Reflections 4: Virtue of Chastity

“27 You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a women lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” ( Matthew 5:27-28, NKJV, Pp. 1476).

How many people in today’s world look at the opposite sex and think, “Wow! How awesome it would be to get (him / her) in my bed for a night? Lord…the things I would do to (him / her)!”  I know it’s a blunt statement, but the question has been one that thousands of different articles in any self-respecting women’s magazine has asked and answered a million times over. How many married men look at unmarried women with this one singular thought in their mind, “I could get away with it!” Presidents, Governors, Senators, Congressmen, and Hollywood Stars, and entertainers alike have sensationalized this unseemly activity, therefore indirectly indorsing sexual misconduct and promiscuity.  How many of them have gotten caught? While we are on this topic how many women have extra marital affairs because their husband were on a business trip or is emotionally not present in the relationship? Safe to say more than 50% of American women have these sexual encounters when their husbands are gone, i.e the very popular websites called, Find New Passion, Affairs Club, Dating Married Women, and Affair Link, all of which make a mockery of the institution of marriage. So then you might ask, “What if the women or man is separated from their respective spouse, not quit divorced yet? Is it ok then to go night clubbing, bringing the opposite sex to your house or apartment for the soul purpose of fulfilling some emotional need before the final papers are signed? Is this too adultery?” There is example after example of how we, (the people of the world), fall to Satan’s temptation of “Lust” ignoring the commandment of Jesus to guard against this invasion of the mind and soul, and instead practice Chastity!

At the risk of sounding old fashion, perhaps a little hypocritical, the idea is that if you are married you are in a relationship which God has blessed. Why would you through that relationship away at the first, second, or third little bump in the road? Unless there is adultery Jesus does not condone getting something extra on the side, nor does he condone divorce.

“31 It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for martial unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced women commits adultery”( Matthew 5:31-32, NKJV, Pp. 1476).

Together these two passages have convicted the world of adultery. So the question now must be asked, “Is it as cut and dry as this? Or does God forgive, and bless people who fall in love after divorce, who eventually get married and establish a true partnership in loving matrimony and faithfulness?” More importantly, “Can trust blossom where there once was adultery?”

It has been my experience that if one person in the relationship, (i.e. husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or even friends with benefits), have the notion or secretly plan to meet up with someone else outside there committed relationship for any reason, then that person takes on the burden of guilt. Because their sin is so great one or both relationships will fail. That person will be caught in a lie, or in a half-truth, the weight of their sin causes them to refuse their partner such things as information of their whereabouts, and even withholding sex from their partner. The defying silence as the communication between the devoted partners wane is what destroys trust and will kill the once blessed relationship. Satan’s attack isn’t complete as he seeks to destroy the illegitimate relationship with the guilt he used to destroy the ligament relationship. Remember, Satan wants you alone and defeated. There are as many reasons under the sun for these things to happen, but among the top three reasons you will find that money, loneliness, or simple lust is the culprit, the tools that Satan often uses to divide and concur. Therefore, it has been said that, “When you prize money over relationships, the relationship fails every single time” (Anonymous, 2011).   One could easily replace the word “money” with whatever the true cause of being unfaithful was in the first place, and get the same outcome. Jesus knew this, hence his comments on lust and of faithfulness in Matthew 5:27-28 and 5:31-32. No one likes the feelings associated with being taken advantage of, or being hurt by the one special person in their life who it was once thought, if not whole heartily believed, that would never disgracefully destroy and misuse their love in such a despicable manner. In fact it is of my humble opinion that “adultery”; or if you are not married then the term; “cheating” is the most selfish act a person could ever do against their beloved!

