Chastity brings to mind the word purity. However, if one asks about the connection between chastity and sexuality, there might be puzzled looks around. Is it possible to live chastity in marriage? Now that is a puzzler! This enigma is present only because of lack of proper understanding of what chastity is.
The popular understanding of chastity is – lack of sexual activity. This is a very poor and restrictive way of looking at the meaning of the word. It would also result in the exclusion of married couples from the possibility of living a chaste life, especially when we view sexuality as an integral part of a couple’s relationship. So, what should we really understand when referring to chastity?
I reiterate that sexuality is part of every human being and it is good. Sexual union is a very important aspect between the couple. When an unmarried couple decide to live in a chaste way they are both underlining a statement. Basically they are saying that they understand the importance of such a union and although they express their sexuality through other ways, they are waiting for the special moment when they give their total self to each other after marriage. By doing so there is nothing that is sacrificed or withheld, on the contrary the expectation is increased and so sexuality is given its due importance.
In marriage, chastity is lived as fidelity to spouse both in actions and in thoughts. Areas that help couples to live out chastity is the way they behave between them and with others, the way they dress and the thoughts they wish to provoke in spouse and others. Fidelity here does not only mean staying with one partner, but there is much more to it. Adultery does not only occur with another person who is not my spouse; but if a person looks at the spouse as a possession – as an object to be used for personal sexual pleasure – then that person is committing adultery. When one spouse chooses not to engage in sexual union in order to respect the wishes of the other spouse, the married couple is living in a chaste way. Other ways are sought to express their sexuality, thus the couple becomes more enriched in the way they share their union. These expressions which are shared together will continue to build the union which already exists and will leave a space to express inner feelings, thoughts and emotions. These in turn will continue to deepen the sexual life of the married couple.
Living out chastity in marriage primarily means, putting the relationship with your spouse first, rather than focusing on sexual needs. Thus, chastity is an integral part of the sexuality of a couple which leads to the true expression of love between the two persons. When chastity is lived as it should, and not as an obligation (or forgotten altogether), it will bring about a true sense of freedom between the couple. This is translated in more trust between the couple; a growth in the relationship and ultimately a greater joy is present to live married life.