This week’s prompt: Chastity (…as a single person. Be it physical or emotional.)
This prompt could go one (or more) of four ways:
- Physical chastity when single.
- Physical chastity when in a relationship.
- Emotional chastity when single.
- Emotional chastity when in a relationship.
Because I’m perhaps a little excited about this, I’m going to attempt to tackle all of the above. Here goes nothing!
1. Physical chastity when single.
I think there is a major difference when it comes to chastity whether you are single or in a relationship. Obviously when there is a specific person you are dating, the two of you will likely (and should) discuss your physical boundaries, but I’ll get to that. When you are single you set your own physical boundaries. When I was in college my boundaries weren’t always clear, but I quickly learned that if I set my own boundaries and stuck to them, it made saying no a lot easier, especially when I knew the reasons I had set my boundaries. These are lines we each have to determine for ourselves because what may drive one person wild may do nothing for someone else. That being said, there are, of course, boundaries which all single people should adhere to (so long as they are striving for holiness!), including, but not limited to: no pre-marital sex, all articles of clothing should remain on and in place, etc. Because let’s face it, even when we are single there is still a temptation to blur those lines with a random cute guy.
2. Physical chastity when in a relationship.
Number one makes number two a lot easier. If we set clear and reasoned boundaries as a single person, being careful to prayerfully discern these lines, then physical chastity in a relationship becomes easier. Notice that I said easier, not “perfectly easy and carefree” because that just doesn’t happen! Again, these lines should be determined both individually as well as collectively and prayerfully. Personally, my line involves no kissing before marriage. It might *sound* like an easy line, but even that can get complicated! Where are my hands allowed to go? How long should hugs be? Within a relationship (especially one bound for marriage) there are so many lines to consider when it comes to physical chastity. Of course the couple want to show affection, but that affection should be directly related to the state of their relationship. For example, sex is the consummation of the marriage vows, but before marriage vows are made, the affection that the couple shows each other should match their commitment to each other. If I’m saying something with my body that I’m not willing to say or live out with my words and other actions, then I’m lying. If I’m willing to reveal my body (even without having sex), but not willing to share my heart with someone, then that should be a red flag.
I’ve often found that when we push the bounds of intimacy in a relationship, what we are really seeking is one of two things (or both):
- Intimacy with God
- The stability and commitment of marriage.
One makes the other possible. If I’m not being intimate – completely and utterly intimate – with God, then I have no business being that intimate with anyone else. He gets my heart first.
3. Emotional chastity when single.
In a nutshell, emotional chastity boils down to this: where is reality? Is it reality that so-and-so is flirting with me and pursuing me OR is reality that I’m exaggerating how much attention so-and-so gives me? Staying grounded in reality helps us to guard our hearts before they are run away with fairytale daydreams of men in white horses coming to save us.
4. Emotional chastity when in a relationship.
Easier said than done. When there is a lovely, holy gentleman pursuing you and truly loving you (flaws and all) emotional chastity can easily fly out the window long before walking down the aisle for the “I Do”s. My advice on emotional chastity in a relationship is the same as when you are single: where is reality? That certain gentleman may love and treat you with more love and respect than you’ve ever known, but is it reality that he desires marriage with you? Are those words he intends to act on or is he simply telling you what he thinks you want to hear? An even bigger question when it comes to emotional chastity in a relationship: Is this where God desires my heart to be? We can so easily run away with dreams of the future when we are in a happy, healthy, holy relationship, but we must continue to ask God if it is His will that the relationship continue and that we continue to share our hearts with the person He has brought into our lives.
Chastity, in a nutshell.
Know your boundaries, why you chose them, and stick to them. Know reality and be more rooted in the present moment than daydreams of what could be.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!