Virtue of the Week: Chastity

Friends,

When you read the word “Chastity” it conjures up all kinds of uncomfortable notions. BORING ! I think this is due from our misunderstanding chastity. Here are three informative excerpts from this week’s virtue information about chastity that could help us understand.

From Saint John Chrystostom about chastity of our spirits in everyday relationships with others:
“You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your tempting words. … When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity , nor provoked by injury , but out of foolish vanity and pride.”

From “Resenting Chastity” by Edward P. Sri about the worlds view of chastity. This article does a great job of clarifying chastity when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. A longer read but worth the time:
Virtue is not something simply lacking in the modern world. It is something many in the modern world actually resent. Why is virtue resented by many people today? First, living the virtuous life is not easy. It requires a lot of effort, practice, and self-denial. We are constantly battling against our fallen, selfish human nature. This side of the Garden of Eden, it is a lot easier to give in to our emotions and desires than it is to control them. For example, it is easier to indulge our appetite than it is to eat with moderation. It is easier to lose our temper when things don’t go our way than it is to moderate our anger. It is easier to give in to discouragement and complaining than it is to joyfully endure our trials with courage. The virtues remind us of the higher moral standard that we are called to follow. This reminder should inspire us to give more of ourselves in the pursuit of virtue rather than living life enslaved by our passions. However, not everyone wants to be reminded of this. For souls not wanting to give up certain pleasures or comforts—souls not wanting to do the work and make the sacrifices that are necessary to grow in virtue— any discussion of the virtues can be like a mirror showing them their own moral laziness. This is why some people resent the virtues. Instead of being inspired to live a better life, they destroy the moral standard of the virtues and drag it down to their level. In other words, they minimize the significance of the virtues in order to spare themselves the effort and excuse their own moral failures. The virtue that is probably resented the most today is chastity. Chastity is no longer seen as something good, something noble, something we should all pursue. Just the opposite: Chastity is now often portrayed as something evil—something harmful for human persons!

From “ Chastity of the Intellect” by William Evertsberg about being chaste with our attention, dediction, focus, and priorities in life:
Honest doubt is an integral component of thoughtful faith. The Spanish-American Harvard philosopher George Santayana called skepticism “the Chastity of the Intellect.” The Chastity of the Intellect, you see what he means by that, right? Your credulity is your virginity; don’t give it up too quickly and too easily. The intellect should be chaste, not promiscuous; the intellect should not drop its drawers for every seductive but hare-brained idea that tries to lure you into its clutches. The intellect should not be promiscuous; the intellect saves itself for The One, The One Idea to which you can be faithful and chaste for the rest of your days. Eventually, of course, the intellect has to give itself up to something, or Someone, that One Big, Beautiful Idea you can live with and die for. What is that one big idea that you will live with and die for?

Let’s dedicate ourselves to learning more about chastity this week!