Chastity

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It seems to me that the Church is suffering from a crisis of chastity.

It is not just the sins, crimes, and stupidity of the ordained (though I do not want to minimize anything about these grotesque evils); the Church is also suffering from:

  • priests and religious behaving unchastely;
  • priests and religious abandoning the vowed life;
  • the unchaste behavior of the unmarried;
  • the conception and murder of unwanted children;
  • the willingness to commit adultery with and without benefit of divorce;
  • the use of artificial methods of contraception in marriage;
  • adoption and promotion of the gay and lesbian agenda;
  • indulgence in pornography and solitary sexual sins.

Although I think the call for a new Inquisition or the restoration of witch hunts is wrong-headed, those who condemn the sins of the ordained are at the very least upholding the principle of chastity: we can and should restrain our sexual impulses for the love of God, for the love of our neighbors, and for love of ourselves. It does not matter how strong the temptations were or how intense the urges were that the priests felt to abuse their victims; disordered desires can never justify sin. It is also laudable to see our critics' zeal to see justice done. Our culture could use a little more shame about our shameful behavior.

No one is going to get away with these crimes. God is a just judge!

The innocent will be rewarded and the guilty made to pay in full.

Lust weakens the nation and the Church

Lust is not a small sin.

It corrupts us from the inside out.

In the Church's understanding of society, it is families, not isolated individuals, that are the building blocks of the social order. Our culture of lust weakens family life and therefore erodes the foundations of civilization. What happens in private affects our public life. The government can't legislate purity of heart, but that is what democracy needs in order to keep from degenerating into mob rule.

It is in the family that a child is turned from a barbarian into a virtuous person who needs only the lightest touch on the rein to cooperate with the social order. As a general rule, children need both a mother and a father to be equipped for citizenship.

Many children raised outside an intact family cannot be restrained even with the heaviest sanctions of society. We cannot thrive if good behavior has to be enforced by fascist or totalitarian police.

Parents who contracept and who teach their children to do the same destroy the foundations of their own and their children's marriages:

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, "Contraception and Celibacy."
If sex isn’t about children, then it’s not necessarily about marriage either.
"If You Want Justice, Work for Chastity."
At the height of the counterculture of the late 1960s and the flower-power desire for peace, Pope Paul VI said "If you want peace, work for justice." It remains a popular bumper sticker even today. ...
Paul said, "If you want peace, work for justice." John Paul said, "If you want justice, work for chastity." ...
Justice is a habit of character that inclines a person to render what is due to each and to all. It is not an impersonal set of legal or economic policies. When Pope Paul counseled, "If you want peace, work for justice," he was not primarily advising that we work to change laws or reallocate material goods. He was seeking to build up justice as a virtue, as an acquired personal quality. If we want peace, we must become persons whose lives are characterized by the virtue of justice.

Chastity is the bulwark of civilization. Those who are chaste have the power to control their impulses and lay down their lives on behalf of others. They can love their neighbor as themselves.

Our government promotes lust. It requires that young children be exposed to the gospel of "safe and sincere sex when you feel it is right," be equipped to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, especially pregancy, and be provided with abortions when the prophylactics fail (as they do at a regular and predictable rate).

What happens in the bedroom does not stay in the bedroom. All of our actions have consequences. Hindus call this the law of karma. Our government has been generating bad karma since the day it decided stop teaching chastity and instead to issue condoms for soldiers and train them in the way of self-centeredness. "You can't control yourself. Wear this to protect yourself from the consequences of your actions."

We have sown the wind. We are reaping the whirlwind.

Lust destroys the family, the foundation of society

The family is in crisis.

The nation is in crisis.

The Church is in crisis.

The culture of death dominates the world around us.

The culture of death is fueled by lust: pornography, fornication, adultery, divorce, every form of departure from the natural structure of the family.

This is a time of spiritual warfare.

It is a matter of life and death.

Our weapons are faith, hope, and love.

  • The Trinity is the pattern for the whole of family life.
  • The family is the foundation of society.
  • "School of virtue--school of love."
Prudence
Justice
Temperance
Fortitude
Faith
Hope
Love
  • Marriage vs. divorce.
  • Chastity before marriage and in marriage.
  • Natural Family Planning.
  • No in vitro fertilization.
  • No abortion at all--rules out sex selection, destruction of the handicapped.
  • Adoption OK. We are all adopted children of God.
  • One man, one woman, for life.
    • Children need both a father and a mother.
    • Children need a stable home environment--good orderly discipline (G.O.D.).
    • Children need to be taught how to restrain themselves.
  • Cultivate the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, goodness, modesty, and chastity.

