For a long time, the only thing I really knew chastity to look like was not having sex. Then for sure I was doing it right, right?
I realized that only goes so far because my ‘no’ to sex only leaves me practicing abstinence. And quite honestly, anyone can abstain from sex for many reasons; no one to have it with, not in the mood, or obedience to religion. Abstaining is mediocre. Just because you’re abstaining from something, doesn’t mean you’re saying “yes” to anything great either.
So here I was left thinking; “I don’t want to say no to something that my faith teaches is glorifying and beautiful.” That ‘no’ engraved a negative, puritan idea in my mind. So I asked myself, “what does chastity really let me do?”
Freedom to love others intimately without thinking it has to be sexual. Freedom from shame or guilt. Freedom to never feel used or use someone. Freedom to never underestimate my beauty and to wait for the person worthy enough of my body.
Chastity does involve a ‘no’ and that’s a ‘no’ to the gravest of evil’s; concupiscence, egotism, sin (sinful love), using another person for my pleasure, and the resentment or shame I feel in my heart from falling into weakness.
The reason chastity is something people mock, ridicule, or lack an effort to strive for is not that the virtue is prudish, it’s that sexual intimacy is just not something they want to let go of until marriage. I mean, of course humans don’t want to give up this form of intimacy–it is so natural to want it!
“Lord, grant me a pure heart, but not yet.” –St. Augustine
We crave, with all our heart, a love that will infinitely fill us and unite us with another person. If you’ve ever been deeply in love, you know this feeling. Unfortunately, no human person on this earth is love so you will never find a person or sexual encounter with them good enough to infinitely fill you. (It is only God’s love that does that.)
Likewise, God aside, sure you can biologically have sex with someone, body to body, part to part, but when you find out that person is only using you to act out of their own aim for some pleasure and they have no real love for you deep down… Well, gosh, no one deserves that. That is the greatest poverty a person can experience.
Saying yes to chastity means this;
I know and love the value, dignity, and beauty I and others have, and I know sexual intimacy is the greatest loving union two people can share on Earth, and because of that I refuse to violate that with false intentions.
Saying yes to chastity doesn’t mean sexual desires or temptations go away (and if it does go away, maybe call a doctor cause that’s not normal). And for the striving Christians out there, keep in mind;
Stirrings of sexual desire (even lust) are not in themselves sinful. What makes them sinful is the deliberate conscious act of the will that gives in to the promptings of the body, (which conflict with objective truth—Luke 18:20). Subjectivity, on the reverse side, suggests and follows the notion “what is pleasant and feels good, must be right.”
Simply put; actions are sins, desires are not.
Sinful love is rooted in–ego driven–emotions which the will consciously decides to put as more important than the other person. This totally dismisses the value of what the act is—a total unification of two persons. Any real love you have for another person is given to them as a gift. It’s never an aim to conquer them. Chastity strives to put person before self (and emotions).
It is impossible to base the value of a relationship by the intensity of emotions or the quality of sex. I don’t care what you say to argue this. A relationship’s value comes through two peoples efforts to continuously offer some form of outward good for each other. A relationship, or marriage, is always a task of total commitment and responsibility for another person.
Erotic desires are spontaneous sensual and emotional reactions we experience. That said, sex alone, which is always great, should never be something that outweighs the beauty of doing it in committed love with another person.
Say yes to sex and yes to the person who wants the best for you and does everything in his/her will to make sure you get just that.
Chastity is a commitment and takes continuous effort and prayer everyday. It does bear fruit. The rewards are ones inexpressible for words. Don’t you always want to feel free and full of life and ready to love others?
I invite you to pray and ponder this mysterious (not prudish) lifestyle because in a sexually revolutionized world, it takes a lifetime to understand the depths of what sex really is.
Help me to discern the movements of my heart. Help me to distinguish between the great riches of sexuality as you intend it to be, and the distortions of lust. I grant you permission, Lord, to slay my lusts. Crucify them so I may come to realize the resurrection of sexual desire as you intend it to be. Protect the eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror Christ-like purity. Seal my heart forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.
Mary, Virgin most pure, mindful of the terrible dangers of impurity, and full awareness of my human weakness, I place myself, this day and always, under your loving maternal care and protection. Free me from the occasion of sin. Keep me and guard me. Amen.