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Emotional Chastity - What's That?

Avery and I talk about this quite often and it always seems to throw people off. "Wait. Emotional chastity? I thought chastity was just saving sex for marriage??" Which, based on the translation Google gives - is true. BUT, chastity is a virtue and virtues should and can be practiced in more than one specific scenario (aka not just the bedroom).

What vice is chastity placed up against? Lust. What is lust? Lust is an inordinate hunger or need for something. Sex, money, power, you name it. It's a greedy, selfish craving that HAS to be met. Chastity is the exact opposite. It's the virtue that brings the sexual appetite into harmony with reason. In another sense, it's your purity in conduct and intention.

So emotional chastity, what's that? Avery and I always talk about it and explain it in the form of relationships. And the most common example that we give is: "treat your relationship however old it is." Aka - do NOT mention your future husband or wife standards list on the first date or start talking about future baby names 2 months into dating. On the other end of things, you should be sharing everything with the man/woman you married and if you're avoiding tough conversations out of embarrassment or the potential for arguments, then the bottom line is that it's selfish, it's not fully free, and you're not being completely pure in conduct or intention.

To be pure is to be clear and honest and seek true love in all things. Think of the little girl who is overly giddy when she hears the ice cream truck coming. We would say "this is the most pure thing ever". Why? Because she's living fully free in the moment of her honest feelings and it's clear that ice cream makes her so happy. (That's such a simple example, but it works right?)

Emotional chastity is when you acknowledge that we are both mind, body, and soul. And to only set chastity aside for conversations regarding someone's body would be to belittle it. What about our mind and soul? How can we practice being chaste with someone in those aspects? We watch our conversations during the dating process. We don't promise things we can't keep. We look out for the other's salvation. We pray for them and with them. This morning I read a bit of Sirach and the word impetuous came up. "Do not be impetuous..." not knowing what that meant, I looked it up and it means, "to be done quickly without thought or care." And that last part is everything - without thought or care.

That's lust. The competitor to chastity. The thing we have to fight daily in our relationships until we build up the virtuous habit of chastity.

Chastity is the joyous affirmation of someone who knows how to live self-giving, free from any form of self-centered slavery. The chaste person is not self-centered, not involved in selfish relationships with other people. Chastity makes the personality harmonious. It matures it and fills it with inner peace.

(PCF, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education Within the Family, December 8, 1995, #17)

This is the perfect sum of what chastity is and hopefully you can now view it through the lens of emotional chastity as well so that you aren't only chastely loving your significant other when it comes to their body, but their mind and soul as well.

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