I don't need to try heroin to know that I should stay the heck away from heroin.
Codeine, on the other hand, is a different petal of the poppy, because I have indeed taken codeine, and I have never had such a chemical high in my life. I was so happy, so blissful--and in such terrible pain because it made my rib cage feel like it was coming apart. In memory of my ribs, I have not taken codeine since. Meanwhile, occasionally friends are given morphine at the hospital, and afterwards we giggle over them having being given a highly addictive substance with a darkly glamorous reputation by a respectable doctor.
"How was it?" I say.
"It was awesome," they say.
"It's terribly addictive," we say together.
This is all a metaphor for sex because chastity speakers always have lousy metaphors and similes for sex, so why should I be any different, eh?
I think chastity speakers do as much damage as they do good, and they are at their worst when they try to terrify teenagers into keeping their clothes on my telling them that sex robs them of their intrinsic worth. What crap.
Nothing can rob you of your intrinsic worth. You're a lot more like a hundred dollar bill/50 pound note than a glass of water or whatever the horrible prop is these days. No many how many hands you-the-currency go through, you are still worth a hundred dollars/50 pounds. You might get a bit crumpled and possibly you get covered in germs, but you're still legal tender until some idiot sets fire to you to show off how rich he is.
But of course you're worth a heck of a lot more than a hundred dollar bill or fifty pound note, as you hopefully remember every time you contemplate the life, passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That said, sex is for marriage. Sex outside of marriage is like nasty heroin, sex inside marriage is like the prescription drug. Sex, in short, is the opiate of the married. Did I mention it's addictive? It's addictive.
It is also one of the most powerful natural forces that govern human beings. Reader after reader has written in to say that they NEVER thought they would do the things they have just done with their boyfriends before they got married. NEVER. They were totally committed to being chaste, and they read the chastity books, or they went to Theology of the Body conversation groups, or they actually gave chastity lectures themselves. In short, they did all the theory and now that they are in the field, so to speak, they are screwing up. As are their
Welcome to the Struggle with Chastity. Everyone's first mistake is to think that resisting sexual temptation is easy. Yet how many times did you think about sex today? (I once asked someone how often he thought about sex. He said, "You mean, in an hour?") You're definitely thinking about it now, and I apologize, but it's such an obvious temptation of Single life that I have to write about it.
Singles think about sex way more than Marrieds do. I think much more about food although that may partly be chastity training and partly sublimation, not just it being an ordinary part of ordinary life now. But, aw gee, I cannot imagine anything worse than going to a Theology of the Body talk with B.A. How boring and uncomfortable and how painful to watch the poor Singles in increasing anguish. Blah!
Actually, I did go to one when I was Single, and I was very impressed by the speaker, who was a youngish married guy. (Incidentally, I never listen to anything virgins say about sex. I will read the great intellectual saints on the topic, but that's it from my ontological superiors. Virgins should ask questions and voice fears about sex, not give speeches and advice. On coping with chaste celibacy, okay. It would be fantastic if every virgin priest got up in the pulpit and explained to the whole congregation how he copes with sexual temptation. The churches would be packed.) Anyway, someone asked the Young Married Guy, who had spent at least an hour showing us there was more to Catholic sexuality than "How Far Can You Go?", was asked "So how far can you go?" And he said, blushing to his hairline, that as crazy as it sounded, he honestly thought dating people shouldn't do more than kiss each other on the cheek or give each other a nice hug.
What?! No making out? Oh, the outrage. But for some years I have seen that he is right. Not only did a pope rule that making out before marriage was a sin--and who am I to contradict Alexander VII, eh?--but it quite obviously leads to ... other stuff. Yes, I know it is one of the most fun things in the world. I know that. Knocking back shots of cherry vodka like there's no tomorrow is fun too. I can think of many super-fun things that seem like good and harmless ideas at the time but are actually occasions for sin, if not actually sins themselves. I think I can manage three shots of vodka over an hour without getting drunk, and I think kissing handsome young men on both cheeks is okay, especially if I say "MWAH MWAH" at the same time. But that's it for the vodka and the handsome young men. C'est la vie.
"But you're married," you all say, and I say, "Ha! You just wait until you're married." And indeed, my little poppets, one of the reasons why you have to discipline yourselves to chastity now is because you may need it later,when you are terribly irritated with your husband's bad habits and you become great pals with that funny new guy at work/your golf instructor/your brother-in-law.
But it really is easier for Married people to stay chaste than for Single people to stay chaste because almost all the world still thinks that adultery is wicked, even though a good chunk of it thinks that serial monogamy (or consensual polygamy) is great for the unmarried. The fallout from adultery is a lot more obvious that the fallout from ordinary Single person fornication, unless you live with your parents and they walk in on you. Oh. My.
How glad I am I will not be blogging about this any more. I feel that I need to write a list now.
How to Be Chaste (a List)
1. Always remember that no man can touch you if he is three feet away. The secret of our relatively chaste engagement is that B.A. and I lived three thousand, three hundred and seventeen miles apart.
2. Remind yourself constantly that you are dedicated to a life of chastity. Get a single bed. Hang a cross or crucifix over it. Say your prayers. Read yourself something non-sexy until you feel yourself drifting off to sleep. Do not treat yourself to a sexual fantasy. If you do, you have to go to Confession and tell a priest about it. Sucks to be you.
