In the recent past, I had three totally different experiences with three of my very good friends; experiences that made me ask myself, Is Chastity overrated? And I asked the same question to two of my very close friends, not the ones who made me question. This are experiences that hurt so deeply, I did not even think I would hurt over what people go through, not this much. Dear friends, here in quoted, names withheld, I use these experiences, for the purpose that this article might help even if it just one person to live differently. I apologize for this.
I was going home after work, and I run into this friend who told me his brother is Expectant, well, through his girlfriend. Before I parted with her, a friend of mine texts me and tells me, she apologizes for not telling me she was pregnant, but she is a mother to a baby girl. A few months down the line, my childhood friend calls me for a cup of tea, tells me Judy, I am pregnant. They were all not married. I don’t have issues with my friends being expectant, in fact I look forward to when I will be pregnant myself, a feeling I have had since my third year in college in 2005. I am just questioning the act that led to it. I have no issues with Sex either, I have issues with sex outside of wedlock.
Every one of us has deep inside of us the hunger and thirst to be appreciated, to be recognized to be accepted but most of all to be loved, for who we are, not what we ought to be. One fact I know is, we all believe in the Love, love for God, for parents by children and vice versa, among children, but we have issues with the love of Man and Woman. The problem with our generation is we cannot talk about love and exclude sex. Sex and Love have been so intertwined that they are regarded as mutual; you cannot have one without the other. This has eventually led to complicated relationships. Nowadays, we all declare, there is no Love. My question is can we love without sex when we are young? What happened to Chastity? The Catholic Church teaches us about chastity in our Catechism, but what happens when we grow up? Is it educated out of us? Or does it lie down somewhere in our subconscious, but we are too afraid to let it wake up?
Jacinta, one of the three Children that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to during the apparitions at Fatima once said, “Heed the Holy Catholic Church, the pillar of truth, the one divinely ordained guide in morality for all who care to hear.” As per the Catholic encyclopedia, Chastity is the virtue which excludes or moderates the indulgence of the sexual appetite. It is a form of the virtue of temperance, one of the four cardinal virtues, which controls, according to right of reason, the desire for and use of those things which afford the greatest sensual pleasures. Chastity may be classified as either perfect or imperfect. The first-mentioned is the virtue of those who, in order to devote themselves more unreservedly to God and their spiritual interests, resolve to refrain perpetually from even the licit pleasures of the marital state. When this resolution is made by one who has never known the gratification allowed in marriage, perfect chastity becomes virginity. Imperfect chastity is that which is proper to the state of those who have not as yet entered wedlock without however having renounced the intention of doing so, of those also who are joined by the bonds of legitimate marriage, and finally of those who have outlived their marital partners.
The willful impulse to sexual appetite in the unmarried, like the willful impulse to anything unlawful, is forbidden. Chastity excludes, by the virtue of the sexual appetite all outside of legitimate wedlock. Saint Dominic used to pray to the lord like this “I always want to be your son. Let me die rather than commit a single sin against chastity.” How I wish we all had this kind of heart.
Is the Church Justified to ask of Chastity from the unmarried? Or is it denying us young people the “enjoyment of our youth”. Why does the Church teach Chastity?
Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ. The virtue of chastity involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift. The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so.
Chastity leads him who practices it to become a witness to his neighbor of God’s fidelity and loving kindness. The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends [Jesus], who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality.
The entire baptized are called to chastity. The baptized Christian has put on Christ, the model for all chastity. All Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his Baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity.
Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.
Sexual Morality evaluates the goodness of sexual behavior, and often provides general principles by which one is able to evaluate the morality of specific actions. The Catholic Church teaches that human life and human sexuality are both inseparable and sacred. Because Catholics believe God created human beings in his own image and likeness and that he found everything he created to be very good, the Catholic Church teaches that human body and sex must likewise be good. The Catechism teaches that the flesh is the hinge of salvation. The Church considers the expression of love between husband and wife to be an elevated form of human activity, joining as it does, husband and wife in complete mutual self-giving, and opening their relationship to new life. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is noble and worthy. The Church does teach that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is contrary to its purpose. The conjugal act aims at a deep personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and one soul since the marriage bond is to be a sign of the love between God and humanity.
It is in cases in which sexual expression is sought outside sacramental marriage, or in which the procreative function of sexual expression within marriage is deliberately frustrated, that the Catholic Church expresses grave moral concern. Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation which means deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure, fornication which means Voluntary sexual intercourse other than between a married couple, especially where either person or both persons are unmarried, pornography which means removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties, homosexual practices, artificial contraception and Abortion.
Besides all these technical jargon from the Catholic Catechism and encyclopedia, , sex before marriage, according to a friend of mine, is like going into a grocery store and choosing an apple by taking a bite out of it, then leaving it for the next person. Sure it’s ok to pick it up and look at it, but taking a bite out of it is pretty selfish, read, having sex with someone else’s future wife. That is only one reason why I, as a young person, should not to have sex before getting married. There are many others, for instance Sexually Transmitted diseases like venereal warts (HPV) which 25% of sexually active girls between 15 to 25 years old suffer from and Condoms does not prevent its spread, HIV/AID, Abortions, use of contraception , which have loads of side effect among other reasons. From a social perspective, Statistics in North America show that teenage girls who are sexually active are two times more likely to commit suicide while boys are seven times likely. Same statistics also show that girls who have had abortion are six times more likely to commit suicide that those who don’t. Well, we have heard of our own share of suicides and murders from our country related to love triangles and I can bet a percentage of over 70% of the cases are not from partners who are living chaste lives both before and after marriage.
Better absolute abstinence than perfect moderation is what St. Augustine concluded after a long struggle with a weakness he had with women. The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh are the words of Jacinta, one of three children to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima. Even in the days of our fore fathers, Chastity was valued. The legislation of Deuteronomy 22:20-21, according to which a bride who had deceived her husband into thinking her a virgin was stoned to death at her father’s door, must in the circumstances have powerfully deterred young women from all impure practices. The effect, too, of the law, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, must have been wholesome. According to this enactment, if a man sinned with a virgin he would give to the father of the maid fifty sides of silver and would then have her as his wife because he hath humbled her. He may not put her away all the days of his life. The Mosaic Law against prostitution of Jewish women was severe; nevertheless through foreign women this evil became widespread in Israel. It is to be observed that the Hebrews were ever prone to fall into the sexual sins of their heathen neighbors, and the inevitable result of polygamy was seen in the absence of a recognized obligation of continence in the husband parallel to that imposed on the wife.
Our lives are like roses, budding roses waiting to bloom. Every time we engage in premarital sex, one petal from the unbloomed rose falls, and keeps falling every time we do it until we are left as only a stem. But when we wait for that moment, it’s like letting the rose bud bloom in the early rising sun, when the time is ripe. Who doesn’t love fully bloomed sweet smelling roses? So is Chastity really overrated? I am just a girl, struggling to find answers and the best way to live life, living this life so that, after it comes to pass, there is the Eternal. To that question, my answer is NO. Chastity is worth all the fight, its worth all the effort and it’s worth all the sacrifice, because in the least it makes us pure, not just physically in that, Chastity well natured, among other virtues, encourages purity of mind body and soul and the Gospel of Mathew quotes Jesus Teaching “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Will we ever see God?