Jesus famously said that whoever looks lustfully upon a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart, putting his finger on the reality that chastity begins with our imagination. Purity is more an attitude of mind or a disposition of the soul than how we dress or what we read. Getting this attitude of mind right is infinitely more effective than trying to limit behaviour by prohibition.
On the issue of chastity, the standards and traditions held by people of faith vary. Some frown on dating at all while others think that sexual intercourse between a couple intending to get married is acceptable. Some feel there should be no sex education in schools at all and the “facts of life” should be discovered within, or in preparation for, marriage. Some see teenagers reading pornographic magazines as harmless and inevitable; others view it as a corrupting evil.
Perhaps a first base is to bear in mind that children learn by imitation. To call pornographic films “adult” is to make them a magnet for every growing child. The way to protect the innocence of children is for their parents, and the other adults around them, to cultivate and safeguard their own innocence of mind.
Do you think attitudes to chastity might be changed by parenthood? Might someone change the standards they held as a teenager and young adult once they become responsible for a growing child? Why might this be?
Where would you like to see the boundaries set for sexual expression in intimate personal relationships? At what point is a relationship no longer chaste, in a couple preparing for marriage? How might we define chastity within marriage?
They say our biggest sex organ is the brain! Without sexual urges and sexual fantasy, the human race could not have generated. How might we channel and manage our sexuality so that it is alive and well, but chaste rather than simply concealed?
O God of life and love, who made us male and female, pronouncing all things good, we thank you for our sexuality. So fill us with your spirit of love and compassion that our humanity is always directed to behaviour and attitudes of gentleness, affirmation, and respect, giving us grace to turn away from all exploitation of others. For we ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.