"Chastity" advice ruining marriages and relationships


#1

Now that my tittle got your attention we can begin!

Anyone who tries practicing chastity knows that it is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to do. At least for me it was and still is. I'll be 24 this year and at the age of 16 made a promise to save my virginity for my future wife. I've had my highs and lows; my close calls and my moments where I felt like I mastered abstinence and chastity. One thing is certain, I never regret my choice to wait for my future bride. With that said, I wish I hadn't taken some of the "chastity advise" I got from certain sources; advice that actually made it harder for me to remain chase in the long run.

Overzealousness can make the most holiest of intentions evil and can result in more harm than good. History is filled with too many examples of people taking a good idea and going too far with it. Chastity is no different.

Let me be the first to admit that I have been guilt of such overzealous behavior and giving bad advice; thanks in part to some horrible advice I got. I'm talking about Oprah-level bad sexual advice. One website told me to always avoid touching my "sexual area" while showering etc. I suppose the smell emitted after a couple days of not washing down there would turn any potential mate away, thus ensuring I never get any action, ever. Another I've heard is to avoid any and all physical contact with your significant other.

Some folks seem to have this idea that one can never be too safe and that's a bad start. Being too safe shouldn't be your goal but being balanced should. Sometimes we are so busy trying to be safe rather than sorry that we stifle our relationships and even distort the true value of natural human sexuality which is in essence, no different to what the pornography industry is doing to marriages and relationships right now.

Chastity is a beautiful and wonderful practice that takes a lifetime to master and fully appreciate. It is a tool used to enhance and strengthen your relationship with God and the people around you but if used incorrectly can be a wedge that severs those precious bonds.

sorry for the typos ya'll


#2

Well, best I can figure, there're varying amounts of precautions needed by various persons. For some folks, it might not take much at all for a simple hug to tumble into something more. And another might really struggle in the shower say.

To the latter, I'd recommend maybe...saving that area for last? With the firm resolution to get out of a private area and quick as can be around other people.

Solitude, I've found, being alone I mean, is one of the greatest near-occasions of sin.
Or maybe it's the perception of being alone? Did Eve imagine the eyes of God on her when she ate the fruit?

You make a good point. Our culture is so broken (and our natures) it's unsurprising that some of our countermeasures might prove overreactions, themselves even *potentially *more harmful than the evil they were made to prevent.


#3

Great thread, I agree 100%


#4

Agreed, Zaista. To be honest, I never really "got" the stereotype of the sexually guilt-ridden Catholic that has often been made fun of. I never observed it, or learned to equate natural feelings of sexual desire with shame or guilt in any of the teachings I received - just that sex is a beautiful act to be enjoyed within its proper context and environment (as with pretty much every other form of behavior and desire).

The more zealous approach to chastity you refer to is perhaps a bit more espoused in certain circles (personally, the first time I witnessed it was here on CAF:shrug:), but "to each their own" as far as I'm concerned with regards to personal boundaries being set. No one knows our levels of struggle and temptation as well as we ourselves do, so ultimately it is up to us to decide what self-limitations need to be imposed. As long as chastity is approached through an understanding of the Church's teaching on sexuality in general, I feel it's acceptable that the modes and methods may vary slightly from person to person.


#5

To the OP, could you please explain in detail what you mean by "balance"? Does avoiding the near occasions of sin violate your principle of balanced sexuality?

I can agree with at least part of what I think you're advocating, which is avoiding scrupulosity. Certainly taking a shower and thoroughly cleaning all parts of the body is not sinful. But OTOH what if a person finds that lingering touches in the shower leads him/her to the sin of masturbation? I'm sure you'd agree that such a person would need to find a way to shower that avoids this temptation...right?


#6

mgoforth - to your last point, I'd suggest that some temptations are largely unavoidable. We are therefore left with needing the will and strength to decline them.


#7

[quote="Rau, post:6, topic:313643"]
mgoforth - to your last point, I'd suggest that some temptations are largely unavoidable. We are therefore left with needing the will and strength to decline them.

