This means our sexual needs and desires are also natural—He gave us those. Sexual desire is part of who we are as humans, created in His image. But God’s Design is that we only please these desires in a certain way. God is so good, not only did He give us the desires but He also gave us a way to meet them that isn’t sinful—marriage.
The Victory in Virtue Series
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another entry in the Victory in Virtue series. Today’s post is on the Virtue of Chastity.
I’m sure you all know that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some people are weak to temptation A but strong against temptation B. Meanwhile, other people have the opposite strength and weakness. For example, Frank is strong against the temptation of cigarettes but weak against alcohol. But Max is weak against cigarettes but strong against the temptation of alcohol. I bet you understand what I mean.
Everyone has at least one Virtue, usually more, and we should all rejoice over that. That being said, no one has all the Virtues, and we all know that. It’s because no one is perfect. We’re all human, we all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). In the same way we have Virtues, we also have vices. But in the same way that no one has all the Virtues, no one has all the vices either.
I bet you already know why I would start out today’s post like this. It’s because Chastity is a Virtue I’m not comfortable writing about, since I struggle with it. Lust is my weak point, my most oppressive vice and greatest stumbling block. I try to live up to the Virtue of Chastity, and I want to, but I’m not there yet.
I still struggle in my battle against lust, and I don’t have the Virtue of Chastity. So who am I, to tell you anything about this Virtue? I’d be better off listening to what others have to say (and comments on this post are welcomed). I still have to try to write this post explaining the Virtue, even if I don’t feel qualified. One day in the future I hope another blogger can do a guest post revisiting this topic. But today is not that day.
So I’m going to give this a shot. I stated all that up-front because it would be hypocritical of me to explain what Chastity is to others when I struggle with it so much myself.
What Is the Virtue of Chastity?
I’ll write about what I believe the Virtue of Chastity is. In one sense it’s abstaining from sex outside of a monogamous Christian marriage. But I would say it’s also freedom from lust and impure thoughts. Let’s consider each of those in turn.
Many people think of the Bible as an “anti-sex” book, and Christianity as an “anti-sex” religion. Many people think Christianity “takes the fun and pleasure out of life,” and other things like that. Although it’s true some mistaken denominations such as the Catholics push unBiblical teachings on sex, Christianity is not “anti-sex.” And Christianity doesn’t exist to “take the fun” out of life. If that’s all it was, if that were the only point, it wouldn’t have survived for more than 2,000 years. People wouldn’t have accepted it in the millions (now billions) if it was about nothing more than killing all our fun. There’s much more to Christianity than only that.
And the Bible is a very pro-sex book. God created sex, after all; this is how humans reproduce. This means sex is a good thing and part of God’s Design. Other than reproduction, it’s also the ultimate act of intimacy between a married couple; a man and woman becoming one flesh. God designed this as early as the Book of Genesis.
(24) This is the reason that a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife, and they become one flesh.Genesis 2:24 (CEB)
Sex is part of God’s Design, and so it is good. The Bible is a pro-sex book with pro-sex passages throughout. The only stipulation being that sex must only happen in the context of a heterosexual, monogamous marriage. As long as that condition is met, sex is a good thing and something we should enjoy (in moderation, with the Virtue of Temperance). Since we’re Christians, let’s look at a very important pro-sex passage from the New Testament.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes about celibacy vs. marriage. He says he wishes everyone could be celibate like him, but he understands how strong sexual temptation is. So he approves of Christians getting married to keep their sexual activities holy and not sinful. He also says that the husband and wife should meet each other’s sexual needs, a very straightforward New Testament endorsement of sex. Let’s take a look:
(1) Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.” (2) Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality. (3) The husband should meet his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should do the same for her husband. (4) The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (5) Don’t refuse to meet each other’s needs unless you both agree for a short period of time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan might not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (6) I’m saying this to give you permission; it’s not a command. (7) I wish all people were like me, but each has a particular gift from God: one has this gift, and another has that one.1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (CEB)
(8) I’m telling those who are single and widows that it’s good for them to stay single like me. (9) But if they can’t control themselves, they should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion.
