July 31, 2011

Chastity Questions and Answers

Robert Colquhoun

Why save sex until marriage?

Sexual intercourse is so marvellous, beautiful and sacred that it is worth saving this incredible gift for the purpose that it was intended: for babies and bonding within marriage.

For those who will be married one day, it’s captivating to know your future spouse is somewhere out there. What would you want that person to be doing? Would you want them to be waiting to give you themselves and their love? To embrace purity and save sex until marriage enhances the ultimate “yes” to sex when married. If it was not possible to say “no,” how valuable would our “yes” be worth?

Purity can bring self-respect, shows your respect to others and also brings a clear conscience. It enhances your chances of experiencing romance without regret, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. The decision to wait means not being haunted by past sexual relationships when you are physically intimate with your spouse.

The decision to live a pure life strongly reduces the chances of experiencing the emotional pain of being used, rejected or discarded by a person you have given the most intimate part of yourself. Abstinence decreases the chances of divorce later in life. It helps you know that you are giving your spouse the total gift of self, something that has never been given to another. Real love desires what is best for the other. Abstinence proves commitment to your future spouse and helps you to live in integrity and joy.

What is wrong with masturbation?

Masturbation is an act that is only inward looking. It speaks of selfishness rather than mutual self-giving. This habit leads one to use rather than give. It can distort relationships and lead to addiction. Sexual activity with oneself encourages isolation and loneliness, exploiting the creation of the body for selfish purposes devoid of love. Healing is always possible for those who struggle in this area.

Why does the Church teach that contraception is wrong?

Contraception is not considered wrong by the Church because of its artificial nature. After all, there is nothing morally illicit about paracetamol or vitamins. The purpose of medicine is to help the body work in the correct way. Contraception does not help the body to function properly: It does exactly the opposite. Some methods of contraception, such as the oral contraceptive pill, are also an abortifacient. This means that they can cause early induced abortion at the beginning of a pregnancy. The God given purpose of sex is babies and bonding. Contraception divides these purposes in two.

What is the difference between contraception and natural family planning?

Contraception causes a lie with the body, a departure from the gift of self, damaging the intimacy of husband and wife. No method of contraception is 100% effective to date. Different forms of contraception can invite selfish behaviour into the marital act and opens the door to greater infidelity. The real problem behind women's oppression is the failure of men to treat them with dignity and respect. In this light, contraception is a sure way to keep women in chains.

Contraception interrupts, sterilizes and works against conception whereas NFP respects the body as God designed it and works with this plan. NFP is a method that is highly reliable, medically safe and inexpensive. The discovery of understanding how the body works is a marvellous act of self-discovery. NFP treats fertility not as something to be suppressed of manipulated, but as a normal bodily function. NFP encourages a shared responsibility for fertility. This normally leads to a deeper level of care and respect in a relationship.

NFP also respects the design of the human body, leading to deeper communication and intimacy. This helps to build self-respect and self-worth. In the words of Pope Paul VI, NFP, "Favours attention for one's partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love, and deepens their sense of responsibility." (Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae n. 21). NFP couples are less likely to divorce, be more receptive to children and they renew their wedding vows each time they practice the marital act.

What is the difference between abstinence and chastity?

Abstinence is the lack of sexual activity. Chastity on the other hand is a positive virtue that can only be thought of in association with love. Chastity is the virtue of finding and living love in the context of sexuality. The virtues point us towards the perfection of the will that controls our actions and passions. These point us towards happiness, endurance, spontaneity and security. In promoting the virtue of chastity, it is vital to communicate that the virtue of purity is not first of all a “no” to illicit sex, but a “yes” to authentic love. It first and foremost affirms and celebrates the goodness of our bodies and the gift of sex. It is not a repressed repetition of “no” but a continual “yes.”

What’s the point of saying no to sex, when everyone is doing it?

People are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof. When there is uncertainty, we are quick to follow others who are similar. This is a call to be an example to others and to set standards high.

The reality is that not everyone is doing it. Even today, a huge number of young people worldwide acknowledge the advantages of saving sex until marriage. To say “yes” to pre-marital sex can also be a shortcut to STIs, breaking up and the increased likelihood of divorce. The beauty of sex is so wonderful that it is worth saving that beautiful gift for marriage.

Can’t I do whatever I want as long as I don’t hurt anybody?

Some people believe that a moral action should be judged on its consequences. If no-one is hurt, then it is likely that the action was acceptable. How does this view affect beliefs about sex?

Sexual intercourse cannot just be reduced to a biological act. The spiritual, emotional and physical consequences indicate that the meaning and purpose of sex go beyond the here and now.

In order to discover why sex outside marriage is wrong, we need to highlight the brilliance of sex within marriage, where the beauty and gift of sex allows us to make visible with our bodies the invisible love of God.

