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A Chaste Choice

Joel Fernandez

These days, it seems sex is a regular part of life for many college students. It doesn’t take a genius to understand where all the free condoms are going. As college students, we are expected to inevitably engage in promiscuous behavior because we are incapable of exercising self control. What are the consequences? We have broken relationships, broken hearts, used and disrespected people, and loneliness. One must ask, is there a better way? Is there better way that one can have the joys and thrills of romance, without the heartache and regrets that inevitably accompany sexual promiscuity?

That better way is chastity. “Chasti-what?!?” you might ask. That’s probably the reaction a lot of us have to hearing the word, but the truth is, more and more college students are finding the benefits of such a lifestyle. Let’s first clarify that it is NOT merely abstinence. Abstinence is simply refraining from sexual intercourse; it’s about what you’re not doing. Chastity on the other hand, is about what you ARE doing. Chastity is about protecting the dignity and self-worth of the person you love in every way available to you.

Now, before going into some of the benefits of a chaste lifestyle, some of you may be tempted to think this a sermon of sorts or a condemnation or judgment of people who choose to live a promiscuous lifestyle. “What does this little prude think he knows about sex?” or “Who does he think he is to judge me like that?” you might ask. It might interest you to know that if I were condemning you, then I would also be condemning myself. I lost my virginity at the age of 16, and I’m most certainly not proud of that decision, but I must live with it. Therefore, when I make claims about this lifestyle, I’m speaking from experience, not just as an observer.

Sex in its proper context, marriage, is a wonderful and amazing thing. It’s the deepest expression of erotic love of which the human body is capable, and it allows two people to bring human life into the world. This fact makes having sex a unique and special experience, yet today it is rarely viewed this way. Think about one of the most common terms for a condom (“Did you use ‘protection’?”) It’s sounds like two people who share the most intimate experience must protect themselves from each other, not a very romantic thought. A common scare for young couples is pregnancy, an event that’s cause for great joy, not fear. However, sex outside its context once again turns something that should be a wonderful experience into something that breeds fear and anxiety. Yet another side effect is the mistrust that so often comes with the thought “If he/she was willing to ‘hook up’ with me when they barely knew me, what’s to stop them from ‘hooking up’ with someone else?”

All that, however, still deal with the subject of abstinence. So what of chastity? Well, the problem with stopping at abstinence is that it’s our nature to want to try and push our limits. We’ll say, “OK, no sex till marriage, but X, Y, and Z is all fair game.” And so we start to share sexually intimate experiences under the justification “well, at least we’re not having sex.” It’s the same as saying, “How close can I get us to this blazing fire without getting burned?” Knowing the dangers of a sexually promiscuous lifestyle, we should seek to keep ourselves and those we love far from it.

When you get married, you are making a commitment to love each other faithfully for the rest of your lives, but that love can start right now. So what if you’ve already made mistakes and don’t have any more intimate experiences to share solely with your spouse? You can still show your love to your future life partner by starting to live differently today.

Joel Fernandez is a member of the class of 2006, and also a member of the Anscombe Society.