Yep, it’s a thing!
The idea that married people don’t need to practice chastity is definitely a misconception — even among Catholics.
First, it’s a virtue, so practicing chastity is actually good for your soul.
Secondly, it’s also good for your marriage, because it involves discipline, self-control, and putting your spouse before yourself; all of which play a major role in the vocation of marriage.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it well:
“Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expression of affection that belongs to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.” (CCC 2350)
Mark Lowery, writer for the Catholic Education Resource Center, expands on that message:
“You cannot have a healthy marriage without chastity — that virtue by which we are in control of our sexual appetite rather than it being in control of us. And chastity is a tough virtue to develop. If it is not in full development before marriage, it is going to be very hard to develop after marriage. So, before marriage is the time to accomplish this very positive thing, the virtue of chastity.”
You can read more of Mark’s thoughts here. He also gives some tips on how to practice chastity in your relationship.
Lastly, I want to share another remark about chastity that I found extremely beautiful — an explanation about the difference between abstinence and chastity.
This was written by Arleen Spenceley, a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times:
“Abstinence has only one requirement: no sex. But chastity requires a person to define sex as a sacred, physical sign of the vows husbands and wives made at the altar where they were married, designed to express a married couple’s union, and for procreation.
“Chastity provides depth where abstinence lacks it. It requires us to abstain from sex outside marriage, but unlike abstinence, it also explains why. Chastity clarifies that we are not supposed to abstain from sex outside marriage because sex is bad (it isn’t), or because it will soil us (it won’t), but because of what sex is: an expression of the unity achieved by the sacrament of matrimony…
“Abstinence just challenges us not to have sex. Chastity challenges us to live lives in which desire is subservient to reason, which equips us to love as Jesus does: selflessly.”
You can read more by Arleen here.
photo credit: John Hope Photography