Chastity

Chastity

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Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

.

In the western world, the term has become closely associated (and is often used interchangeably) with sexual abstinence
Sexual abstinence
Sexual abstinence is the practice of refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity for medical, psychological, legal, social, philosophical or religious reasons.Common reasons for practicing sexual abstinence include:*poor health - medical celibacy...

, especially before marriage. However, the term remains applicable to persons in all states, single or married, clerical or lay, and has implications beyond sexual temperance.

Etymology


The words "chaste" and "chastity" stem from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 adjective castus meaning "pure". The words entered the English language around the middle of the 13th century; at that time they meant slightly different things. "Chaste" meant "virtuous or pure from unlawful sexual intercourse" (referring to extramarital sex
Extramarital sex
Extramarital sex occurs when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than his or her marriage partner.Where extramarital sexual relations breach a sexual norm it may also be referred to as adultery, fornication, philandery, or infidelity...

),
while "chastity" meant "virginity". It was not until the late 16th century that the two words came to have the same basic meaning as a related adjective and noun.

In Abrahamic religions


In Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious beliefs, acts of sexual nature are restricted to the context of marriage. For unmarried persons therefore, chastity is identified with sexual abstinence
Sexual abstinence
Sexual abstinence is the practice of refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity for medical, psychological, legal, social, philosophical or religious reasons.Common reasons for practicing sexual abstinence include:*poor health - medical celibacy...

. Sexual acts outside or apart from marriage, such as adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

, fornication
Fornication
Fornication typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. For many people, the term carries a moral or religious association, but the significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and cultures. The...

 and prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

, are considered sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

ful.

In Christianity


In the Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 tradition, chastity is synonymous with sexual purity. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage.

In Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 morality, chastity is placed opposite the deadly sin
Seven deadly sins
The 7 Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin...

 of lust
Lust
Lust is an emotional force that is directly associated with the thinking or fantasizing about one's desire, usually in a sexual way.-Etymology:The word lust is phonetically similar to the ancient Roman lustrum, which literally meant "purification"...

, and is classified as one of seven virtues
Seven virtues
In the Catholic catechism, the seven catholic virtues refer to the combination of two lists of virtues, the 4 cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, restraint or temperance, and courage or fortitude, and the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope, and love or charity ; these were adopted by the...

. The moderation of sexual desires is required to be virtuous. Reason, will and desire can harmoniously work together to do what is good.

In the context of marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, the spouses commit to a lifelong relationship which excludes the possibility of sexual intimacy with other persons. Chastity therefore requires marital fidelity. Within marriage, various Abrahamic religions consider several practices to be considered unchaste, such as: sexual intimacy during or shortly after menstruation
Menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is the scientific term for the physiological changes that can occur in fertile women for the purpose of sexual reproduction. This article focuses on the human menstrual cycle....

 or childbirth
Childbirth
Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

.(see Leviticus
Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

 12:2, 15:24, 20:18)

After marriage, a third form of chastity, often called "vidual chastity", is expected of a woman while she is in mourning for her late husband. For example, Jeremy Taylor
Jeremy Taylor
Jeremy Taylor was a clergyman in the Church of England who achieved fame as an author during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. He is sometimes known as the "Shakespeare of Divines" for his poetic style of expression and was often presented as a model of prose writing...

 defined 5 rules in Holy Living (1650), including abstaining from marrying "so long as she is with child by her former husband" and "within the year of mourning".

The particular ethical system may not prescribe each of these. For example, within the scope of Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 ethic, Roman Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 view sex within marriage as chaste, but prohibit the use of artificial contraception as an offense against chastity, seeing contraception as unnatural, contrary to God's will and design of human sexuality. Many Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 communities allow for artificial contraception, seeing the restriction of family size as possibly not contrary to God's will. A stricter view is held by the Shakers
Shakers
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, known as the Shakers, is a religious sect originally thought to be a development of the Religious Society of Friends...

, who prohibit marriage (and indeed sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 under any circumstances) as a violation of chastity.

The Catholic Church, has set up various rules regarding clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage to be sinful, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these...

, while some Protestant communities, such as Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 and Anglican traditions, allow clergy to marry or even favour it.

