Purpose-Driven Chastity

I just came across an interesting article by Jennifer Roback Morse in the National Catholic Register entitled “Comprehensive Abstinence Education,” in which she shares her positive experience of a conference organized by “Singles for Christ.” Apparently the goal here was not “mere abstinence,” but preparing young people for marriage and teaching them how to choose a spouse wisely.  Check it out here.

For more information on the broader issue of chastity education, see CUF’s Faith Facts on “Effective Chastity Education” and “Chastity Begins at Home.” In addition, for those considering marriage, I highly recommend A Catholic Handbook for Engaged and Newly Married Couples, which is available through Emmaus Road Publishing, and now also available in Spanish.

6 responses

  1. Morse is on the rigtht track in noting the false perspectives found in the federal funded so-called Abstinence programs in schools and the secular-driven Classroom sex educations put into schools which have no understanding of the Christian view of human sexuality. Both types of programs have been the result of relentless propaganda by “special interest” groups who have duped parents as to their efficacy. The result is only more teen-age pregnancies and abortions and the spread of homosexuality long desired by such groups as SIECUS and other elements of the Planned Parenthood Network. Then there are the 20 new STD’s ravaging the population. It is the Church’s teaching on Chastity as set forth in CUF literature summarizing the Catholic teaching in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (#2337-2400) that needs to be brought to the attention of youth. Silent pulpits and lack of serious parish-based educational efforts to educate our youth in the Vocation of Marriage have created the vacuum that has been filled by immoral progams of “sex education” which continue to do damage to the moral fabric of our society. Such programs need to be resisted, but more importantly the Church’s program for the cultivation of Chastity in personal life and society needs to be furthered. CUF members can do much to counteract the sad effects of the Secular Sex Revolution.

  2. I note Christopher West’s ‘s comments in “The Colorado Catholic Herald” on-line, where he quotes, Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Artists, “…Even in situations where Culture and the Church are far apart, art remains a kind of bridge to religious experience…Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice to the universal desire for redemption.” This is certainly true of the genuine artistry of a Dostoevsky or a Tolstoy, who were not coarse in their language concerning human depravity. But what then of a Christopher West, with his “street language” and who hedges on the meaning of “anal sex” and fails to denounce such “bridges to religious experience” as “Spring Awakening” and “The Vagina Dialogues”?

    I am, frankly, sickened by the myopic neutrality of those now “mature modern Catholics” who will not denounce evil for what it is. Perhaps Christopher West and his admirers can explain what kind of “bridge to religious experience” occurred when the Crucifix was placed in a jar of urine, or when Our Blessed Mother was draped in elephant dung? Too many of our “modern mature Catholics” seem to think that anger at the public manifestations of sin is unChristian! Yet, it is what is asked of us, by Our Lord Himself. We are to defend Him and all His teachings, in season and out of season.

    And in the so-called Theology of the Body, we are asked to accept the false concept of “regaining” virginity, also known as “secondary virginity”! Neither of these concepts is physically or theologically possible! One can never be a virgin once virginity has been “lost”, even as a “gift” to one’s spouse. It does seem to me that this false concept and false teaching are just more attacks on Our Lady’s perpetual virginity, which is a dogma of the Church. IF this idea of “secondary virginity” was a teaching of Pope John Paul II, then he was wrong! One most definitely may become chaste, pure, and modest once again, but never, ever a “virgin”, no matter how one tries to package it!

  3. I note that on last night’s EWTN- Johnette Benkovich program, guest Janet Smith, who is assuredly one of the leading experts on the teaching in “Humanae Vitae” used and affirmed the concept of “secondary virginity”. Does anyone know the origin of that term? Would someone care to comment whether the term clarifies or obfuscates the understanding of virginity?
    It is interesting to read St.Augustine’s treatise “Holy Virginity” where like other Fathers of the Church he praised the beauty of virginity in body and soul among those seeking intimate union with God. How sad that the Fathers’ teaching concerning the virtues of conjugal chastity and virginal chastity as meritorious for Heaven do not resound from our pulpits, with students in our schools left too often exposed to graphic sexual material, films on STD’s and AIDS, and “safe sex”
    As to “secondary virginity”, the words of St. Augustine should be considered “The irreproachable virgins of God also follow the Lamb wherever He goes, both by perfect purification from sins and by the preservation of virginity, which, once lost, does not return.” (49)

  4. Jim, I googled the term, but couldn’t discover when the term was “invented.”

    The meaning of the expression, at least in my experience as confirmed by what I just found on the Internet, is quite positive.

    Obviously one’s virginity, once lost, can’t be restored. But what we’re talking about here are young people who have been sexually active to some degree who have undergone a radical conversion and who commit themselves, with the help of God’s grace, to start anew, and to live chastely according to their state in life from this moment forward. I think that’s good news.

  5. I have heard of confessors using this term in extending an invitation to those who have had a conversion of heart following unchaste behavior.

    While we can all rejoice when a sinner repents and changes his behavior, I think Jim’s objection is to the term “virginity” being used to describe something it is not. As you point out, virginity, once lost, can never be resotored.

    By definition, a virgin is a person who has never had sexual intercourse. It follows that one who has had sexual intercourse, even if he or she vows never to do it again, cannot really be called a virgin without radically changing the meaning of the word.

    While I see what pastors and other users of this term are trying to achieve, I share Jim’s concern. Allowing such misleading uses of certain words runs the risk of rendering the words themselves meaningless.

  6. As a chastity speaker, I have used the phrase “secondary virginity” to describe an ideal that repentant sinners should aspire to achieve. I also frequently tell them, “Not all chaste people are virgins, and not all virgins are chaste.”

    I’ve never met any young person who would confuse “secondary virginity” with the definition of virginity (one who has never had intercourse). It would be difficult to find an appropriate, concise phrase that conveys what “secondary virginity” means. If a young person says, “I’m a secondary virgin,” his listeners know he has fallen, but now has made a commitment to save all marital relations from now on for marriage. He also knows he cannot say, “I am a virgin.”

    We can lament the fact that young people use this word in a different way than they should, (much like “chaste” has come to mean “celibate,” instead of “living in accordance with God’s commandments regarding sexuality”) but I think it’s more important to focus on the renewed commitment to chastity that young people are making every day and celebrate that.

    Perhaps most importantly, the phrase shows that many people are once again starting to respect virginity and hold it up as something to strive for, which is a huge and positive cultural shift. When a society no longer values virginity, the end is in sight. Hopefully many more young people will come to esteem virginity before it’s too late, or will commit to “re-wrapping the gift” of themselves through a commitment to chastity.

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