Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Virtue of Chastity


By Robert Colquhoun
tob.catholicexchange.com

Today I would like to consider the subject of love and responsibility. The word chastity today has virtually become extinct and needs to be restored and brought back into common usage. It is a great and noble virtue, embracing purity, fidelity in heart, mind and body. As training in self mastery, it is a sure way to happiness and sets you free to love rather than use (emphasis mine). It calls us to remember friendship and forget lust. It is a stable foundation for a happy marriage. It brings integration, gratitude and joy, preparing us in faithfulness that is a reflection of God’s fidelity to his covenants. If we can’t even say no when the offer of lust is available, what will our yes be worth when the call of authentic love is at stake?

Chastity is not a no, but a yes. It is a yes to one’s future spouse. It is a yes to the call to true happiness, patience and joy and the authentic giving of oneself to the other. It is a yes to God in desiring to follow his commandments. In a lifestyle of purity, it becomes evermore easier to desire and choose what is good. Jesus tells us that “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). I have seen those yearning for meaning and direction in their lives can be enlightened to see that cherishing the gifts that God has given us, even our sexuality, leads to fulfilment. And with all great inventions and designs, the human body too has a manual in order to facilitate its best use. This is called natural law–this in part is the innate sense of good and evil that is automatically ingrained in our conscience and mind from an early age. And when we cherish the great gift of sex that God has given us, remembering the very first command to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), we are able to live within marriage the total gift of self.

So when was the last time you heard about chastity from the media? Probably never. In our society the meaning and purpose of sex is greatly misunderstood. Love is deliberately sterilized in marriages for the sake of lust. Lust is pollution against love. It clouds the mind with filth making it incapable of thinking straight. The vision of marriage being free, total, faithful, and fruitful has been challenged and compromised by pre nuptial agreements, same sex unions, and increased co-habitation. These four pillars of marriage have been eroded away in western civilization for the sake of so-called “safe” and “safer” sex, for the convenience of quick divorces, to allegedly avoid discrimination and to emasculate men and de-feminize women by accommodating the culture of death that crushes hearts, minds, and relationships. These are all paths that very few, if any in their heart of hearts consciously desire to travel down.

If you love somebody, you will want what is truly in their best interests. If you are going to have non-marital sex, you are going to have to justify how it is in the best interests of a girl to have an increased risk, or exposure to, an unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, single parenthood, abortion, depression, divorce, sterility and poverty–and maybe a broken heart to top it all off. The heritage foundation conducted a study in 1995 of 10,000 women aged between 15 and 44, which showed how early initiation of sexual activity is clearly linked to a wide variety of negative life outcomes and decreased happiness.

A friend recently asked me after meeting his girlfriend on the Catholic Unattached Directory, “How far can you go with a girl?” How far is too far? In the end I had to tell him he was looking at the issue from the wrong perspective. He was interested in how much he could take without crossing the line. And perhaps if he crossed it a couple of times, would it really be such an issue? I told him to imagine that her previous boyfriend was with her, how far would you be willing to see her to go with him, without feeling uneasy? Or perhaps imagine that Jesus and her father are having a conference in the room when you and your girlfriend feeling frisky together. You don’t want to take your girlfriend further away from God. You don’t want to put your relationship in opposition to God’s plans and commands. Then it would be best to contemplate, “how much can I give? Can I give my whole self?” It is only in the full giving of self we truly find ourselves.

And if we know and can firmly establish that cutting out pre-marital sex cuts the odds of sexually transmitted diseases (some of which cause sterility), out of wedlock pregnancy, lowers levels of child and maternal poverty, reduces the probability of abortion and depression [1], increases the likelihood of greater marital stability and greater happiness, then why are we not promoting this message in every school in every country in the world? Why must teenagers be duped a patronizing lie? They are told they can’t really control their sexual desires so they just need to be appeased with latex. This doesn’t fully protect against pregnancy and disease- but rather is a subliminal endorsement of promiscuity. There is no condom for the heart and the soul.

[1] http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/upload/44695_2.pdf