Several years ago, I decided to try the Target brand of make-up remover over my usual fare since it was bigger and cheaper. The whole time I used it I was disappointed in how poorly it actually took off my makeup. Being cheap, when the bottle was used up I went out and bought the same kind again. Only this time I saw the directions on the label: shake well before using. My next thoughts went like this:
“Man! Why didn’t I see this before?”
“I’m glad I’ll be able to use this new bottle properly”
“This is kind of like chastity!”
My old youth minister Judy would be proud. She could relate anything to chastity. So here I was making the connection: stuff doesn’t work properly when you don’t follow the directions. My mascara wouldn’t be removed if I didn’t shake the bottle. And so our bodies were made for love. But if we don’t follow God’s directions to practice chastity, we end up being used or using someone else. That’s because the definition of chastity is a virtue that frees all of our sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviors from self-seeking and orders them towards the truth of authentic love. My original thought at the time was to use the analogy in youth ministry, but I thought I’d revisit it for a look into married life.
As my last blog mentioned, authentic love is about willing the good of your beloved. It’s about sacrifice, self-giving, and openness to new life. Chastity is just as important IN marriage as it was before marriage. The following summaries and quotes are taken from “The Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West.
Chastity in marriage means that sex is:
– an honest expression of the marriage commitment (free, total, faithful, fruitful) (pg.88)
-an unconditional surrender to each other in a completely naked and honest revelation, delving into the inexhaustible mystery of the other person (pg. 97)
Living the truth about sex is intensely joyous. There simply is nothing that compares to the satisfaction of living in accord with the image in which we’re made (Hence, the makeup remover analogy (pg. 99)
Chastity in marriage IS NOT:
-manipulating your spouse to have sex as a means for power, reward, or a need for gratification (pg. 90)
-seeking climax while being distant, or without being vulnerable, transparent and giving yourself as a total gift (pg. 90)
“If a husband and wife spontaneously follow their disordered passions, their love for each other will be overshadowed by self-seeking. They will inevitably end up using each other.” (Pg. 98)
“Is your desire for sex a desire to make a gift of yourself to your spouse and renew your marriage commitment? Or is it simply a desire to “relieve” yourself at their expense?” (pg. 103)
“Fun is not the right word for marital union. Sublime ecstatic bliss is more like it… ‘In the joys of their love [God gives spouses] here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ CCC 1642” (Pg. 99-100)
To sum it up, marriage isn’t a license to do anything sexual that you want with your spouse. It’s an expression of God’s love, a union of persons that is a gift to one another. Chastity is simply using your body’s instructions properly!