Some Christians have used 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 to argue that Christians should never marry. That they should always stay single and Chaste. But what Paul is saying in this very important chapter is crystal clear.
Paul says: “It’s nice if you can stay Chaste like me [because that leads to incredible Spiritual growth]. But sexual immorality is such a strong temptation that, instead of trying to defeat it, you should get married and keep the sex within a marriage. Then your sex won’t be sinful. And to that end, a husband and wife must meet each other’s sexual needs and not deny each other. It’s not good for Christians to burn with passionate lust, so being married is better.”
And so, in reference to this crucial New Testament chapter that establishes Christian theology on sex and marriage, this is what I consider to be the Virtue of Chastity: No sex outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage.
Although perpetual Chastity, perpetual Virginity would be incredibly Virtuous indeed, that isn’t something Paul demands of us. He doesn’t demand it of us because he knows how strong sexual temptation is. What would be the point of Christians not getting married, only to then pursue casual hookups and one-night stands when sexual temptation becomes too much to resist? There would be no point in that. It’s better to get married and meet our sexual needs than it is to burn with lust.
Keeping our Minds Chaste
Another part of the Virtue of Chastity is keeping our thoughts Chaste. We’ll always be surrounded by temptation in this world, especially sexual temptation. Seeing things that cause sexual temptation is unavoidable. But continuing to think about what we saw is within our control; we can do that or not do it.
If we allow lust in our thoughts, we will keep thinking about lust and it will lead to actions. Those actions could be everything from a casual hookup to adultery (if married) or even to masturbation (which is sin). We can’t control what thoughts pop up in our mind. But we can agree with those thoughts and allow them, or we can reject them.
We must reject thoughts of lust, sex, adultery, and so on. If we don’t reject those thoughts right away, it means we’re agreeing with them. If we agree with those thoughts, they’ll fill our mind and take over. Soon we’ll be obsessed, and eventually we’ll cave into temptation and commit a sin. It could be adultery, it could be something else, but it’s going to be a sin.
Remember what the Savior said: If we even look at a woman with lust, we’ve committed adultery in our heart. We must clean up our hearts and minds! The Virtue of Chastity extends to the purity of our hearts and minds too. In fact, this is a very important part of the Virtue of Chastity, because what we think and feel influences our behavior. If we allow lust in our hearts and minds, our sin of the mind will lead to more sin when we can no longer resist temptation.
(28) But I say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart.Matthew 5:28 (CEB)
So remember that an important part of the Virtue of Chastity is in the mind. We need to keep our minds pure and Chaste.
But we also need to remember that sex is a good thing created by God, and a part of His Design. This means our sexual needs and desires are also natural—He gave us those. Sexual desire is part of who we are as humans, created in His image. But God’s Design is that we only please these desires in a certain way. God is so good, not only did He give us the desires but He also gave us a way to meet them that isn’t sinful—marriage.
Sex Outside of Marriage
As for sex outside of marriage, a lot of Scripture deals with this topic. The Christian prohibition of sex outside of marriage is well-known to all. One of the verses that often gets cited on this topic is Hebrews 13:4, but there are other verses we could select too.
(4) Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery.Hebrews 13:4 (CEB)
Sexual immorality is any sexual act outside of marriage. So in Hebrews 13:4 we see that God will judge adulterers (the Ten Commandments say the same) and the sexually immoral. We all know this. But why is sex outside of marriage sinful? There are many reasons why, and many reasons why it’s not even smart to begin with (so not a moral issue, but a Wisdom issue). Let’s go through some of those.
Follow God’s Design
Sex outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage is not part of God’s Design. If we insist on having this, we’re exalting our own will above God’s Will. This is an act of idolatry on top of the sexual immorality. We’re rejecting God’s Design and exalting our own.
