When I heard the news that married couples have to practice chastity it reminded me - yet again - that the definition of chastity far surpasses the narrow minded definition of "saving yourself for marriage." Or, "no sex" (that's abstinence). So get it out of your head now.
Imagine being married and saying you practice that definition of chastity. Lol.
I want to put out to my small audience the magnanimity of chastity in a way that we often lose, a way of thinking and acting that is so far beyond fear. Fear of love and all it's sacrifices. Fear of our own desires. Fear that if we don't be really physical we will lose someone. Fear of losing sexual intimacy itself because a breakup is necessary.
All of it being the fear of missing out. The fear of how hard it might be putting emotional and physical boundaries into our life.
So often I relate to others in that fear of approaching the teaching of chastity because it will require a lot of honesty, realness, and effort. Settling for a "do-what-I-want-when-I-want" motto seems pleasurable to most.. I mean, of course. But "the truth will set you free" (John 8:31) and the freedom is bringing light to our imperfect nature. We all have an unavoidable repression of our emotional blindness aka we can't define or make sense of our desires and emotions. I'd argue, most of us don't realize we have this emotional blindness to defining the truth of sexuality unless we are actively thinking about God's perfect creation and plan for it. When we are face-to-face with an experience of total, complete, and utter transcendent love that is both physical and emotional.
In the words of Father Mike Schmidtz, "we all, every single one of us, have imperfect and disordered sexualities. We're all trying to heal and make the truth of the desires we have."
When we quiet ourselves, remove all the distractions in life, and maybe find ourselves face-to-face with the glory, Love, and beauty of God (sitting in a Chapel because then people know "oh don't bother him/her!") we have nothing left in us but to bow and soak it in. In that moment our thoughts and consciences are purifying in the rays of Grace. Anything greater than us, anything that far surpasses imperfect humanity is terrifyingly beautiful.. good.. holy. #FearOfTheLord and if God is the spirit of perfect Love than there you have it.
When Father speaks of this "imperfect and disordered sexuality" he's reminding us that our desires run wild. They are not perfectly ordered and can even lead us to crazy decisions and paths. By the simple acknowledgement that our desires come and go like the wind, they are just objectively disordered. We all have thoughts, feelings, experiences, expectations, ideals, sometimes fantasies, and desires around the sexual identities we have. I am not married but I'd even go so far as to say they increase in marriage, not go away. I know the truth that chastity exists for me as a single person because there have been be more than one person on this Earth I am drawn to in a romantic way. My desires were not a green-light for "he's the one!" rather the green-light invitation to sit back, experience life with this person, forming healthy habits to grow our personalities and actively discern if I want this forever and if God is inviting that to be a "forever thing."
Most of us could list a number of people we have dated, desired to date, or really found ourselves enamoured with but chose another person who provided the essence and habits of a greater taste of love. Maybe we've read books, maybe we've evolved our personalities, maybe we've repressed desires, maybe we've indulged them too much or in unhealthy ways, maybe we've just laughed at it all. But the moral of the story is they're not perfectly ordered, they rarely make sense, and experience a lot of temptations. And in the end it was all, admit it, an attempt to taste true love.
Sometimes we are so convinced our sexuality (the intensity of it) directly = true love. Oh, but the love, the truest love we feel, for our parents, loved ones, grandparents, and friends doesn't even need sexual anything for it to be some of the most precious and closest, truest of loves.
Chastity is a demand. It is not natural for us to participate in anything if it's not going to give us what we want.
Chastity is freeing. It gives us space, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, to leave infatuation at the doorstep and expect nothing of it's addictive behavior to consume us.
Chastity is educating. It teaches you your own intentions, expectations, and ideals for love and allows you to meet those things with an open-mind instead of forcing yourself to believe your significant other actually has them.
Chastity is patient. Natural tendencies for love and relationships involve grasping at them and controlling them. Chastity speaks, "I don't have to grasp at you you immediately, I will patiently enjoy where I am at with you. I don't have to rush anything because I know you will be mine to cherish and enjoy in this moment for the journey."
