A Note For Chastity Writers And Speakers

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Much is being written about Christian singles and chastity these days. A lot of it is from concerned parents, religious leaders, and singles themselves. The popular chant has become: There are too many single people and the sky is falling. Since I’m a single person who is waiting myself, that’s the standpoint from which I approach the topic, a single guy. But one who has not had sex. I’m sure that narrows down my audience a bit. BTW, my personal boundary has always been anything below the neck is off limits. When I write an article supporting chastity, I try to imagine myself reading it to a crowd of singles who have gathered to hear someone talk about sex. Then I watch their reactions as I read it and answer their questions. In my mind, I’m just trying to determine how my blog post will be received. There is one really big problem that I’ve never found a solution for: How do you talk or write about chastity and encourage those who are waiting on marriage without discouraging those who did not wait or have made mistakes or have even been abused? I have come to the conclusion that it’s very, very difficult, if not impossible. The main problem is that there will always be people who have had sex and some who have not. That’s the way God made us, not with 50 shades of gray. This is probably the biggest dividing line for an audience. It’s like mixing explosive chemicals. Sparks start to fly as soon as the first person yells “Hey! I feel like a dirty piece of chewing gum!” And the heckling escalates. The same thing happens with blogs on the internet. Any intent of supporting those who are waiting deteriorates into a debate about obedience versus grace. Since we virgins are generally more sensitive people, we concede first. And I’m talking about guys and girls. If you want to be politically correct, you then try to make everybody comfortable. “Oh, I’m really not a virgin. I’m just trying to practice chastity and do the right thing sexually. Here, let me get you a chastity button.” Then the whole discussion turns into an apology for chastity or its entire definition gets twisted. This problem is multiplied when T-shirts, book deals, and money get thrown into the mix. Would you like a cup of virginity or a Diet Coke?

Of course, another problem is that there will be Christians and non-Christians in the audience. It’s only natural for a non-believer who did not wait to lash out at those who are waiting. They can’t be expected to have an accurate concept of what virginity is. It’s only natural for them to feel guilt and shame and try to pass that off to everybody else. Another problem is that we can’t know everybody’s backgrounds. That includes their family histories and how or if their parents discussed sexual standards with them when they were younger. Did they ever even have “the talk?” Did they get sent out into the dating world without even knowing what sex is and what their boundaries should be? There is a huge difference in need between the person who needs counseling for rape or past mistakes and someone who needs encouragement to continue to wait. A big, big, difference. Those two support needs cannot be met in the same room and in the same setting.

Since it’s not possible to know all of these things in advance, how does a person maximize the effectiveness of their blog/talk and minimize the chances that it will deteriorate into a shouting match? I suggest making it clear upfront what the topic will be and that it will be approached from a Christian standpoint, regardless of whether the setting is Protestant or Catholic in nature. Make sure SEX is in huge bold letters. Make sure they know it’s going to be about more than relationships. And make sure that the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman is out front. That’s why the title of my blog is “Christian Celibacy in the 21st Century” and my about page describes me as a lifetime celibate (i.e., virgin), with a subtitle of “straight renunciation.” I may be wrong, but I think guys may be more open to talking about celibacy instead of virginity. That’s because virginity, thanks to all the writers and speakers before us, has been tied so closely to the female gender. A classic case is blogger Samantha Pugsley who concluded: “I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality.” More unfortunate is the fact that so many chastity writers took her seriously and moderated their messages accordingly. Many even have personal stories that start out with being abused by a man. And their writing never rises above the level of man bashing. Most of them are women, after all. Even being as intentional as I try to be, there are still many who look at my life and scoff, “Lifetime celibate, yeah right. It will last until you meet the right woman.” I receive many comments and emails that I do not make public. So even if it causes stones to be tossed initially, I still recommend that you state your intentions up front before any blog or talk dealing with chastity – or any sexual ethics issue for that matter. Whatever we do to make chastity more comfortable and palpable to the masses will put us one step further away from Christ. If you don’t have enemies, I recommend examining your life to see what you’re doing wrong.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Kim Peek, The Real Rain Man

I guess you could say I’m old school. While I do think we’ve made a lot of advances with high tech and the internet, I think we’ve also taken several steps backwards. One of the biggest steps we’ve taken backwards is allowing words to become more important than actions. We have, quite literally, allowed words to mean anything we want them too. Like the word chastity I talked about in the last post. There are many people writing about chastity today. They wax eloquently about chastity being both for men and women, for young and old, for those pursuing marriage and those who are not, and about it having a spiritual meaning. But when you look at the actions behind those words, their messages falls apart. Inconsistencies sabotage messages. That is especially true in Christian ethics because the unbelieving public is scrutinizing everything we do. For instance, I could write a book about chastity for men over 50, “Chastity For Gentlemen.” I could build it up on my blog and get the best publisher in the world. But what if I put a picture of a teenage girl on the cover holding a Bible under one arm and her boyfriend under the other? I think whatever message was in the book would be defeated by the cover, don’t you? It’s sort of like a politician you build up in your mind and then find out he had an affair with his secretary and paid her off to keep quite. Whatever image was in your mind is now history.

