Chastity Before Marriage: A Catholic Perspective

group of teenagers in pure white

Chastity. Dating. Marriage. Sex. Do these terms ring a bell? Do you remember the time you were a teenager? Wasn’t it an exciting phase of your life? Weren’t you brash and felt anything was acceptable? Including physical intimacy with the opposite sex? Did you care about the Church’s teaching on chastity and purity?

 

The excitement, fun, nervousness and uncertainty that characterise the transition from baby fat to puberty is all too familiar to most of us.

 

During those transition years, parents and teens face many difficult and unpleasant situations for the first time ever.

 

It’s a rollercoaster ride fuelled by adrenaline and characterised by arguments, deep conversations, love, anger, sharing and of course, preaching.

 

Teenagers are held ransom by the hormonal changes taking place within them and many times grope around in the dark clueless, but always supremely confident of their own choices and judgement.

 

It’s the time of life where one ‘knows it all’ and ‘can never go wrong’. 

 

Teens are on the threshold of adulthood and start to spread their wings. They learn new skills, push boundaries and experiment too. 

 

Most certainly, they traverse through unchartered territory, resulting in apprehensions, tensions and discomfort between teens and parents

 

Major difference of opinions surface for the first time, especially in matters related to friendships, relationships, late nights, sex, drinking and dating. 

 

More often than not, the bone of contention is physical intimacy between teens and the grand debate on chastity.

 

Traditional or devout practicing Christian parents are challenged the most. Their conscience does not permit the acceptance of physical intimacy before marriage and they will hold on to their firm beliefs on chastity, virginity and the preservation of physical intimacy for marriage.

 

On the other hand, teenagers will argue that nothing is wrong in getting a bit physical. Their argument is; ‘Everyone does it. They know their boundaries. It’s not wrong’.

 

This argument can go on forever but it only leaves a bitter taste in the end. Parents feel anger and loss while teens get frustrated and suffocated.

 

So the question is, who is correct? What is the truth? Is there a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? Or is it a grey area, left to each person to decide for themselves?

 

Those who want to improve their personal finances, would seek advice from a financial advisor. Similarly, if one wanted to improve their physique, strength and stamina, they would consult a personal trainer.

 

The point is, one must go to an expert or authoritative source on a subject to find the correct answers to questions.

 

In the same manner, for matters related to chastity, a Catholic can most definitely rely on the true sources of our Faith; the Bible, Apostolic Traditions and Magisterium of the Church. 

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an authoritative reference in matters related to faith, chastity, purity and morals and encompasses the above 3 sources.

 

a“Making moral judgments and decisions are difficult. But one must always seriously seek what is right and good in the eyes of God. All experiences and the signs of the times must be interpreted with the assistance of the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts.”

 

So what is the Church’s stance on physical intimacy before marriage?

 

The answer lies in the virtues of temperance, chastity and self control.

 

b“Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable.” 

 

The Holy Bible firmly states how we should conduct ourselves when we are tempted by our base desires.

 

Sirach 5:2  “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.”

 

Sirach 18:30 “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.”

 

Titus 2:12 ” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”

 

c“To live well is nothing other than to love God with all of one’s heart, with all of one’s soul and with all of one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance).”

 

d“Self control is a measure of a person’s character and integrity.” 

 

e“Self-mastery is a long and exacting work .129 The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.”

And finally, chastity.

 

 f“The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions.”

g“Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.”

 

Now, the icing on the cake. 

 

Temperance, self control and chastity, all come together to create a powerful norm that is counter cultural to modern day morality.

h“Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person.”

 

It’s easy to misinterpret the above teaching of the Church and believe that the Church is asking for brutal suppression of our sexual desires. Far from it, the Church wants us to use the holy faculty of our sexuality within the confines of God’s will for us.

 

To this effect, it’s encouraging to note that many young people around the world have pledged to abstain from sex until they are married. Most of them have been influenced by their Church’s teaching on chastity and have joined Church backed groups that advocate and promote chastity among teens.

 

Some others are home schooled in traditional Christian families, thus they are heavily influenced by their faith when making any decision.

 

Catholic chastity speakers Jason and Crystalina Evert and their team at www.chastity.com have convinced tens of thousands of youth to embrace the virtue of chastity. They reach out to millions through their Chastity Project, telling people that sex is good, but only within the context of God’s plans for it.   

 

Ironically, even those who do not follow any religion in this ultra secular world, a world which wants to be politically correct by shunning religion, believe that marriage is something very special.

 

Hence why shouldn’t teens and young adults respect, protect and save physical intimacy for marriage when it’s so valuable, beautiful and wonderful?

 

Don’t waste time, right away get involved with the Chastity Project at www.chastity.com.

 

 

 

Additional Resources:

  1. www.chastity.com: Read about dating, purity, homosexuality, pornography, birth control, vocations and spirituality within the context of chastity

     

  2. Theology of the Body at www.theologyofthebody.net

 

References:

a: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 

b, c: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1809

d: anonymous

e: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2342

f: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2341

g: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2350

h: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2350

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