"You losers! You don’t know what you’re missing!”
That’s the kind of mocking words you will hear when
you choose chastity.
All I can say to that is: How clueless can you get?
The lustful who’ve never lived in chastity (not
simply abstinence) don’t know its joy. They feel that being unable to
fulfill one’s sexual desires is a recipe for frustration and
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Contrary to what our society says, chastity-- that
is, pre-marital chastity-- is possible, practical, beneficial and great
source of happiness, even if at times it is difficult.
Many articles on chastity offer a lot of theory,
but not much practical knowledge about how to attain and “live with”
chastity: or they put forward the arguments for chastity without showing
that “real” flesh-and-blood people live this lifestyle, therefore making
chastity appear to be an unattainable and unrealistic ideal. These
articles also tend to concentrate on the religious reasons for chastity
without showing the psychological benefits. I have sought in this
article to fill in these gaps.
“CHASTITY, HA! WHAT A JOKE!”
That’s the kind of attitude you’ll meet among
cynics. What’s so great about chastity? One of the things you learn when
you’re chaste is that you’re worth waiting for. You learn that even if
the great majority of potential marriage partners in the won’t wait,
you’re *still* worth waiting for, in spite of everything. Loving oneself
sounds pretty dull next to accounts of sexual exploits, but in reality,
it’s far more essential to happiness. If you do not respect yourself,
you cannot be happy. Simple as that. Chastity is a step towards
self-respect. It implies that every human being is unique and special:
so much so that sharing oneself in sex is not just fun, but it is one of
the highest gifts of self. Chastity gives you this vision your own
uniqueness and a greater sense of self-worth.
Chastity also does away with a lot of mind
games--often played to get people into bed. Respect for ourselves leads
to more respect for others because in realizing our own specialness, we
see it in others. And since we ourselves detest lies and deception, we
avoid it when dealing with others. As Kristi (age 22) from Florida says,
“I have NO worries about what any of my relationships are about, whether
they are romantic or not. I can see how a life of chosen celibacy frees
a person to relate more honestly with others.”
Another great thing about chastity is that it leads
you to become best friends with the person you’re dating. Sex does not
get in the way. As Elizabeth from Cleveland testifies, “During the time
I was chaste, I never felt better, saw more clearly, and learned how to
become a friend to my now husband, instead of just having sex in common,
which is all kids have, and so they go [from] one bed to another,
looking for ‘love.’” Let’s face it--when non-chaste couples date, a lot
of time is spent in bed, or trying to get the other in bed, often with
the use of mind games and manipulation. Even if couples are not
constantly in the sack, they could be spending learning to get to know
their inner selves instead of fulfilling their lust. Chastity changes
this relationship because it is no longer based on the notion that sex
is a really ordinary activity, or that one’s body and soul are not
special enough to keep for one’s spouse. When you adopt chastity, your
partner is treated accordingly. The other person is no longer a source
of physical pleasure, but a person to be appreciated simply and utterly
for personality--not for looks, not for sexual performance, not for any
externals. Because you view your partner differently, the relationship
changes. Just as you do not choose friends based on looks or sexual
performance, but simply for the joy they bring from their company, you
choose your spouse the same way based on the presumptions implicit in
Naysayers will insist that they do not choose their
partners for these external reasons. They are usually sincere in their
statements. But what they do not realize is that chastity takes this
respect to a higher degree. Whatever detachment they’ve developed is
heightened; chastity purifies the soul’s vision so that you see them
more and more for who they are, and with this realization of who they
are comes a greater respect--because you know that to know a person is
to love that person.
Of course there will be cynics who will claim that
all this is a bunch of junk and that sex is just too fun to give up.
They presume somehow that self-respect and other abstract things like
honesty, truth and transparency of the person simply do not contribute
as much to happiness as “sexual liberation.” This is simply ludicrous.
It is only when one realizes that virtue leads to happiness that one can
adopt chastity. Until one realizes that virtue is consistent with the
needs of the soul can one know happiness.
WHAT DOES CHASTITY MEAN?
Those who hate chastity would have you believe it
is the unnatural repression of natural desires-- that chastity is an
oppressive kind of sexuality. Repression simply does not work very well.
