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4.22 Is it bad that I struggle with chastity?

Sexuality

Everyone is called to chastity, including married people. Chastity concerns your whole person. It’s about who you are, how you live your life, and how you can be happy. This includes dealing in the right way with the sexual feelings that everyone experiences.

Simply seeking to satisfy your own lust does not make you truly happy. There will always be something lacking. This is because sex is essentially an expression of devotion and love. Jesus himself gave us a wonderful example of a chaste life. He did not live for himself and his own feelings, but was driven by his love for God and the people around him.

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Sexual desire is part of being human. Chastity helps us to choose well how to handle it. Real love, not lust, makes us happy.

The Wisdom of the Church

What is involved in the virtue of chastity?

The virtue of chastity involves an apprenticeship in self-mastery as an expression of human freedom directed towards self-giving. An integral and continuing formation, which is brought about in stages, is necessary to achieve this goal. [CCCC 489]

How can anyone live a chaste life?

Someone lives chastely when he is free to be loving and is not the slave of his drives and emotions. Anything, therefore, that helps one to become a more mature, freer, and more loving person and to form better relationships helps that person to love chastely, also.

One becomes free to be loving through self-discipline, which one must acquire, practice, and maintain at every stage of life. It is helpful for me in this regard to obey God’s commandments in all situations, to avoid temptations and any form of double life or hypocrisy, and to ask God for protection against temptations and to strengthen me in love. Being able to live out a pure and undivided love is ultimately a grace and a wonderful gift of God. [Youcat 405]

What are the means that aid the living of chastity?

There are many means at one's disposal: the grace of God, the help of the sacraments, prayer, self-knowledge, the practice of an asceticism adapted to various situations, the exercise of the moral virtues, especially the virtue of temperance which seeks to have the passions guided by reason. [CCCC 490]

What is love?

Love is the free self-giving of the heart.

To have a heart full of love means to be so pleased with something that one emerges from oneself and devotes oneself to it. A musician can devote himself to a masterpiece. A kindergarten teacher can be there wholeheartedly for her charges. In every friendship there is love. The most beautiful form of love on earth, however, is the love between man and woman, in which two people give themselves to each other forever. All human love is an image of divine love, in which all love is at home. Love is the inmost being of the Triune God. In God there is continual exchange and perpetual self-giving. Through the overflowing of divine love, we participate in the eternal love of God. The more a person loves, the more he resembles God. Love should influence the whole life of a person, but it is realized with particular depth and symbolism when man and woman love one another in marriage and become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24). [Youcat 402]

What are the principal sins against chastity?

Grave sins against chastity differ according to their object: adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape, and homosexual acts. These sins are expressions of the vice of lust. These kinds of acts committed against the physical and moral integrity of minors become even more grave. [CCCC 492]

Is masturbation an offense against love?

Masturbation is a grave offense against love, because it makes the excitement of sexual pleasure an end in itself and uncouples it from the holistic unfolding of love between a man and a woman. That is why “sex with yourself” is a contradiction in terms.

The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it. In fact many young people and adults are in danger of becoming isolated in their consumption of lewd pictures, films, and Internet services instead of finding love in a personal relationship. Loneliness can lead to a blind alley in which masturbation becomes an addiction. Living by the motto “For sex I do not need anyone; I will have it myself, however and whenever I need it” makes nobody happy. [Youcat 409]

What is meant by “fornication”?

Fornication (from Greek porneia) originally meant pagan sexual practice, for instance, temple prostitution. Later the term was applied to all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage. Today in English it generally refers to consensual sexual relations between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman.

Fornication is often based on seduction, lies, violence, dependency, and abuse. Fornication is therefore a serious offense against charity; it harms the dignity of the person and fails to recognize the meaning of human sexuality. Civil authorities have the duty to protect minors especially from fornication. [Youcat 410]

Why is prostitution a form of fornication?

In prostitution “love” becomes a commodity and the person is degraded to an object of pleasure. That is why prostitution is a serious offense against human dignity and a serious sin against charity.

Certainly those who profit from prostitution—human traffickers, pimps, clients—burden themselves with greater guilt than the women, men, children, and young people who sell their bodies, often under duress or in situations of dependence. [Youcat 411]

Why is the production and consumption of pornography a sin against charity?

Someone who misuses love by detaching human sexuality from the intimacy of a committed, loving relationship between two spouses and turns it into commercial goods sins seriously. Anyone who produces, buys, or consumes pornographic materials violates human dignity and seduces others to sin.

Pornography is a degenerate form of prostitution, for here too there is the suggestion that man can get “love” for money. Models and actors, producers and distributors are equally involved in this serious offense against charity and human dignity. Anyone who consumes pornographic materials, visits pornographic websites, or participates in pornographic events finds himself in the wider circle of prostitution and supports the dirty, billion-dollar business of selling sex. [Youcat 412]

Why is rape a serious sin?

Someone who rapes another person thoroughly and completely debases that person. He violently breaks into the deepest intimacy of another and wounds the victim at the core of his ability to love.

The rapist commits an outrage against the very nature of love. An essential part of sexual union is the fact that it is a gift that can only be given freely within the context of love. And so it is possible for rape to occur even within a marriage. The most despicable is rape within social, hierarchical, professional, or familial relationships of dependence, for instance, between parents and children or between teachers, educators, pastors, and those who are entrusted to their protection. [Youcat 413]

This is what the Church Fathers say

With Christians temperance dwells, self-restraint is practiced, monogamy is observed, chastity is guarded, iniquity exterminated, sin extirpated, righteousness exercised, law administered, worship performed, God acknowledged: truth governs, grace guards, peace screens them; the holy Word guides, wisdom teaches, life directs, God reigns. [St. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, Bk 3:15 (MG 6, 1141)]