It is neither celibacy nor promiscuity. It applies to every aspect, stage, and area of every life. It is often looked down upon, misunderstood, and everyone has a different opinion on it. But what is it? Chastity. To combine holiness, which is supernatural, with our very natural bodies. Chastity is striving for a healthy body and soul. Pope John Paul II once said,
“Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable
of true love.”
– Pope John Paul II
At first, these words seem a little harsh. C’mon, only chaste couples are capable of true love? It’s not a very casual statement. After all, chastity can not only be a touchy subject, but it is- let’s face it- hard. It may not be hard to ask yourself, “how can I treat my physiognomy with holiness today and use it to lead others to Christ?”, but it sure is hard to actually treat oneself and others with holiness in practice.
For example, when you marry someone, you love them body and soul. To borrow a definition from Saint Thomas Aquinas, love is wanting the best for the beloved.
Obviously, the absolute best is union with Our Lord. It’s a simple but difficult truth, as wishing somebody heaven means you also wish them holiness. If I were in love, I would want my partner to be as holy as humanly possible, right? The hard part is that, if we ladies want our husbands or boyfriends to follow Our Lord, we must deny them certain things in turn, as they must deny us.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you<span style="font-weight: bold; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires. -Song of Songs 2:7
But what does chastity have to do with love? Precisely that. I used to think that the commandment not to sleep with a man unless you’re married to him was a little strict, but it actually makes so much sense. When you are sexually involved with another person, you are joined into one (Genesis 2:24; a woman’s body actually releases a ‘bonding hormone’). So you are giving a piece of yourself, whether you love them, they love you, or not, and you are taking a piece of them (in this way, contrary to what those weird scientists keep telling us, God has sort of designed us for fidelity; who’d have thought?). Pleasure is all very well while it lasts, but if you give yourself away continually, how much will be left to give to your spouse? In much the same way, even if one is already in love when they become intimately involved, one is disrespecting the soul and body of the beloved, although they are trying to show love. Not only does it send the message that one is perfectly okay with sex outside of marriage, but also that “you please me, but are not worth a promise of faithfulness”. That is not real love or real respect; it is not an expression of ‘freedom’. It is a grave degradation of our sacredness as human beings. Our bodies are living tabernacles- we receive Jesus in the Eucharist with them!
You are not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your bodies. -1 Corinthians 6: 19-20
Ladies, don’t give yourselves to situations that, far from leading to true love and happy marriages, lead away from them. It not only involves one partner in sin for submitting to the relationship, but encourages the other to sin because they are not shown that there is a better way to love. Chaste love is saying “no”, even if you both want to. Chaste love is not based on cheapened intimacy, or sex that is devoid of beauty, but on God’s plan to give a complete ‘gift of self’, to each other exclusively, in holy matrimony. To love chastely is to wait, falling in love with the heart and personality of another so that they can love the body with more awe and reverence once they have married it.
Beautiful as it is, chastity seems absolutely impossible at times. Do we really have to nix intimacy until we’re married? And why is it so dang hard to find modest clothing nowadays?!
The thing is that chastity is impossible. For us. But not for Him. With His guidance, chaste living becomes a challenging, but wonderful, journey of dignity and great joy. Chastity is divine, of of God’s greatest gifts to His people. I can’t imagine being gladly chaste on my own, but I know that I can with Christ. We all can. And our relationships will lead to Paradise because of it.
“Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, for the happiness of loving kindness which it must bring. But at the same time, chastity is the sure way to happiness.”
–Pope John Paul II
*This post was provided by the lovely Grace. Grace is an introverted writer-person who likes cats, busy with surviving high school and converting to Roman Catholicism (Tiber Swim Team ’14, baby!). She is struggling with chaste living, and considered it a great honour to write this post. Pax et bonum.