For a long time the only understanding I really knew about the virtue of chastity was ‘not having sex.’ I think the word itself has a ton of negative connotation too. So, I realized that definition only goes so far. A ‘no’ to sex only leaves one practicing abstinence. Anyone can abstain from sex for many reasons; no one to have it with, not in the mood, or obedience to religion. Abstaining is temporary and just because you’re abstaining from something doesn’t mean you’re not saying “yes” to anything else either.
Realizing that I thought, “I don’t want to say no to something that my faith teaches is glorifying and beautiful… and it is something my body just naturally desires?” That ‘no’ engraved a negative, puritan idea in my mind of why the moral’s of the Church were based off this to begin with. So I asked myself, “what does chastity really let me do?”
Freedom to love and respect others intimately without thinking it has to be sexual. Freedom to never feel used or use someone. Freedom to root out the guys who are only looking for a hook-up. Freedom not to worry about unplanned pregnancies or STD’s.
From experience, morals and religion aside, I realized that my awesome friendships that tried to turn romantic somehow faded the moment sexual intentions got involved. It showed me a lot about the guy’s intentions towards me and my body. The minute I started to turn inward and feel less than beautiful was a red flag. As a deep lover, it was weird how adding that to the relationship, in my pure intentions, somehow made things tougher on his emotional level. The reasons why this happened could be many, at the root I can’t get into why but I have ideas, and overall, how a person makes me feel about myself says a lot.
Chastity does involve a ‘no’ and that’s a ‘no’ to concupiscence, lust, egotism, sin (sinful love), using another person for my pleasure, hashing out on hormones, using another person for their good heart, the resentment or shame I feel in my heart when the person I sleep with lacks true concern or care for me (said all the young people & friends who confide in me). Chastity is saying “no” to that awkwardness that can stem from a night of physical pleasure that never brings the couple closer, especially if it happens too early on in the relationship.
God created sex to be enjoyable and He also wants it to be good for us.
God created sex to be a profoundly spiritual experience, not predominantly a physical one.
The reason chastity is something people mock, ridicule, or lack an effort to live for is not that the virtue has a history of being taught as prudish because holding out for true love is not a foreign concept. Rather it’s just that sexual intimacy is just not something people want to let go of until marriage.
“Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.” –St. Augustine
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.
God aside, you can biologically have sex with someone, body to body, part to part, but there is more we can get out of it. Saying yes to chastity doesn’t mean sexual desires or temptations go away (and if it does go away, that’s not normal). Stirrings or desires of sexual desire is not synonymous to lust, for one, and second, they are not sinful. What’s sinful is the consciousness of knowing God asks one thing of us, and we in return act differently, not caring about what He says.
Subjectivity, is the opposite to objective teaching of God and the commandments. Subjectivity is how most people live.
Subjectivity suggests, “what is pleasant and feels good must be right.”
Erotic desires are spontaneous sensual and emotional reactions we experience, indubitably.
That said, sex’s end goal of pleasure alone, which is always great, should never be something that outweighs the beauty of doing it in committed love with another person that was tried, tested, and sincerely discerned.
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.
A striving lover
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.