Passions of Desire

Teaching of Virtue

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Passions of Desire

The passions in the face of desires and temptations (referred to as concupiscible passions), which moderate things like eating, drinking, what one thinks about, looks at, says, and so on — are love, hatred, desire, aversion, joy, and sadness (noting, the passions of love and hatred simply mean the animal-like attraction for what is fitting and repulse for what is not).

To illustrate these in action, imagine some friends invited you to grab a few drinks after a tough week at work. If you felt you could control your drinking and have a good time, you’d have love—as the gathering would seem to be a good and fitting end to a long week; thus, you would desire to attend. If you felt you could not control your drinking, you’d have hatred—as the gathering would not be good or fitting for you to attend; thus, you’d avert attending. Ultimately, if you attended, had a good time, and successfully moderated your drinking—you’d have joy; however, If you were unable to control your drinking—you’d have sadness.

Unfortunately, when faced with various desires and temptations, many know what they should avoid, but don’t. So they continue to do what, deep down, they hate. Thus, they are left in a state of underlying sadness because they are ultimately slaves to vice.

The way of virtue is the way of freedom; because it enables one to rightfully order one’s passions of love, hatred, desire, aversion, joy, and sadness not to the will of self, the will of the flesh, or the will of the world—but to the will of God—allowing one to be who God wills them to be.

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Scroll down for the related scriptures, quotes, and lesson plan associated with this teaching.

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Visual Resource

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Related Scripture

“Let love be genuine. Abhor [hate] what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” — Romans 12:9 (ESV)

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” — Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

“Most beloved, do not choose to sojourn in the passion which is a temptation to you, as if something new might happen to you. ” — 1 Peter 4:12 (CPDV)

“...not in passions of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God…” — 1 Thessalonians 4:5 (CPDV)

“Another angel, a second, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.’” — Revelation 14:8 (ESV)

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” — James 1:14 (ESV)

“The desire of the righteous ends only in good, the expectation of the wicked in wrath.” — Proverbs 11:23 (ESV)

“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” — 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (ESV)

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” — Psalm 126:5 (ESV)

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” — John 15:11 (ESV)

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” — Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

Related Quotes

“When the soul has passed through the doctrine of Christ crucified, with true love of virtue and hatred of vice, and has arrived at the house of self-knowledge and entered therein, she remains, with her door barred, in watching and constant prayer, separated entirely from the consolations of the world.” — St. Catherine of Siena

“It is not the possessions but the desires of mankind which require to be equalized.” — Aristotle

“Now how do the concupiscible passions operate? The movements of the human appetite are forces of attraction. The concupiscible passions relate to a good or evil considered absolutely. Any time you feel the desire to eat a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream, commit adultery, avoid confessing your sins, or hate your boss, your concupiscible passions are stirring.” — Dr. Taylor Marshall

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” — Aristotle

“No man is free who is a slave to the flesh.” — Seneca

“[Joy] is an expression of the soul in considered actions.” — Aristotle

“Man cannot live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

“Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your increased means permit.” — Aristotle

“Pleasure is the bait of sin.” — Plato

“Goodness is to do good to the deserving and love the good and hate the wicked, and not to be eager to inflict punishment or take vengeance, but to be gracious and kindly and forgiving.” — Aristotle

“In the realm of evil thoughts none induces to sin as much as do thoughts that concern the pleasure of the flesh.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

“Serve God joyfully. Let there be no sadness in your life: the only true sorrow is sin.” — St. Mother Teresa

“Not every love, but only that which has a noble purpose, is noble and worthy of praise.” — Plato

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Lesson Plan

For your family, small group, or personal reflection.

STEP 1: Introduction

Example: "I'm going to play a short video on the topic of our passions in the face of desires and temptations. After the video, I have some questions to gather your thoughts and get the discussion started. We’ll then wrap up with a closing prayer."

STEP 2: Watch Video (or listen)

Watch (or listen to) the video of the teaching (cast to your TV via YouTube). If time allows, also read the teaching, related Scriptures, and related quotes.

STEP 3: Discussion / Reflection

  • What are the six passions in the face of desires and temptations? Please explain what they are, how they work, and an example of them in your life.

  • How can the passions of hatred, aversion, and sadness be good if properly ordered? (HINT: They are good when used to motivate ourselves or others to stop, avoid, or gain freedom from vice and sin.)

  • What are some examples of vices or sins which stem from not virtuously moderating our desires, temptations, or drive for pleasure?

  • Did any of the related Scriptures or quotes stand out to you (please elaborate)?

  • Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

STEP 4: Wrap Up & Closing Prayer

Summarize and wrap up the discussion. Then, conclude with a sincere and humble prayer from the heart.

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