The family is a "domestic church."

"As the twig is bent, so grows the tree."

Children are natural learners.

They learn mostly by imitation.

They imitate our actions: "Actions speak louder than words."

We need God's help

Prurience is make-believe chastity. We indulge in lust under cover of condemning it.

We need to be won to a vision of God's beauty. This is not will-power Christianity, though it does require our cooperation with grace.

The nature of love

A real "love life" is:

  • chaste
  • committed
  • Christ-centered

All others are counterfeits or otherwise stunted versions of real love.

The God-given desire for sexual union between a man and a woman is necessary for a valid sacrament of marriage. That proper erotic desire is different from lust, which is ordered not to fulfillment of God's will in marriage but to self-centered satisfaction at the expense of the other.

No Chastity, No Charity

Love of self is the enemy of love of the other.

We cannot serve two masters.

Lust never serves love; it poisons it.

YouCat #463
Purity of Heart
The Ninth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
How does one achieve "purity of heart"?
The purity of heart required for love is achieved in the first place through union with God in prayer. When God's grace touches us, this also produces a path to pure, undivided human love. A chaste person can love with a sincere and undivided heart.
When we turn to God with a sincere intention, he transforms our hearts. He gives us the strength to correspond to his will and to reject impure thoughts, fantasies, and desires.

Chastity preserves health and saves lives

No one becomes sick or dies from being chaste.

People do get sick and die from being unchaste. They may suffer from sexually-transmitted diseases and cause others to do the same. Many of the unchaste murder the children whom they have conceived through unchaste behavior.

Sins against Chastity

Hatred of the body, including the sexual functions of the body, is not part of the Church's FORMAL teaching tradition. It is a heresy, and whenever the heresy has appeared, the Church has condemned it in no uncertain terms. (Condemned the HERESY, not the HERETICS. "Hate the sin, love the sinner.") Yes, the people who proposed the heresy were Catholics, and so one could say, as our antagonists do, that "Catholics taught that sex is something filthy dirty that you save for someone you love," but it has NEVER been the official teaching of the Church. The Church is not anti-sex; she is anti-adultery, anti-rape, anti-incest, anti-pederasty, anti-bestiality, anti-vegetality, etc., etc., because she believes that human sexuality is a gift from God that is meant to bring fire and light and warmth and joy into the family. Fire outside the fireplace can burn a house down; leaping into the fire can cause suffering and death; but the fire and the fireplace are good.

Pornography

We have a taste for equality and for independence. The struggle of the teen-age years to reach equality with our parents and to break away from them is one of the dominant themes in our culture. The fact that the awakening of sexual awareness and sexual appetite coincides with the time of gaining independence makes this a highly "photogenic" period in our lives--our culture is drenched with images of teenage sexuality tinged with adolescent rebellion. That is also a major theme of much of our popular music.

"Let's Blow the Whistle on Internet Porn."
In The Social Costs of Pornography, however, a wide variety of medical experts and social scientists studied the harmful effects of pornography, in particular, the ubiquity, realism, and addictiveness of internet pornography. Mary Anne Layden, the Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that pornography can trigger a variety of negative behaviors and attitudes, including behaviors both illegal and pathological. Frequent users of porn report seeking out images that once appalled them, such as illegal and obscene images of S&M and bestiality. They have also reported following the slippery slope from adult porn to child porn.
This makes psychological sense. To receive the same pleasure from viewing pornography, one must resort to more and more explicit and varied images. Such range is readily available on the internet. And why is internet porn so addictive? By offering a near limitless variety of sexual objects, internet porn tends to hardwire the brain to desire more of it, more often.

The portal idea: You'd be hard-pressed to find a temple of Venus to worship in, but the gateway to her temple is in your pocket, on your hip, in your briefcase, or sitting on your desk. Portal: portkeys. Entrances are everywhere. Leave Heaven, enter Hell. Leave Hell, enter Heaven. All the gods are making house calls. "House calls" is not a sufficiently strong expression. They are omnipresent through our technology. Every sin has its advocate online. The new idolatry and adoration of false gods takes place in our media, and especially in motion pictures, not just in theaters but dancing before our eyes on all of our electronic devices.

