love of glory. These three principal passions are enumerated in the Holy Scripture by the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian who says, Do not love the world or the things in the world… For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16). From these three principal passions in turn come the following eight passions: (1) gluttony, (2) fornication, (3) avarice, (4) anger, (5) sorrow, (6) despair, (7) vainglory, and (8) pride. These eight passions engender yet more and more passions which then branch out into a multitude of diverse and subtle variations of each of these principal passions. All of these innumerable passions tyrannize and torment the human heart, never giving a person rest and causing him unbearable suffering, from which he loses spiritual peace, inner balance, and tranquility of conscience. He feels deeply unhappy, sometimes experiencing truly hellish torment, as if experiencing the onset of those torments that inevitably await all unrepentant sinners… —Archbishop Averky in The Struggle For Virtue

Let’s compare narcissistic seduction with Orthodox Christian courtship, where the I is removed and replaced with God. The self is no longer the main recipient of pleasure, happiness, or glory. Instead of a man using a woman as a vehicle for self-gratification, she is used as a vehicle to please God and serve His will for mankind. If a man identifies a woman he wants to marry, the questions on his mind will look entirely different compared to the narcissistic man: Is this union pleasing to God? Is she the one that God wants me to marry? Is this union necessary to increase our faith and ultimately our salvation? What is the will of my Lord God? Of course the woman must have some appealing traits, but the final decision to court her for marriage will depend not on personal satisfaction or pleasure but God’s good pleasure, which He can reveal to the man in time through a variety of methods. The me-centeredness of seduction is replaced with the God-centeredness of chaste courtship. The desire to receive pleasure is replaced by the desire to pick up a cross that pleases God and ultimately leads to salvation. Using a woman to receive bodily pleasure is replaced with loving a woman to receive divine pleasure (God’s grace).

If you don’t possess the true faith of Orthodoxy, I deem it impossible to purely court for God instead of seduce for the self, even if you’re a “good person” and covet marriage for wholesome material goals. Subconsciously, you will seek out a woman who pleases you in the here and now, and since it’s typical that we attract a mate who is a mirror to our spiritual state, you will attract a narcissist if you’re a narcissist. You will attract an egomaniac if you’re an egomaniac. You will attract a woman who is unconsciously serving Satan if you’re already serving Satan. On the other hand, if you’re a God-pleaser, you will attract a God-pleaser, for a God-hater will find it torturous to be with a God-pleaser. From this reality, it’s clear to see that the solution to finding the best spouse is to work on an Orthodox faith that is pleasing to God, but how many women instead devote their free time to makeup, clothing, or secular entertainment? How many men spend untold hours building huge muscles in a quest to spam a hundred women on Tinder after uploading shirt-less photos? Such behavior is surely a sign that more spiritual work must be done, because it’s only when we transcend the selfish needs of our flesh do we mature enough to enter a marriage with God at the helm.

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