[/quote]

Good point. I should have said "fight" the temptation, rather than "avoid" it.


#8

[quote="Rau, post:6, topic:313643"]
mgoforth - to your last point, I'd suggest that some temptations are largely unavoidable. We are therefore left with needing the will and strength to decline them.

[/quote]

Precisely. :thumbsup:

If a person seriously cannot wash themselves without falling into sin, I'd say the first step is to get to the root of the problem rather than just covering up the issue by not washing yourself!

There are temptations all around us, and what are we supposed to do if we struggle? Never leave the house and become a hermit? How far should this type of rationale go? Such attitude is not healthy or conducive. We must seek help and strength of will.


#9

I know this question was aimed towards the OP, but here are my thoughts on that.

There’s 2 extremes:

Engaging in premarital sex, and having 0 physical contact.

I agree with the OP, in that there needs to be a balance. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with couples in committed relationships to show physical affection such as hug, kiss, hold hands, and cuddle.

I can understand the rationale behind having 0 physical contact as a way to avoid all temptation, but I disagree with that rationale. We will constantly be put in situations where we must find the will power to do the right thing even when doing so is difficult. It’s silly to have to completely do away with a good thing (showing affection to your significant other) in an attempt to never ever have to fight the urge to go farther.

It’s kinda like the Muslims having to cover up from head to foot (some even the eyes) so that they don’t have to bother to fight off their own impurities in their hearts.


#10

[quote="Debora123, post:9, topic:313643"]
It's silly to have to completely do away with a good thing (showing affection to your significant other) in an attempt to never ever have to fight the urge to go farther.

[/quote]

I can appreciate what you're saying, but I think it's quite rare for people to have the level of self-control that you're suggesting. I guess I would prefer to err on the side of caution when it's a question of our eternal souls potentially being at risk. Signs of affection aren't wrong if they're not near occasions of sin, but neither is choosing freely to abstain from any of the above before marriage as a sacrifice to God.

If someone desires to stay on the safe side of the spectrum that you spoke of, I don't see how that can ultimately be a bad idea. That person may very well have a better shot of making it into Heaven than another who doesn't want to limit him/herself too much.


#11

[quote="mgoforth, post:10, topic:313643"]
I can appreciate what you're saying, but I think it's quite rare for people to have the level of self-control that you're suggesting. I guess I would prefer to err on the side of caution when it's a question of our eternal souls potentially being at risk. Signs of affection aren't wrong if they're not near occasions of sin, but neither is choosing freely to abstain from any of the above before marriage as a sacrifice to God.

If someone desires to stay on the safe side of the spectrum that you spoke of, I don't see how that can ultimately be a bad idea. That person may very well have a better shot of making it into Heaven than another who doesn't want to limit him/herself too much.

[/quote]

People often ask me how I've managed to keep my virginity for so "long". I tell them it's not because I have some super human level of will. I avoid occasion that might lead me to sin but what good is that idea if I don't have the will to avoid those situations? This is where balance is important. Sometimes we focus too much on avoiding and restricting, which rarely ever works anyway.

If one is to avoid every or most occasions of sin then you'd need to be completely disconnected from this world and stripped of everything that makes you human(your senses, free will, hormones, etc). Really, what doesn't lead to an occasion of sin?

Someone told me the sensation of holding back urination for a while led her to masturbate. Other's can't see a diagram of the male or female genitalia in a biology text book without steering "the beast". For some, just being close to their SO is enough to set them off. You're going to run into some serious relying too much on just avoiding things.


#12

[quote="mgoforth, post:10, topic:313643"]
I can appreciate what you're saying, but I think it's quite rare for people to have the level of self-control that you're suggesting. I guess I would prefer to err on the side of caution when it's a question of our eternal souls potentially being at risk. Signs of affection aren't wrong if they're not near occasions of sin, but neither is choosing freely to abstain from any of the above before marriage as a sacrifice to God..