In Christian traditions, celibacy is required of monastic
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

s—monks, nuns and friars—even in a rare system of double cloisters, in which husbands could enter the (men's) monastery while their wives entered a (women's) sister monastery. Celibacy among the clergy is a relavtively recent practice: it became Church policy at the Second Lateran Council in 1139. It was not uniformly enforced among the clergy until 200 years later. Certain Latin-Rite Catholic priests may receive a dispensation to be married before ordination, and all Eastern Catholic priests outside the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 are also permitted to be married, provided they are so before ordination.

Vows of chastity can also be taken by laypersons, either as part of an organised religious life (such as Roman Catholic Beguines and Beghards) or on an individual basis, as a voluntary act of devotion and/or as part of an ascetic lifestyle, often devoted to contemplation
Contemplation
The word contemplation comes from the Latin word contemplatio. Its root is also that of the Latin word templum, a piece of ground consecrated for the taking of auspices, or a building for worship, derived either from Proto-Indo-European base *tem- "to cut", and so a "place reserved or cut out" or...

. The voluntary aspect has led it to being included among the counsels of perfection.

Chastity (the state and practise of sexual abstinence outside of marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

) is a central and pivotal concept in Christian praxis
Christian Theological Praxis
Christian theological praxis is a term used by most liberation theologians to express how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be lived in the world.-Description:...

. Chastity's importance in traditional Christian teaching stems from the fact that it is regarded as essential in maintaining and cultivating the unity of body with spirit and thus the integrity of the human being. It is also regarded as fundamental to the practise of the Christian life because it involves an apprenticeship in self-mastery. By attaining mastery over one's passions, reason, will and desire can harmoniously work together to do what is good. Chastity is classified as one of seven virtues
Seven virtues
In the Catholic catechism, the seven catholic virtues refer to the combination of two lists of virtues, the 4 cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, restraint or temperance, and courage or fortitude, and the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope, and love or charity ; these were adopted by the...

.

Eastern religions


Hinduism: Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

's view on premarital sex is rooted in its concept of the stages of life
Life
Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased , or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate...

. The first of these stages, known as brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya is one of the four stages of life in an age-based social system as laid out in the Manu Smrti and later Classical Sanskrit texts in Hinduism. It refers to an educational period of 14–20 years which starts before the age of puberty. During this time the traditional vedic sciences are...

,
roughly translates as chastity. Celibacy is considered the appropriate behavior for both male
Male
Male refers to the biological sex of an organism, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gametes, called spermatozoa. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete or ovum, in the process of fertilization...

 and female
Female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

 students during this stage, which precedes the stage of the married householder. Many Sadhus (Hindu monks) are also celibate as part of their ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 discipline. In classical Hinduism, sexual intercourse was seen as a sacred act of procreation- within marriage.

Jainism: Although the Digambara
Digambara
Digambara "sky-clad" is one of the two main sects of Jainism. "Sky-clad" has many different meaning and associations throughout Indian religions. Many representations of deities within these traditions are depicted as sky-clad, e.g. Samantabhadra/Samantabhadrī in Yab-Yum...

 followers of Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 are celibate monks, most Jains belong to the Shvetambara sect, which allows spouses and children. The general Jain code of ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 requires that one do no harm to any living being in thought, action, or word. Adultery is clearly a violation of a moral agreement with one's spouse, and therefore forbidden, and fornication too is seen as a violation of the state of chastity.

Buddhism: The teachings of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 include the noble eightfold path, comprising a division called right action. For laymen this involves abstaining from sexual misconduct, and for monks strict chastity.

See also

  • Seven virtues
    Seven virtues
    In the Catholic catechism, the seven catholic virtues refer to the combination of two lists of virtues, the 4 cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, restraint or temperance, and courage or fortitude, and the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope, and love or charity ; these were adopted by the...

  • Chastity Belt
    Chastity belt
    A chastity belt is a locking item of clothing designed to prevent sexual intercourse. They may be used to protect the wearer from rape or temptation. Some devices have been designed with additional features to prevent masturbation...

  • Seven Deadly Sins
    Seven deadly sins
    The 7 Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin...

  • Ten Commandments
    Ten Commandments
    The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

  • Theology of the body
    Theology of the Body
    Theology of the Body is the topic of a series of 129 lectures given by Pope John Paul II during his Wednesday audiences in the Pope Paul VI Hall between September 1979 and November 1984. It was the first major teaching of his pontificate...


External links