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.
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.