[/quote]

Really? I know a number of couples (myself included) who didn't have sex before they were married, but didn't limit each other off to 0 physical contact either. In fact, I've never met ANY couple to put such an extreme limit like that. It seems very unnatural/unhealthy to me.


#13

[quote="Zaista, post:11, topic:313643"]
People often ask me how I've managed to keep my virginity for so "long". I tell them it's not because I have some super human level of will. I avoid occasion that might lead me to sin but what good is that idea if I don't have the will to avoid those situations? This is where balance is important. Sometimes we focus too much on avoiding and restricting, which rarely ever works anyway.

If one is to avoid every or most occasions of sin then you'd need to be completely disconnected from this world and stripped of everything that makes you human(your senses, free will, hormones, etc). Really, what doesn't lead to an occasion of sin?

Someone told me the sensation of holding back urination for a while led her to masturbate. Other's can't see a diagram of the male or female genitalia in a biology text book without steering "the beast". For some, just being close to their SO is enough to set them off.** You're going to run into some serious relying too much on just avoiding things.**

[/quote]

Well said.


#14

[quote="Debora123, post:12, topic:313643"]
Really? I know a number of couples (myself included) who didn't have sex before they were married, but didn't limit each other off to 0 physical contact either. In fact, I've never met ANY couple to put such an extreme limit like that. It seems very unnatural/unhealthy to me.

[/quote]

I agree. Me and my fiance allow more physical contact than many here would prob think was ok but we are both still virgins and still absolutely will be virgins when our wedding comes around because we are both absolutely comitted to waiting for marriage and we know what our limits are and respect them. Honestly, I could never allow myself to date someone who had to strictly limit or cut out entirely physical contact in order to avoid falling because I would not be comfortable marrying someone with that low a level of self-control.


#15

So great to read and relate to so many like minded people on here! I for one am 19 and often struggle with my girlfriend in chastity though we both discuss openly that we want to wait for marriage.. I understand how one can get carried away especially when the feeling for your significant other grows to a point where you want to give your whole self to them and are convinced that you will be married so think 'Why not?'

Honestly in the past I have had a not so catholic relationship and all it brought was raelistaion to me of how selfish and self obsessed I can be. Sex and especially lust I have experienced as very deep and painful scars that mentally scar for many years if not for life!

I'm so happy to be in a catholic relationship where we constantly try to have Christ at the centre :)


#16

There remains a strong undercurrent of Jansenism among certain Catholics who hold that all sex is filthy and that marriage, at best, merely sanitizes the act but does not remove its base nature. This attitude is also a species of clericalism and a bias in favor of clerical celibacy even in the lay state. Here's an example: I remember reading in a missal (from the 1930's) that married women must refrain from taking Communion if they had sexual relations with their husband the night before. No similar prohibition for their husbands. What's with that? This is a perversion of the faith and of the truth masquerading as heroic virtue. It's one that's also very difficult to combat w/o giving the appearance of attacking chastity itself.

JPII's Theology of the Body was a huge step in defining the beauty and sanctity of sexuality when properly expressed within the bond of a sacramental marriage.

Many devout Catholics are not only sexually repressed but also obsessed with sex. True, sexual sins are among the most prevalent and we must never attempt to justify them or mitigate the detrimental effect they have on our souls. But to dress up our sexual frustrations, jealousies, inadequacies and dysfunction as virtuous chastity is not a good thing. I can't listen to catholic radio without someone prattling on and on about sex. Enough already! if we love God, we can and must be chaste according to our state in life. That's all we need to know. We can't accomplish this through force of will alone. It's a grace and, like all grace, it is freely given. Therefore, we must ask for this grace (and desire it) with all earnestness.

Let us truly love God by making our chastity a love offering to Him. We should not offer it merely because no one else will take it off our hands. Right?


