To refrain from sexuality that is contrary to ones morals.

— Chastity, 00

the state of being chaste; purity
abstention from sexual intercourse; virginity or celibacy: a vow of chastity

Value of a man depends upon his courage; his veracity depends upon his self-respect and his chastity depends upon his sense of honorHazrat Ali
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.Saint John Chrysostom
We must be chaste. I do not speak merely of the chastity of the senses. We must observe great chastity in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.St. Peter Julian Eymard

Many of our problems today with teenagers (adults for that matter) and “sex” are the result of many people simply not having or being in touch with their own personal “moral code” for sexuality. Everyone needs a moral code regarding sexuality or we would simply end up as slaves to our emotions and hormones (animals). I think if you ask most people to describe what their personal moral code for sexuality is….you would mainly get blank stares coming back at you. Maybe we all need to think more about this. What is your moral code for sexuality? If you don’t have one, or can’t put it in concrete terms, maybe its time you create one. Or, maybe its time you change the one you have. The first step to clarifying your personal moral code for sexuality is to establish a framework for that code. That framework might include each person seeking input, opinions, codes, and standards regarding sexuality from their religion or personal theology, their parents and or family, their community, and their peers.

Most people vehemently reject the notion of having anyone else tell them what their moral standard for sexuality should be. Great… but what the world needs more of today is people telling each other (and holding each other accountable) to be “chaste”, and stick to their personal moral standard for sexuality, whatever it is!

Men and Chastity

In today’s sexualized society, promoting chastity is seen as prudish and old fashioned. In the eyes of many, promoting chastity with men is seen as almost contradictory. Isn’t manliness all about the notches on your bedpost of the women you have conquered? We propose that manly sexuality shouldn’t be about the number of women a man beds; rather, it should be about focusing one’s sexuality in meaningful relationships.

Sex as a Consumer Good

Sex, it seems, is everywhere. It pops up in every nook and cranny of our day to day lives. We see sex on our television, in our magazines, and on our computers. It is used to sell everything from shampoo to jeans. While once viewed as a sacred mystery, today it has become just another consumer product that can be bought or sold. Sure, people have sold sex since the beginning of history (they don’t call prostitution the oldest profession for nothing). What’s different now is that the very idea of sex has been commercialized and in the process cheapened.

People today approach sex just as they would approach buying a widget. The focus is on YOUR satisfaction and YOUR pleasure. A man thus fantasizes about his next “purchase.” After that hook-up gives him the pleasure he was seeking, he shops around until he finds another person that can satisfy the urge. When he gets tired of that woman or he sees a better and higher end model, he trades-in that person and goes after the upgrade. The problem is that people aren’t things; they’re, well, people. They have hopes, dreams, feelings, and aspirations just like you do.

The Problem with the Hook-Up Culture

On college campuses hooking-up has replaced dating. Guys seldom ask girls on out real dates: outings they have planned ahead of time and which involve just the two of them. And they even less frequently ask that girl to be their girlfriend and enter into monogamous relationships. Instead women and men hook up at bars, Greek houses, and parties. They have their way with each other and then hope never to have a run-in around campus. College is seen as the time to sow one’s wild oats before settling down at some yet to be determined, but definitively far off time.

While many (maybe most?) men see all this as harmless fun, the reality is that there are negative consequences to these hit and run sexual encounters. In truth, “casual sex” is an oxymoron; there is no such thing.

While for some men, sex is just another recreational activity like going to a baseball game, in reality sex is a powerful part of the human experience. Whether you are religious or not, it is wrong to strip sex of any kind of sacredness. The reason sex feels so fantastic is biological propagation insurance; after shooting wooly mammoths and pulling up roots all day, the human race needed a push to overcome the tiredness, get jiggy with it, and perpetuate the human race. Sex is not just erotic and hot, it’s the way in which human life is created. Regardless of how you think the human race came to be, the creation of life is surely imbued with power and mystery. Whether you want it to be or not, sex forms a union between you and the woman you are with. It’s the joining of two bodies together. Powerful hormones and feelings are released when you have sex. Evolution set up these feelings with the intention of bringing two people together to care for a new human life. It’s ridiculous to unite with a woman in this powerful coupling and then change partners like you’re changing a shirt.

Casual Sex Disrespects Women

Even if you can get your jollies from a one night stand, no strings attached, that doesn’t mean your partner feels the same way. While you may be in it for the good time, the woman you hook-up with may develop feelings for you. I know there are woman who have no problem with random flings. But I also know more women who want to believe they’re down with hooking-up but feel hurt afterwards. I knew a lot of women in college who had random hook-ups, after which the guys didn’t call, and who suffered from bouts of depression and angst. They never connected the dots, but I have no doubt there was a correlation. And yes, this goes for guys too. You might hook-up with a girl who’s just leading you on, and get your heart crushed when you realize you’ve been played. Wait until your relationship is committed before being intimate.


Chastity is sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral norms and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion. In the western world, the term has become closely associated (and is often used interchangeably) with sexual abstinence, especially before marriage. However, the term remains applicable to persons in all states, single or married, clerical or lay, and has implications beyond sexual temperance.

In Catholic morality, chastity is placed opposite the deadly sin of lust, and is classified as one of seven virtues. The moderation of sexual desires is required to be virtuous. Reason, will and desire can harmoniously work together to do what is good.

