The goal of chastity.

I have suspected for awhile now that there is little clarity in our culture regarding the goal of chastity.

This is probably in part because there is little clarity regarding the difference between abstinence (which ends at marriage) and chastity (which never ends). But it is also probably in part because chastity contradicts the ways of life our culture encourages us to pursue (and in case it needs to be said, chastity isn’t one of them).

In other words, it’s really freakin’ difficult for the average, unchaste American to wrap his or her head around the concept.

Which isn’t an insult. (It’s an observation.)

A case in point comes from an anonymous comment somebody left on my site the other day, regarding my choice to save sex for marriage, which is rooted in chastity:

“Your options, and the available pool of accomplished men … is severely limited. 99.9% of all the men will have nothing to do with you, and you know it.”

Which is an observation. (But I think it was supposed to be an insult.)

Whoever left the comment is right, and may as well have quoted Jesus:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

1. There are fewer fish in our sea.

but

2. Chaste daters learn not to worry about finding the needle in the haystack (and not solely because we can’t find the right haystack).

The difference between people who practice chastity and people like the one who wrote the comment is this: We are ok with points 1 and 2. They aren’t.

Our ok-ness with points 1 and 2 is the result of knowing the goal of chastity.

Of knowing few people in our culture find a man or a woman dateable who isn’t going to have sex with them before marriage.

Of knowing this is a non-issue if what you intend to accomplish by dating is to meet somebody who would suit you as a spouse.

Of knowing that if you are saving sex, somebody who is not saving sex is not suitable for you.

Of knowing, when you meet someone not suitable, how to suck it up and move along.

When author Elna Baker wrote about sex for Glamour, she called virginity a disadvantage in dating. In the same way, the anonymous comment implies chastity is a disadvantage. As if the small pool of people from which chaste daters can choose is proof our way of life doesn’t work.

But the “good luck with thats” and the “you’ll be single forevers” and the anonymous comments like the one around which this post revolves are proof of this:

People don’t get our way of life.

The goal of chastity is love.

It’s about death to self and self mastery, which require abstinence until marriage, and celibacy if you aren’t married. It’s about upholding the intrinsic value of the human, which requires us neither to use nor objectify each other, which requires us to reject relationships that are based solely on emotions or sensations (to reject, in other words, relationships based solely on what use they are of to me).

And it does, in fact, mean that “99.9% of all the men” will have nothing to do with me.

Which, believe it or not, makes practicing it a lot easier.

[Q&A: Weddings] How do you feel about the garter toss?

The Q: “How do you feel about the garter toss?” -Eddie*

The A: Short answer: Not good.

To the husbands whose wives tolerated (dare I say enjoyed?) the garter toss: This is not to say I hold that you tossed it against you. It is to say there will not be a garter toss at my (so far hypothetical) wedding.

The reason for this is manifold, but I’ll sum it up in these three ways:

1. Um, awkward? I tried, but could think of exactly zero things that make me feel ok about having my husband crawl up my dress on a dance floor under a spotlight in front of all our closest friends and relatives.

2. It makes a mildly degrading spectacle of a woman, and other stuff. While it’s never not funny to watch a man dance to “I’m Too Sexy,” the retrieval of the garter that comes before the toss is often chock full of raunch. It usually boils down to a guy feeling a woman up in front of a bunch of people. And while they are married, they are not married to everyone in the room. I have a couple hunches, re: what could pop into a person’s head while he or she watches my husband stick his hands up my dress. Do we really want to encourage that thought?

3. What’s the point? ‘Cause I kinda can’t come up with a good one. It’s a tradition, yes, but one that has no meaning for me. FYI: Odds are also bad I’ll toss a bouquet (no point there, either!). Maybe I just don’t like to throw stuff.

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Q&A is an occasional feature. If you have a Q, I can come up with an A (and if I don’t have an A, I’ll find somebody who does). To submit a question, click here. No topic is taboo (although I can’t promise I will answer every question).

*Real person, fake name.

Click here to read all the posts in this series.

[Guest Post] Why chastity is easy.

[callout]This is a guest post by blogger Jake Nelko.[/callout]

Anyone who has remained chaste until marriage will tell you it’s not easy.