Don’t Walk in the Flesh
Sex is the greatest pleasure of the flesh that exists in this world. The lure of it, even the idea of it, is incredibly strong. Too many people are entirely motivated in their life by sex and nothing else. Sexual temptation is so strong that if we don’t control our desire for sex, our desire will control us and our actions instead. We won’t be in control anymore.
I wrote about this in Part 8: Temperance and Part 9: Self-Discipline. If we follow our desires whenever they arise, and don’t control them, then we walk in the flesh and not the Spirit. Our Spiritual growth will stagnate, then disappear. We’ll backslide and become creatures of the flesh, motivated only by our lust for sex and having no Spirituality. This backsliding will happen faster than we can control. If we indulge the flesh it will rule over us. We must control ourselves. Check out Part 8 and Part 9 for more.
Fornication: A Parody of the Real Thing
Satan loves to copy what God does. Satan loves to take God’s Design and twist it (pervert it). God intended for man and woman to become one flesh in the ultimate act of intimacy, which of course includes emotional intimacy.
When people indulge in all the sex they want, with whoever they want, they destroy the emotional aspect of sex. And the emotional aspect is most important. Sex is about love, it is love, and it’s an ultimate expression of love. Taking love (an emotion) out of sex is a perversion of sex, and what results is not real sex. What results is fornication, which is merely satisfying our sexual desires for the sake of physical pleasure. Fornication removes the emotional pleasure that healthy couples enjoy. It’s impossible to have the kind of strong emotional connection we can have with one person (a connection that can only be built over time) with many people, and most certainly not someone we just met!
Removing the emotions, love, from sex is a crime against sex. Having as much sex as we want cheapens the whole act of sex. Sex should be something incredibly special. Now it seems to many like nothing more than a weekend routine. That’s a sad thing to see. And the irony is that people having as much sex as they want, with whoever they want, don’t understand that they know nothing about sex. They don’t know what sex really is; what it can be and what it’s meant to be. Such people don’t enjoy the ultimate emotional pleasure, and are only able to enjoy sex on a physical level (fornication).
It’s sad because they think they’re being free and enjoying themselves, but they’re slaves to the desires of their own bodies and they don’t even know what they’re missing out on as a result. They’re hooking up and fornicating as much as they want, but they’re not having sex. They’re not making love.
And It’s not even a Smart Idea!
There are plenty of dangers to random sex outside of marriage. Let’s consider a few.
Narcissist is a hot buzzword these days. Do you know how the narcissist first traps their victims, getting them stuck in the abusive narcissistic relationship? They use sex—that’s how they trap their victims.
When we’re controlled by our desires, people can use those against us to manipulate us. If we aren’t driven by our desires, that strategy is closed to them. People can use our lust for sex to hurt us, like the narcissist does. But any manipulator can do the same.
If we have random sex, we risk having unplanned children or getting sick. It causes us more headaches and drama than it does anything helpful. Is one night of fun worth a whole bunch of drama and conflict? Be smart, everybody! Don’t be led by desire, take control over desire instead.
The point is if we don’t control our desire for sex, which is an incredibly strong desire, we risk getting into all kinds of trouble and drama. It’s not worth it! Be smart, and control desire instead of letting it control us. Don’t get sidetracked. These are the End Times and there’s no more time for that.
And there are more reasons we could mention for not having sex outside of marriage. But I need to stop somewhere. I hope you get the idea though.
OK, let’s move on to some prayers for the Virtue of Chastity.
Prayers for the Virtue of Chastity
There are many prayers we could pray to receive the Virtue of Chastity. The best ones of course will be the ones that we create ourselves—the ones that come straight from the heart. Remember: When we pray we aren’t trying to say the right combination of words to unlock something in Heaven. No, that would be magic, which is an abomination to the LORD. Prayer is much simpler. Simply tell the LORD what you want, what you need, what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, and so on.
Praying for a Virtue is a great way to build it up. It’s one of the best ways, actually. So here are a few short, simple prayers for the Virtue of Chastity you can try adding to your prayer routine.