Consistency is a virtue that is integral to honesty and character. Yes, we grow and change as individuals and we love our freedoms and artistic expressions, as inconsistent as they may be. But the one constant that falls outside the world and must be defended is the Bible. God was the same a million years ago as he is today. He does not change. His word does not change. Not only are the virtues in the Bible consistently the same, we must be consistent in defending them. If you wrote a book on the value of human life, would you put Jeffrey Dahmer on the cover? You may say that the title of a book is still words. Yes, but those words speak louder than the words inside the book. The nonbelieving world is looking for inconsistencies in the Christian message. It’s one of their number one weapons. As a matter of fact, it’s the reason the U.S. Supreme Court just condoned same sex marriage. “Those hypocrites. They don’t have any room to talk. Look at all their divorces. Look at their live-in arrangements.” Church people preaching one thing from the pulpit every Sunday, but living another thing during the rest of the week. That is the fastest track to moral destruction. The same thing applies to barrier-breaking chastity. If we’re going to defend its biblical meaning and take down the divisions of age and gender, we must be consistent. That means it would be wise if we didn’t associate chastity with teenagers, girls, beauty pageant queens, dresses, purity balls, Cinderellas, Boazes, weddings, pink T-shirts, the Catholic church, priests, homosexuality, schools, or even marriage. You may be saying, “But John, chastity is mostly for teenage girls.” That’s the problem. We have GOT to take “most” out of our vocabulary. It is not part of God’s vocabulary. It’s a lame word. All it does is reinforce stereotypes. You may also be saying, “What’s wrong with encouraging girls to live chaste lives?” There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But the bigger wrong is that, by leaving out guys, you’re not telling the whole story of chastity. Can you find anything in the Bible that narrows down that virtue to one gender? I can’t either. We all know that a partial truth is worse than a one hundred percent lie. That is especially true when it comes to children. You may be one who believes that young minds are not impressionable. I don’t believe that. There are many, many young people today who have no guidance on sexuality at home and turn to their friends and the internet to find out what is right and wrong. Even though it is the fault of their parents, that does not give us the right to turn a blind eye. All of us are having an impact on at least one younger person, whether we know it or not. It could be someone at your job, at church, at school, wherever. They are looking for truth and consistency. Once you do something, you can’t take it back. The same thing is true for stories. Once you put them out there, how do you control who hears them or reads them? You can’t. They become part of our legacies.

Consider other people who do not fit stereotypes, like Kim Peek, the inspiration for the character played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Even though he is severely disabled, scores well below average on IQ tests, and can’t button his shirts – he has read over 12,000 books and remembers everything about them. He reads two pages at once in about 3 seconds, one with his left eye and one with his right. He can recall facts and trivia in about 15 different subjects, from history to geography. He also remembers every musical piece he’s ever heard and can play them back on the piano. So, what pigeon hole would you put Kim in?  As far as his legacy, do you think his actions speak louder than his words?

Chastity – Is It Worth Defending?

bow lady-web

Chastity speakers, chastity blogs, chastity belts, chastity vows, chastity education, chastity veils, chastity books, chastity jewelry, chastity T-shirts. Come one, come all, get your chastity now. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the world has gone chastity crazy. Has the world really gone crazy over a biblical virtue? What does chastity really mean in the world today? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not all about saving sex for marriage. Actually, it can mean anything you want it to mean. Both the words chaste and chastity come from the Latin adjective “castus,” which means “pure.” The word chaste is found in the KJV Bible three times. According to the 1995 Holman’s Bible Dictionary, chaste means: “Holy purity demanded of God’s people with special reference to the sexual purity of women.” We all know we can never measure up to the level of purity Christ set while he was on earth. But did he give special reference to women? I can’t find that anywhere in the Bible. The 2005 New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality includes men in the definition: “Chastity has been associated with a state of a celibate lifestyle, typically of lifelong virginity, as in the case of Catholic priests, monks and nuns. Historically and outside of the religious life, concern for the preservation of chastity, understood as virginity, most often arose with regard to unmarried women.” However, the current Oxford Dictionary’s definition of chastity reflects more the sign of our times: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.” How can a person be in a state and practicing it at the same time? “I think I’ll practice dying, be right back.” Or “I think I’ll practice virginity. Tell me when I’ve perfected it.”

Somewhere around the 16th century and the reign of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, it seems that virginity fell away from the definition of chastity and the word came to be associated with a vague notion of purity, void of any spiritual dimensions. The Renaissance also ushered in a new awareness of emotions, feminine beauty, and intellectual achievement. During this time also, history came to be associated with the written word, including sexual histories and romantic literature. An interesting and inescapable fact about virginity is that it requires a history. So what does a society do when they want to forget their history? They redefine the language to suit their culture. In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, for example, female worth is connected with chastity and increased sexual pleasure, but not with anything of a spiritual nature. Indeed, with the advent of the printing press in the 15th century and creative writers like Shakespeare in the 16th century, histories became easier to record and stories became easier to tell. Thus, personal histories associated with chastity became as erasable as one of Shakespeare’s characters. Look at how we’ve devolved today. As Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage.” When the words become uncomfortable, change the script. When the world wants to tax you, change your identity.

