[Love and Responsibility] Part 2: People who hate chastity secretly like chastity.

This post is part 2 in a sex and love series based on what I learned from my favorite parts of the brilliant book Love and Responsibility by Blessed Pope John Paul II. All quotes, unless otherwise noted or used for emphasis, come from the book.

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I used to have a big yellow bumper sticker stuck to the Spence-Mobile’s* rear windshield. In red letters, it said CHASTITY IS FOR LOVERS.

I’m fairly certain our culture begs to differ, as evidenced by various statistics (88 percent of unmarried people between the ages 18 and 29 are sexually active**) and by the reader who posited in a letter to the paper’s editor that I am a virgin not because I’m chaste, but because I’m “probably not a hot babe.”

Resistance to chastity, according to Blessed Pope John Paul II in Love and Responsibility, is a result of resentment.

The reason people don’t practice chastity is because they resent it.

“Resentment arises from an erroneous and distorted sense of values,” wrote JP2 in a chapter called The Rehabilitation of Chastity. “It is a lack of objectivity in judgment and evaluation, and has its origin in weakness of the will. The fact is that attaining or realizing a higher value demands a greater effort of will. So in order to spare ourselves the effort, to excuse our failure to obtain this value, we minimize its significance, deny it the respect it deserves, even see it as in some way evil …

But this resentment backfires. It uncovers what people who hate chastity might not realize themselves:

They totally secretly like it.

JP2 connects resentment to the cardinal sin called sloth. “St. Thomas defines sloth (acedia) as ‘a sadness arising from the fact that the good is difficult.’ This sadness, far from denying the good, indirectly helps to keep respect for it alive in the soul.”

People don’t resent chastity because they don’t want to be chaste. They resent it because it’s hard to be chaste. 

“Resentment,” wrote JP2, “does not stop at this: it 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 for him. Resentment is a feature of the subjective mentality: pleasure takes the place of superior values.”

Our culture buys into this subjective mentality; it tells us that ‘hard’ negates ‘good.’

Thank God that in truth, it doesn’t.

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Click here to read all the posts in this series.

*Just one of my car’s two names. The other is the Motha Ship. Long story.

**According to the The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Our culture’s changed viewpoint on chastity may also result from misplaced compassion for people we love (including ourselves) who have made mistakes or wound up in bad situations. We went from seeing people who have pre-marital sex as bad, to seeing pre-marital sex as bad but people who do it (and repent) as still being good, to pre-marital sex is good and anyone who doesn’t do it is an unloveable loser. The same thing has happened with viewpoints towards divorce — we went from seeing divorced people as bad, to divorce is bad but people who do it (reluctantly) are still good, to divorce is sometimes better than marriage for a couple who argue a lot. We need to get back to the middle viewpoint.

  • Excellent article, Arleen! I have another quote by JPII that pertains to this: “Often times Chastity is resented by those 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.” Blessed Pope John Paul II

    God bless, Cindy

    • Great quote! It reminds me of a quote from a movie I saw once, about a married couple. Both partners were alcoholics. The man got sober and the woman didn’t. The woman avoided the man at all costs, and the man’s AA sponsor said something like this: “She sees your sobriety as a criticism of her lack of sobriety.”

  • So true Arleen. You know, God told us everything he made was good. Our culture equates good with easy, when in fact good is sometimes very difficult. This is especially true in the short term, especially with human sexuality, when patience and self control are required. I think most people who resent chastity have made mistakes and realize that what was best for them, a sexual relationship within marriage as God designed in his creation, has slipped by and cannot be reclaimed. And then they have to live with the guilt and consequences. I’ve known so many people in my lifetime that have taken this road. And sometimes I blame myself for remaining silent on this issue most of my 51 years, for not being “comfortable” enough to discuss my personal values and celibate state. “If I had just said this” or “just said that” — maybe I could have made a difference. I’m glad there are younger chaste Christian singles, like yourself, who are courageous enough to carry this torch to the next generation.

    • “Our culture equates good with easy, when in fact good is sometimes very difficult.” – PREACH!