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Manly Virtue: Chastity

28 June 2008 2 Comments

Chastity, or purity, is opposite of the deadly sin, lust. The Wikipedia definition is:

sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the ethical norms and guidelines of a certain culture, civilization or religion.”

Pretty good definition if you ask me. I hate to get all Bill Clinton-esque, but it does beg the question of what exactly “acceptable” means to that certain culture or civilization. The accepted sexual behavior of someone living as a Christian is drastically different than that of someone living as a Jew, Bhudist, Hindu, or an Islamist. Different religions, as well as different regions of the world, have differences that make the definition unique in different places for different people.

It will be impossible to cover all the different ways this could be defined, so I will try to define what it means to me – a white, Christian man born and living in the United States. Wikipedia says that in the Western world, this term has

“become closely associated (and is often used interchangeably) with sexual abstinence, especially before marriage, due to the restriction of sexual relations to marriage deriving from the Ten Commandments. However, the term remains applicable to persons in all states, single or married, clerical or lay, and has implications beyond sexual temperance.

Unmarried men living in the US have a difficult road to practice the strict, Catholic definition of Chastity. Men who believe that premarital sex is not only OK, but important to the healthy decision and compatibility of who to marry, can find themselves not accepted in certain circles. They have difficult choices to make when it comes to doing the deed vs. following their religious or personal beliefs.

Married men have it a little easier, but they are not completely free of the issue of what to do and when. Even in a monogamous relationship, men face temptation in other women, pornography and other stimulus that may lead them to lust behavior. Lusting after you wife, in my opinion, is as healthy as it gets when it comes to my definition of Chastity. In any event, this virtue needs to be addressed for those of us looking to Return To Manliness.

So what does it all mean?

For those guys who want to become manly in the way they live their lives, it all comes down to individual choice. For me, Chastity is very closely related to being a gentleman. I did not live by the Catholic definition and abstain from premarital sex. I believed it was very important to know if my future wife and I were sexually compatible. I didn’t, however, feel it necessary to be “a player” and sleep with as many women as necessary. I also thought it very important that if I was in a dedicated relationship, regardless if I thought I was going to marry that person or not, that I abstained from sex.

In short, I was no saint, but I wasn’t someone who actively used women either. Now that I am married, I do lust after my wife. I am not sure what modern Christian thought is on this point, but I interpret my marriage as a complex set of emotions and needs – sex being a large part of it. I enjoy looking at other women and I don’t look away when there is nudity or sexual situations in the movies. I like to think of myself as a gentleman who enjoys living and is in touch with his sexuality. My wife and I talk about these issues often.

Whether you are single, married, old or young, this manly virtue of Chastity is one that is best defined by individual choices. Don’t deny your sexual thoughts and emotions as a man. Embrace them and use them in your decision making process. Manliness, when it comes to this virtue, is understanding your comfort level and most importantly, regardless of your sexual decisions, to always be gentlemen.


  • Virilitas said:

    Thank you for writing about chastity. Since you mention it, I would like to make three points about the Catholic view of chastity:

    (1) Catholics believe sex is good, special and set aside; therefore, it should be used and discussed with great respect.

    (2) Catholic belief goes beyond simply prohibiting sex outside of marriage; it also prohibits seeking sexual pleasure (lust) outside of the marital act.

    (3) Whereas the world views chastity as an impossible “Thou shalt not…,” Catholics view chastity as a freedom from slavery to the sex drive that is possible with God’s help.

  • Kevin (author) said:


    Thank you for these comments. This is a great explanation and I appreciate you taking time to share them…

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