This word has constantly been in my mind for the last couple of days. It’s commonly understood as something to keep, to preserve. It’s no more than something to be taken away. We associate it with abstinence and sexuality. We understand that there is an embarrassment that comes if we don’t preserve it. Or the other way around, depending on where you stand in your value system. More than anything, it is something to fight for. Chastity is frequently mentioned in discussions over keeping oneself pure and restraining oneself from expressing one’s sexuality. Do you see a light of negativity creeping up in our minds every time someone talks about it? As I thought of its meaning thoroughly, however, I’ve come to realize that there is so much more to it than how we understand it in a negative light.
Chastity is more than just restraining from expressing one’s sexuality.
Our Creator has instilled in us a fire to create something good and thus the fire is meant to be good. The problem is that we have misused that fire. Some have used that fire to create the not-so good things, such as selfishness; in some unfortunate instances that same fire has been used to destroy, destroy lives and relationships. Or in more common cases, we have used that fire to fulfill our cravings of our flesh, sometimes at the cost victimizing another person.
There is one person in history, in fact, who used that same fire to commit the greatest blunder. Filled with hope for the coming of a kingdom where all injustices would wiped away, Peter had told our Blessed Lord that he will never leave him, that he will never give up on him, that he will fight for him. Notice that fire at the get go? Because of his weakness, however, he used that same fire to throw all those promises away and rejected the Blessed Lord as if he never knew him at all. Just imagine, the shame and guilt Peter must have felt when he denied Christ out of the fire He has given to him. 40 days later, eventually, our Blessed Lord got to have the chance to sit down with Peter. Christ looked beyond the shame and guilt Peter had to carry up until that moment. Christ unloaded that baggage from him and asked him if he can still give his entire life for Him. (John 21:15-17). Out of that same fire, Peter renewed his love for Him and lived his life in full chastity.
True chastity is giving your whole self for the good of the other, and living it is not only a matter of relationships at a romantic level. We are given the opportunity to live it in our homes, for our families. Oh, how truly chaste it is for the parents to give themselves for the good of their children, depriving themselves of moments of pleasure during the day just to put a food on the table for their children. Now that is called a “chaste” parent. A “chaste” person. Chastity is not all about keeping, it’s about giving. Our God calls us to live in chastity by giving ourselves for his good, and we do so by giving ourselves out of that fire for the good of the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the prisoner. In fully giving ourselves with fire for the good of these people, we give ourselves to Him (Matthew 25:40) and, therefore live in true chastity. Our Lord said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). We don’t see God by closing our eyes and preventing ourselves from seeing naked bodies and having lustful thoughts. We truly see God by opening our eyes to see the ugliness of our sinfulness and making others feel beautiful with our selfless love.
When we encounter those people who have deep spiritual needs, we see God, whether it be the poor, the homeless, the prisoner, or even our loved ones—our family, parents, friends, and lovers. All of us are deeply passionate, whether we’re aware of it or not. Deeply rooted in us is a fire to give in to our desires. The truth is, our creator instilled in us a fire to fully give ourselves to those where we find Him.
Chastity is all about how we use that fire for those we love.