Chastity is kind. It teaches you how to kindly nurture it and let it grow and blossom like a flower ... instead of expecting it to already be a flower and be what you (think you) want it to be.
Chastity is self-controlled. No, no-one can control your impulses for you. Self-mastery is an art worth cultivating.
Just like God, who is Love - the real spirit of love itself - is not natural for us to participate in this. It is a habit. It is a choice. It is something we choose freely.
And what we do about it, matters.
Chastity, like baking, involves a lot of ingredients. And they all have to be mixed together to create the final project. And the final product being, you guessed it, true love.
Chastity: All you Need:
- a solid prayer life (time to reflect and learn God's plan for true love)
- courage to spark a conversation with someone you're attracted to, and to leave it at just that -- conversation.. not to instigate room for "getting some."
- honesty (what do I want and how do I protect that from giving into everything)
- boundaries (emotional and physical ones)
- no hooking-up (for best results abstain from meaninglessness - let your relationship with this person marinate for at least two months)
- no pinterest wedding planning the first year of the relationship
- Understand your own lifestyle needs and don't lose them for the sake of someone else
- Understand this person's thought process, thinking habits, and communication style
- who does the person you like hang out with? Are they good influences?
- habits of personal healthy sexual expression (good friend group, charm without seduction, silly, playful flirtatious moves)
- visit chastity.com or read Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility
- spontaneous dates, not netflix and chill (try hiking or friend outings)
- add your own expressions for flavor!
Mix all ingredients together and bake for .... ever.
Your end product should be decadent and savory.
I first heard the word "God, The Father" when I was baptized (But I don't actually remember it). I first used it on my own soon after (give it a few years). And now I will search the depths of this world to make sure I understand what that even means. "God is my Father?!?" WoW. it's going to continue to take a lifetime of to unpack, "God, The Father, loves me." And that's pretty ridiculous... not the impatient kind of ridiculous but, the awesome kind of ridiculous. Point is: anything in life worth pursuing is going to take a lifetime to understand.
It's the same with Love. It's the same in an ongoing relationship with anyone.
I've learned chastity - like Love, God, Holiness - needs a refreshed meaning in your head several times a week, if not that, several times a day. And that's OK. We need to know why we believe what we believe.
Every experience or thought we create within our heads is to be directed in the truth or love. We are "to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5) because there, right with Him, we learn their depths, intentions, meaning, and allow Him to awaken us and change us into knowing we choose how we make the most of love in this life. Just like the cross, if needed to be redeemed, He transforms what's dead (unloving). If what's in our hearts needs to pass, He crucify's it and makes beauty with it's ashes. Only real love (like His very body and soul poured out) will stand on the final days.
The mind needs new thoughts and healthy ones at that. The mind needs a "pep-talk" as to why love and boundaries and emotional checks are true and good and beautiful. The body needs independence to be true to self and it's own temperament. The body has urges and hormones we can't control sometimes, but can master within ourselves. The heart needs to experience the freedom of this as an active lifestyle. The soul needs to know God directly, personally, and lovingly fill itself with a Divine love that excels all the others and sets the standard for real and meaningful practices. Give yourself the gift of this. Christ was the truest true lover to walk this Earth and not much of His time was spend seeking the intensity of love, just the simply power of it, awakening the hearts of all.
Chastity: A habit that directs our sexual desires and attitudes toward the truth of LOVE.
Reading about chastity is healing. Practicing Chastity is therapeutic to the old self you knew and lost in the rumble of life. Chastity, in my heart, albeit imperfectly lived out, is the solution to a lot of heartache and problems in this world.
Loving with pure intentions and knowing you are always doing the best for another is a transcendent experience. The participation in virtue [or habit] needs a mind, a heart, and a body actively feeding it's decisions every day.
So, buckle up ladies and gentlemen, the journey of chastity is a wild ride.