So. Here it goes.
In between work and choir practice today, I read two very interesting articles on the blog "Bad Catholic" both of which can be read by clicking HERE and HERE. Both shared some very interesting thoughts on what chastity and purity are, and are not, and how modern culture has warped those two terms into views that I think a lot of people partake in. (Yes, including people who are striving for chastity and purity.) Let me share a quote that sums up what really struck me.
True Chastity is honesty, being the full human being that God created to be. False Chastity is dishonesty, focusing on what you are not, and not on what you are.Through the Church we begin to hear the crackle of the fire drown the echo of the empty room. Chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within the person which expresses our belonging to the body, involving the whole person. It is not just not having sex before marriage. The chaste person is simply the person living his or her sexuality authentically, as the self he or she truly is. To be chaste is to be precisely who you are, to freely choose sexual authenticity as part of your entire, infinitely valuable, person.Any other definition of chastity is centered around an absence, and as such has no soul. “Chastity is not having sex before marriage.” “Chastity is not showing too much skin.” These things may be fruits of being chaste, but there is no way in hell that they are chastity in itself. (Is Female Purity BS?)
Slight caveat here... I know men are called to chastity and purity as well, but for the time being, I'm a woman and I can best speak from that point of view, so my thoughts are going to be a tailored more to my gender.
One of the notable elements about a woman's body is that she was created with curves. Curves that have sadly become exploited by society, but we were created that way none the less. A false chastity, looks at that fact and tries to hide it. It reacts with shame and seeks to repress the way God created women by covering it up so that no one, no one can tell that it is there.
God created the woman's body to be feminine, to be comforting, to be nurturing. To attempt to repress and hide all outward signs of that is to repress and hide God's design. True chastity embraces God's creation. Of course, this doesn't mean we take it to the opposite extreme and bare all to the world. True chastity acknowledges the beauty of the human body, it says "yes, this is the way God made me, and I will not hide it. I will treat it with dignity and respect, but I will not refuse to acknowledge it."
One of my favorite quotes goes "Your dresses should be tight enough to show you're a woman and loose enough to show you're a lady." (I've seen this attributed to both Marilyn Monroe and Edith Head... I am not sure who said it first.) I have found that to be a very wise statement. Being chaste in our dress and mannerisms doesn't mean that we have to deny the fact that we are women, but by the same token we should still conduct ourselves in a way that is elegant and dignified.
Obviously, a person's body is not the whole sum of their worth and value and that is the last thing that I am trying to say here. If I am saying more about the body than chastity of mind and attitude, it's because that's what I was thinking of while I was trying to fall asleep. Deal with it. I could go on and on about every aspect of purity in the human person, but I won't.
If God meant for us to repress our male and female natures behind the garb of false chastity, I truly believe that He would not have made us that way. God made us beautiful and wonderful. Chastity doesn't mean to not do, it means to do.
Chastity, the Church says, “is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes a renewed effort at all stages of life.” Chastity is something you do every day, as being yourself is something you do — with immense difficulty — every day. It’s reward is authenticity (Is Female Purity BS?)