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The Virtue of Chastity

刊登日期: 2013.04.28
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

"This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn.13:35) 

Many do not relate chastity with love except in the area of sexuality. To them, chastity simply means to not have sex. Not only is that wrong by itself, it is wrong in the understanding of chastity. 

In a specific way, chastity does have something to do with sexuality. It means having sexual intimacy only with the person to whom one is married. It means not having sexual intimacy with any other person. But in the general way, it means relating to every single person as one loved by Jesus. It means my relationship with them must always carry a certain dignity, regardless of the person’s own thinking of themselves. This is the Christian way of relating to people. It is the most unique way in which we, as Christian, show our LOVE. 

Chastity begins with being a disciple of Jesus. We call it self-discipline. I need to behave in such a way that I do not use others for my own purpose. St. Paul said that love “is not self seeking” ( 1 Cor. 13:5 ). 

Pope Benedict explains love with the original Latin word “caritas”. It is often translated as “charity” and to many it means giving to the poor generously. Again, that may be true. But it misses out the most important part: love of the poor begins with Jesus loving them as His own. We want to help the needy because in it, we show our love for Jesus. Pope Benedict used the word “care” instead. I care because Jesus cares for us, while we are helpless sinners, to die for our sins. It is in this sense of anticipation, thinking ahead, of the needs of others, that we practice discipleship. It is in this sense of selfless care that we practice chastity. How do I honor and bring out the best of another person by the way I relate to that person? This is difficult for young people, in relating to others who may invoke a natural response of sexual attraction. But this is not limited only to young people nor is it limited to those not married. Married people have the same struggle as those who are single. It is even more so in our society where sexuality is used in advertising as well as pornography. 

You see, chastity is really the fruit of self-discipline. It is the expression of freedom. It reflects the beatitude of “pure of heart”. In fact, it makes the person more attractive to others precisely because others admire that self-possession. 

As Chinese, we have our great teacher Confucius(孔子)who taught about self-discipline. He calls it 「修身」

In the book of Great Learning(《大學》), it says, 「物格而後知至,知至而後意識,意誠而後心正,心正而後身修。」 

Do I analyze things around me to know their limits (where I should stop)? Am I humbled by my limitations, to be genuinely sincere in my thoughts and intentions? It is in that sincerity that my intentions are noble. Thus I am a disciplined person. (My own inadequate translation.) 

I am just beginning to discover the richness of our Chinese classical writings. They are so scriptural. I am reading them again. Maybe that’s because I am getting older. Or that I was not too wise when younger. Anyway, I recommend them to you. 

「大學之道⋯⋯在止於至善。」For u s Christians, 「至 善」is a person, Jesus the Christ who is LOVE! 

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