Ah, does the idea of chastity applying to marriage surprise you?
Like me at one point, you may think that it has something to do with preventing teenagers from having sex.
Yes…but it’s a whole lot more!
We are so bombarded with sexual images and words in our daily lives that we can become confused and forget sexual intimacy works best when it is happening beautifully and privately within our marriages…with our own spouses.
This is one of the primary gifts of chastity: it has us reserve our sexual attraction, responses, and intimacy as a special aspect of our marriages. No one else gets that part of us.
We do our best to keep our sexual thoughts centered on our spouse instead of others. We don’t invite a sexual response from someone we aren’t married to. This is difficult in a world where flirting and dressing in sexually provocative ways are so common with both women and men.
Sometimes without chastity, we can also become confused about intimacy and think the only way to achieve it is through sex.
Chastity encourages us to build our intimacy with each other through sharing our inner lives, doing acts of service for others together, being thoughtful to each other, making decisions in partnership together, and more. This intimacy then enriches our sexual life together.
Chastity guides what we choose as entertainment and activities separately and together. Pause and really notice responses to magazines, movies, TV shows, or even the jokes our friends tell. Begin to notice how much our culture has deadened our awareness that our sexual energy is hugely dissipated outside of our marriages.
Where chastity is practiced between marriage partners and the sexual experiences we have, it spreads throughout our relationship the related qualities of respect, cleanliness, gentleness, and partnership. We don’t have to use sex as manipulation, conquest, a power-trip, or self-centered activity. We can trust each other with friendships we each have with other men and women. We can fill our lives with worthwhile purposes, including building a great marriage friendship, but without the dominating and ever-present focus on sex.
Chastity contributes more balance, with sex being one of many things we do together.
Where we include the gift of chastity in our marriage, it gives us the grace to accept the occasional times in our marriage when abstinence does apply. The rhythms of our bodies and hormones, parts of pregnancy and childbirth, and illness can affect when sex happens between us.
Chastity helps us put our marriage first and our sexual needs on the back burner when these times occur. It also encourages us to look at other ways of doing loving touch, such as hugs, kissing, or massage.
Sex is a vital and bonding part of marriage. It is often an act that builds our sense of oneness and connection.
When we practice chastity and reserve our sexual energy and apply it within our marriage, our opportunity for marital happiness grows.
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