The words “chaste” and “chastity” stem from the Latin adjective castus meaning “pure”. The words entered the English language around the middle of the 13th century; at that time they meant slightly different things. “Chaste” meant “virtuous or pure from unlawful sexual intercourse” (referring to extramarital sex), while “chastity” meant “virginity”. It was not until the late 16th century that the two words came to have the same basic meaning as a related adjective and noun.

In Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious beliefs, acts of sexual nature are restricted to the context of marriage. For unmarried persons therefore, chastity is identified with sexual abstinence. Sexual acts outside or apart from marriage, such as adultery, fornication and prostitution, are considered sinful. In the context of marriage, the spouses commit to a lifelong relationship which excludes the possibility of sexual intimacy with other persons. Chastity therefore requires marital fidelity. Within marriage, several practices are variedly considered unchaste, such as sexual intimacy during or shortly after menstruation or childbirth. After marriage, a third form of chastity, often called “vidual chastity”, is expected of a woman while she is in mourning for her late husband. The Roman Catholic Church, has set up various rules regarding clerical celibacy, while some Protestant communities, such as Lutheran and Anglican traditions, allow clergy to marry or even favor it. In Christian traditions, celibacy is required of monastics—monks, nuns and friars—even in a rare system of double cloisters, in which husbands could enter the (men’s) monastery while their wives entered a (women’s) sister monastery.

Vows of chastity can also be taken by laypersons, either as part of an organized religious life or on an individual basis, as a voluntary act of devotion and/or as part of an ascetic lifestyle, often devoted to contemplation.

Chastity’s importance in traditional Christian teaching stems from the fact that it is regarded as essential in maintaining and cultivating the unity of body with spirit and thus the integrity of the human being. It is also regarded as fundamental to the practice of the Christian life because it involves an apprenticeship in self-mastery. By attaining mastery over one’s passions, reason, will and desire can harmoniously work together to do what is good.

Eastern religions

Hinduism: Hinduism’s view on premarital sex is rooted in its concept of the stages of life. The first of these stages, known as brahmacharya, roughly translates as chastity. Celibacy is considered the appropriate behavior for both male and female students during this stage, which precedes the stage of the married householder. Many Sadhus (Hindu monks) are also celibate as part of their ascetic discipline. In classical Hinduism, sexual intercourse was seen as a sacred act of procreation- within marriage.

Jainism: Although the Digambara followers of Jainism are celibate monks, most Jains belong to the Shvetambara sect, which allows spouses and children. The general Jain code of ethics requires that one do no harm to any living being in thought, action, or word. Adultery is clearly a violation of a moral agreement with one’s spouse, and therefore forbidden, and fornication too is seen as a violation of the state of chastity.

Buddhism: The teachings of Buddhism include the noble eightfold path, comprising a division called right action. For laymen this involves abstaining from sexual misconduct, and for monks strict chastity.

Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.Saint Augustine

Chastity – Take Action

The virtue of chastity means placing our desire for sexual pleasure under the guidance of reason and faith. It is one of the cornerstones of the temple of our body, a necessary pillar of right living. It leads to wholeness and unity, for individuals, married couples and society. The virtue of chastity involves the integration of the powers of love and life placed in us. This integrity ensures the unity of the person and is opposed to any behavior that would distort it. It is simply practicing he morals that you speak.

Living chastity is not easy business in the sex-saturated world of contemporary Western culture. It’s impossible to walk through a shopping mall, turn on a computer or television, glance at an advertisement or browse through a bookstore without being bombarded by sexual imagery of every kind. The challenge of living chastely in these circumstances is difficult for everyone.

Pornography has never been more widespread, reaching almost epidemic proportions. It denigrates authentic sexual expression and encourages masturbation, sexual intimacy outside of marriage and the separation of the life-giving and love-giving meaning of sexual relations.

If we wish to live virtuous lives we need to take actions that will help us keep our sexuality in line with our morals. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Remove from your home or workplace any pornographic literature, magazines, video, CD, DVD or games that are source of temptation.
  • Develop the practice of going on line only for legitimate purposes. Don’t visit pornographic websites.
  • Create accountability measures, for example, move the computer to an open location, the living room or family room is preferable to the bedroom.
  • Install accountability software, with the goal of filtering out undesirable material.
  • In some cases it might help to join an accountability or support group, for example, Sexaholics Anonymous.
  • Try to identify the weaknesses or shortcomings which give an opening to lustful temptations. When beginning to fantasize, ask yourself some important questions: What does this fantasy mean? What am I feeling? Am I sad, lonely, afraid, hurting, or what?
  • Beware of excessive fatigue. Make time for rest. Defenses and coping skills decline with too little sleep/high levels of stress.
  • Healthy leisure is critical. Especially physical exercise.
  • Take responsibility for problems; blaming others is a cop-out.
  • Seek out and be honest with a spiritual director, confessor, formator, chaplain or counselor.
  • Develop a daily plan of life which integrates ascetical practices. Grow in self-control and self-discipline and form the will.
  • Cultivate simple practices such as custody of the eyes, prudent selection of reading material, attention to the duty of the present moment, indifference to distractions, not dwelling on past injuries, and spiritual readings.
  • Learn how to establish healthy boundaries and relationships. Develop friendships that strive for mutual growth in virtue.
  • Exhibit genuine modesty in matters of dress and behavior.

Growth requires persistence and resolve to stop giving into lustful thoughts. Developing spiritual muscles requires repetition. Set realistic goals. Never give up but keep striving.

The highest virtue found in the tropics is chastity, and in the colder regions, temperance.Christian Nevell Bovee
Extremes, though contrary, have the like effects. Extreme heat kills, and so extreme cold: extreme love breeds satiety, and so extreme hatred; and too violent rigor tempts chastity, as does too much license.George Chapman

How do you control sex drives?

