Friday, 1 August 2008

Why is chastity important?


Chastity is the virtue of finding and living love in the context of sexuality. The virtues point us towards the perfection of will that controls our actions and passions. These point us towards happiness, endurance, spontaneity and security. John Paul once said that “Chastity can only be thought of in association with the virtue of love.” At the crossroads between the culture of life and a culture of death, the virtue of chastity points towards purity, creativity and certainty. As chastity and self control are one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23-4), God gives us a gift of purity of heart if we love and keep his commandments (John 14:15). This purity is can be given as the fruit of prayer, especially when asked with humility.

In promoting the virtue of chastity, it is vital to communicate that the virtue of purity is not first of all a “no” to illicit sex, but a yes to authentic love. It first and foremost affirms and celebrates the goodness of our bodies and the gift of sex. It is not a repressed repetition of “no” but a continual “yes” to Jesus. Mary offers the perfect example of love and obedience by saying “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38). The more we imitate her “yes,” the more joy and peace we will let into our lives. If we are unable to say “no” to sex, what is our “yes” really worth?

Living a life of authentic chastity means that it will be easier to cherish your future marriage more than passing pleasures. Living a chaste life within a relationship helps couples to express intimacy in a way that is not necessarily physical. This intimacy helps people to be themselves. An unhealthy intimacy makes couples feel as if they were losing their identity.

Rather than trying to live life trying not to offend God, we should live life trying to glorify him. Every single act and moment in our lives can be considered an act of worship to God. Because God’s laws exist because he loves us and wants us to share in that love, we should concentrate on the “yes” to true love rather than obsessing on the “no” to sin. God invented sex and he designed us. That is why “When you decide firmly to lead a clean life, chastity will not be a burden on you: it will be a crown of triumph.”

There is no condom for the heart or the soul. The very heart of trying to make sex “safe” is a total contradiction in terms. Sex is supposed to be a total gift of self. “Protection” is normally an action against an enemy, not a closely beloved.

A chaste life is free of the pollution of the culture of death. The great secret for young people to discover that chastity is joyful and fosters a true experience of love! Young hearts feel "a desire for greater generosity, more commitment, greater love. This desire for more is a characteristic of youth; a heart that is in love does not calculate, does not begrudge, it wants to give of itself without measure.” No doubt this love will require sacrifice and be demanding at times.

Sex education programs must communicate that sex is beautiful and good within the confines of marriage. It must be taught that the purpose of sex is for babies and bonding. Educators must be able to tell teenagers that chastity is a way which we glorify God with our bodies. They must also highlight the problems and dangers of fornication and clarify and communicate the distinction between loving and using somebody. Living in chastity and purity authentically cannot be imposed by fear, circumstance or by hiding facts. These are not entrance points to understanding a truly chaste life. Teenagers increasingly are being educated by the media, which does not necessarily have the best interests of its users at heart. Parents and those who act in loco parentis must be the guardians of their children’s responsible use of the media.

Living a truly chaste life brings freedom, respect, friendship, security and romance. As a form of self mastery and temperance, it helps us to make present God’s fidelity and loving kindness.

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