With all this said, we come to the purpose of the Virtue of Chastity. In short, the best description I could fine happens to come from the Catholic publication of the, New Advent, which states, “Chastity is the virtue which excludes or moderates the indulgence of the sexual appetite. It is a form of the virtue of temperance, which controls according to right reason the desire for and use of those things which afford the greatest sensual pleasures” (Melody, J. 1908, transcribed for New Advent by Potter, Douglas J., 2009)[i]   The phrase, “Abstaining from sexual contact” comes to mind. Again, at the risk of sounding old-fashion there is something to be said about the practice of courtship, dating, or wooing your partner into romantic love for the innocent purposes of abstaining from sexual intercourse until after marriage. The virtue of chastity demands self-control, propagates good health and hygiene through the embracing of moral wholesomeness, and is directly linked to the moral attribute of being honest with yourself, your family, your community, and to the world. If chastity is practiced in a romantic relationship then love is allowed to take root because trust, caring, nurturing words and actions have become the foundation. Within this the temptation of the sin of lust is defeated as there will never be placed into your mind and heart or that of your partners mind and heart the need to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere for any reason. The ability to ignore these more carnal desires and from being distracted by or influenced by hostility, temptation, or corruption is directly in line with the moral obligation you have with your partner. Thus, upholding a higher level of trust, love, commitment, confidence, with your spouse or partner that in return fills the heart with God’s perfect love and perfect faith within those relationships where chastity is practiced.

It is not up to me to say whether God forgives those who have purposefully destroyed their family’s to hook up with someone else, or for those who have been unfaithful for the top three reasons listed above, or for any reason what so ever, but I can point out that the Bible holds a plethora of dysfunctional characters who have done all the above and more and still found favor with God. My favorite of these is King David.

“2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing.  The woman was very beautiful, 3and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The women conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” (2 Samuel 11:2-5, NKJV, Pp. 439).

One could say that King David’s actions with Bathsheba where no less sinful than anyone living in modern times. But the point of this scripture isn’t the commonality of his sin rather the blatant disregard for the sanctity of marriage, the disrespect paid to Uriah, and the defiling of Bathsheba. The other point is it takes two people in order for there to be adultery in the physical sense of the word. Therefore, both are just as guilty, because both parties acted upon carnal desires, or lust. However, interestingly enough we find out later in the Bible that King David was a man after Gods own heart, but undeniably David’s life after Bathsheba had increasingly become more difficult, because of their shared willingness to participate in adultery. On the other hand it cannot be denied that King David was still favored by God.

“22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him; ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13: 22, NKJV, Pp. 1711).

Can we then deduce that God condoned David’s lustful ways? Absolutely not! David was just as human as anyone of us today, just as flawed, just as much a sinner, and in need of God’s mercy to the same degree as we do today. I would be lying if I said that God will not forgive you if you ask for forgiveness. The real path to God, to forgiveness rests within your own heart. “Can you forgive yourself of adultery?” Or if you were not the adulterer but instead found out that your partner committed this sin against (God first, themselves second, you third), then ask yourself this question, “Can you forgive your spouse, partner or loved one of adultery?” The knife cuts both ways, especially once understanding fully that chastity is the commandment from Jesus, from God as it is the only way to forgo the sin of lust which leads to adultery.

So whose example should we take if not our Lord and Saviors? How about JOB who stated,

“1 I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. 2 For what is man’s lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? 3 Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? 4 Does he not see my ways and count my every step?”(JOB 31:1-4, NKJV, Pp.762)

JOB’s words of wisdom can be applied to both men and women equally, and if we go back to King David, what was his wage for the sin of adultery? According to Nathan who was sent to King David by God to deliver to him a message of disaster and ruin for his wicked ways;

“11 This is what the Lord says; ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel. 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 but because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:11-14, NKJV, Pp. 441).

The son of King David and Bathsheba conceived from the adulteress affair, the cause that made David have Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed in battle. The sin of adultery which led to murder, God then demanded the life of an innocent child, but the true punishment upon David as he agonizingly stood ideally by, completely powerless to do anything to save their son, was in fact found within his torment of having to watch the life of his son be extinguished. This was the collective wage of King David and Bathsheba’s sin of adultery.

Our Lord God sees everything we do. He sees our achievements, our epic failures. He sees our acts of charity, and our sins. God gives, but He also takes away. God forgives, but he also punishes. The Lord Almighty is gracious and yet stern in his commandments. He guides us in the ways of righteousness and holds our hand when we need his comfort, and he is so eager to take back our hand after we have pulled away from him through sin. Through Moses God demanded we do not commit adultery, for it is sin, perpetrated through the temptation of lust. But as surely as He commanded us not to sin in this fashion he gave us a Heavenly alternative, that of the Virtue of Chastity.

Challenge question: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But most of us have. So what is our wage for this sin? Will it be as JOB stated, and King David suffered?

Amen

If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life.  May God keep you and bless you.


[i] Melody, J. (1908). Chastity. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 29, 2011 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03637d.htm

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