Chastity, the True Path to Respectful, Healthy Sexuality
By Georgia Kijesky
Have you ever been called ‘generous’ for paying your taxes? Probably not, because paying taxes is compulsory—we don’t have the option to say ‘no’ to the government. In essence, when we lose personal choice in a decision, we lose the opportunity to be virtuous. Jason Evert, a noted speaker on the topic of chastity, applies this analogy to sex. “If we can’t say ‘no’ to sex, then what is our ‘yes’ even worth?” Whether one is married or single, gaining control over our sexual actions and ordering them to God’s plan is the virtue of chastity. In this way, chastity is not a negation of sexuality, but the proper use of a God-given gift. When we are in control of ourselves, we are free to reject lust and all of its sinful baggage.
The rejection of sin opens the opportunity to do God’s will—to love. While lust distorts love and mangles sex into a self-serving action, chastity embraces love and shows proper sexual relations to be self-giving, patient, and respectful. Mr. Evert adds that chastity provides the opportunity for “romance without regret.”
While there is one virtue called chastity, its practice depends on one’s state in life. For a single man or woman, chastity requires a patient abstinence. However, the chaste are rewarded with a beautiful opportunity to broaden their ability to show romantic love through avenues other than sex. For married people, chastity might entail proper restraint for emotional, health, or natural family planning purposes. For consecrated religious, chastity permits the vow of celibacy to be a pure and total gift to God.
No doubt, a good thing like chastity has its enemies and detractors. Anything that liberates will be attacked by those that stand to benefit from continuing the enslavement. The world and its culture often advance sex and lust as tools for manipulation. Things such as racy advertising and provocative movies aim for the most sensitive part of our wounded human nature, hoping to get us to surrender our money, power, and dignity. Chastity stands in contradiction to this. And just when the world proposes abortion as the remedy for any negative “side effects” to a sex-saturated life, chastity stands up and offers hope—hope that there exists a way out of the vicious cycle of enslavement and sin.
John Paul II challenged us “to rediscover and make others rediscover the sacred value and inviolable dignity of every human person.” (Christifidelis Laici, 37) Chastity is a response to this call. It is a commitment to love the way God intended us to love. Only when we are free to do God’s will can we consider ourselves truly free.