It is not wrong to have sexual desires. It is what we do with them in our thoughts, words, and actions that can be good or bad. So here are some tips for training.

Don’t place yourself in relationships or situations where you know mistakes will happen. Sometimes we march right into tempting situations and then act like a victim because the temptations were too strong to resist. Surround yourself with good friends because “Bad company ruins good morals”. We may have heard people say that before, but research backs it up: when most of ones friends are sexually active, that person is 31 times as likely to get drunk and 22 times as likely to have used illegal drugs compared with people who don’t hang out with sexually active friends. Other researchers have noted, “only 4 percent of people whose friends were not sexually active were sexually active themselves. Amongst those whose friends were sexually active, the figure was 43 percent. It is very apparent that the social morals of ones friends have a major influence on the establishment of ones personal moral standard. Choose your friends wisely.

If you watch morally degrading TV shows, movies, websites, video clips, sitcoms or if you read similar magazines or other things that are not in keeping with your personal moral standard, get rid of them, consider them chastity pollution.

Avoid being idle. Believe it or not, this is the chief means by which we end up violating our own personal moral standards. We are simply “bored to sex”. Keep yourself occupied with friends, service work, sports, hobbies, and similar activities.

This all requires a discipline for chastity. But consider how people deny themselves to get the perfect body. If people spent one-tenth that time caring for their souls, we would be a world of saints. No one thinks a man is repressive if he eats healthy food to prepare for a marathon. In the same way, being disciplined in the exercise of your personal moral standard for sexuality—requires serious training. It’s healthier not to think of this “discipline” as repressing your sexual desires but rather simply redirecting that energy to some alternative activity that serves others and makes the world a better place.

Sexuality Statistics


  • Teen sexual activity rates have been dropping for over a decade, and now the majority of high school students are virgins. Centers for Disease Control, “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2005,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 55:SS-5 (June 9, 2006): 19; Centers for Disease Control, “Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10-24 Years — United States, 2002-2007,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 58:SS-6 (July 17, 2009): Table 26.
  • Between 1991 and 2005, the sexual activity rate of high school boys dropped twice as quickly as that of high school girls. Centers for Disease Control, “Trends in HIV-Related Behaviors Among High School Students – United States 1991-2005,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly 55:31 (August 11, 2006): 851-854.
  • Among those who have already lost their virginity, two-thirds of them wished they had waited longer to have sex (77 percent of girls and 60 percent of guys). National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy: An Annual National Survey,” (December 16, 2003), 17.


  • When a man is married as a virgin, his divorce rate is 63 percent lower than a non-virgin. For women, it’s 76 percent lower. Edward O. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 503.
  • The younger a girl is when she becomes sexually active, the more likely she is to experience multiple sexual partners, STDs, out of wedlock pregnancies, depression, abortion, and poverty. Heritage Foundation, “The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts.”


  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD. Division of STD Prevention “Prevention of Genital HPV Infection and Sequelae: Report of an External Consultants’ Meeting,” Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (December 1999): 1.
  • HPV causes 99.7 percent of cervical cancer. So, with each sexual partner a woman has, her risk of cervical cancer increases. Cf. J. M. Walboomers, et al., “Human Papillomavirus Is a Necessary Cause of Invasive Cervical Cancer Worldwide,” Journal of Pathology 189:1 (September, 1999): 12-19.
  • While condom use may reduce the risk of HPV-related diseases, it doesn’t offer much protection from HPV, because the virus is spread from skin-to-skin contact throughout the entire genital area, including one’s thighs and lower abdomen. National Institutes of Health, “Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention,” (June, 2000), 26; House of Representatives “Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 1999,” November 22, 1999.
  • The majority of sexually active women have been infected with one or more types of genital HPV. Centers for Disease Control, Division of STD Prevention, “Prevention of Genital HPV Infection and Sequelae: Report of an External Consultants’ Meeting,” 7.
  • A teenage girl’s risk of acquiring HPV from her first sexual relationship is 46%. Collins, et al., “High incidence of cervical human papillomavirus infection in women during their first sexual relationship,” BJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology 109:1 (January, 2002): 96-98.
  • Through sexual contact with one person, you could be exposing yourself to the STDs of hundreds of people. Bearman, et al., “Chains of Affection: The Structure of Adolescent Romantic and Sexual Networks,” American Journal of Sociology 110:1 (2004): 44-91.
  • Oral sex can transmit virtually every STD. Medical Institute for Sexual Health, “Sex, Condoms, and STDs: What We Now Know” (Austin, Tex.: Medical Institute for Sexual Health, 2002) ; Centers for Disease Control, “Primary HIV Infections Associated with Oral Transmission,” 2003; Centers for Disease Control, “Transmission of Primary and Secondary Syphilis by Oral Sex — Chicago, Illinois, 1998-2002,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 51:41 (October 22, 2004): 966-968.
  • Hand-to-genital contact can transmit some STDs. C. Sonnex, et al., “Detection of Human Papillomavirus DNA on the Fingers of Patients with Genital Warts,” Sexually Transmitted Infections 75 (1999): 317?319; Winer, et al., “Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection: Incidence and Risk Factors in a Cohort of Female University Students,” American Journal of Epidemiology 157:3 (2003): 218-226; Tabrizi, et al., “Prevalence of Gardnerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae in virginal women,” Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 33:11 (November, 2006): 663-665.
  • Even virgins can get STDs, including oral cancer from HPV. Ley, et al., “Determinants of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83:14 (July, 1991): 997-1003; Hammarstedt, et al., “Human papillomavirus as a risk factor for the increase in incidence of tonsillar cancer,” International Journal of Cancer 119:11 (December, 2006): 2620-2623.
  • Eighty-five percent of women (and 40 percent of men) who are infected with Chlamydia don’t show symptoms after they contract it. T. R. Eng and W. T. Butler, The Hidden Epidemic: Confronting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1997), 36.
  • HPV will usually clear on its own. But when a husband is infected with it, his wife is five times as likely to get cervical cancer. Bosch, et al., “Male Sexual Behavior and Human Papillomavirus DNA: Key Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer in Spain,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 88:15 (August, 1996): 1060-1067.
  • Birth-control pills interfere with a woman’s immune system, making her more likely to contract certain STDs. Yovel, et al., “The Effects of Sex, Menstrual Cycle, and Oral Contraceptives on the Number and Activity of Natural Killer Cells,” Gynecologic Oncology 81:2 (May, 2001): 254-262; Blum, et al., “Antisperm Antibodies in Young Oral Contraceptive Users,” Advances in Contraception 5 (1989): 41?46; Critchlow, et al., “Determinants of cervical ectopia and of cervicitis: age, oral contraception, specific cervical infection, smoking, and douching,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 173:2 (August, 1995): 534-43; Baeten, et al., “Hormonal contraception and risk of sexually transmitted disease acquisition: results from a prospective study,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 185:2 (August, 2001): 380-385; Ley, et al., “Determinants of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83:14 (July, 1991): 997-1003; Prakash, et al., “Oral contraceptive use induces upregulation of the CCR5 chemokine receptor on CD4(+) T cells in the cervical epithelium of healthy women,” Journal of Reproductive Immunology 54 (March, 2002): 117-131; Wang, et al., “Risk of HIV infection in oral contraceptive pill users: a meta-analysis,” Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 21:1 (May, 1999): 51-58; Lavreys, et al., “Hormonal contraception and risk of HIV-1 acquisition: results from a 10-year prospective study,” AIDS 18:4 (March, 2004): 695-697.