You would eventually explode. This is a false kind of chastity. When one
lives chastity in an authentic manner, it cannot feel repressive; it
feels like the most natural thing in the world. Authentic chastity in my
opinion consists of three elements.
1) Avoidance of sin;
2) Avoidance of temptation
3) Purity of heart
1. Avoidance of Sin
Avoiding sexual intercourse is not even a minimum
requirement. One must also avoid all stimulation of the genitals-- one’s
own or another’s-- even if there is no intention to go all the way.
Petting and intercourse cheat your future spouse of that part of you
which you share with others. Your sexual activity no longer is reserved
for the most special person in the world. A couple can still impart
affection, so long as they do not get carried away. One must also avoid
television programs, magazines and books which depict explicit sexual
acts and all pornography. Sex is a private matter between two people.
Exposing it to the world cheapens it into a side show. Part of the gift
of sex is that you do not share it with anyone else including an
audience: exposure demeans its intimacy.
2. Avoidance of temptation
The renunciation of temptation is an important step
to take once you’ve overcome sin. Testing your resistance to sexual
stimulation is a sure-fire means of falling into a trap. If you do it
long enough, you will eventually sin. It’s up to each couple to discern
what constitutes for them a temptation, but there should be no
embarrassment in revealing potential problems to dating partners:
otherwise you shouldn’t be dating. There should be no hesitation in
withdrawing hands where they do not belong, avoiding kisses in sensitive
areas or reducing ardor when demonstrating affection. It is not a sign
of being weak or lame. It is doing what must be done to respect oneself
and one’s dating partner.
There should also be a concerted effort to shun
television shows, reading material and music with explicit sexual
references that are counter-chastity. They may or may not be wrong in
themselves; but there is no reason to allow the opportunity for lust to
plant its seed. Harboring lust in one’s heart makes chastity extremely
difficult at times.
One should also not speak about sexual matters
except in a manner consistent with chastity as it reinforces whatever
impurity that remains in your heart. There is nothing wrong with
discussing sex, but it shouldn’t be done in a vulgar attitude, or to
unnecessarily stimulate the imagination.
3. Purity of heart
Up to this point, chastity has been very boring. It
consists of “avoid this, shun that.” A life of happiness cannot be built
of “thou shalt nots.” Those who are against chastity emphasize the first
two elements, but do not understand this part. The only way to really
understand purity of heart is to live it. This is what makes chastity
worth it. Without purity of heart, chastity is one big “Thou shalt not.”
Elizabeth from Cleveland testifies: “Chastity a
burden? No, it’s quite the opposite, it’s light. It lets you free from
all the chains of sin, and lets you see things in their right
Purity of heart is the ability to see as God sees,
that is, in the right manner. When God created the human soul, he made
it so that it would attain happiness when united to him. And one means
of achieving this union is try to see things as he does. When the soul
unites herself to God’s will in discerning what is beautiful and good in
human sexuality, she cannot help feel a sense of elevation and happiness
that no earthly pleasure can accord her. It is as if the heavy scales of
lust fall off one’s eyes and one feels a glowing sense of the inherent
beauty of sexual innocence and intimacy. When this sense of purity
imbues your mind, you cannot but reject any thought of giving it up for
sinful pleasures, knowing that engaging in them, you will lose the
beauty you will feel inside yourself; that you will corrupt the
unadulterated love you have for your partner. Engaging in sexual
activity would bring the heavy yoke of lust and forsaking the lightness
Purity of heart goes beyond avoiding sin and
temptation. The pure meditate on the beauty of love, marriage and
chastity by reading books and articles which expound their virtues. In
doing so, the pure develop a greater appreciation for the chastity that
they live. As they grow to understand the beauty of marriage, their wait
appears to be all the more worthwhile. This understanding, this
meditation, strengthens their fortitude, so that they become more
resistant to sin, and less embarrassed about being honest in their
sexuality and demanding that dating partners respect their choices.