The language of the body during sex says, “I give myself to you completely.” If the intention is different, the body is lying. The term casual sex is misleading, because there is nothing misleading about the consequences. Studies have shown that the earlier young people become sexually active, the more likely it is that they will experience a whole variety of negative life outcomes.

What about pornography? It is not as if anyone is getting hurt.

Pornography causes men and women to lust after each other as sexual objects. It can be enslaving, addictive and destructive. It can severely damage one’s ability to respect and truly love someone of the opposite sex. A meeting face to face with some of the victims of pornography could be a real way to realise the full extent of the damage that pornography does. It would then be had to explain how such ‘entertainment’ was not a tragedy.

Pornography leads to a warped understanding and appreciation of sex. The use of pornography rewires the brain expect women to be perfectly beautiful, permanently sexually accessible and with no human or emotional commitment. An attachment to pornography is one of the most effective ways to ruin a future marriage. It damages the beautiful gift of human sexuality into a fantasy of lies, personal manipulation and economic exploitation. Pornography dehumanizes women, emasculates men, destroys marriages and distorts the physical, spiritual and emotional dimensions of sex. Pornography involves the exploitation of women, generating abuse and misery worldwide.

Do condoms protect you from getting STIs?

At a conference of 800 sexologists (who study sex and sexuality) several years ago, one speaker asked the whole group the following question: “Would you trust a condom to protect you during intercourse with a known HIV infected person?” Not a single person raised their hand. (Theresa Crenshaw, from remarks made at the National Conference on HIV, Washington DC, November 15-8, 1991).

Many people believe that the wide-scale provision of contraception will enable the reduced transmission of STIs. The risk displacement theory describes how a perceived increase in safety will not result in a change in the risks involved. The introduction of the seatbelt led many drivers to drive faster, due to misperceived safety. As a result, there was no reduction in the driving fatality rate. Likewise, condoms give the appearance of safety for their customers, when in reality they lead led to a greater increase in risky sexual practices. Many today are totally unaware of the limited protection of condom against certain STIs. Condoms provide little or no protection against the human papillomavirus. One doctor compared the use of condoms with playing Russian roulette (Gardner G, Promoting Sexual Health, BMJ, 1992, 305, 70-1).

There are many difference factors to consider with STI transmission, such as gender, drug interactions and pregnancy. Furthermore, some STIs transmit easily whereas others are not so contagious. It is difficult to provide very precise statistics for the efficacy of condoms. In July 2001, the National Institute of Health in the USA stated that condoms did not provide universal protection against any of the 8 major STIs. A panel of researchers found just 2 areas of condom effectiveness: the heterosexual transmission of HIV and gonorrhoea.

Even when used consistently and correctly, condom use does not provide full safety from STIs. In contrast, chastity does provide the full 100% protection. As sex is supposed to be a total gift of self, “safe sex” is a total contradiction in terms. Protect your future spouse by making sensible and wise choices.

Is it acceptable to have sex while you are engaged? It is like you are married.

Engagement is a special time when a couple discern and prepare for a life together in marriage. This time is a great opportunity to grow together in spiritual and emotional intimacy, laying stable foundations for a communal life of love.

Marriage is something that is a certainty: a person is either married or they are not. Pre-marital sex cannot convey the body language of permanency and full self-giving that married couples can. The decision to save sex for marriage in sacrifice and patience allows a spouse to give a tremendous gift on their wedding day. Many have testified that it was most certainly worth the wait. If it is not possible to say ‘no,’ does this not dilute the ‘yes?’

Some people believe that having sex before marriage will help to discern compatibility with the other person. However, a sexual relationship with a fiancée is more likely to cloud that judgement, giving a false allusion of intimacy. Sex is not meant to be a guiding principle for a good spouse.

Patience, self-sacrifice, humility, courage, chastity and wisdom are all powerful attributes that will help to build a strong basis for a happy life together. Purity helps to provide clarity of intention when it comes to marriage, strengthening both the will and desire to want the best for the other person.

Is it ok to be gay? What’s wrong with something you were born with?

There has not been a genetic or hormonal cause of homosexuality that has been proven. The psychological origins of homosexuality are not clearly known to date. Father James Harvey, a priest who specialized in the pastoral care of those with same sex attraction, studied the causes extensively. He believed the main causes were: the inability to relate to a same sex parent, an overbearing relationship with a parent of the opposite gender, an inability to identify with members of the same sex during adolescence and childhood and abuse causes by neglect or trauma.

It is wrong to pigeonhole causes because each person is unique and individual. However, it is important for those with same sex attraction to ask, “Is there anything that has caused you to turn away from members of the opposite sex?” Childhood upbringing and parental influence are certainly important. Ismond Rosen, an experienced British psychoanalyst once stated, “For males, the presence of a good loving father during development is probably the best proof against homosexual development. I can think of no case of homosexuality I have had to deal with where such a father has been present in the childhood years of development.” (“Psychoanalysis and homosexuality: A critical appraisal of helpful attitudes” In hope for homosexuality, p33).