Since all taxpayers are paying for abortions, contraception, STDs, unwanted children, etc., shouldn’t every one’s sexual history be public knowledge anyway? In Old Testament times, it pretty much was. If a man raped a woman, he was required to marry her. If a new bride was found to not be a virgin, she was stoned to death. Since chastity proved to be too heavy of a cross for pleasure-seeking man to bear, we find ourselves today with a definition of chastity that has been watered down to the point you can’t tell what the original definition was. Like a feature on a car, it has become but a specification on an object of pleasure, a value added bonus. Those who still associate a sacred element with sex (and thus chastity) are at constant odds with those who see sex as a recreational sport. As John Paul II said in 2009:

“A life of chastity, poverty and obedience willingly embraced and faithfully lived confutes the conventional wisdom of the world, because it is a proclamation of the Cross of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:20-30).”

It has confuted the world to the point to where those who do respect the human body and sexuality are fighting for every shred of authenticity that is left in the Christian vocabulary. Fighting for chastity to mean something more than “doing the right thing regarding sex.” When the world says the word chastity and means a device, we think of virginity. When the world says rainbow and means gay rights, we think of Noah and the flood. When the world says marriage and means a relationship of convenience between two people for sexual pleasure, we think of a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman. The devaluation of chastity has been on a progressive downhill path. When the dignity of marriage fell a notch, chastity fell a notch. Our sexual motivations went from a means to a higher spiritual end (i.e., propagation of the species) to a means of sexual gratification. And when biblical language was no longer passed to children, chastity became a smug idea that “only religious people understood.” Like a fog lifting off a hot drenched highway, teenagers could only see virginity in their rearview mirrors and exclaim “If only somebody had told me about that.” For those who have chosen chastity and the celibate life, it would be wise to keep Pope Pius XII words in mind: “Virginity is not a Christian virtue unless we embrace it ‘for the kingdom of heaven.'” Likewise, fidelity in marriage is not a virtue unless we embrace the goodness of procreation and raising children in Christian homes.

If we don’t embrace and defend the language of both lifestyles, all biblical vocabulary will become meaningless and Shakespeare’s characters will once again come to life today. From The Merchant of Venice:

“Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.”

http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/chastity.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chastity http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_25031954_sacra-virginitas.

html http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2009/10/20/address_of_his_holiness_john_paul_ii_to_the_bishops_of_malawi_on_their/en3-327730 https://books.google.com/books?id=bPOft7krR84C&pg=PA189&lpg=PA189&dq=chastity+virginity+dictionary+-.com&source=bl&ots=RgRpC3ygTR&sig=E5fQqdfKP06qEmIfZsFlMbAR7B0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDIQ6AEwBmoVChMI0-XX7fzyxgIVTymICh2TyQow#v=onepage&q=chastity%20virginity%20dictionary%20-.com&f=false http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/view.cgi?n=1225

The Elephant Man and Sexual Ethics

elephant man

There was a mystery writers’ conference in town recently. It was scheduled to last all day. A well-known author was scheduled to speak and talk about his books. When he got up to speak, he announced a “spoiler alert” because he was going to talk about his most recent book and how it ended. Those in attendance who had not read the book got up and walked to the back of the auditorium, where they found a separate room off to the side. Meanwhile, those who had read the book stayed in their seats. When he finished talking about his new book, he called them back in and asked them to sit on the side of the auditorium where a “newbie” sign had been placed and those who had read it to sit on the side where an “oldies” sign had been placed. He continued to talk about how to develop characters for a couple of more hours.

When lunch came around, can you guess who sat with whom? Yep, those who did know how the book ended sat together and those who did not know how the book ended sat together. They even had the diplomacy to sit on opposite sides of the cafeteria, so they couldn’t overhear each other’s conversation. People who had read it talked about the plot, the time frame, the characters, the places, everything about it. They laughed amongst themselves, with knowing laughter, while they discussed the story line and how it compared with other books. One girl actually stood up and, in a hushed whisper, told everybody that two of the characters in the book were actually brother and sister, a detail not too many people knew about. The people who had not read it were not in on what the laughter was all about. But they thought a little time of not knowing was worth it to preserve the mystery. They talked about why they liked mysteries, who their favorite authors were, sequels they would like to see, and how they could incorporate a trip to mars into a story. They also talked about which books they were currently reading and when they would get their copies of the book being discussed at the conference. A few of them said they’d changed their minds and had decided not to order it because they had learned of another one that was even better. This is a classic example of natural social division. It had nothing to do with shaming, evilness, condemnation, judging, and so on. It did not run along the lines of gender, age, race, class, or marital status.

It’s the same way with the mystery of sex. Is there a mystery more profound than sex and the creation of new life? I can’t think of one. It is infinitely more mysterious than a mystery novel. Given this, wouldn’t you think there were be a natural social division between those who have had sex and those who have not? God seemed to think there would be. That’s why he called one group virgins and one group marrieds.