GREAT, BUT HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Chastity looks hard--and sometimes it is. But it
can also be easy. There are things you can do to help make it
easier--avoiding temptation and bad influences. But even then there are
times when temptation comes out of the blue without even being exposed
The thing to remember is that you are not alone in
this battle. “Anyone trying to be chaste by self-effort is doomed to
failure, “ says Tom from the UK . ‘”It demands total commitment of your
life to Christ and then sex assumes its proper perspective.” In order to
live perfect chastity, ask God for the grace to help you out. Remember,
God said “ask, and you shall receive.” God cannot withhold this grace
from us: he is the one who demands chastity from us. If you make the
decision to become chaste, even if it only feels like a weak “yes”-- God
will help you with the rest. But he needs for you to say yes to him in
order for his grace to work within you. So long as you commit yourself
to chastity, God will always work his grace in you to strengthen you.
And with this grace, you come to experience purity
of heart. Where a woman’s low-cut cleavage was as mundane as brushing
your teeth, it will naturally become offensive to you, not because of
the potential temptation it poses, but because of the lustful seduction
it represents. Because of your acceptance of God’s grace, repelling sin
and all its manifestations will seem natural.
WHO’LL DATE ME?
When you’re friends with people who are sexually
active, you can get the impression that you’re the only “loser” who
isn’t getting any, and that no one will never date you because you won’t
go “that far” with your date, and therefore no one will ever love you
and so chastity is not worth it.
In our sex-saturated society, it is very easy to
get that impression, especially in high school, where you tend to be
exposed to the same predominating ideas. The truth of the matter is that
lots of people are committed to chastity. Just think of the growing
popularity of pro-chastity groups like “True Love Waits.”
The problem is that chaste people don’t wear a sign
advertising their sexual choices. They are sometimes hard to find. They
are like you, looking for people to date. They can be found in church
groups and church-related groups.
You can also rely on God to help you in your
search. If God has destined you for the vocation of marriage, you can be
sure he has someone in mind with whom he wants you to share that
vocation. Marriage is not a vocation in a vacuum--it is the vocation of
being married to a particular person. Therefore, if there comes a time
when it is difficult to find a good mate, you can be sure that God will
find someone for you.
IS CHASTITY REALLY WORTH IT?
There are good concrete reasons to become chaste.
The two most important are pregnancy and STD’s. Twelve million Americans
get sexually transmitted diseases every year. There are approximately
350,000 teen pregnancies every year in the United States (Source:
Information Please Almanac, 1996). Yes, there are ways of reducing
considerably the likelihood of these events. Unfortunately, these
methods are not fool-proof, and they cost money. People still get sick
or pregnant in spite of taking precautions. Any honest health-care
provider will tell you this. The only surefire manner of avoiding
pregnancy and STD’s is to say no to sex all together before marriage.
Aside from the health benefits, there are also
psychological benefits. Chastity is a means to greater peace of mind as
it simplifies life immensely. No worrying about how much you’re getting,
birth control, scoring, etc. There is more time to appreciate the
precious things in life: conversation, taking walks, hanging out,
exchanging ideas-- the sharing of one’s inner self.
Chastity also leads to a more acute appreciation of
marriage and sexuality. As you come to know and love someone more
through chastity, one comes to realize the preciousness of one’s
beloved. As love intensifies, sex becomes more precious and comes to
symbolize the love itself. The intensity of emotions corresponds exactly
to the intensity of one’s love. Marriage is no longer just a contract,
but a life of loving and total commitment to the authenticity of this
Chastity also has the advantage of testing the
sincerity of potential dating partners. A person’s love should never be
dependent on whether or not he or she will have sex. It should depend on
commitment and values, not on the performance of an act. If your partner
loves you, there will be positively no pressure to have sex. If there
is, you know that person isn’t loving you in the way you deserved to be
BUT I’M NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE...
It doesn’t matter. Virginity makes achieving
chastity easier because there is nothing in your experience to remind
you of sexual feelings. But lost virginity is no reason to give up a
sensible sexual practice which leads to greater peace of mind and a more
stable relationship. It may be somewhat harder, but it is completely
possible with God’s grace, as Saint Augustine testifies in his
Confessions. He led a dissolute life until his conversion, but finally
mastered his passions by calling upon God’s grace.