Monday, April 21, 2008

Chasing Chastity

The past week has been a great week for me in terms of sobriety. For the whole week, I never indulged in masturbation or watched porn on the internet. I pray it remains this way. The feeling of having total control over my addictions even for just a whole week was "glorious". Now, there is something I can look forward over the coming weeks hopefully. My battle with pornography and masturbation does not end in controlling my urges, neither do I consider this to be the ultimate measure of my own progress towards chastity. There is something more to chastity than being in total control of your passions and for a person with SSA the struggle becomes compounded with an innate attraction towards persons of the same sex. It gets a little complicated here as one tries to integrate a chaste lifestyle and at the same time deals with SSA issues.

The Vocation to Chastity

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines chastity as a successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason. It is a moral virtue, a gift from God, a grace, and a fruit of spiritual effort.

On a more personal level, I have been struggling with chastity issues ever since I was in grade school. Until now it is still one of my biggest struggle. I have addictions to porn and masturbation, although I have made significant progress with how I deal with other people. I haven't had real sex with anybody as far as I can remember for years now, and yet there is still so much work to be done on my part toward reaching chastity. I am yet to learn some lessons in self-mastery and I still need to internalize why I want to be chaste in the first place. I don't want it to be like a useless sacrifice or practice of self-denial that serves no higher purpose. In doing so, I desire to grow in the process and be transformed.

Chastity and Sexual Reorientation

I am going to reveal a very personal view on this issue as I see it. For many people I know who struggle with SSA, majority of them (including me) have some chastity issues and they admit it themselves openly. Many of them also desire to tread the path of sexual reorientation through reparative therapy. I will touch on the subject of reparative therapy in my subsequent posts here. I have nothing against it. It is good and a goal worth seeking. But there is a problem. Those who have gotten themselves into this noble path of sexual orientation are not addressing first the more basic issue, which is consequently a matter of greater importance than sexual reorientation itself, and that basic issue is - CHASTITY. A few things here.

1. Chastity is the greater good.

Sexual reorientation is a complicated process and so does chastity. Both take time and never happen overnight. If one is confronted between a choice of two goods, he must choose the greater good. This is in contrast with choosing between two evils, where one must choose the lesser evil. In this case, chastity is the greater good because it is a moral virtue. Because it is very difficult to undertake two gargantuan tasks at the same time without compromising one or the other, one must choose the task that is of greater and higher importance. Don't you sometimes wonder why Christ included purity of heart as one of the condition to achieve supreme blessedness? Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. We've heard this passage many times haven't we? Note that Christ attached the reward of the Beatific Vision (seeing God) with being pure at heart. If that is so, then that alone justifies the great value of this virtue among other things.

2. You must be chaste first with yourself before you can be chaste with other people.

A chaste person who enters into a relationship has a great safeguard against falling into temptations of impurity. An unchaste person often brings his unchastity into the relationship thus destroying it in the process. I counseled a guy friend of mine who is having an issue with a fellow guy with SSA that it would be more satisfying for him to know the "soul" of that person than it would be to have sex with him. I believe that if both parties are chaste, the relationship will be more fruitful and meaningful because there is mutual respect, and each does not seek what he can get out of the relationship but what he can give into it. This is the perfect relationship for me - a chaste, emotionally mature relationship. I thank my former counselor for this insight.

3. Learn to call a spade a spade.

Frankly, some people use the term "reparative therapy" as a license to justify their sexual behavior. Stop right there. Homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity and are always intrinsically disordered. A homosexual act, like fornication and adultery, is a grave sin, a mortal sin, just in case one does not know. No amount of reasoning can alter this truth and so it is at this point why cultivating the virtue of chastity all the more becomes apparent. Here is where we cross the line, thus making us not any different from those who practice the gay lifestyle outside of a support group.

4. A chaste homosexual is far better off than an unchaste heterosexual.

Between the two I would choose the former - really, for the condition of homosexuality by itself represents only a cross, a heavy one at that, while being unchaste represents a "grave defect" of character. Chastity must become the solid foundation into which a person's desire towards sexual reorientation should be built, and whether one becomes reoriented in the end or not, the virtue of chastity will make a person grow in his personhood - mature and emotionally stable.

Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc - G.K. Chesterton

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