So We may Enjoy Peace of Conscience
Here’s another Catholic prayer I have “De-Catholicized” so that it’s safe to pray. Meaning, I took out all content about the saint this prayer was addressed to. Because saints (or Mary) are not moderators between God and mankind. There is only one moderator between God and man, and that’s the human being, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). There is nothing in the Bible that says we should pray to anything besides Jesus Christ, the LORD.
The prayer left over after “De-Catholicizing” is very short, but cuts right to the heart of what we’re asking for. We want the Virtue of Chastity so we can have peace of conscience now and eternal life later. What more do we need to ask for? Being straightforward is good.
Oh God, Lover of innocent souls, we beseech Thee that Thou bestow upon us the virtue of chastity so that we may enjoy peace of conscience in this life and the pure eternal joys of heaven hereafter through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Help Me Fight my Mind
Lust is what leads to fornication, adultery, and other violations of the Virtue of Chastity. This lust starts in the mind. If we seek to fight this lust, we must fight it in our mind when it first arises.
When we go out in the world, we’re going to see plenty of things that tempt us. This world is full of temptations, sexual temptations being the strongest. We can’t control seeing or not seeing the temptation. For example, it’s out of our control if we see a beautiful woman at the store, because her actions are not under our control and our paths just happen to cross at the store. We can’t control encountering temptation, but we can control our thoughts and our mental reaction to temptation.
When we see something that tempts us, whether it’s a delicious-looking donut or a beautiful woman, if we choose to keep thinking about it we’re making a choice. We have the choice to keep thinking about whatever tempted us. If we choose to keep thinking about it, we’re going to lust over it. We’re going to torture ourselves with thoughts of getting it. And if it’s something that’s easy to get, like the donut, then we’re going to go out and get it. Our thoughts will turn to action, because we didn’t stop thinking about it.
We have to train ourselves, through Christ’s power, to stop thinking about a temptation after we see one. We have to train ourselves to keep our thoughts Chaste. This is a bitter struggle, because once we try to reject lust from all our thoughts, the devil will give us a hell of a fight. He will then relentlessly bombard our thoughts with lust. Take that as a sign we’re on the right track. When we try to go in a Holy direction, the devil opposes us.
We have no hope of winning this mind war without the help of the LORD Jesus Christ. So in this quick prayer, we ask Jesus for His help in keeping our thoughts pure, knowing that impure thoughts soon lead to impure actions. Check it out:
LORD Jesus, please help me in my battle against lust. I know that lustful thoughts lead to lustful actions, and that sins in the mind are the same to You as committing the sin itself. Please help me in my battle to control my thoughts, please grant me the strength to reject thoughts I know are sinful no matter how tempting they are. Please grant me the strength to purify my mind, so my actions will be more pure too. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Again, there are so many options for praying for any Virtue. I could go on and on and on. Everyone is always welcome to leave a comment with prayers of their own.
But once we’re done praying, it’s time to take action (in the physical world). Let’s move on to that now.
Living the Virtue
To cultivate a Virtue, we must also practice it, and do that consistently. Don’t just do it a few times and stop there—stay consistent. That consistency is how we build up a habit. It’s also how we cultivate and strengthen a virtue.
So how can we do that with Chastity? Let’s look at a few practical ideas. And remember: These are only a start! The possibilities are endless. I welcome any comments with good ideas about this.
Here are just a few ideas of how we can live out the Virtue of Chastity in our own lives:
- Avoid situations where we’re tempted to lust (i.e., think about where we hang out, etc.)
- Get rid of apps meant for finding casual dating and hookups
- Be aware of what entertainment and content we consume, avoiding ones that tempt us to lust
- And other ideas you can think of!
The Living the Virtue section this time around is a little light. As I told you at the start, I’m not the one to teach you how to live this Virtue. But I can think of a few ideas that will help us to keep out of lust. These ideas are based on the Virtue of Prudence. You might want to read up on that Virtue because it will help in the struggle for the Virtue of Chastity.
