We’ve all heard of abstinence. We can abstain from eating chocolate or candy or even from partaking in certain activities. Abstinence means choosing not to do something. This can also be applied to sexual activity when we refer to sexual abstinence. But, chastity is more than just abstinence; whereas abstinence focuses on what you can’t have, chastity focuses on what you CAN HAVE…God’s great plan that He has for you and your sexuality—a plan that you can live to its fullest.
Chastity respects the gift of sexuality God has given us as beautiful and good. It applies to all of us in all stages of our lives whether single or married. Chastity is a virtue that helps us to achieve purity of mind and body by using our sexuality the way God intended.
What chastity really means is asking God to help us make the right decisions regarding our lives and choices. It means putting real love first and having control over sexual desires—it is doing what is best for yourself and those you love.
For singles, chastity means experiencing the beauty of caring for yourselves and others enough to have the self-control to respect that God intended sex to be between one man and one woman within the context of marriage—this means abstaining now in order to experience something greater. With chastity there are no regrets, only true life-long love.
Married couples are also called to chastity. For them, chastity means giving themselves completely to their spouse and always being faithful to their spouse in their thoughts, words, and actions. It is a plan where married couples are faithful to each other their entire lives, even before they meet.
Chastity means being true to the life-long plan that God has for each of us and our sexuality by asking God to guide all our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Chastity gives us the freedom to experience true love.
Church Documents on Sexuality
- The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality – Pontifical Council for the Family (1995)
- On the Regulation of Birth – Humanae vitae – Pope Paul VI 1968
- On the Family – Familiaris Corsortio – Pope John Paul II 1981
- On Love in the Family – Amoris Laetitia – Pope Francis 2016 (PDF)