  • The birth control pill increases a woman’s chance of having breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver cancer. Chris Kahlenborn, MD, et al., “Oral Contraceptive Use as a Risk Factor for Premenopausal Breast Cancer: A Meta-analysis,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings 81:10 (October, 2006): 1290-1302; Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, “Breast cancer and hormonal contraceptives: collaborative reanalysis of individual data on 53,297 women with breast cancer and 100,239 women without breast cancer from 54 epidemiological studies,” Lancet 347 (June, 1996): 1713-1727; World Health Organization, “IARC Monographs Programme Finds Combined Estrogen-Progestogen Contraceptives and Menopausal Therapy are Carcinogenic to Humans,” International Agency for Research on Cancer, Press Release 167 (July 29, 2005); Smith, et al., “Cervical cancer and use of hormonal contraceptives: A systematic review,” Lancet 361 (2003):1159?1167; La Vecchia, “Oral contraceptives and cancer,” Minerva Ginecologica 58:3 (June, 2006): 209-214.
  • Depo-Provera (aka: the shot) interferes with a woman’s immune system, making her more likely to contract chlamydia and gonorrhea. Morrison, et al., “Hormonal Contraceptive Use, Cervical Ectopy, and the Acquisition of Cervical Infections,” Sexually Transmitted Diseases 31:9 (September, 2004): 561?567.
  • The makers of the Shot (Pfizer Pharmaceuticals) are being sued for 700 million dollars because the drug thins out a woman’s bones. This is especially worrisome for young women, because the teenage years are a critical time for bone development. News, “Class action suit filed over birth control drug,” (December 19, 2005); U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Black Box Warning Added Concerning Long-Term Use of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection,” FDA Talk Paper (November 17, 2004).
  • Because of its link to breast cancer, veterinarians stopped prescribing Depo-Provera for dogs. However, it’s still being given to women, and is sometimes injected into male sex offenders in order to kill their sex drive. “The Case Against Depo-Provera,” Multinational Monitor 6:2-3 (February/March, 1985); T.A. Kiersch, “Treatment of sex offenders with Depo-Provera,” The Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 18:2 (1990): 179-187; “Assembly Bill 3339, “An act to repeal and add Section 645 of the Penal Code, relating to crimes.” California State Senate, Amended August 20, 1996; 2005 California Penal Code, 645.
  • Makers of the Birth Control Patch are being sued by at least 4000 women. Johnson and Johnson, SEC Filing, Annual Report for Period Ending 12/31/2006.
  • The birth control pill, patch, and shot can all act as abortifacients. The same is true of the morning after pill. Physicians’ Desk Reference, 2414, 2626, 2411. Physicians’ Desk Reference, 1068; “Plan B® (Levonorgestrel) Prescribing Information, Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (August, 2006); Larimore, et al., “Postfertilization Effects of Oral Contraceptives and Their Relationship to Informed Consent,” Archives of Family Medicine 9 (2000): 126-133.
God demands great purity of certain souls, and so He gives them a deeper knowledge of their own misery. Illuminated by light from on high, the soul can better know what pleases God and what does not.St. Faustina
Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love.Pope John Paul II
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
Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress. Without it there is no stability in society, and without it one cannot attain the Science of Life.Mary Baker Eddy
‘Tis chastity, my brother, chastity; She that has that is clad in complete steel, And, like a quiver’d nymph with arrows keen, May trace huge forests, and unharbour’d heaths, Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds; Where, through the sacred rays of chastity, No savage fierce, bandit, or mountaineer, Will dare to soil her virgin purity.John Milton
Few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, skeptically of skepticism.Blaise Pascal

Resenting Virtue and Chastity

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.

