Friday, August 14, 2009

Chastity - The Lessons of St. Francis by John Michael Talbot

This was one of the least enlightening chapters of this book; however there were a few new thoughts. In our society today, in regard to sex, we can hardly imagine any better outcome for our children’s future than serial monogamy or maybe just “safe sex.” The idea of chastity seems almost quaint.

First, let me state that “chastity” is NOT a synonym for celibacy. Chastity simply means embracing and living a lifestyle exhibiting a sexual ethic that combines a reverence for this wonderful creation of God’s, respect for our partner, and an awareness of the potential dangers of unrestricted and unrestrained sensuality. As the author of this book pointed out, “the right mushroom can taste great on a steak, while the wrong mushroom can kill you. Electricity can light up a room or give you a life-threatening shock. Likewise sex can be a source of joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain, deep intimacy or desperate loneliness, gentleness and vulnerability or violence and self-protection.”

Talbot cites a recent survey (not too recent since this book was published 12 years ago) that Americans fall into three categories in regard to their attitude towards sex: (1) traditional (emphasis on lifelong commitment, exclusivity, and mutual respect and well-being); (2) relational (part of a loving relationship but not necessarily exclusive, committed or confined to marriage); and (3) recreational (simply a means of deriving pleasure.)

Based on my reading, observation, and experience, I make these suggestions for Christian chastity in 2009:

  1. Value your sexuality – not overvaluing it or undervaluing it.

  2. Look to history for how sexuality has been expressed – principles set through the centuries might have more validity than propaganda put out by current advertisers and/or entertainers.

  3. Set realistic and satisfying limits for yourself and live within them

  4. Define with your partner mutually agreeable goals/limits to increase your level of trust and intimacy within your relationship.

  5. Allow your sexuality to unite with your spirituality so that your love becomes more like divine love.

No comments: