As part of my continued series of postings on the issue of abortion, today’s entry on our blog looks at the issue from a preventative perspective, living a chaste and virtuous life.
Today’s mainstream culture is not only secular, but inundated with sexual content. Such content encourages and promotes promiscuity that together with a lack of living a chaste and virtuous life, often times leads to an unwanted pregnancy and a subsequent abortion! It seems only fitting that in today’s Canadian culture of death, we highlight how important it is to live a life of chastity.
Let us begin to first understand exactly what is the virtue of chastity? When one thinks of chastity, too often it reflects a narrow definition, of abstaining from sexual activity. This definition is very narrow indeed, for it does not include the requirement and responsibility of living a life of purity in mind and heart! When we speak of chastity, we must not limit it to the body, but extend it to our thoughts, desires and hearts. Jesus confirmed this by saying, "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander." (Mt 15:18, 19) Therefore, chastity of the body is a call of chastity of the mind and heart, an interior purity.
The sacrament of Baptism consecrates the body, making it a temple of the living God and a member of Christ, therefore every Christian has the duty of respecting his or her body. It is a duty which demands the virtue of chastity, according to his or her state of life. Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians states, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you. If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple." (1Cor 3:16,17) Outside of marriage, absolute continence is demanded without distinction. Conjugal chastity limits marital pleasure to the ends of marriage itself. Chastity frees us from the slavery of our senses and moderates their use. Chastity is not restricted to those who are consecrated to God, but is a serious obligation for every Christian, both single and married individuals. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines chastity as:
"...the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift." (2337)
To remain faithful to our baptismal promises and resist temptations can be quite a struggle, a life long one, but as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, there are means available to combat all that one encounters: self knowledge, the practice of ascesis or self discipline when confronted with situations, obedience's to God's commandments, exercise of moral virtues and fidelity to prayer. (2340) We encourage everyone to employ these available weapons, to live a chaste and virtuous life and to pray for chastity, as chastity is a "gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort." (2345)