We know it sounds old-fashioned.
That doesn’t mean it’s not good for Us.
Yes, seriously. We know the word sounds antiquated. We know chastity doesn’t align with our current cultural values. But hear us out. Chastity isn’t an arbitrary set of prudish rules meant to ruin our sexual fun. It’s tied to a larger sexual ethic that is fully expressed in the New Testament but has its roots in the Old Testament—one that recognizes the value of every human being.
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Because every person bears the image of God, every person deserves dignity. We should never use others for our own ends. We should never objectify another human being.
That’s why sexual relationships are linked to marriage in the New Testament. The apostle Paul wrote:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.
1 Thessalonians 4:3–6
Notice how Paul associates sexual immorality (sex outside of the context of marriage) with wronging or taking advantage of others. That’s because marriage demands that we give ourselves entirely to our spouse—emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and physically. It provides a full context of active, giving love that prevents us from simply using the other person for our own pleasure.
At least that’s the ideal. But let’s be clear: marriage doesn’t automatically make us good partners. And that’s why chastity isn’t a spiritual practice only for single people. It is for all people.
If you’re single, practicing chastity is about avoiding behavior that objectifies or uses a person who is made in God’s image.
If you’re married, practicing chastity is about honoring and serving your spouse by learning not to sexualize people or relationships outside of the marriage. It’s about building a sex life together in which you honor and serve each other.
READY TO TAke a Next Step?
If you think you’re ready to try practice chastity or at least explore what that might look like in your life, download this guide. It will give you a little more background on the practice, as well as some questions you can discuss in a group or reflect on by yourself.
Chastity and Community
Being in authentic community with other believers is essential to practicing chastity well. That’s true whether you’re single or married. The reason is that chastity isn’t really about abstinence or celibacy (though either of those things may be aspects of your practice of chastity).
At its core, the spiritual practice of chastity is about building your capacity to have healthy, authentic, loving, respectful, non-sexualized relationships with other people. It’s about learning to see the dignity of others and to love and serve them well in response. It’s about seeing others as their heavenly Father sees them.
For that to happen, you have to be in community.
That’s a big idea. Our assumption is that chastity only requires us to withdraw from certain kinds of relationships. While it’s true that it requires us to change our behavior, it also means leaning into relationships not away from them.