Our culture is obsessed with sex. With anyone! At anytime! If you want to, just do it! But, the Church teaches that sex was created for the context of marriage. Why do you choose to abstain? Why aren’t you going around having sex with just anyone? How would you encourage others to do the same? How do you remain strong when everything in our culture is encouraging you to abandon your convictions? Link up with Jen and Morgan!
[Before I begin this post, I'd like to remind everyone of Auntie Seraphic's (the archives are still up) dictum that one never need reveal her "status" to anyone except her doctor, fiance, and/or possibly her mother/other trusted female adult. That being said, I see no reason not to witness to your choice to practice chastity.]
Every day is an affirmation of abstinence. A commendation of chastity. I choose these words deliberately because I believe it is important we see that our choices, commitments, and decisions to reserve sex and sexual activity for marriage as concrete goods, authentic joys.
Unfortunately, the secular world does not see virginity, chastity, celibacy, or abstinence this way. They say that because we believe in these things and try to witness to the fruits of chastity, we are “obsessed” with sex–or more accurately, obsessed with everyone not having it. Given the direction and tone of most mainstream media–from our music to our TV shows and movies to our books and Internet postings–it is society that is obsessed with sex and sexuality. And you know what I don’t find? Affirmation. Commendation. Joy. Good. Love. Instead, I see a crass, crude, objectifying, seedy, disappointing, desensitized, possibly diseased, even bored view of relationships and the human person–all wrapped in a package designed to appeal to our sex drives.
I didn’t always see the world for what it is. But I still chose abstinence and chastity from my teenage years. My parents didn’t give me a memorable speech or instruction of “don’t have sex,” but I do recall having the notion that I shouldn’t. And I definitely knew my faith had that One Rule About the Ring. The single most influential moment that had me own my belief “i should wait for marriage” was in a Peer Counseling class. One of my classmates had to give a sample speech to another student to explain why she would not be having sex. Her conviction, attitude, and clarity demonstrated to me that something I had only vaguely thought about was something others did believe too, and believed strongly. She didn’t provide any statistics to the other kid or quote ToB for Teens (not even written yet), just the simple statement that true love waits.
It took me until my grad school years and my New Adult life to finally understand the totality of that simple statement from the 8th grade: true love waits. Behind those three words is incredible logic: if you believe sex is the ultimate expression of love (defended by Pope St. John Paul II in Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility), and that you should only marry someone you feel the deepest love for, then you wait to have sex until you are in that deepest love (marriage). And that–along with many other reasons–is why I’m abstaining, why I’m choosing chastity–even within the context of serious relationships. Even in my engagement. (I could probably write a whole ‘nother post about living out chastity and abstinence with the person you know you’re gonna marry, but I will have to ask him first.)
Is it hard, especially with the well-crafted and marketed lie promoted by the culture? Yes. Did I feel alone, especially when you hear of those who’ve back-tracked from their previous commitments and still lead happy lives (at least on the surface)? Sometimes. What keeps my conviction as strong as that (in retrospect probably naive) 8th grader? Faith. Prayer. Community support. Pure in Heart was a blessing of a group for a season in my life. Companions on the journey: Arleen Spenceley is awesome. My fiance is incredible. And confession. Did I mention this choice isn’t easy? Not with sex permeating every aspect of our culture. Yes, you choose to be chaste, but it and abstinence are daily practices. And sometimes when you practice something, you’re not getting it perfectly 100% of the time. That’s why if in your practice you made an error in deed or even thought (THOSE are hard, but not impossible to overcome), it’s a blessing to have the sacrament of confession–the opportunity to experience God’s mercy.
Every day you make it through still abstinent is an affirmation of your love, your faith. A commendation on your practice of chastity. Because you believe in the truly beautiful–authentic love, for yourself, for your future spouse, and for God.
One of my primary calls in this life is to use my gifts and talents to encourage teens choose chastity and understand and experience authentic love (and yes, not have sex!). Here’s my interview on CatholicTV! I’m at minute 9:30.