NAS: Chastity

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Jen and Morgan and the other linker-uppers will have some great perspectives, too!

October 15: Chastity as a Single Person

Physical or Emotional. What are your struggles? How do you overcome them?

Well, there’s this:

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or if he really needs to get a clue, this:

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In all seriousness, chastity is both a man and a woman’s responsibility. And it’s not just men who have struggles. Women, do, too. But whoo, boy, is  this topic is a delicate wire to walk. Because to speak to one’s struggles in the physical realm not only means admitting sin publicly, but also potentially scandalizing your audience. However, I believe it important to talk about, at least generally, so that we can support each other in our faith journeys.

We are all called to live out this virtue, regardless of our state in life. Chastity is not about following a list of acts that are appropriate and avoiding ones that are not—because one doesn’t exist. Rather, I look at chastity as a state of mind and being that cares for not just your soul, but the souls of others. Chastity is a reservation of self for God. It is a way of respecting your dignity and the dignity of others. Thinking of it in these broader terms also helps when applying it to non-physical spheres, like emotions. I’ll address that in a separate post later.

But some inconvenient truths about our “fallen” human sexuality can cause us to struggle with our universal call:

1. Making out is really, really, really fun. But I think it is rare (if not never) that it can be chaste.

2. The female drive can be just as powerful as a man’s, and in some cases, more. This means women can get “excited” too—and sometimes it takes less than one might think. A lot less.

3. Women can satisfy their urges “solo” too. This habit isn’t discussed much, maybe because it doesn’t necessarily involve images to the degree that men’s does. But that doesn’t make it any more “okay”.

But there are ways to overcome the challenges:

1. Get out of the fire, the pot, or the kitchen entirely. Remove yourself from the situation to the degree necessary—make certain kinds of actions or dates off limits; wait for some things until you and the guy have reached a certain maturity, level of respect, or trust; don’t “date” or kiss at all.

2. Get an accountability partner—official or not—spiritual director, trusted older married friend, even a co-worker! Though I would never tell the nuns what I might have done one weekend, just the thought of having to go into work Monday morning knowing that it’s something that would have disappointed them, makes me think twice before I engage in it.

3. Get to confession. Regularly. I once heard reconciliation described as “approaching the throne of grace.” You receive grace, grace to aid you in sinning less and less; to grow stronger and stronger when confronted with temptation.

4. Get help from higher places. Pray. Saint Michael the Archangel is our defender in battle. Pure in Heart has a good one. The Memorare: Mama is here to help. The Rosary. Helps you re-orient your brain to focus on holy thoughts, not lusty ones.

5. Get your emotional well-being out of the gutter. You are not “broken,” “tarnished,” “dirty,” “damaged goods,” or anything like that. You are human. You are a child of God, loved unconditionally. But you are also not Mary, and never will be. You can try to come close to her standard of purity, but don’t beat yourself up if you fall short. Seek His forgiveness and then seek it from yourself if you need to.

Chastity is hard. But it is worth it. Because it cares.

For those with significant others or dates, here is an excellent blog post, and zebbart’s comment provides a great analogy: it’s like prayer.  And then this one.

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11 thoughts on “NAS: Chastity

  1. Pingback: NAS: Emotional Chastity | Proverbial Girlfriend

  2. LOVE the graphic. Great post, really like this – ” I look at chastity as a state of mind and being that cares for not just your soul, but the souls of others.”

  3. I just stumbled upon this and appreciate your honesty. As a non-Catholic, I guess I’m confused. I thought I knew a decent amount since my mom grew up Catholic and my grandma was, but leave it to her to not talk about this stuff. So I guess I don’t know! I knew priests couldn’t masturbate and had to be celibate (because of the big controversy and how people suspected that played a part), but you guys aren’t allowed to masturbate? The regular Catholic people cannot do that? You think that it’s dirty? It’s such a healthy normal thing to do and seems like making it shameful would make healthy, human desires handled in a responsible, natural way seem bad or sinful and make people feel bad for no reason. What a bummer to not get to know yourself and be comfortable with yourself and know what you like and love yourself and your parts. I am sure you think it’s important and there is a purpose, and the other things you mentioned make perfect sense (you don’t have to be religious to know what makes sense for good sexual and emotional health), but I am really surprised! What do you guys do with normal hormonal desires from puberty on before you are married? Can you not masturbate after you are married? In front of each other? Why do you believe God is against you doing this? Lots of questions, but any insight you have is great. I work with students of all religions as a counselor, so it’s important to know this because we often talk about sexual health. I don’t want to suggest something we would normally encourage if it will just make them feel bad.

    • Hi, Sarah! Thanks for reading! I am not a full-fledged apologist, and I believe in having more information at hand, and probably a different venue (with more space and time!) than a comments section, to make sure I can respond fully. I promise I will get back to you soon with either an email or link or even full post on this issue. In this immediate instance, I would recommend researching the teachings of the Theology of the Body. Just keep in mind as you’re reading that like with any issue, there will be good and bad ways of communicating things, and Catholic bloggers face these challenges too.

      • Hi. Right after posting this, I did some research and got my questions answered, thank you. I was just surprised! Especially that I didn’t know that. But people should do whatever they feel comfortable with and what goes along with their values, so whatever works. But I do feel kinda bad that ya’ll are missing out on getting to know yourselves better in this way. Coming from a mental health perspective and research, of course I think it’s healthy and not shameful. But I understand some ideologies believe otherwise. Take care. 🙂

      • Hi! Okay…I am glad you looked into it and feel like you have answers. I do feel inspired to write my own post on this topic, so thank you! Plus, I hope my approach is less cut-and-dry or more charitable. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, but sometimes they can explain things in the exact wrong way because it’s more about them or the issue and not about the person before them with their questions. Not to mention, the post I am starting to draft in my head is going to be more philosophical than theological. Teaser trailer: I address shame. So stay tuned if you want. With warm regards, B. 🙂

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