There is a distinction between an inclination and an act. The inclination towards homosexual activity is a trial or temptation and not a sin, whereas homosexual acts are sinful. God did not design the human body for promiscuity, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Such a lifestyle promises much, but leaves nothing. Sex is not the same thing as love. Those who experience same sex attraction are capable of being loved. The Church accepts where people are at, and calls them to grow in virtue. Our feelings do not define who we are, because identity is found in being sons and daughters of God.

Should gay couples get married? What if they really love each other?

The Church is strongly criticized for being against gay marriage. But marriage is not a human invention to be changed and adapted at will. As the Church did not create marriage, the Church does not have the authority or power to redefine it. This is not discrimination.

The inability of two members of the same sex to unite in a sexually complimentary way shows that they were not meant to give themselves to each other in marriage. The anus is not intended as a sexual organ and cannot repel disease in the same way a vagina can. A woman’s reproductive organs are proficient at receiving foreign bodies such as sperm. Men are more susceptible to infection and disease during male homosexual acts.

CS Lewis once wrote that, “In homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity into glorious gain.’” (Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, p241-2). This is a fascinating point. Rather than seeing the weaknesses of our desires and actions, grace can abound where sin was once present (cf. Rom 5:20). Our weaknesses can give great glory to God through serving others (cf. Rom 8:26, 2 Cor 12:9-10).

There are guys at our school who are bullied because of their so called ‘gay’ behaviour. Is this wrong?

Those who experience same sex attraction should be treated with compassion, respect and sensitivity. Bullying is seriously wrong and should be dealt with by the school administration. A bully can be acting out of their own personal sense of inadequacy. Discrimination against those with same sex attraction should be avoided (The Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 2358).

What’s the deal with sexting?

'Sexting' is sending a sexually suggestive picture or message. It is not a rare phenomenon. Many young people have sent or received a 'sext.' Boys are less likely to send racy messages. What can happen is a girl will send a picture to a boy, when they break up, he forwards it to all his friends as a form of revenge.

This phenomenon is a form of child pornography. If you are caught sending a sexually explicit picture of a young person, you can be charged with child pornography and have a criminal record. If you forward it to your friends, you can be charged with distributing child pornography which will be held on your record for the rest of your life. Once a photo is sent, there is no guarantee that it will not end up on the internet and it will be impossible to control who sees or uses it. One fast text can have a lifelong impact.

I have an STI. What should I do?

If you have an STI you should get tested as soon as possible. You can call a medical helpline, who can refer you to a hospital or clinic to get tested. Some STIs can lead to infertility later in life if they are not treated. Many people who have an STI do not realise they have one. Some STIs can be easily cured, while others are incurable.

If you have only had sex with one person, you are exposed yourself to their sexual history. When you have sex, you are also exposing yourself to diseases that could have been caught by a previous sexual engagement by your partner. Many people don’t realize that STIs can be passed on to somebody without knowing. If you have been sexually active see you doctor or local sexual health clinic to be tested.

How far is too far?

An old Cherokee Indian was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me” he says to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, pride, inferiority, superiority and ego. The other is good – he is gratitude, joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, faith, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth and compassion. The same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked the grandfather which wolf would win.

The old cherokee replied – “The one you feed.”

Rather than asking where the boundaries are, we need to ask how we can desire the best for those we love most. It is likely that we want to get as close the boundaries as possible or even cross them. Ask yourself if you would do the action if your partner’s parents were in the room. Make decisions now that will bless you future spouse and not wound your relationship. The human heart is a battlefield between love and lust. The more physical a relationship becomes, the more the relationships revolves around that physicality. Nobody regrets what they have decided to save.

Once upon a time, a couple were walking along a path by a cliff edge. The boyfriend muttered, “How far is too far?” He wanted to know exactly how far he could get to the edge without falling off. So he walked right up to the edge of the 50 metre cliff. “Is this far enough?” he asked his girlfriend. With this kind of attitude, it was not long before he fell off. Purity is about wanting the best for those that you love. Lust can’t wait to get. Love can wait to give.

Is In Vitro Fertilisation a blessing or a curse?

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is when eggs cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body. IVF does not attempt to cure infertility, but to bypass it completely. It is a process that usually involves the destruction of extra human embryos that are created only to be destroyed. Women are subject to the use of strong fertility drugs in order to stimulate the ovaries. These drugs can be medically dangerous, and can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

IVF increases the chances of multiple pregnancies, bringing further complications. IVF can be manipulated by eugenics. The use of donated sperm and eggs confuses and undermines the sense of biological parenthood for children, diminishing their identity. IVF distorts the parent-child relationship, transferring the emphasis of procreation from sacred trust to that of commerce.