#17

[quote="thewanderer, post:14, topic:313643"]
I agree. Me and my fiance allow more physical contact than many here would prob think was ok but we are both still virgins and still absolutely will be virgins when our wedding comes around because we are both absolutely comitted to waiting for marriage and we know what our limits are and respect them. Honestly,** I could never allow myself to date someone who had to strictly limit or cut out entirely physical contact in order to avoid falling because I would not be comfortable marrying someone with that low a level of self-control.**

[/quote]

In my opinion, someone with that low of a level of self control shouldn't be getting married and therefore shouldn't be dating anyone until they get their issues sorted out.


#18

[quote="Boy_Wonder, post:16, topic:313643"]
There remains a strong undercurrent of Jansenism among certain Catholics who hold that all sex is filthy and that marriage, at best, merely sanitizes the act but does not remove its base nature. This attitude is also a species of clericalism and a bias in favor of clerical celibacy even in the lay state. Here's an example: I remember reading in a missal (from the 1930's) that married women must refrain from taking Communion if they had sexual relations with their husband the night before. No similar prohibition for their husbands. What's with that? This is a perversion of the faith and of the truth masquerading as heroic virtue. It's one that's also very difficult to combat w/o giving the appearance of attacking chastity itself.

JPII's Theology of the Body was a huge step in defining the beauty and sanctity of sexuality when properly expressed within the bond of a sacramental marriage.

Many devout Catholics are not only sexually repressed but also obsessed with sex. True, sexual sins are among the most prevalent and we must never attempt to justify them or mitigate the detrimental effect they have on our souls. But to dress up our sexual frustrations, jealousies, inadequacies and dysfunction as virtuous chastity is not a good thing. I can't listen to catholic radio without someone prattling on and on about sex. Enough already! if we love God, we can and must be chaste according to our state in life. That's all we need to know. We can't accomplish this through force of will alone. It's a grace and, like all grace, it is freely given. Therefore, we must ask for this grace (and desire it) with all earnestness.

Let us truly love God by making our chastity a love offering to Him. We should not offer it merely because no one else will take it off our hands. Right?

[/quote]

Well said. :thumbsup:


#19

[quote="Boy_Wonder, post:16, topic:313643"]
There remains a strong undercurrent of Jansenism among certain Catholics who hold that all sex is filthy and that marriage, at best, merely sanitizes the act but does not remove its base nature. This attitude is also a species of clericalism and a bias in favor of clerical celibacy even in the lay state. Here's an example: I remember reading in a missal (from the 1930's) that married women must refrain from taking Communion if they had sexual relations with their husband the night before. No similar prohibition for their husbands. What's with that? This is a perversion of the faith and of the truth masquerading as heroic virtue. It's one that's also very difficult to combat w/o giving the appearance of attacking chastity itself.

JPII's Theology of the Body was a huge step in defining the beauty and sanctity of sexuality when properly expressed within the bond of a sacramental marriage.

Many devout Catholics are not only sexually repressed but also obsessed with sex. True, sexual sins are among the most prevalent and we must never attempt to justify them or mitigate the detrimental effect they have on our souls. But to dress up our sexual frustrations, jealousies, inadequacies and dysfunction as virtuous chastity is not a good thing. I can't listen to catholic radio without someone prattling on and on about sex. Enough already! if we love God, we can and must be chaste according to our state in life. That's all we need to know. We can't accomplish this through force of will alone. It's a grace and, like all grace, it is freely given. Therefore, we must ask for this grace (and desire it) with all earnestness.

Let us truly love God by making our chastity a love offering to Him. We should not offer it merely because no one else will take it off our hands. Right?

[/quote]

This is Doctor of the church-level words. If you haven't found your calling yet then might I suggest theology? Well said! I couldn't agree more.


#20

[quote="Zaista, post:19, topic:313643"]
This is Doctor of the church-level words. If you haven't found your calling yet then might I suggest theology? Well said! I couldn't agree more.

[/quote]

Thanks. Not a theologian. Just a poor sinner who, late in life, has found his way back to the the beauty of the faith and the love of God.


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