For example, imagine several women working in an office who gossip and talk about other people behind their backs. One of their colleagues, however, does not use foul language and does not participate in their gossip. Instead of being inspired by her example, her co-workers make fun of her. They ridicule her as being a “holy roller” who is “too good for the rest us.” By not going along with what everyone else is doing, she stands as a reminder of their own immoral behavior. Thus her virtue is not praised. It is resented.

Many people devalue the virtues in order to excuse themselves from having to live by a higher standard. Since they don’t want to make the effort to change, they treat the virtues lightheartedly or even openly attack them in order to justify their own lack of moral character. Resentment . . . not only distorts the features of the good but devalues that which rightly deserves respect so that man need not struggle to raise himself to the level of the true good, but can ‘light-heartedly’ recognize as good only what suits him, what is convenient and comfortable to him.

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!

Some argue that chastity is harmful to the psychological well-being of young men and women. Sexual desire is natural, it is said. Therefore, it is unnatural to restrict it in any way.

Others say chastity is an enemy of love. If two people love each other, shouldn’t they be able to express their love through sexual intercourse? Chastity might have a role to play in other areas of life, but when two mutually consenting adults are in love, the restrictions of chastity are a tremendous hindrance to the couple who are expressing their love through sex.

These and many other arguments against chastity reflect our culture’s resentment of this virtue. We witness this resentment of chastity in many college classrooms, in many “sex ed” programs, and especially in the media. When a Hollywood film or prime time sitcom portrays romantic relationships, how often is chastity held up as a moral ideal? How often is chastity presented as something that makes us happy, as something the heroes intentionally make a priority in their lives?

The main reason modern man views chastity as an obstacle to love is that we associate love primarily with the emotions or the sexual pleasure we receive from the person of the other sex. In other words, we tend to think of love only in its subjective aspect. If we are going to restore the virtue of chastity in our world, we must first of all eliminate the enormous accretion of subjectivity in our conception of love and of the happiness which it can bring to man and woman.

To understand this point better, let’s briefly recall the two sides of love.

  1. The subjective aspect of love is simply a “psychological experience” — something happening inside of me. When men and women encounter each other, they may spontaneously find themselves physically attracted to each other’s “good looks”. And they may also find themselves emotionally attracted to each other’s masculine or feminine personality. These sensual desires and emotional responses are not bad. In fact, they can serve as the “raw material” from which authentic love might develop. However, these responses do not represent love itself. At this level, they remain attractions to the other person’s body or their masculinity or femininity, not love for the other person himself or herself.
  2. The objective aspect of love is much more than a psychological experience happening inside of me. It is “an interpersonal fact.” It considers what is really happening in the relationship, not just the good feelings I experience when I’m with the other person. The objective aspect of love involves a mutual commitment of the will to what is best for the other person and the virtue to be able to help the other person pursue what is best for them. Even more, love in this fullest sense involves self-giving — a surrendering of one’s will, a decision to limit one’s autonomy in order to serve the other more freely.

Therefore, the real questions in love are not the subjective ones: “Do I have strong feelings and desire for my beloved? Does he or she have strong feelings and sensual desire for me?” Anyone can have feelings and desire for another person. But not everyone has the virtue and commitment to make self-giving love possible.

Now back to the problem of chastity. The subjective aspect of love develops more rapidly and is felt more intensely than the objective aspect. On the objective level, it takes a lot of time and effort to cultivate a virtuous friendship. Relationships centered on total self-giving love and on a profound sense of responsibility for the other as a gift don’t just happen spontaneously.

However, with the subjective aspect of love, it doesn’t take much time and effort at all to experience sensual desire or emotional longing for a person of the opposite sex. Such reactions can happen in an instant. Furthermore, these sensual and emotional responses can be so powerful that they dominate how we view the other person. In our human nature, we can tend to see persons of the opposite sex primarily through the prism of their sexual values — the values that give us emotional and sexual pleasure. As a result, we obscure our perception of them as persons, and view them more as opportunities for our own enjoyment.

Our encounters with the opposite sex are often mixed with this kind of emotional or sensual egoism — with a desire to use the person for our own emotional pleasure or sexual satisfaction. A human being encountering a person of the other sex does not simply and spontaneously experience ‘love’ but a feeling muddied by the longing to enjoy them.

When we encounter someone of the opposite sex (a stranger, a friend, a coworker, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a spouse, or even another person’s spouse), we should not expect a purely selfless attitude of virtuous kindness to spontaneously spring from our hearts. Because we are human, our many complex attractions are often mixed with a selfish attitude of wanting to be with the other person not for the sake of any commitment to his or her well-being, but for the rush of good feelings or sensual pleasure we may receive from being with the other person. In other words, when boy meets girl, they do not automatically fall into authentic, self-giving, committed love for each other. Instead, while feeling attracted to each other, they are tempted to see each other as objects to satisfy their own emotional needs or sexual desires.

These reactions to sexual values are certainly not bad in themselves. However, if we’re not careful, this raw material can be used up as an outlet for our own emotional or sensual enjoyment. And as long as this happens, selfless love for the other person will never develop. That is why we need a virtue that helps us integrate our sensual and sentimental attractions with our morality and our authentic love for the other as a person. Since sensations and actions springing from sexual reactions and the emotions connected with them tend to deprive love of its crystal clarity — a special virtue is necessary to protect its true character and objective profile. This special virtue is chastity.

