Quality of Life
The first chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, from which today’s Gospel comes, twice makes clear that Mary and Joseph were chaste before and after their becoming husband and wife. (Catholics and others believe that they continued this chastity throughout their married life.)
If chastity between husband and wife sounds strange, especially in this flesh-obsessed age, how about this?
All Christians, in one way or another, are called to practice chastity.
Now, this not only sounds strange, it sounds like a recipe for the extinction of an entire religion (cf, the Shakers).
The point, however, is that chastity is more than just continence or abstinence from any physical relations, although that is its fullest sense.
Chastity is also a quality of life to be lived in different ways according to one’s state of life.
The quality of chastity is to be not controlled by sex in any way, but to keep our thoughts, actions, and relationships in perfect alignment with God and his plan.
For celibates (and even for some married people who freely and mutually choose it), this indeed includes perpetual abstinence from any form of sexual activity. For singles, this includes abstinence from any form of such activity until marriage.
For every husband and wife, chastity includes abstinence from any form of sexual activity except with each other. It also includes respecting each other and respecting God’s purposes, both when they are intimate and when they are continent.
Again, chastity is more than just abstinence: it is not being controlled by sex, but keeping our thoughts, actions, and relationships in perfect alignment with God and his plan.
In the flesh-obsessed culture in which we live, chastity is a radical, countercultural idea, but it reaffirms and deepens our quality of life that rises above the transitory and deteriorating things of the flesh to the eternal and infinite bliss of the world to come.