What is Chastity?

The most basic definition of Chastity is the virtue of saving sex for marriage and remaining open to life within marriage.  But there is so much more to this beautiful and powerful virtue!

For Catholics, our faith teaches that chastity is a virtue and that virtue bears fruit.  The Catechism also teaches us that in the case of marriage, the practice of chastity naturally leads to patience, temperance, prudence, honesty and trust.

Chastity is a call to save sex until marriage and live with your body, mind and soul in harmony.  The virtue of chastity brings our sexual appetite into harmony with reason, and creates purity in mind, heart and conscience.

Here is what the Angelic Warfare Confraternity tells us about Chastity:  

  • Chastity is the virtue that brings the sexual appetite into harmony with reason.  It requires, not the renunciation of sexuality, but the right or reasonable use of it…….. Reason is a light that illuminates what we are doing so that we can behave in a way that is consistent with our best interest…
  • One of the fundamental problems that unchastity brings about is a blindness that leads directly to acts of imprudence.  A person who is inflamed by lustful desires is hardly in a position to do what is good for himself or anyone else.
  • Unchastity tends to destroy prudence and to prevent a person from maintaining the self-possession or integrity he needs in order to “be himself” in the proper sense of the term.
  • In the absence of chastity, a person is easily seduced into doing things that are beneath his dignity, things that are shameful, things that do not accord with who he truly is.

 Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Chastity

  • 2338  The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.125
  • 2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.”127

In his book, In Defense of Purity, Dietrich von Hildebrand defined chastity as “that virtue which keeps the sexual secret hidden as a dominion, the disposition of which is in the hand of God.”  In other words, our sexual secret is a territory to be hidden and only God has the power to transfer it. 

To follow The Veil metaphor, it is a territory (Holy of Holies) to be hidden (by a veil) and only God has the power to transfer it (to our holy spouse on our wedding day).

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