Now we can see why chastity is so necessary for love. Far from something that hinders our love, chastity is what makes love possible. It protects love from falling into selfish, utilitarian attitudes and enables us to love selflessly — irrespective of the powerful emotions or sensual delight we may receive from our beloved.

If we are to truly love a person of the opposite sex, we must be able to see much more than the person’s sexual value. We must see their full value as a person and respond to them in selfless love. Chastity allows us to do just that. The essence of chastity consists in quickness to affirm the value of the person in every situation and in raising to the personal level all reactions to the value of ‘the body and sex.

However, the man without chastity sits in a very sad situation: He is not free to love. He may have some good intentions and a sincere desire to care for his beloved, but without chastity, his love will never flourish, for it will not be pure. It will be mixed with a tendency to view his beloved primarily in terms of her sexual values, which make his heart delight in emotional enjoyment or make his body stir in sensual desire. The man without chastity cannot selflessly love his beloved for who she is as a person, because his heart is so preoccupied with the emotional and sensual pleasure he receives from her.

But chastity enables a man to see clearly not just his beloved’s sexual values, but even more, her value as a person. Freed from utilitarian attitudes, the chaste man is thus free to love. Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love. For chastity frees their association, including marital intercourse, from that tendency to use a person . . . and by so freeing it introduces into their life together and their sexual relationship a special disposition to ‘loving kindness.

Mercy to living beings, self restraint, truth, honesty, chastity and contentment, right faith and knowledge, and austerity are but the entourage of morality.Vittorio De Sila-Prabhrita
Mine honor’s such a ring; My chastity’s the jewel of our house, Bequeathed down from many ancestors, Which were the greatest obloquy i’ th’ world In me to lose. — All’s Well That Ends WellWilliam Shakespeare
When a woman has lost her chastity, she will shrink from no crime.Tacitus
For the preservation of chastity, an empty and rumbling stomach and fevered lungs are indispensable.St. Jerome

Chastity, Chesterton, and Chalk

G. K. Chesterton’s essays touch on the subject of chastity. A brilliant illustration of chastity can be found in an essay called “A Piece of Chalk,” in which Chesterton uses the metaphor of an artist who was sitting on an English hillside drawing on brown paper. He had all his chalk except white; he had forgotten to bring the white. Could he do without it? No, because white is not the absence of color. White spaces are not blank, they are put on by the artist and can be the most important element in his canvas. Should he return home for a piece of white chalk?

Then he realized that he is sitting on chalk – England is made of chalk, he said. He broke off a piece from a white chalk rock and completed the drawing. Virtue, in Chesterton’s mind, was not a void or the absence of a wrong. It was the presence of a right. And he felt that values or virtues are the light and the key to putting beauty into the rest of life.

In Chesterton’s words: Chastity, like any true value or virtue, is a positive thing that you gain, not something you give up.

The chief assertion of virtue is that white is a color. Virtue is not absence of vices or the avoidance of moral danger, virtue is a vivid and separate thing. . . . Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge of punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen. Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong, it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc. White is a color.

Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men’s belief that they ”own” their bodies — those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another!C.S. Lewis
It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.Thomas Paine
A man’s crown of glory is his courage, a woman’s her chastity.Unknown


Yes, we are sexual beings by our nature. But unlike other animals, we should understand that the desire to procreate brings with it physical, emotional and familial repercussions, some bad (STD’s, unfaithfulness, family problems), and some good (love, friendship, faithfulness, a nurturing family). Chastity is the mechanism for guiding our sexual impulses to this understanding.

Chastity is what calls our attention to the fact that there are more dimensions to sex than just instinctual pleasure:

  1. That it is through sexuality that the family (the foundation of our life)is created and how sexuality impacts nearly every facet of family life.
  2. That all human beings and their bodies (including ourselves) should be treated with respect and never demoted to being merely objects for pleasure.
  3. That into today’s world, Sexually Transmitted Diseases are a real and present danger. It is “Chastity” that keeps our sexuality under control even when our hormones are not.

A Story about Chastity:

This is the story about the son of a king who understood who he was and how he should act. King Louis XVI of France had been taken from his throne and put in prison. His young son, the prince, was taken by those who had captured the king. Because the young prince was to be the next king, they wanted to destroy him morally. They knew that if they did, he would never be able to become the king of France.

These people took the prince to a faraway city, where they tempted the boy with every filthy thing they could find. They tried to get him to eat foods which would quickly make him lose control of himself. They used terrible language around him all the time. They tempted him with evil women. They exposed him to dishonor and distrust. He was surrounded constantly by everything that could make a person lose his moral values. For over six months he was given this treatment. But not once did the boy give in to temptation. Finally, after doing everything they could think of, they asked why he did not do these things. He replied,

“I cannot do what you ask, for I was born to be a king”

We too were born to be kings, and as such we must have respect for ourselves, respect the opposite sex, and respect for humanity. We do so by practicing the virtue of chastity and clinging to our moral standards.

I know that “chastity” and “sexuality” are touchy subjects. Always remember to be sensitive, humble, and respectful when talking to others about chastity.

