The fornication culture has gone very deep in our world today. A teenager leaves home a virgin at noon and by the time she comes back in the evening, she has been deflowered and the parents have no idea of the change in her state. A guy takes a girl out and buys her food and drink. Next thing the guy demands sex from her as a right he has earned. But long before the guy and the girl lose their virginity, they have lost their innocence.
So the girl gives in and they start having sex. The relationship now revolves around sex and hardly anything else. The guy feels he has the girl no matter what and treats her as if she is only an object for the gratification of his desire. The relationship is now one-sided and even toxic to the girl. In love with the idea of love and emotionally bonded to the guy through sex, the girl finds it very hard to leave the guy even as the relationship has little or nothing to offer her. In fact her attitude of pleasing the guy and not really wanting to lose him has enabled the guy to continue being the taker he is. People-pleasers attract takers.
The affair is doomed and it hits the rocks and they go their separate ways. Soon she gets into another relationship and starts having sex again. It goes like the first. Her life now turns out to be a series of disastrous relationships after sometime. She does not realize that the transience of these relationships is making her feel more insecure, more desperate to meet Mr. Right, more prepared for rejection, and as a result more likely to invite it. Sin and confusion reign. But sin and confusion are crying out for truthful speech. This is the reason I write this post.
Through original sin, man’s nature has been wounded but not totally corrupted. We have to struggle with our passion and imagination as a result of the wound. We are all at war with concupiscence. Original sin and its consequence impose on us the obligation to subordinate our imagination to our will. But many of us keep feeding the imagination with all sorts of images that serve to excite passions. This is against God’s will.
We have a culture in the society that has reduced love and human sexuality to genital activity. That culture impoverishes the truth of what it means to have been created as man or woman.
Chastity is a virtue for everyone of us. Many people view chastity only as abstinence. That view is from the negative. Chastity is a virtue and virtues are always positive. Chastity is the true liberty that helps us love the way we should. It enables you to love fully according to the type of relationship. We are aided to become fully the man or woman we were created to be when we practice chastity.
We should never regard fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, masturbation and any other sin against chastity as something light. “But God understands.” No, he commanded and his commandments are not suggestions. Transgressing his law is so serious that you may lose the eternal happiness of your soul as a result. Hear Christ: “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:28). How much more then is the sin aggravated when someone goes ahead to physically carry out adultery or fornication? In thought and desire as well as in word and deed, unchastity is a serious violation of the law of God. When the world is concerned at all it is only concerned with the external act. But acts are the fruits of internal thoughts and desires: “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy” (Mt. 15:19).
St. Paul warns: “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9-10).
There is a need to re-emphasize and reaffirm the universal importance of chastity, not just to prevent sex crimes but for the temporal and eternal happiness of every immortal soul. Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about chastity: “Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.
The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift” (CCC 2337). This Church’s view of chastity is diametrically opposed to the secularist view of sex. In the secular world, promiscuity is encouraged in the name of sexual freedom. Sexual education when it is taught is usually with little or no connection to morality. Concentrating on the physiology of sex and contraception, this is the message sent to young people: “When you have sex, take steps to avoid disease and pregnancy.” This sort of education or miseducation is destructive particularly to the young. Unfortunately, this miseducation is buttressed by music videos, movies, television, and magazines. It aids disordered sexual attitudes and practices before marriage. This makes chastity hard before and after marriage. They promote sexual “liberation.” But disordered sex is a recipe for conflict, infidelity, self-hatred and hatred of the other, violence, desertion, and breakdown of marriage. This sort of “liberation” is strange indeed; it enslaves and destroys.
“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. Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end” (CCC 2339).
We all have appetite for food and drink. This appetite is for the purpose of health. Food and drink are therefore to accomplish God’s purpose of the health of the body. However, they must be regulated to accomplish their purpose otherwise they become threat to health. It is the same for the sexual appetite whose purpose is the continuation of the human race. If this appetite is to do the good it was created by God for, it must also be regulated otherwise it destroys the human person. When the sexual appetite is used without regulation or misused, the individual and the society suffer the consequence. Chastity on the other hand builds the individual and this is for the good of the society. “The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech” (CCC 2338).
We should know that the good of sex cannot be separated from love, marriage, and procreation. Sexual intimacy and relations are only proper for a man and woman united in marriage. For the world, consent is enough. But no, it is not; faith and reason should guide desire and passion.
With all that has been written, someone may still object: “God is merciful. He does not condemn. After all, Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery.” Is that so? Let us take a look at what Jesus said after the accusers were gone: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more” (John 8:10-11). So, yes, it is true that Jesus did not condemn her. But no, Jesus did not excuse her. “Go and do not sin any more,” he said. In essence, he asked her to stop.
Apart from the Bible, the oldest piece of Christian writing is The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Known as the Didache, it calls abortion, infanticide, fornication, and adultery “a way of death.” Fornication is a way of death. Save yourself. Stop.
Yes, our faith teaches us that our human nature has weakness which is the result of original sin. However we can follow the counsels of prudence and reason. We also have the many supernatural graces that have been provided by Jesus, our Redeemer. We should make use of them most especially the sacraments. The world may not care about the sacraments, but you should.
Godwin Nwaokike is the author of the book Growing Through Life: The Pursuit of Fulfilment. Click the image below to find out more about the book.