I am a 30 year old single man. I lost my virginity about the age of 15, but the girl couldn't stay with me as she was a foreigner and had to return home. Having sex with women became a priority in life for me, but I have been single for most of my life and now the only pleasure I get is from prostitutes. I used to have faith but don't anymore. I don't agree with a lot the church has to say. I think priests should be allowed to marry and women should be ordained. The use of contraception should be allowed. This and all the scandals with children being abused in the church have slowly diminished my faith. Not getting away from the fact that I am a sinner, I have reached a point in my life which you could describe as despair. I have thought about becoming a monk to remove all temptation from my grasp. But I'm wondering, is this because I feel utterly lost at times and feel I've made a mess of my life?

Can you advise me on what I should be doing?


"Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23).

Reading your note, it seems you make up your mind about what is right and wrong on an almost random basis. And even the things you believe are wrong, you pursue them anyway. You claim you've lost faith, but I'm wondering how much you've really had. Faith is another word for trust. Faith in God means you trust what He says, even if you don't fully understand why. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

It is clear that you understand your responsibilities to live righteously. You demand sexual purity of the clergy in the Roman Catholic church, but you continue to pursue sexual sins even while you know it is wrong. It is your own hypocrisy that is eating away at you.

You propose to solve your dilemma by attempting to escape from contact with the world. You hope that a lack of exposure will mean a removal of temptation. It might sound good on the surface, but won't work because you aren't addressing the real problem. As Paul said in Colossians 2:23, what you plan to do won't overcome your desire to indulge yourself with sin. It is self-imposed religion because you are deciding this is what is best and imposing your own decision on yourself. It is false humility because you are seeking what appears to be devote religion but you state you've lost your faith. You propose to neglect yourself as if that will make temptations less, but it doesn't work that way.

The real core issue at the moment is deciding if you want to love God and follow His teachings. I'm not talking about following the Roman Catholic church -- it is run by men who make mistakes just like other people. I'm talking about going to God and learning from Him what you ought to do with your life.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3).

God is the authority in religion. People are judged by the standards God lays out. Even those who never heard of God.

"For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel" (Romans 2:12-16).

This is how you've been behaving. You decide what is right and wrong based on your own feelings. But you don't follow even these decisions, so your conscience accuses you of sin. You know sex outside of marriage is wrong, so what will God say to you on Judgment Day? "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Until you come to grips with the fact that you are responsible for what you do with your body, you won't make it. Until you acknowledge that God's laws determine what is right or wrong, you'll continue to live an inconsistent and wicked life.

Instead of running off to a monastery, run get a Bible. If you want to talk to a preacher, let me know what town you are in and I'll see if I can find someone near by. Meanwhile, I have an assignment for you. I want you to read the book of Proverbs in your Bible. Read one chapter a day and then write me about what you learned from that chapter that you need to change.