Real sex makes two into one flesh. Real sex is a spiritual activity. We can't see or film the spiritual activity, only the physical dimension. Pornography does not show "real sex." It shows counterfeit sex--the giving of the sign of love without any love. It is an outward sign of self-giving that is contradicted by the inward reality of self-centeredness.

Masturbation

CCC, #2352
By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action. ... The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose" (CDF, Persona humana 9). For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."
To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.
C. S. Lewis.
"For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself. Do read Charles Williams’ Descent into Hell and study the character of Mr. Wentworth.
And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination. The true exercise of imagination in my view, is (a) to help us understand other people, (b) to respond to, and, some of us, to produce art. But it also has a bad use: to provide for us, in shadowy form, a substitute for virtues, successes, distinctions, etc. which ought to be sought outside in the real world – e.g., picturing all I’d do if I were rich instead of earning and saving. Masturbation involves this abuse of imagination in erotic matters (which is bad in itself) and thereby encourages a similar abuse of it in all spheres. After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison."[1]

Fornication

I believe that many women suffer from the belief that if they yield to a man's advances, they will convince him of their love and elicit a commitment from him. It seems to me that they are reasoning, "If I give him what he wants, he will give me what I want."

Instead of winning the man's assent to marriage, which is the authentic form of a "committed personal relationship," the women signal that the men do not need to make a commitment to them in order to enjoy sexual union with them.

Among men, this is expressed crudely by saying, "There is no need to buy the cow if you're getting all the milk you want." In fact, so long as the couple is unmarried, the pressure is on the woman to behave the way the man wants her to behave and to dance to his tune. Very often, when she tries to cash in on the bargain she thought she had made with her partner, the man disappears from her life.

C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he “wants a woman.” Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want.
He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes).
Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give.

Passionate chastity, passionate purity of heart

C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.
#2346
Charity is the form of all the virtues. Under its influence, chastity appears as a school of the gift of the person. Self-mastery is ordered to the gift of self. Chastity leads him who practices it to become a witness to his neighbor of God's fidelity and loving kindness.[2]
#2347
The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship.[3] It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends,[4] who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality.
Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one's neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.

Catechism

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT

II. THE BATTLE FOR PURITY

2520
Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. With God's grace he will prevail
  • by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;
  • by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God's will in everything;[5]
  • by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God's commandments: "Appearance arouses yearning in fools";[6]
  • by prayer:
I thought that continence arose from one's own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know ... that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you.[7]
2521
Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
2522
Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
2523
There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.
2524
The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.
2525
Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint. Purity of heart brings freedom from widespread eroticism and avoids entertainment inclined to voyeurism and illusion.
2526
So called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom; the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law. Those in charge of education can reasonably be expected to give young people instruction respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man.
2527
"The Good News of Christ continually renews the life and culture of fallen man; it combats and removes the error and evil which flow from the ever-present attraction of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. It takes the spiritual qualities and endowments of every age and nation, and with supernatural riches it causes them to blossom, as it were, from within; it fortifies, completes, and restores them in Christ."[8]
In Brief
2528
"Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:28).
2529
The ninth commandment warns against lust or carnal concupiscence.
2530
The struggle against carnal lust involves purifying the heart and practicing temperance.
2531
Purity of heart will enable us to see God: it enables us even now to see things according to God.
2532
Purification of the heart demands prayer, the practice of chastity, purity of intention and of vision.
2533
Purity of heart requires the modesty which is patience, decency, and discretion. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person.

Links

For Wives

For Couples

For those attracted to the same sex

  • Courage, an apostolate of the Catholic Church, ministers to persons with same-sex attractions and their loved ones.
  • JONAH International: Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, is a non-profit international organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions.

Treatment Centers

Cultural Analysis

References

  1. From a letter to a Mr. Masson, March 6, 1956, in the Wade Collection at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Vol 3 (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 758-59.
  2. Two forms of emphasis added. MXM.
  3. Emphasis added.
  4. Cf. Jn 15:15.
  5. Cf. Rom 12:2; Col 1:10.
  6. Wis 15:5.
  7. St. Augustine, Conf. 6,11,20:PL 32,729-730.
  8. GS 58 § 4.