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Temperance is one of the four Christian Cardinal virtues. It is the virtue of being able to keep our passions and desires under control instead of them controlling us. It is much more than just abstaining from something like food or alcohol but is using our passions and God given desires in the correct way. Below is a close to transcript of what is covered in the podcast: Welcome back to “Theology that Matters.” We are continuing our series on the Virtues and focusing on what has traditionally been called the “Cardinal Virtues.” They are called cardinal, for that is from a Latin word that means the hinge… like on a door, so these virtues are a hinge on which all the other Christian virtues come out of and are necessary to truly follow Jesus has he asks us to. These Cardinal virtues allow us to really live out the three great virtues (which we will discuss after the Cardinal virtues) of faith, hope and love. Last time we talked about Prudence (wisdom) and why it is so important. Without prudence, which is the knowledge of what is right and wrong, there is no other way to act properly. One can’t act right if one does not know what is right and wrong. Temperance, Courage (fortitude) and Justice are impossible without Prudence. So prudence gives you the knowledge that urges us to act and act we must for the good by being temperate, courageous and just. These virtues help us then to commune in the divine love and be with God. Thus they are important to understand, seek and try to live out in our lives by the grace of God. If we want to be like Jesus and follow him, these Christian virtues are vital for us. As we talk about Temperance today I want to give a quick definition of what it is Not and what it is and then get into some more detail about how we can be temperate and some ways that we commonly are intemperate. Temperance is not simply abstaining from something as most understand it. This common belief has made it too narrow a term and so people use it mostly about controlling alcohol or food, such as don’t drink too much or at all and don’t over eat and hurt your belly. That is way too limiting. Temperance is about much more than that. C.S. Lewis says, “Temperance is going the right length and no further.” It is using all pleasures in the right moderation, for the right reason and in the right way. Temperance is mostly concerned with the pleasures of the body, viz. food, drink, sex, leisure time, work, family and using them wisely, not just avoiding pleasure. Temperance is concerned with the control of pleasures instead of them controlling or ruling over your life. We can do this when we have a healthy appreciation for the goods of life that God has created us for.. It is more than just self-control, but divine control of our lives, of our pleasures, habits and actions, in which the Spirit brings the body under subjection to God and for God by God’s power. The opposite of temperance is intemperance, which is letting pleasures, desires rule us where they control us. Being intemperate is having an abnormal intensity of things that distract us from the good or God. In this way one’s pleasures are too much, to strong or too much out of control and then distract us from the Good. Control of our passions comes from God but also is tied to Prudence. One can’t be under the proper control if one does not know why or what we need to be controlled for and from. Prudence gives us the wisdom to know right and wrong and what we should avoid, do and what is the proper moderation. Temperance is living out this wisdom. So by being a temperate person one avoids ruin. Intemperance leads us to indulging too much in pleasure or avoiding it all together because we don’t see the proper place God has made in our lives for pleasure. Let me give you an example of being intemperate and then why this negative consequence can be applied to all intemperate actions. Then I will give a few other ways we tend to act intemperate. Gluttony is probably the easiest thing to understand for us. When we eat too much, it is gluttony and so much that our stomachs hurt or we no longer have a pleasant feeling for food. After eating too much your belly hurts and you no longer want food and food even seems horrible. Under use is called anorexia and is the avoidance of food, because one sees food as bad or will make them fat. Over indulgence in a pleasure, like food, the pleasure is gone and even looked down upon. This is the same idea for all intemperate actions, once we do it and over indulge the pleasure is gone and we are left feeling shallow or empty spiritually. Here are a few other examples of intemperate things. It could be sexually, not using sex for the right reasons. In our culture this normally occurs by sex before marriage, but sexually there are other intemperate things such as lust, porn, using sex with my spouse for my personal gratification without caring about them and their feelings. Another way we can be intemperate is with our emotions. This is seen with anger. Again remember that temperance is the right balance of our desires not a complete negation of our desires. For it is fitting to be angry in certain situations, like horrible atrocities in our world. For right type of anger can help correct evil because we see an injustice. But we can let anger lash out at others, seek revenge, shame others, gossip about others. This is what we tend to do in our anger, but that is not constructive and is harmful. Use righteous anger to move one toward justice, but one needs to be careful not to go to the extreme. In this case one extreme is revenge and it causes more hurt, the other extreme is not be moved to action when great evils occur to pretend they don’t exist. Temperance helps guide us down the middle path. In our culture a big area that we need God’s help in is with our leisure time and activities. Do we spend our free time by taking in entertainment? And what type of entertainment? Do we spend too much time on our cell phones? The temperate person will use their leisure, free time, as a way to recharge, relax and reconnect with God. Do we use our leisure time as a way to kill time, to waste precious times that we could have used to acquire a virtue or gain happiness on God’s terms? Sometimes our leisure time can deplete us and make us less capable of pursuing true happiness because it is not focus with the right motives. Temperance also helps us have a correct self-image, the correct one is humility. Paul says in Romans 12:3, For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you Think of yourself in accordance with the faith God has distributed to you. So one negative side is thinking too highly, that is pride, where you think you are better than others. The other is thinking too lowly of yourself where it paralyzes one from doing anything because don’t think we are good or worth anything. The moderate view is that we are made in God’s image, thus worth a lot, enough for Jesus to die for us, but that we are also sinners and in desperate daily need of God’s power. This is called humility by being in the middle. In this state we are aware that all the gifts and qualities that I have are on loan from God and that we are to use them for his good. This way we are not prideful, thinking we are better than others, and are not fearful and thus don’t do anything. Temperance is acting and living out the middle way, humility. Alright, so that is a few examples of temperance and now let me wrap this up. Temperance is not letting our passions and pleasures control us, we are in control of them and thus can act rightly in all situations. Temperance helps us desire and act upon the things that are good while avoiding the evil actions. Being temperate is meant to draw us to God, to His ways, to His happiness he wants to give us. We live out our pleasures in correct moderation, from food, sex, to our emotions, to our leisure time to even the correct view of ourselves. Ask God for his help as Luke 11:9-10 says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” So ask, seek and knock on God’s door that he will give you the power and grace to live out these virtues.

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