The Elephant Man (1980) is one of my favorite movies. It’s about a man who was ostracized from society because of a disfiguring medical condition called neurofibromatosis. His face was enough to cause children to shriek. It was based on a true story. I was 19 years old at the time and I related to the story of Joseph Merrick. Here was a man who had been socially outcast and relegated to circus sideshows, not because of his character, but because of his appearance. I sometimes felt like a freak in a sideshow when I was 19. I heard a lot of “knowing laughter.” Shawna Sparrow described this very well in her book, Tough Crowd: My Adventures as a Chastity Educator:

“The word virgin has become code for ‘loser,” and it usually conjures images of being unattractive and undesirable. In our popular culture, someone who is a virgin is usually portrayed as an overweight geek living in his parents’ basement. So as a companion to the message, ‘Sex is cool,’ the media also gives us the message, ‘Virginity is lame.'”

As I got older, I realized that I was not the only one my age who had never had sex. And that had a TREMENDOUS effect on my commitment to wait. The value of relatability cannot be underestimated, especially when it comes to passing sexual ethics to the next generation. “If that person can do it, I can do it too.” There is NOTHING more powerful in a young person’s life than finding a person to relate to. And in the case of chastity, that is not going to be his/her parents. If the Elephant Man was your son, who would you rather him meet – the latest male model on the cover of GQ Magazine or another person suffering from neurofibromatosis and their family? What are you willing to do to preserve a sacred mystery?

https://books.google.com/books?id=ScfvwN-7MrwC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=%22the+word+virgin+has+become+code%22&source=bl&ots=_RZyvHvEjQ&sig=SRdtkgkjiaXAf7JOtzVUT1h7DX8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAGoVChMInoq4ob3exgIVA-KACh2z1gC_#v=onepage&q=%22the%20word%20virgin%20has%20become%20code%22&f=false

Chastity And Role Models

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Brother Joseph Zoetti in his workshop at the Benedictine Monastery in Cullman, Alabama

According to Merriam-Webster, a role model is “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.” I would add that a person’s values and standards, whatever they may be, define what those behaviors are and who models them. For example, I wouldn’t choose a terrorist to model the sanctity of life for my son. I wouldn’t choose a politician to model honesty (okay, there may be exceptions). But those are common sense values, or at least they have been. Other values and behaviors to model are not always so clear. Which brings me to chastity. Let me say up front that I’m not a saint, I don’t have all the answers, and this post is not meant to “condemn.” I really don’t think a Christian person can condemn anybody. In this atmosphere of hyper-political correctness, I think one of the biggest problems is that there has not been an ongoing conversation about sexual ethics. Everything to do with sex has been categorized as “dirty.” Then all of that silence seemed to end recently when the Supreme Court deemed same sex marriage was a constitutional right. Now everybody wants to join the conversation. From what I’ve seen, people discussing chastity, especially on the internet, fall into one of three groups: They’re looking for a mate, they’re selling chastity-related merchandise, or they’re trying to pass this virtue to the next generation. I fall in the third group. And that’s where the whole idea of role models comes in.

I think real role models don’t think of themselves as role models and don’t advertise themselves as such. I don’t. I really don’t like the phrase. One thing that makes it more complicated is terminology. We would not be able to describe values that are important to us without consistent terminology. Yes, I have been celibate for 54 years. Yes, I am a virgin. Yes, I have been chaste for 54 years. Yes, I am a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. I’m sure there are a lot more words that have been applied to me. What it all comes down to is I haven’t had sex. Is that so complicated? Revisionists have tried to dilute these definitions over the years. Some words even have biblically-based meanings, but we are inconsistent in how we use them. For instance, chastity has come to mean just what everybody is doing when they’re not having sex – they’re practicing chastity – or at least some vague sense of its commitment. “Not having sex? You’re chaste!” “Would you like next day delivery with that?” Even the eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 19, which I identify with, are being redefined in some circles as homosexuals. I recently saw a headline that read, “Everybody is a Virgin!” Just think, Madonna is no longer like a virgin. She’s the real deal all over again! You would think virginity is a commodity being sold on the sidewalk along with all the books on the subject, purity programs, and jewelry. But I must say there are some very good books out there on the subject by authors who are conscious of their priorities. And forgiveness, it seems, has become but a delete button for our pasts. No consequnces. Just hit the pound key and continue. The reality is that, like all the other virtues, chastity cannot be modified with technology or dictionaries. Of course anybody can wait again on sex before marriage. That is what Christ calls for. But we have not been given the right to revise biblical language to fit the comfort level of contemporary political correctness. I think it’s one of our biggest mistakes.

