We are often asked why we use the word chastity over the word abstinence. Isn’t it the same thing? Why would you tell married people to practice chastity? Are you saying that sex is bad even if you’re married?
Most people think that abstinence and chastity are the same thing. Far from it. Abstinence is simply abstaining from sex, but with some people that definition becomes very fuzzy. Some would say that remaining abstinent means refraining from all sexual activity, while others would say it simply refers to sexual intercourse and nothing else.
Chastity, on the other hand, is not just about abstaining from sexual behavior; it’s a lifestyle that we choose to live. While chastity does include refraining from sexual activity before marriage, it also encompasses so much more.
Chastity is not just for non-married people, it’s something for everyone to embrace and practice. As a married man I must live a chaste life in my marriage and remain chaste to my wife. That does not mean that I abstain from sex with my wife, it means that I abstain from outside sexual behavior. A married couple enters into a bond and covenant with God to remain faithful to each other and to keep their marriage bed sacred.
Outside of the marriage covenant, sexual behavior is simply an act of lust. Why many may say that they love each other and that it’s entered into in love, it really cannot be defined as love. God is the creator of sex and He make us sexual beings. However, He did set guidelines for sex and created it for a purpose.
Sex is not simply about physical pleasure, as today’s society may teach. If you were to look at what the media, educational system, Planned Parenthood, MTV and most of popular culture push onto the youth, you would think that humans were simply wild animals with no self-control.
Sex is so much more than just physical pleasure. It was created for two main purposes: reproduction and unity between man and wife. We, of course, know that there is physical pleasure involved, but that does not mean it’s good for all occasions.
There is a popular saying: “If it feels good, it must be OK.” We know that it would be ridiculous to apply that to everything in life. I know that drugs feel good, but does that make them OK? When someone commits a crime they may get a rush of adrenaline that feels good, but does that make it OK? There are many things in life that are fun and give us pleasure. That does not necessarily make them right.
Many also teach that sex is a taboo or dirty thing. While outside of the marriage covenant sex is forbidden by God, it’s not in and of itself dirty or taboo. Sex is a beautiful act that God created for man and wife to enjoy and to bring them closer together as one. Sex brings a unity and bond to a man and a woman that God intended for us to share in a loving relationship.
The word love is so misused in today’s society; it has almost no meaning in most instances. God created love and gave us the ability to love. Lust, which is what takes place when we abuse sex and ignore its purpose, can very often be mistaken for love.
When people enter into a sexual relationship outside of the bonds of marriage it is simply to fulfill their own selfish desires for physical pleasure. When a man pressures a woman into sex and tells her, “You would if you loved me,” he is simply coercing her for his own selfish desire. Lust becomes the driving factor, not love.
When young people start to date and become physically involved certain things happen inside their bodies. It’s how we are created. Physical activity will trigger our bodies to react in ways that God intended, but He intended those reactions for marriage.
So, where do we draw the line? What is appropriate behavior for a man and woman who are not married? The question should not be, “How far can we go before it’s a sin?” The question should be, “Are we acting in lust or in love?”
It seems so often that we just want to fulfill our own desires instead of wanting to honor God and our bodies in the way God intended. We look at sex and physical pleasure as simply that, pleasure.
Many groups teach that it’s unhealthy to restrain ourselves and deny the sexual desires that we have for each other. This comes from the mind set that we should indulge in what feels good and live our lives for ourselves. This is contrary to all that God teaches us about life. The scripture teaches us in Galatians 2:20 ” I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
We must live our lives for Christ and not for ourselves or for our selfish desires. Many of us forget this principle when it comes to our physical relationships, but truly unhealthy behavior is living our lives for ourselves, including engaging in sexual activity outside of the covenant of marriage. We all know that there are so many pitfalls to promiscuous sexual behavior such as STD’s, unwed pregnancies, heartbreak and brokenness. The world seems to try so hard to come up with false hope and protection from these dangers, but the answer is simple.
If we truly act in love and treat sex as it was intended, then we can avoid these dangers along with a need for false safety nets. If we truly act in love we can experience sex in the way God intended it, which is the most beautiful expression of our love to each other.
If we are acting in lust, not love, then we are robbing ourselves of the true purpose of an amazing gift God gave to us. If we are acting in love, than we are honoring God and each other. If we are acting in love we are living a chaste life both before and in our marriage.
Chastity is for lovers.
For Christ I Stand,