With IVF, reproduction happens in a laboratory. IVF disassociates the sexual act from the procreative act. The life and identity of the embryo is in the hands of doctors. The technique involves the disassociation of husband and wife. The embryo, fully a human person, becomes an object to be controlled and manipulated according to human whims and fancies.

The long term physical and psychological risks to children born as a result of Assisted reproductive technology (ART) are seriously under-researched. An IVF child has their origin not in an act of marital self-giving, but in a process of production. With IVF treatment, couples deliberately start a process where embryos will be destroyed.

Although IVF treatment has resulted in many thousands of births, enabling many couples to experience parenthood, we should never to evil so that good can happen. There are alternative options. Naprotechnology is a suitable, effective and ethical alternative for those with fertility problems.

Is it ok to sleep in the same bed before marriage?

When women require excellence in relationships, men should step up to a challenge. Sleeping in the same bed before marriage is a disordered way to express your love for each other in a relationship that is not permanent. Marriage is the free, faithful, total and fruitful exchange of vows between a man and a woman. The more wholesome the dating and courtship period, the greater the chances of a happy and successful marriage. If a man is not ready to commit to a woman, he should not have access to her sexual emotions.

When a couple sleeps in the same bed, it points towards the marital act. To wait for marriage is to avoid this occasion of sin. Those who are married will have all their lives to fall asleep looking at their partner.

Cohabitation seems a good way to ‘test drive’ our marriage before making the full commitment. Since marriage is just a piece of paper, then surely it’s no big deal?

John Paul II said that freedom without responsibility is the opposite of love. The greater the sense of responsibility, the more a person is willing to give of themselves. Many studies show the damaging consequences of cohabitation. (footnote). The more often and longer a man and woman cohabit, the more likely they will divorce later. More than half of these unions dissolve within 5 years, according to a study by the Vanier Institute of the family. Cohabitants are more likely to be unfaithful and suffer from depression than married people. Children born to cohabitants are far more likely to experience disruptions in family life with possible mental and psychological upheavals.

Those that think that marriage is just a legal contract will be far more willing when difficulties arise to bail out and remember the conditionality of the contract. Cohabitation sets a bad precedent. In reality, it dissolves the traditional boundaries surrounding marriage.

Living together erodes the important time of discernment and preparation before marriage, helping couples decide if it is healthy and good for them to live together for the rest of their lives. A marriage cannot be test driven because it can only be entered in good faith and hope. There is no dress rehearsal, because a true marriage in the eyes of God cannot be undone. Engagement is the time to set solid foundation to help the strength of marriage, building up trust, co-operation, fidelity and companionship. Cohabitation undermines this trust because both partners are aware that it is perfectly possible for them to bail out at any point. This does not help in building up the virtues. It is an exercise of convenience rather than purity and true love.

JD Unwin, an anthropologist of the 1930s discovered that sexual license is always “the immediate cause of cultural decline.” He found that “In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on premarital and extramarital continence.” In every verifiable case, he found once a group became sexually permissive, “the energy of the society...decreased and finally disappeared.” Essentially- what is at stake over the culture wars over marriage and family is the healthy continuation of our society. He found that societies would collapse if they became too sexually permissive, because fewer and fewer citizens were concerned with the building up of the next generation and the righteousness of society.

Cohabitation Footnote:

http://www.civitas.org.uk/hwu/cohabitation.pdf, http://www.jennifer-roback-morse.com/articles/cohab_fast_facts.html

Waite, L. and Gallagher, M., The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, New York: Doubleday, 2000, p. 46.

Wellings, K., Field, J., Johnson, and A., Wadsworth, J., Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, London: Penguin Books, 1994, p. 116; Steinhaiser, J., ‘No marriage, no apologies’, New York Times, 6 July 1995.

From Robert Colquhoun's blog Discover Happiness

1 comment :

jfamerica said...

God bless you so much for this most informing blog. I hope you do not mind but I am going to cut and paste this to do a mass mailing out to all my friends and family's especially my nephews and nieces. It is time we all understand what and why we as Catholics refrain from intercourse before marriage. My site http://www.americanscreamgroup.com and http://www.helpingamericanssucceed@blogspot.com
are sites that I ask Americans to come to and ask for help any situation. I also encourage them to speak thier minds on anything including religion,politics,cost of living, healthcare. Any subject they feel needs to be addressed I also want them to give their solutions to the problems. My hope is to take these solutions weed through them vote on the best 3 or 4 then vote on those and present them to which ever liaison in government we choose. I am encouraging you to Post what ever you feel needs to be posted on my site but with that said be ready for possible rebutted from people who may not agree. I need a Moral front that understands the importance of pro life and abstinence and can give the religious truth to an open forum. Your advice would be respected and appreciated by me. Thank you jfamerica.