The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus knew the significance of words and symbols when they put a purple robe on him, crowned him with thorns, and put a sign on the cross that read “Jesus, King of the Jews.” But Jesus didn’t ask the soldiers to change the words on the sign. He didn’t try to revise the dictionary. He carried his cross, including those words, even while he was being mocked and degraded. And he told us to do the same in Matthew 16:24: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Words and their meanings are more significant than we realize, especially when trying to pass values to the next generation. Ephesians 6:17 describes “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” For some people, just the word “virgin” is a sword. It’s like chastity can’t even get off the ground. But it’s a biblical word. There are people today who question Virgin Mary’s virginity. “What makes you so special little miss virgin?” “Found favor with God? Yeah, right.” “You’re no better than anybody else.” “What’s your boyfriend’s name?” Now step into that scene and ask yourself what you would do to defend her. Put yourself in the shoes of virgin martyr St. Maria Goretti’s. How far would you go to protect your honor as a woman of God? Pondering these things has been critical in my wait for the kingdom of God. Remember, God invented virginity. Man didn’t. It was a requirement to be the mother of Christ. It was also designed to be the state before marriage between a man and a woman, and that standard is still in the Ten Commandments. I don’t think it’s our place to second-guess these truths or the reasoning behind them. Our responsibility is to follow them as best as possible. There are a lot of mysteries we will not understand until we get to heaven. Can we move past the “nobody’s perfect” and “that’s so judgmental” rhetoric? Chastity is just one of the many virtues. It is not a mark of sainthood. I’m working on humility. That one is difficult for me, as I have a tendency to see things in black and white and speak too bluntly and too fast.

I also tend to look at many things in life in an analytical way. I am a math and science geek. For instance, if I wanted to learn how to race at NASCAR, I would try to find a professional NASCAR driver who could teach me. I would want somebody that had been racing for years and had won some races to prove it. I would want to see the statistics. And I actually do have a good friend from high school who is a retired NASCAR driver who has won many races. I would choose him over someone who had never been behind the wheel of a stock car or someone who had never placed in the top 10. I would choose him over someone who hit a guardrail on the interstate last year and totaled his car. That does not mean that I hate all the other drivers. Even though the virtue of chastity is not even in the same universe as NASCAR, I do look at human track records or – as the old timers called it – reputations. Or, as the Bible calls it, honor. Everybody has been effected one way or the other by people in their lives. And if you’re an adult, you are affecting other people, even if you don’t know who they are. I think children listen more to our actions than our words. This is especially true when they are looking up to someone as a role model. “Divorce is wrong,” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as it doesn’t interfer with your NFL career.” “Having sex outside marriage is wrong” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as having a baby doesn’t interfer with your singing career.” Everybody makes fruit of some kind. You can’t hide it from children. This is what worked for me growingup. Something else may work for you. The few people I know today (thanks to the internet) who are remotely around my age and still waiting are a godsend to me. I wish I could transport them back in time to when I was a teenager at Chelsea High School. There were a few adults I looked up to as mentors – my dad, an uncle, a very good friend who wrote a book on purity. I personally knew these people. They weren’t just Facebook friends. There were no computers. I looked for more people, but couldn’t find any. The people involved in my life had track records I respected. Maybe it’s just me, but I have to respect somebody before I will emulate them. And I think self-respect plays a big role. As A.C. Green said “You need to have self-respect, values and a little bit of virtue in your life.” I saw him speak in Birmingham back in the 1990s. He remained a virgin until he was 38 and got married in 2002. He’s a man I respect. Of course, my number one role model is Christ, and I think it’s critical that we stay in contact with him everyday. Everybody tells me that nobody my age waits any more. I wouldn’t say nobody, just fewer. But wasn’t one of Christ’s main objectives to bring down ageism and sexism and marital statusism?

What I don’t understand is why sexuality, especially chastity, has become a divisive topic, more divisive than age and gender. We have our instructions in the Bible. They are not easy. For people who feel they are attracted to the same gender, we all have the same standards. Yes, I do have a sex drive, but I have not gotten what I want. That’s why I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I meet a stranger and their eyes go to my ring finger. I say to myself “oh gosh, I’m just another single dude.” As Olympic gold medalist Lolo Jones, who is still waiting at 32, said: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics.” I can relate to Lolo. She’s one of my heroes. I remember a time when waiting until marriage was something to be proud of. What has become all too common today is this: When a person says anything positive about virginity, they are automatically attacked as judgmental, condemning, better than everybody else, hater, full of pride, perfect, religious fanatic, and on and on. And so many Christian people think it’s their responsibility to make everybody feel comfortable. It is not.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what I was going through, what it felt like to be a black sheep, what it felt like to be ridiculed because I wouldn’t do what everybody else was doing, what it felt like to be out of touch with society. Those years were excruciatingly painful. Then in my 40s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what it was like to be a “40 year old virgin” and the punch line of movie jokes. Without anybody else to relate to, I turned to other things, like the monastery of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, AL, which was about two hours from where I lived. It was the first place where I felt connected, where there were no stereotypes associated with being an older single guy, where I didn’t have to hide my ring finger, where I felt part of something bigger than my little world. I have spent hours in their cemetery, pondering the lives of those monks. I have studied the life of Brother Joseph Zoetti, who built their masterpiece known as “Little Jerusalem.” They were all role models for me. Especially Brother Joseph. One day I hope to meet him. Of course, my number one role model is Christ.

