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Love and family

Chastity: What are the limits of a single couple?

29 October 2021, Seytoo
Chastity: What are the limits of a single couple?

The problem is neither in the “license” nor in the “forbidden.” It is in the will to have a chaste engagement as an essential preparation, physically, psychologically and morally for marital chastity, without which there is no true love, that is to say love gift.

Chastity is a virtue, that is to say a habitual disposition to give one’s desires a human orientation, that is to say an orientation in accordance with reason and with the will which tends to love in truth.

In matters of romantic relationships, the reality to be ordered is sensuality, that is to say the dispositions of the body and of affectivity which prepare people (man and woman) for a true conjugal gift.

Sensuality is the first consequence of desire. Desire is interior; it is a movement of affectivity (libido) which tends towards a pleasant reality, in this case carnal union. Sensuality is the body's disposition to enjoy this reality; actual enjoyment is pleasure.

Sexual desire is nourished by the imagination (the phantasies which have as object, the body of the other or his own body); it is sharpened by the sight (more masculine) and by the hearing - the words of tenderness - (more feminine). It becomes more and more precise by touch.

This precision and this orientation of desire towards precise gestures that concern the body of the other and his own body, is felt as sexual arousal. In men, sexual arousal results in a persistent and sustained erection of the penis. In women, sexual arousal manifests itself in multiple signs, which are more confused, but which result in vaginal lubrication accompanied by contractions which dispose her body to receive the man's organ. The girl feels damp and even wet.

It is the sensuality of the body. It indicates to sexual partners that they are both ready to unite, which means that the organs of genitalia are capable of a physical union that will lead to mutual pleasure. This sensuality between spouses is a good reality and even indispensable for the human and harmonious realization of their sexual relationship, that is to say for the human actualization of their sexuality.

However, if the spouses want marital acts which are chaste, this will require, for them, the control of their sensuality with a view to a deeply human orientation of their sexuality. It is this conjugal chastity that will allow them to be truly "one in one flesh", that is, to respect the Creator's plan for the union of man and woman.

What about chastity during engagement? It is the same virtue, which relates to the same reality: sensuality, with a view to the same end: the human orientation of sexual desire towards a harmonious and happy physical union.

There is, however, a difference. The engagement time is preparation for marriage. It is not marriage, which entails an absolute and exclusive right of the spouses to mutual donation of their own bodies. The engaged couples are preparing for this reciprocal donation. They are not yet entitled to it, even if they love each other deeply, because they have not yet made the commitment, by the word given, of a radical gift to the other and of a responsibility of body on the other. It is not only love that founds this right, it is the word given which expresses a public consent taken before God and before men.

However, the mutual love that engaged couples feel, often passionately for each other, has deep and vibrant repercussions on their affectivity. Sensuality awakens and solicits the bodies. This solicitation can be sharp and even vehement, and the tensions it arouses are felt in a precise, strongly oriented, and often painful way. In general the engaged couples, who want to live this first period of their love, in chastity, want to respond only with tenderness: proximity of the body, caresses, kisses etc.

But how far can tenderness go? Are there specific rules that establish a category of permitted and prohibited actions? We feel very well that the question of the “license” and the “forbidden” is poorly posed. The question must be well put: is the sensuality that awakens between us bad? If it is not how to orient it in a chaste way and what does that mean?

The sensuality that awakens between engaged couples is far from bad. It is inherent in the sexual attraction that governs their love. If it didn't exist, that would be worrying.

Considering that it is not bad, how to orient it in a chaste way and what does it mean?

First of all, you have to be clear and true. The tenderness which is a manifestation of attraction and love is permeated with sensuality, that is, with an orientation of desire which disposes the body for sexual intercourse. This first truth admitted, it is necessary to be able to discern in the emotions of the body what leads it towards tensions requiring gestures or physical unions which are the exclusive right of the spouses.

These gestures are not only “penetration”. All the emotions of the body which are felt as a proximal disposition to a physical union and whose renunciation, at the last minute (sic), requires either a sudden detachment, or a painful and sad renunciation which generates guilt, are of this kind. These emotions exacerbate the sensuality and the imbalance.

Thus, the more the tenderness of touch is oriented towards areas of genital intimacy, the more sensuality disposes the body to the sexual act. The more the imagination feeds on gazes which, under clothing, discover the sexual body of the other, the more the desire increases and aims to confirm, in actions, inner contemplations. The more amorous cooing gets exasperated internally and does not translate into a desire for intimate caresses, the more the desire disposes the body to solicit the body of the other and to wait for a sexual gesture that puts the wind in the sails. The more daring in the outfit, in the positions, in the unveiling of the body, expose the bodies and create a physical proximity, the more the sensuality increases and becomes unmanageable and uncontrollable.

So what, do we have to forbid everything? The point is not to forbid oneself. On the contrary, it is necessary to know the truth of one's own sensuality and the sensuality of the other. It is necessary to take responsibility for your own sensuality and the sensuality of the other. It is essential to accept with all your reason and your will that sensuality is a wealth available to us for a complete union in the flesh and that we must learn, together, to master it and to orient it towards its true purpose: a conjugal love of reciprocal gift. It is necessary to have the loyalty and the frankness to speak to one another and to tell the other that a certain gesture, such an attitude, such a way of looking, such a too precise caress, such a way of dressing, create tensions in the body which make almost impossible the mastery of desires, imaginations and make the whole body vibrate.

Above all, we must love and want in a positive way, this asceticism of love by looking further. The engaged couples live on the vibrant emotion of their sensuality; but, this sensuality is in view of a much richer and, however, much more demanding carnal relationship. This conjugal relationship which actualizes the total communion of persons is far from being based on the sole satisfaction of the sensualities, although it demands it. By accepting this asceticism of their sensuality, that is to say by preserving its value of disposition, or of expectation, for the fullness of love, by refusing to make its satisfaction, a goal to be reached, from now the engaged couples are preparing for a fulfilling married life. They are preparing for a gradual and demanding rise in their mutual giving. In other words, they are preparing for happiness! It is a question of the quality of love and an education of its desires.
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