It occurred to me this weekend that we get all those chastity lectures in the wrong circumstances. As training for the battle, they fall rather short. Can you imagine if soldiers did all their training in classrooms and auditoriums instead of ever playing war games, climbing over walls and running through the gas hut? How useless they would be!
And yet when we are up against one of the most powerful forces in the universe--sexual attraction--we get a few goodhearted lectures in broad daylight and then sent out to cope without any supervision. Really, we should recreate battlefield conditions for chastity training: dark, drink, hours of conversation with the best looking man/girl around, a sofa.
"McAmbrose! What do you say?"
"I have to go home now, SIR!"
"I can't hear you, McAmbrose!"
"I HAVE TO GO HOME NOW, SIR!!!"
My guess is that many of my readers are really solid on chastity theory but just not as brilliant in the field. But I am not blaming you but chastity lecturers, who lack imagination and talk too much.
One of the mistakes of chastity lecturers is to assume that girls and women don't want to engage in sexual activity, but are interested only in getting attention, and all they need is enough self-esteem to tell the monsters pawing at them to leave them alone. Now, my guess is that this may true for the under-16 set, particularly the under-14 set, but it is not so true for the over-16 set, whose crafty little bodies have but one thought and one thought alone, which is to reproduce.
The brains in the crafty little bodies may think they are up to something completely different from reproduction, but they are not in charge. The hormones are in charge. The sneaky bodies control the hormones, and this is one reason why Old Time Religion doesn't seem to like bodies and wants to fast them into submission. Look at poor old Saint Augustine wondering why his body will not do what his brain wants, but quite the other way around.
So it really is quite foolish to pretend that girls and women over 15 or 16 have only lustful boys to battle when, in fact, their principal enemies are themselves. Usually Single women do not want to reproduce, but that is what their bodies are after, and so the bodies scheme against the brains, and ordinarily chaste, continent women discover that the unthinkable has suddenly become thinkable. "Good heavens," they think, startled by the onslaught of sweet, sweet dopamine, "Were Moses, St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Maria Goretti, St. Edith Stein and Blessed John Paul II wrong all along?"
"McAmbrose! What did Saint Maria Goretti say about mortal sin?"
"SIR! She said it was better to die than to commit a mortal sin, SIR!"
"McAmbrose! I am not convinced by your tone. Which pontiff ruled that prolongued premarital kissing was itself a serious sin?"
"Alexander VII, SIR!"
"WHOOOO did you say?"
"Alexander SEVENTH, SIR!"
"Get out of that car and give me 100 push-ups."
The best safeguard of chastity is humility, I heard somewhere or other, which is why it is better to face up to the fact that, although one has managed to look like an angel of purity and innocence, one is actually a normal fallen human being. Obviously you can't go around telling men that, since it spooks the little darlings*, but you have to tell yourself that and take all due precautions.
Take, for example, my new sisterhood, married ladies. You would think that married ladies, having our own nice (we hope) men at home, would simply become non-combatants in the battle against the world, the flesh and the devil, and never again reflect upon the fact that men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life. But this is not so. Years ago, whenever I made visits to a married friend, she always asked me searching questions about her ex-boyfriend and eventually told me about her crush on a sportscaster. These confidences were in hushed, excited tones, as if my pal had been storing them up until she could tell a woman who would not say, "But you're married!". Quite obviously she could not simply call up her ex-boyfriend and suggest coffee, or figure out a way to meet the sportscaster. Ah ha ha ha. No.
The spirit of "But you're married!" helps keep married women in line, but perhaps this is a subject for another post. It is my Single reader I am thinking of today, particularly the kind who has always grieved for Single friends who have inexplicably fallen off the chastity bandwagon but is now herself assailed with temptations that, having shown up in person, don't FEEL like temptations but The Right Thing To Do. And so I channel to Saint Paul, the ultimate chastity speaker, who got right to the heart of things:
19. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
(1 Corinthians 19-20, KJV)
In other words, Saint Paul doesn't give a tinker's damn if temptations feel like the right thing to do. First of all, feelings are not facts. And second, you have no right to do them. Your body, including your sweet, sweet dopamine, does not belong to you but to God. Now get off that sofa, soldier, and give me 100.
*Especially the ones who have virgin-whore complexes. Oooh la la!