I think young people have the best chance of waiting until marriage with mentors who are still living and walking the same road – or who have walked it at their age and beyond. As harsh as it may sound, sometimes that excludes parents. My special friend and mentor is still very important to me. She probably does not realize how much impact she had on my life. But a lot of Christian youth today have no one. If somebody reads what I’ve written today or years from now after I’m gone, I hope it encourages them in some way. And I hope the stereotypes associated with chastity will disappear – things like it’s only for teenagers, only for girls, only for religious people, only for Catholics, only for people who can’t have fun, only for people with a low sex drive, etc. It would be nice for my legacy to be “age and gender won’t matter in heaven.” It would be nice to be remembered as the person I never found when I was a younger man. That’s all.

Thank you Julia.

http://www.avemariagrotto.com/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2012-heavy-medal-london/post/hurdler-lolo-jones-virginity-has-been-harder-than-training-for-london-olympics/2012/05/23/gJQAOQo7kU_blog.html

Do Men Exist Who Save Sex For Marriage?

man on road painting

“And what would you say to a single woman who is saving sex but struggles to believe that men exist who want to save sex, too?” That question was posed to Everett Fritz on Arleen Spenceley’s blog today. Everett, now 31, was a virgin until he married at 22, which I find interesting because aren’t all guys virgins before they have sex? I guess it’s odd to me because I consider sex itself marriage and not a church service or legal document. But that’s a whole different story. While I do agree with Everett’s answer, that everyone should read more books and articles written by Arleen, I thought I would offer my answer, in hopes of assuring single women that men do exist who are saving sex until marriage. Yes, I know I’ve made the decision to remain a virgin forever. But there was a time when I was open to marriage. I think guys who are waiting, whether for marriage or forever, have a few things in common. So here’s what I would say to single women, especially to those 25+, who are saving sex for marriage:

1. We adore you and are rooting for you, whether you want to marry us or not. We want the world to see what virtuous ladies are really like, that you stand by your principles, and that you don’t compromise in order to gain popularity or get a job promotion. And even more important – that God made you to be more than the sum of your body parts or objects of desire.

2. We like awkwardness, for lack of a better term. We like to think that we can pick you out of a crowd. And we’re depending on you to pick us out of a crowd. So don’t be afraid of being yourself. Don’t try to look or act like other girls, even your best friend. The NUMBER ONE thing that turns me on to a girl is originality. Is she marching to her own beat or is she trying to keep time with the world? Is her confidence in God or is it in her appearance and her ability to attract men? For a woman who is waiting, she should NOT know what it takes to please a man. If you try to copy the world with the latest fashion and trends, chances are great that a Godly single man will not notice you. It is very unappealing. Don’t be afraid to do things differently. Define your own style. But whatever you do, keep it modest. If you’re trying to attract attention with your skin, you will definitely get the wrong kind of attention. Then that bass player will definitely hit a note you will regret. Dressing modestly also speaks tons about your sensitivity to us. “This girl actually cares that I keep my mind focused on her as a person and not on her as an object of sexual desire.” I’ve always felt that truly beautiful girls, inside and out, do not know they’re beautiful. So don’t be afraid to stumble or appear different. When two awkward people come together, the word awkward ceases to exist and becomes something sacred. That’s the way God intended it. Yes, the world may point fingers and laugh. That’s okay. We’re awkward too. Isn’t there a right time and place for everything? So what does it matter what the world thinks? We live in a world that tells us we have to have sex to be men. Show us that you think differently. The biggest compliment I have ever received is when someone told me me, “John, you would have made a good dad. But I know God led you down a different road.”

3. Ask questions, about anything, no matter how personal. It tells me a lot of things about you – that you’re brave, you’re straightforward, you know what your priorities are, you’re open to being friends, and – most importantly – you’re confident in who you are. It tells me you are more than skin deep. “So where did you grow up” to “where do you go to church?” Ask your friends about us. Investigate us.

4. We don’t know what you’ve been through when it comes to guys. Has someone tried to take advantage of you? Lied to you? Arleen had a bad set with a bass player. We’re sorry. We want you to see that we’re different. While your trust may have been violated, let me say this very tactfully – We’re not responsible for what happened in your past. And you shouldn’t have sole responsibility for laying down rules and “boundaries” in future friendships. That’s not to say that guys can be insensitive to any trauma you have experienced. They can’t. But they don’t want to see you hurt anymore. When I see a girl that I care about hurt, I hurt. That’s called being friends, not emotionally dependent lovers. It may be hard to imagine in this day and time, especially since most of the chastity blogs are written by women, but there are indeed guys who know what the rules are – and live by those rules every day of their lives. There are actually guys too who do not date girls who are “willing” to save sex for marriage, or even have them as friends. And brace yourself for this shocking reality: There are actually guys who have said no to sex. Do you respect that? You need to tell us.

5. While you may be awkward, some of us are sensitive. Affirm our sensitivity. If I’m rescuing an animal from the middle of the road and you happen to be following me, turn on your hazard lights. Thanks. Tell us it matters. Defend us when necessary. It works both ways.