As humans, we are constantly bombarded with the temptation to throw chastity out the window and do whatever we need to acquire the sexual pleasure we want. American society certainly puts these things on our plate daily through the media, trickling down into our day-to-day life.

In other words, there are pretty girls everywhere and they dress pretty and carry themselves pretty and talk pretty and smile pretty and there aren’t a lot of factors in society telling me to not try to have sex with them. Is that direct enough?

So, why haven’t I had sex yet? Well, there have been several factors that have made this decision not only attainable, but easy (relatively speaking).

It was described to me early on in life that maintaining my virginity for the future Mrs. Nelko would be one of the best gifts I could offer. Holding on to that special gift to give to one and only one person would be the greatest thing I could offer. Think about it, though. How many things or acts can you suggest are given to only one person? If we receive a gift that is only received by one person, this allows us to feel like the most special person in his or her life.

Also, I believe in a God who is bigger than I am. This isn’t the most “practical” reason, but it’s certainly the backbone of why I’ve made this life decision. I am a Christian and believe in loving God and others above myself. The best way for me to love God through my sexual life is by not putting sex above Him. When we choose to have sex outside marriage, we choose to selfishly fulfill our desires. I say “we” because I am certainly a twenty-something man who has deviated sexually on my own, as almost every man has. When we do this, it’s an act of choosing ourselves above God.

In the same vein, I believe in loving others above myself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about seeking my own pleasure from relationships of any kind with females, it’s that we, as men, are called to protect the hearts of our sisters by loving them as sisters. Sex outside of marriage creates a certain confusion through selfishness. Connecting with someone on a sexual level is a connection that is not shared often (I’d hope) and, therefore, is a special connection not to be taken lightly. Sharing sex with someone outside of a committed relationship shows a lack of care for the feelings and heart of the other person through this confusion of feelings and emotions.

As a result of these things, here is my practical response: I do my best to avoid situations where I may be tempted sexually. With the guidance of a mentor at my campus ministry in college, I laid out some ground rules for myself that I follow with lady friends. I generally don’t kiss girls with whom I am not in a relationship. I don’t hold hands with girls I’m not dating. I avoid spending one-on-one time with a girl after midnight. I don’t touch girls areas normally covered by bathing suits or see them naked. I avoid the gray areas, so the temptation to progress further can be avoided.

I also keep people around who will keep me accountable. I am a pretty open book and wear my heart on my sleeve, so it’s difficult for me to hide the truth when asked. I keep strong Christian men around me who will ask difficult questions and make sure that I’m treating women with the love and respect they deserve as God’s children. If we aren’t asked challenging questions and, instead, are left to our own devices, we certainly will make decisions that benefit ourselves and no one else.

These reasons may or may not resonate with you, but they’re my reasons. Chastity has been easy because I’ve made good, selfless decisions. I’ve made plenty of little mistakes, but the Lord has provided the strength and guidance needed, as well as the support around me, to make sure this has been possible.

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About the blogger: Jake Nelko, 27, lives in Tacoma, WA, while his heart resides in Pittsburgh, PA. He makes a living as a Career Development Specialist at the University of Washington Tacoma and spends his free time covering new music for Ear to the Ground Music, writing for his own personal blog, and playing drums for the gangster folk band Michelle from the Club.

Chastity, love, marriage, etc.

Today’s one of those “I can’t believe I get paid to do this,” days, as in I have the best. job. ever! So while the reporters who surround me chase news and news of thefts and crashes crackle through the police scanner speaker between my desk and my editor’s, I get to read about chastity, love and marriage. Like I said, best job ever. Rather than alarm my colleagues by throwing my fist in the air in a fit of joy, I thought I’d share some fabulous quotes with you. Enjoy!

On sex:


“What can ‘union’ mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in him/herself, or in the future?”

On chastity:


“Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either [humans govern their] passions and find peace, or [they let themselves] be dominated by them …”

On engaged couples (although parts are applicable to those who are still dating/discerning):


“They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.”

And on marriage:


“It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God’s faithful love.”

and

“After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving.”

and

“It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to ‘receive’ the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.”

Source: The Catechism of the Catholic Church.