Deep within yourself, listen to your conscience which calls you to be chaste . . . a home is not warmed by the fire of pleasure which burns quickly like a pile of withered grass. Passing encounters are only a caricature (cartoon) of love; they injure hearts and mock all that is good.Pope John Paul II
In temptations against chastity, the spiritual masters advise us, not so much to contend with the bad thought, as to turn the mind to some spiritual, or, at least, indifferent object. It is useful to combat other bad thoughts face to face, but not thoughts of impurity.St. Alphonsus Liguori
(God) has assigned as a duty to every man the dignity of every woman.Pope John Paul II
Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity.St. Augustine
Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.St. Jerome

What does Chastity mean?

Most people believe that being chaste means that one is not sexually active. WRONG!!!

There are many people living good chaste lives who have healthy and vibrant sex lives. It should be noted that they are married. That’s right, even married people are called to be chaste. As a matter of fact, chastity has more to do with fidelity than it does with foregoing sexual experiences. The essence of chastity is being faithful to one’s state in life. Therefore, for a married couple, it means saving their physical expression of love for their spouse, exclusively.

What does chastity mean for the single person?

For the single person it means the same thing. If you think this is crazy, stick with the tour and see for yourself. Sexual intercourse, despite what the media would indicate, is not an indoor sport. It is the ULTIMATE expression of love between a husband and wife. Sexual intercourse, despite what the media would indicate, is not merely a physical act.

It is the total self-giving of one person to another. It is so intimate that it is an emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical experience.

It is so profound that it strengthens and completes the bond of marriage. What’s wrong with sex before marriage?

The bond of love between husband and wife is similar to the adhesive power of Duct Tape. If we realize that sexual intimacy creates and strengthens the bond between man and woman, then what happens when we are sexually active with different people before we get married?

If we place a piece of tape on our wrist (the first person we have sex with) there is a strong bond. When we break that relationship, it is like tearing the tape off our arm – it hurts. Then when we meet another person and become intimate with them we put the same piece of tape back on our arm. But this time we find that the bond isn’t as strong and so it is with the tape and the relationship. And each time it hurts a little less when the tape is ripped off and each time the tape is put back on, the bond is that much weaker.

Is there such a thing as chastity in marriage?

If or when you get married you will desire that your spouse will be faithful to you and you will desire to be faithful to your spouse. That is the desire to live a chaste married life.

While you are single, it is only logical that you practice this virtue so that when you are married you will be able to have a truly loving relationship. Or you could say that if you want to be faithful to your spouse when you are married, would it not make sense to be faithful to your future spouse right now?

Because of the sacredness of marriage, because of the sacredness of our bodies, and because of the sacredness of our sexuality, any misuse of sex is tragic and detrimental to our spiritual lives.

In the realm of evil thoughts none induces to sin as much as do thoughts that concern the pleasure of the flesh.St. Thomas Aquinas
Chastity is the lily of virtues, and makes men almost equal to Angels. Everything is beautiful in accordance with its purity. Now the purity of man is chastity, which is called honesty, and the observance of it, honor and also integrity; and its contrary is called corruption; in short, it has this peculiar excellence above the other virtues, that it preserves both soul and body fair and unspotted.Saint Francis of Sales
Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer: there is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through a long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and discretion, it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness.George Santayana, Scepticism And Animal Faith

By William Evertsberg

Honest doubt is an integral component of thoughtful faith.

The Spanish-American Harvard philosopher George Santayana called skepticism “the Chastity of the Intellect.” {George Santayana in Skepticism and Animal Faith, quoted by Carl Sagan, Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1985), p. 231} 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, and I happen to believe that that One, Big, Beautiful Idea is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, so I want to admire two of Thomas’ significant accomplishments: his Durable Doubt; and, paradoxically, his Towering Trust.

Actually, Thomas’ nickname is Didymus, Greek for ‘The Twin,’ so there must have been a replica of Thomas walking around the earth somewhere. Thomas’ nickname is Didymus, so let’s call him Doubting Didymus, because you know how much I love alliteration.

This is how it all goes down. On that first Easter evening, ten of the original twelve disciples rendevous in that Upper Room where they’d shared their Last Supper with Jesus four days before. All day long, they’ve been hearing rumors of resurrection, not least of all from Mary Magdalene, who comes up with this preposterous story about meeting Jesus face to face in the Garden of Demise, so the disciples clearly have some things to figure out.

It was bad enough that he died; now he might be back. Ten of the original twelve gather there–all of them except Judas, who’s already dispatched himself to the ninth circle of hell; and Thomas, whose absence is left unexplained.

And then suddenly, somehow, there stands Jesus himself in the middle of the room, which is a little strange, because the doors are locked and Jesus seems to have teleported himself through those heavy wooden doors like Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, materializing before them out of thin air.

“Peace,” he says, to their astonished ears. “Peace!” Then Jesus breathes on them, and the ten disciples receive the Holy Spirit. This is John’s Pentecost story. John doesn’t have a big, exciting Pentecost story like Luke, with tongues of fire and the rush of a mighty wind. This is John’s smaller, quieter Pentecost, and the point is that Thomas misses all of this because he couldn’t manage to show up.

Well, naturally the ten disciples who were there share this outlandish news with Thomas as soon as they see him, and Thomas’ response becomes prototype and archetype for all future skepticisms: “Unless I touch the scars in his hand and put my fist in the wound under his rib cage, I will not believe,” and ever after he will be known as Doubting Didymus.

So that’s the first thing we learn from Doubting Didymus: the importance of Durable Doubt, the Chastity of the Intellect. I’m kind of on Thomas’ side on this. Would you have believed this preposterous story? This has never happened before. Thomas watched that man die a horrible death on the cross last Friday, and Thomas knows the importance of a chaste intellect; he will not give it up for hearsay. Jesus is too important to him to found his faith on the fabulous fantasies of foolish fishermen.

