At a recent Recovering from Divorce session, we were discussing the always popular topic of dating and intimacy as a divorced Catholic. There is always a yearning for clarity from the participants on this highly charged, and often controversial, topic.
I was presenting the Church’s teaching on chastity when one of the participants blurted out, “Come on, really?! Does anyone still practice chastity any more?” Her skepticism is understandable. In today’s sexually saturated society, it is easy to believe that being sexually active outside of marriage is as common as brushing your teeth. However, what is equally as common is the disillusionment, regret, and negative consequences that come with living apart from God’s design for our sexuality.
God designed sexual intimacy as a gift for married couples to cooperate in His plan for creating life, and to create unity in their marriage. Misuse of this gift will never bring lasting peace and joy. Instead, what tends to occur is a type of slavery. Some people are afraid they will never meet someone unless they are willing to be sexually active. Others are afraid they will have to be celibate the rest of their lives, something they never bargained for. In any case, people are enslaved by their fears. Ultimately, this robs them of hope, resulting in desperate decisions and broken hearts. None of this is God’s plan.
God created all of us to share in His joy and peace, here on Earth, and perfectly forever in Heaven. We are the ones that tend to mess that up by our actions. The Church’s teaching on chastity, while initially seeming archaic and out-of-touch, is a deep Truth based on 2,000 years of wisdom. The more you live this Truth, the more you are guaranteed to be free from the bondage of fear and to find peace. Pray for the graces you need to trust the Church’s teaching on chastity and the courage to live it. Doing so will bring you more peace than you can imagine, and the freedom to make the right choices in your relationships. I speak from personal experience!
Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human FREEDOM. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds PEACE, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. – Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2339