When I was a young adult, someone told me a somewhat off color joke.
An elderly couple was peacefully sitting on their porch swing one evening. Lost in the serene spectacle of the setting sun, the husband was stunned when his wife smacked him harshly across the face.
“Why did you do that?’ he burst out.
“Because you’re not as good as you should be in bed,” the wife responded.
Pensively, they continued to sit together for a while until, abruptly, the husband struck the wife bitterly across her face.
“Why did you do that!?” she exclaimed.
“Because you knew the difference,” he replied.
What Does This Illustration Have to Do With Chastity?
All jokes aside, this tale illustrates that if we stray away from what is righteous, we expose ourselves to inappropriate knowledge. The Bible tells us that, after having eaten from the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve knew they were naked and hid from God in shame (Genesis 3:7). Unfortunately, the same scenario replays itself over and over again in modern society – as it has for all ages.
According to Wikipedia, chastity is “sexual behavior of a man or woman that is acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of their culture, civilization or religion”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church further states that “all the baptized are called to chastity…All Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life…” (CCC, #2348 – emphasis mine)
When we, as a society, become voyeurs into the bedrooms of others we lose a vital concept of what love and sex are all about. As television, movies, and songs become more and more flagrant in their disrespect for the gift of marital sexuality, our consciousness becomes tarnished. Like our first parents, we expose ourselves to a forbidden fruit – illicit sensuality.
Yet, perversion is manifested all around us. In this age, we have greater access than ever to all sorts of distorted views. The television shows, movies, and music to which we expose ourselves garner a heightened yet depraved sense of sexuality. Allowed by a misconception of freedom – Freedom of Speech – this type of sullied entertainment misconstrues the reality of human freedom.
“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.” (CCC #2526)
The Fruit of a Lack of Chastity
Once we are exposed, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to erase the perverted images from our minds. Pornography has been proven to be addictive and damaging to individuals, as well as relationships. This contorted way of thinking of sex causes as many false expectations as do the airbrushed and PhotoShopped models in today’s world of advertising.
Trying to live up to the impossible takes an extreme toll on those individuals who have been exposed. Like a cancer, these thoughts and images take on a life of their own and eventually overpower the host. Once you’ve accepted the invitation into the world of pornography, it’s almost impossible to let it go.
So where does this lead us, as a society? We’ve seen the results of the slippery slope of perversion – societal acceptance of sodomy – under the guise of gay ‘marriage’, rampant cohabitation and higher numbers of children born outside marriage, and now 50 Shades of Grey – flagrant pornography disguised as a Valentine’s Day date movie. Furthermore, pornography leads to ever increasing deprivation that excels the higher instances of sex trafficking seen today.
Chastity Is Love
If we live up to our God-given respect for the marriage bed, these perversions won’t find their way into our minds and souls. Chastity is the joyous affirmation of someone who knows how to live self-giving, free from any form of self-centered slavery. The chaste person is not self-centered, not involved in selfish relationships with other people. Chastity makes the personality harmonious. It matures and fills the individual with inner peace. (PCF, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education Within the Family, December 8, 1995, #17)
What About Saint Valentine?
A third century martyr, Saint Valentine , was known for being a kind-hearted priest who helped the persecuted Christians. As the patron saint of love, young people, and marriage, the day named for him is hardly a time for lust and debauchery. Yet, in typical secular fashion, the Catholic feast day of this saint has been hijacked by commercialization. Saint Valentine’s Day is the third most popular holiday (holy day) when it comes to sales of candies, flowers, and gifts. Instead of focusing on acts of selfless love (true love is always selfless), we are lead to believe that consumerism is that hero of the day, and the truest expression of love.
Unfortunately, secularization and commercialization haven’t been the end of the betrayal of Saint Valentine. With 50 Shades of Grey being marketed as a romantic outing for couples on this day of love, we are sending an even more diabolical message – lust, perversion, and the toll they take in their pure selfishness is being glorified. Holding BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism) up as examples of what love looks like, we endanger an entire generation’s outlook on the sanctity of marriage.
What Can We Do to Promote Chastity?
As the people of God, we need to do everything in our power to take action. Passivity is not an option. We have been tasked with sharing the Good News and at the Dismissal of each Mass we are told to go out, nourished and renewed, to live according to the Word – to proclaim the Gospel!
5 Ways to Promote Chastity
- Advance the ideal of respect for women and girls. Hold up the saints who lead virtuous lives, like Saint Maria Goretti, as models after which to pattern our lives.
- Live a holy married life to illustrate chastity within the sanctity of marriage. Be a lighted lamp atop a stand for all those around you to see. (Mark 4:21)
- Guard your eyes and the eyes of your loved ones, lest they fall into a cesspool of deviancy. There is also an alternative film, Old Fashioned, opening in theaters this weekend. You might attend and financially support it.
- Pray mightily for chastity for all – this includes within marriage.
- Share available information about the virtue of chastity with those around you. This is not a time to be faint of heart. We have an obligation to proclaim the teachings of Jesus. It’s not an option to hold this information only for ourselves. We are tasked with helping one another get to Heaven.