6. Let us know that we’re appreciated, even if you know you’re not going to marry us. Not every guy is easily “led on.” Not every guy is a sex animal ready to pounce on whatever warm-bodied female moves in front of him. Spend time with us. Talk to us. Let us know we’re doing something right. By doing so, you’re telling the whole world what kind of man you value. By staying silent, you allow us to wonder who YOU really are.

7. Trust us. I know this is a big one, because many of you have already had that trust violated. But as best you can, please make peace with your past and move on. An attitude of revenge and “prove yourself” will not build up a legacy that you want to leave on earth. Don’t allow yourself to be brought down to the level of the world. Learn to trust again. Pray for the discernment to draw you to Christian men and to avoid non-Christian men. I think virgin guys can pick up distrust a million miles away. Sometimes we are willing to ignore it, like if we think you are recovering from abuse, etc. But most of the time we interpret it as your attempt to be part of the feminist “man-bashing” crowd. And in our minds, that gives us a good reason to avoid you.

8. Treat everybody you meet with respect. If I want to meet you, it will probably be when you least expect it. I can be a clown and have been known to put on quite a show just to watch people’s reactions. “But you’re not going to marry, so what does it matter?” Yes, but I’m still a human being who needs social contact. Until you see or hear something that tells you otherwise, treat every guy like he could be the guy you spend the rest of your life with – no matter how old/young, rich/poor, simple/sophisticated, Catholic/Protestant, etc. This is especially true when you first meet a guy. I’m not saying jump in the car of the first man who shows you attention. That wouldn’t be using wise discernment. What I’m saying is be civilized and don’t be partial with your time and attention. Even the person you snub could be the friend of a friend . . . you never meet.

9. Break free from the chains of mom and dad. For some of you still living at home, etc., I know that’s near impossible. But learn to think for yourselves, to trust your own judgment, to discern the good guys from the bad guys. We’re not afraid of your mom, dad, or anybody else in your family. Have us over for lunch. A lot of older single guys probably wouldn’t mind if your family adopted us.

10. Don’t be afraid of letting people know you’re open to marriage, even in your church; because while we may not know each other, we may have friends in common. Usually, girls have more verbal skills than guys. Most guys appreciate that. I know I do. So if a guy is really interested in you, it will not matter to him how he meets you.

11. Put down the texting and social media and talk to us face to face; or if necessary, ear to ear on a telephone. Computer text does not convey 1/10th of what is communicated in a conversation. You can’t hear the other person’s tone of voice or inflections and you can’t see their body language or eye contact. Just place one step in the guy’s direction and say “what’s going on” and let God take care of the rest. Try your best to make eye contact with him. That is so important. But don’t knock him over the head if he glances at your body a few times. God made sexual desire. If he’s like you and has never had sex, then your desires are evenly matched. Introduce him to your brain. Can you solve an unbelievably difficult puzzle? Show off a little bit.

12. Understand what the guy who is saving sex has said “no” to and the self control it took him to be available to you today, whether as a friend or as a potential husband. This is especially true for an older guy. Think about all the times he has been ridiculed and laughed at and still had the will power to say no to even one night of pleasure. Consider his age and think about how many nights that involved. Think about all the friends, or would be friends, he has lost because he would not have sex. Think of the people who have turned their backs on him because he does not “fit in” with the ways of the world or have a wife and family. Think of the embarrassing questions he’s had to endure at work, church, and out in everyday life. “So, how many grandchildren do you have?” Then you should see just how little it takes to give him one ounce of encouragement.

http://arleenspenceley.com/everett-fritz/

Emotional Chastity?

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Emotional chastity. It’s one of the new buzz phrases of our times. But what does it really mean? That depends on the person you ask and what you read. It seems to be a take off of an idea St. John Paul expressed in Love and Responsibility:

“The [emotional experience for a woman] may be connected with, for instance, an impression of ‘strength’, the [emotional experience for a man] with an impression of ‘charm’, but both are connected with a whole person of the other sex, not only with that person’s ‘body’. This susceptibility (which is different from sensual excitability) to the sexual value residing in ‘a whole person of the other sex’, to ‘femininity’ or ‘masculinity’, should be called sentiment.” (page 110)

The word “susceptibility” is a little confusing here because it generally means influenced or harmed by a particular thing. It’s used in our language as something negative. Susceptible to what? Rape? Is he saying that every male-female encounter is risky business? I don’t think St. John Paul was using susceptibility in a negative sense. “Awareness” might have been a better choice. It might have been clearer if he had said: “This awareness of our femininity or masculinity should be called sentiment.” I would just call it sexual awareness. I think it’s a natural component of wisdom and discernment. If you’re comfortable meeting people and are walking in God’s will for your life, you don’t have to stop and check your emotions every few minutes. You don’t have to whip out a rule book and wonder “did I cross the line here and there?”