Well, you know the rest of the story. A week later, on the first Sunday after Easter–today is the anniversary–the faithful are gathered together again, and this time Thomas manages to skip his son’s Little League game and show up at church. And Jesus shows up again too. “Peace! he says–again. And then with gentle grace, Jesus turns to Thomas and says, “Thomas, give me your hand. Touch my scars. See my wound.” But Thomas doesn’t have to. He’s seen enough. “My Lord and my God!” he gushes.

And that of course is the second thing we learn from this story: with just a little extra help, Didymus’ Durable Doubt becomes Thomas’ Towering Trust. “My Lord and My God!” he says. Don’t let this be lost on you. Every word in that five-word confession is remarkable.

“My Lord and my God!” This is the most extravagant confession of faith anywhere in the four-fold Gospel Narrative. This is the first and last and only time in all four Gospels where anyone addresses Jesus as God. John the Evangelist, the omniscient narrator, claims divinity for Jesus in the Prologue to his Gospel, of course, but this is the only time when a character in the story itself attributes divinity to the carpenter from Nazareth: the most extravagant confession anywhere in the Four-Fold Gospel Narrative.

And as it turns out, Thomas’ simple five-word confession will become, 300 years later, fundament and foundation for the lavish language of the Nicene Creed, the distilled essence of ancient orthodoxy: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father; through him all things were made.” Paradoxically, it is Doubting Didymus who leads us to Towering Trust.

“My Lord and my God,” gushes Doubting Thomas, a simple but fecund five-word confession, and if those lavish nouns of address ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ are too rich for your sensibilities, how about concentrating on that repeated, modest, unassuming possessive pronoun ‘My.’ “My Lord and my God,” gushes Doubting Didymus. “Thomas’ confession of faith is not just extravagant; it’s personal; it’s existential; it’s intimate; it’s binding.

You see, here’s just the thing. Anybody can recite the Nicene Creed in a rote, pro-forma, ceremonial way. A first-grader can memorize the Nicene Creed, and I hope she will. An unthinking idiot can attribute deity to Jesus of Nazareth; Polly the Parrot can repeat the Nicene Creed. But it takes guts and commitment and lifelong fidelity to say “My Lord and my God.” Thomas has just anchored the rest of his life to this crucified and risen Nazarene, this carpenter with the holes in his hands and feet and side still.

Thomas doesn’t believe just because somebody tells him to believe. Thomas doesn’t believe because his friends believe. Thomas doesn’t believe because his mother told him it’s the polite thing to do. Thomas doesn’t believe because he memorized the books of the Bible in fourth-grade Sunday School and then never really cared enough in his maturity to ask whether it mattered in any significant way. He made his faith his own that day in the presence of the risen Lord.

Will you bear with me for two more minutes while I tell you a harrowing but important story about Towering Trust in the teeth of disconsolate despair? I want to finish in the same place I started–in a Cancer Center for Children.

Ian McEwan said that the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Houston–the tallest building in the complex–“denies the possibility of a benevolent god.” And I asked you, “Is that true?’

Do you remember the teen-age tennis star Andrea Jaeger from a few years ago? She turned pro in 1979 at the age of 14. ESPN described her as a “prodigy in pigtails and braces.” In 1981, at 16, she was ranked #2 in the world. In 1983, at 17, she reached the Wimbledon finals. In 1987, at the age of 19, she retired from professional tennis. She burned out early and wanted to devote her life to something more meaningful than tennis. Nineteen!

Andrea Jaeger is a devout Christian and today she is an Anglican nun. I didn’t even know Episcopalians had nuns. She runs a place called Silver Lining Ranch outside Aspen, or did until very recently. I hear the Silver Lining Ranch has faced some financial problems recently, but let that pass for the moment.

Andrea Jaeger created Silver Lining Ranch for for children who are dying of cancer. They ride horses and whitewater rafts, go swimming and play tennis. Half of them don’t even seem to know that their host was a star at the game.

Anna was one of the campers at the Silver Lining Ranch. She’s from Chicago but goes to New York for treatments. Anna’s mother describes what it’s like. “Welcome to our world,” she says. “Take Elevator A, push the button for the third floor, the cancer floor, the cancer button. Can’t we push another button–four, maybe, or five? The elevator doors open to a hallway jammed with parked wheelchairs and strollers. Clinic: Chaos. Tears. Clowns. Valium. Bald. Balder. Baldest. Cheerful nurses. Exhausted parents. Numb. Disbelief.

“The first day, I walked into the clinic, heard the screaming, and passed out–twice. Anna promptly sent me home. Now, it’s okay. You’d be surprised what you can get used to. Thank you all so much for praying us through this marathon.”

What is the Mother’s response on that cancer floor? “Thank you for praying us through all of this.”

As for Anna herself, she says, “It’s a miracle I’m still alive. God has a purpose for me. Prayers make a difference. Jesus is my Savior. I rest all my days in him.” {Andrea Jaeger, First Service (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2004), pp. 320-321}

The intellect must remain chaste. We don’t give it up too easily, and we have to pay attention to the Ian McEwans of the world who tell us that a children’s cancer center denies the possibility of a benevolent god. But in the end, you have to give your intellect to something or SomeONE, and I choose to believe that it makes all the difference in the world that Jesus of Nazareth is risen.

“God has a purpose for me. Prayers make a difference. Jesus is my Savior. I rest all my days in him.”

Or, as Trusting Thomas put it, “My Lord and my God.”