Sense of Life. Articles in English. Chastity: the Task of Married Couples.
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Chastity: the Task of Married Couples

I have long been convinced that chastity before marriage is a preparation for chastity in marriage and that it should continue there. This year my husband and I are celebrating our twelfth wedding anniversary. My husband was 28 when we married. I was 22. By the grace of God, we were both chaste when we entered the state of marriage.

The Sacrament of Matrimony bound us in a new, indissoluble reality. Our hearts were fused in the heart of Jesus, and only He can make them pure: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (The Book of Psalms 51:12).

To me, the word “chastity” means not just refraining from marital relations during a woman’s fertile period, but a whole way of living married life. After all, marital sex can also be impure if it is ruled by lust, when we fail to reckon with the needs of our spouse. Our great intercessor on this path of marital chastity is Mary.

Chastity is a marvelous gift for married couples. It enables them to develop other ways of expressing tenderness, of finding time for one another. (It can be worth our while to switch off the TV and talk about ourselves, our children, work, goals – and most importantly, of God working in our lives.) Our time spent together is time blest!

It is wonderful to live in harmony with God and nature. In our first five years of marriage we had three children. The first two were planned; the third was a special present from God. After our third child, we began seriously practicing NFP (Natural Family Planning). We charted my infertile periods, and then decided which days were suitable for intercourse. And that’s how matters stood until quite recently. But there came a time when we realized that NFP had become a means of contraception for us. Even though it seemed to us that we were always open to future life, for our part, we were doing everything in our power to prevent this from coming about. And yet God had a magnificent plan for us – a magnificent “conception” for our family. Could it be that by our actions we were thwarting His plan? Recently, despite the fact that we are not well off, we decided to open ourselves up to His divine action by not abstaining from marital relations throughout the first phase of my cycle. Given the irregularity of my cycles, this is like an open door to our Creator, since in this matter He is powerless to act without our agency.

A married couple’s practice of chastity reflects on their children. We parents are responsible for rearing our children in chastity. From us they learn all that is good and beautiful. Sadly, however, they also learn the things we have trouble with.

Our lifesaver in this regard is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is there that we overcome all the brokenness that sin brings into our family life. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, reminds us that the most important thing is the Eucharist, in which Christ’s covenant with His Church is commemorated and renewed. In [the Eucharist], a man and his wife find strength and support for their own marital covenant. To this, we might add the couple’s own prayer life. Without prayer, love dies.

Why am I writing this? Because without a deep relationship with God we are unable to live in love and practice the virtue of chastity, which flows from it.

Let us pray for one another, that we may be true to our marital covenant to the end. Let us draw strength from the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, that our families may grow strong in God. Let us heed the words of the Holy Father, who appeals to us: May the Holy Family of Nazareth be your example – the purity and love-filled tenderness of Mary, the faithfulness, decency and generous hard work of Joseph, and the meekness and obedience of Jesus. May we grow in holiness, and may no one in our families feel the absence of the Heavenly Father in their homes.

Dear young friends, do not allow yourselves to be manipulated by the mass media and secular press, which tell us that abstaining from sex is abnormal and unhealthy. It is the world that is abnormal! Satan uses the sin of impurity to take possession of our souls. This sin cruelly wounds our human dignity. It severs our relations with God and other people. Ultimately, it destroys our capacity for true, sacrificial love.


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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!"

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