It’s interesting that St. John Paul never mentioned “emotional chastity.” But rather defined an emotional experience with the whole person of the opposite sex as a sentiment. But sentimental does not mean the same thing as emotional. Later on in the book he referred to it as an “affection” and wrote that: “Affectionate love is not indeed focused on the body as is sensuality. For that reason it is so frequently identified with spiritual love.” Ah, spiritual love. Isn’t that a Christian virtue? Isn’t that the kind of love all celibate people should strive for? There has been much written over the years on the four areas of compatibility that are needed for marriage – Spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. And of course the lines between these are often blurred. For example, some writers put the role of sex hormones under physical and some put them under emotional. Does it really have to be this complicated? It’s as if we have absolutely no control over our thought processes and we have to turn to sources other than the Bible to lay down the rules for us. Are men and women always “susceptible” to something happening every time they communicate with each other? Or is it just part of the larger ongoing public discussion that means nothing? To me, the mere phrase “emotional chastity” sounds like an oxymoron. It’s like saying “I’ll have a sirloin sunny side up. It makes no sense. Has mankind devolved to the point where we think all of our emotions are of a sexual nature? That all sexual thoughts are evil? The Oxford dictionary’s definition of chastity is: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.”

I hope we haven’t devolved that far. It seems to me that “emotional chastity” is just an effort to put a Christian spin on distrust and suspicion. What would be its opposite? Emotional sex? Can a person have sex without emotion? Honestly, I think it’s a phrase used by cold-hearted single women to rationalize their fear of the opposite sex. For example, a gentleman could be talking to a woman in Waffle House over breakfast one morning about global warming. But to reinforce her superiority over him, she could walk out the door at the drop of a hat chanting “emotional chastity.” And he’s like “what?” It’s a phrase that acts as a sword in women’s battle for moral superiority. It’s so vague she can whip it out anytime. It’s so stupid who will even know what it means? Let’s not forget that a man’s capacity for love is just as great as women’s.

“Emotional chastity” also gives single women an excuse to act cold-hearted and to turn their shoulders on all men, including Christian single men. Is that doing unto others what you would have them do unto you? I’m afraid not. It’s the epitome of selfishness and arrogance. My image of femininity is one of acceptance and support. It’s not one of competition and pride. But I don’t know many real women today, especially single women in their 20s and 30s. Even if a woman was sexually abused, raped, assaulted, or whatever, that does not give her a license to treat every man she meets in the future with disrespect. I have seen these attitudes over the years. They reach 35-40 and all of their friends are girlfriends. Then they realize that men have memories too. I’ve seen a few of these attitudes change in older age when they realize God did not guarantee them husbands. Some men are willing to forget. Some are not. Christian guys who respect women don’t need to be taught sensitivity regarding rape. They don’t need sexual sensitivity training. I know I’ve said this before on my blog, but I will say it again – I do not believe a woman can “lose” her virginity through rape. The idea of forcing a woman to do something against her will makes me literally sick. So if there are any women reading this who have been through such trauma, don’t worry about a Christian man’s response to it. If it’s ever discussed, don’t think that he’s going to hold that against you. He won’t. And just think, we haven’t even brought in the question of whether or not a person is open to marriage. That’s the worst thing about this whole conversation. It assumes that all men and women are called to be married. It assumes that all single men are looking for sex. It assumes that all women are looking for sugar daddies. It especially saddens me when I hear “emotional chastity” because it tells me that the person is not capable of being my friend, only a date.

I think this bizarre concept of emotional chastity does explain a lot of the distrust I see today. It explains why the word date now means to have sex. It explains why asking for a phone number now means asking for sex. It explains why a simple “hello” can be construed as sexual harassment. It explains why the coldest single girls are often the ones sitting in church pews, wearing their chastity rings, guarding their precious hearts of every emotion that might come there way. Should they stop and help the dying man on the side of the street? It depends on how chastely they could do it. I mean, if he’s a good-looking dude, we can’t expect them to render any help. They might have an unchaste thought. Where in the world are we going? The differences between men and women are so much greater than anatomical variations. There are so many more things to talk about. Why are we stuck on sex? Why are we using sex to stop the progress of human civilization? So single ladies, remember that if you can’t treat the men in your lives with dignity today, you can’t expect a man with dignity in your future tomorrow. And if you are called to celibacy, you better get used to talking to other ladies.

What about emotional chastity in guys? Did you just ask yourself if there is such a thing? Guys? Chastity? I think that’s an underlying theme of this whole “emotional chastity” discussion, to reinforce the idea that only women are capable of chastity. After all, do an internet search and see how many chastity sites you find that are written by men. It’s less than 1%. See how many chastity books you find written by men. It’s less than 1%. So single ladies, yes I believe you should guard your hearts. But if you lock them up and throw away the keys, I guess you should pray that the Supreme Court rules in favor of same sex marriage. Because you will only have each other to marry.

https://books.google.com/books?id=TNRY9HkssDQC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=sentimentality+love+%22love+and+responsibility%22+john&source=bl&ots=szZj_HxUC-&sig=HMMCP6_EewSgb5O5XdAbrcBAG8o&hl=en&sa=X&ei=foFsVYLHJsOyggSLlYHwCA&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=sentimentality%20love%20%22love%20and%20responsibility%22%20john&f=false