3. Various saints have written that there is a connection between fasting and chastity. Worth a shot, but don't starve yourselves. Feeling hungry between normal breakfast and normal lunch and between normal lunch and normal dinner is probably enough. Maybe the idea is to get used to saying "No" to your whiny body when it wants something it shouldn't have yet.
4. Various confessors have recommended vigorous sports. Maybe this is because exercise tires you out and helps you fall asleep that night. Maybe it is a salutary reminder of what your body is for. Maybe, like fasting, it trains you to say "No" to your body when it whines "This is hard. I wanna quit."
5. Be humble and honest with yourself. You are probably a sexual sinner. Your sins are probably mild. They are probably mostly things you thought up while you were in a boring lecture or were whiling away the time between going to bed and going to sleep. Maybe you got a thrill from reading that trashy book or watching that sex scene. I'm not throwing stones here. I'm just reminding you that you are a human being and without God's grace you are not stronger than the tsunami of sexual desire that has carried away so many of your formerly devout Catholic friends and relations. John Paul's Theology of the Body is really beautiful, but John Paul never snuggled on the couch in front of the TV late at night with an attractive member of the opposite sex, did he? He was ordained before there was TV.
6. Don't read sexy books or watch sexy TV shows or sexy movies or play sexy video games (I imagine there are sexy video games) or look at porn or write erotic stories or have erotic conversations over the internet. Otherwise you will drive yourself crazy. You may even develop a porn addiction, and this will almost certainly blight your life.
7. If you find yourself going about with an attractive man, have a chastity mantra. "Don't touch the hottie" worked for me for a whole week and a half, and then B.A. grabbed me. (My subsequent post-kissing thought was "You better want to marry me, or I am going to be REALLY MAD.")
8. If you practise making The Speech, imagine that you are making The Speech to someone you are crazy about. I realize that when we imagine making The Speech, it's to some slimy, ugly, arrogant dude. However, when we actually do make The Speech, it's more likely to be to someone we actually would want to sleep with, were we married to them. Oh, and don't feel GUILTY! He should feel guilty for putting you in a position where you have to make The Speech. And the only correct response to The Speech is, "I respect that." If he doesn't call afterwards, he has ceased wasting your time. No big loss.
9. Despite Alexander VII, I do not think it is such a big deal if people who are actually engaged, which means that there is an actual engagement ring and an actual wedding date and his mother actually knows about it, make out.
10. This reminds me: if you "made a mistake", a phrase many readers use to mean "had sex", that is between you and God. Go to confession, and as part of your penance, you must not tell anyone else except (if applicable) your doctor, your fiance or--it just occurs to me--anyone else you're going to "make a mistake" with before you make the mistake again. Diseases are rife, and your fiance (or future male concubine) has a right to informed consent. "I'm not a virgin, but I have no diseases" is probably enough information. I suppose a Christian fiancé will want to hear "and I'm sorry about that" between "I'm not a virgin" and "but I have no diseases."
This is one of the most controversial things I blog on. One of my ethics profs once said is that that Church can never tell people how to sin more safely. I'm not interested in that myself. But I can tell you that most of the time, you must shut your mouth about your sexual sins and not try to get relief or a feeling of forgiveness by telling multiple people--especially men--about them. Tell a confessor, a therapist and/or a doctor instead. The only other person who deserves such information is the person who has elected to go to bed with you at some point in the future. Hopefully that is your fiancé. And do not give details. Do not admit to numbers. He might say he wants to know, but actually he doesn't. He wants to think he is the best and most important man in your life in EVERY WAY. Never underestimate men's feelings of competition with other men. It's not about control. It's about losing face. And jealousy, naturally.
11. Don't brag that you're a virgin. Pride goeth before a fall, and virgins who like to go around telling people they are virgins are at risk of virgin-hunters. Young virgins usually know very little about sexual dynamics; clever non-virgins often do. Stay under the radar of the wicked, and refuse to discuss something so personal with anyone other than your doctor or, if you get engaged, your fiancé.
If you're Catholic, your Catholic friends will assume you're a virgin anyway. Your non-Catholic friends will probably assume you're not. Whatever. It is so not anybody's business but your own (and anyone you go to bed with). Incidentally, St. Augustine ruled that you can't lose your spiritual virginity without an act of will. So if you've never consented to sex, you're a spiritual virgin, no matter has been done to you. If you're also a physical virgin, it's because nobody messed with you when you were a kid. Or a teenager. Or yesterday. This should be a sobering thought.
My first husband was obsessed with me because I was a virgin. If I hadn't been one, he would have left me alone. Fact. "I would have pitied you," he said, with all the arrogance of youth. I should NEVER have told him at all in the first place.
Yeah, some scars never heal. On the bright side, here I am happily married to B.A. and living in the Historical House.
12. Try to see chastity within the context of other virtues, like prudence, temperance and fortitude. For example, you probably have other physical disciplines you stick to in the face of temptation. If you are a vegan or celiac, you are very careful about what you eat, and good for you. If you are a non-drinking alcoholic, you avoid drinking and occasions for drink. If you are a runner, you run no matter what the weather and you put up with a lot of discomfort. If you are a boxer, you train and fight. You might even face fear, and win. (For me the most important fight was won when I climbed over the ropes.)
Well, I hope all that was helpful.