First, we should watch where we go, where we hang out, and who we hang with. We want to avoid situations where we’ll be tempted to lust. Maybe this means not going out drinking (not a Christian activity anyway), or maybe it means turning down some other invitation. Whatever it is, if you believe that you’re going to be tempted to lust if you go there, turn down those invitations and avoid those situations. That’s the smartest way to defeat temptation—stay away from it.
Next, we should absolutely get rid of apps (or not visit websites) that are meant for casual dating or finding hookups. Hookups may not be the original intent of the app or website, but if that’s what people on the app use it for, we must avoid that app. Remember that lustful thoughts lead to lustful actions. If we use an app that people use for hookups, and people on the app present themselves in a way that inspires lust, what do you think is going to happen? If we use these apps, it won’t be long before we’re pursuing casual hookups too. If the Virtue of Chastity is our goal, those apps turn our minds in the wrong direction. Be smart, and leave them alone.
Third, we really need to be careful what media we consume. This means entertainment (TV, movies, video games) and other types of content too. If we go on social media, we see lots of provocative pictures and videos. These could be posted by social media users, or they could even be the ads on the website. The end result is that we’re bombarded by highly sexual imagery all the time, in a variety of places. If we have the power to avoid looking at those temptations, then we must use it!
We must be aware of what entertainment and content we consume. We must be aware of which ones tempt us to lust. Once we figure that out, we must avoid the content that tempts us to lust. What we consume is very important. It has enormous influence on who we become and what we do. So if we consume entertainment and other content that inspires lust, we’re going to be lustful.
We need to be careful. Even if it’s popular and everyone we know is watching it, never consume content without thinking about if it’s sinful or not. We need to avoid sinful content that tempts us.
Satan Ruins Sex
If we seek to pursue this Virtue, get ready for a fight! The devil hates the Virtue of Chastity, and if we make an honest effort to practice it, he will oppose us nonstop. He will bombard the mind with sexual thoughts and imagery. And he will place temptations in our path.
It’s all to pervert God’s creation. Sex is a good thing that was created by God and is part of His Design for humanity. In no way is sex itself evil, it’s a holy part of God’s Design when contained in a marriage; the Bible tells us this many times. But Satan loves to copy what God does, and he loves to pervert (twist, distort) what God does.
Satan knows how strong sexual temptation is, and he knows he can use it to lead believers into sin. By tempting us to indulge our sexual desires outside of marriage, Satan can pervert something God created, turning it to sinful ends. God created sex for marriage, as an ultimate expression of emotional intimacy and love. By tempting us to indulge our physical desires, Satan makes us remove the emotional aspect of sex and makes it all about physical pleasure.
In other words, Satan takes sex and ruins it. Same as he tries to do with anything God creates.
Don’t let Satan ruin sex! It’s not meant to be all about physical pleasure. In its true form it’s the ultimate act of emotional intimacy and connection between a man and woman. It’s sad to see how Satan has ruined sex for so many people. They run around satisfying their physical desires, not knowing or caring that all they’re doing is fornicating; they’re not having sex. And they’re certainly not making love. This goes against God’s Design and perverts His creation. It makes Him sad as much as it makes Him angry.
To avoid falling into this trap, we also need to keep our minds pure and Chaste. Much of the struggle for the Virtue of Chastity takes place in our mind. Remember that whatever we keep thinking about will lead to actions. If we’re always thinking about sex and lust, we’re going to act on those thoughts. Then we’ll be guilty of sins like adultery and fornication. But that doesn’t need to happen. We need to clean up our minds! We must pray to the LORD for help, and battle the lust in our thoughts. We won’t reach the Virtue of Chastity if we don’t do the mental work for it.
Thank God for His good creation and Holy Design. Respect sex, and respect the crucial emotional aspect of it. Respect marriage, and God’s Intent for sex in marriage. We must treat sex with the respect God gives it, and reject Satan’s demonic perversion of it. We must pursue the Virtue of Chastity, abstaining from sex outside of marriage and treating this holy act with the respect it deserves.
The Virtue for next time is Patience. Stay tuned for that and Subscribe to my FREE weekly newsletter with the link below so you’ll never miss a post!!
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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