5 Ways to Get Better at Practicing Chastity

Chastity is for lovers. That isn’t solely the title of my book, but a truth I believe with my whole heart. It’s a virtue for all of us—single, married, priest, nun—that creates conditions in which we can do what we were designed to do: love God and each other.

Chastity doesn’t separate sexuality from the rest of the stuff that makes us human, but helps us arrange our lives in such a way that sexuality isn’t misused (See CCC 2337). It requires us to discern before we act on an urge instead of acting because of an urge.

We live, however, in a culture that isn’t conducive to chastity, a culture that creates conditions in which we believe we can and should get what we want when we want it, without consequence. We live in a culture that teaches us to act on all the urges ever.

That means that very few parts of our lives require what chastity requires of us. Which means chastity, for some of us, is difficult. But practical ways exist to get better at practicing it—exercises that cultivate skills that are transferable to chastity. Here are five of them:

1. Turn off the radio. 

Whenever we get in a car, the first thing we turn on after the ignition is the music. Try making room for silence instead. Doing so fortifies your ability to exist with a desire, without satiating it. Contrary to what the culture that surrounds us says, our lives don’t end when we don’t act on urges. Not acting on this small urge will make not acting on bigger urges easier.

2. Do the chore you hate the most. Immediately. 

Vacuuming is the household chore I hate the most. Which is exactly why it’s in my best interest to vacuum now. Doing the chore you don’t want to do fortifies your ability to transcend the sin of sloth, which is “a sadness arising from the fact that the good is difficult,” according to St. Thomas Aquinas. I know it’s good to vacuum: clean floors trump dirty ones. But vacuuming is difficult: it requires me to exert myself when I don’t wanna. The sloth that stops us from doing chores we hate is the same sloth that stops us from practicing chastity. If you can transcend it in chores, you can transcend it in relationships.

3. Fulfill your worst responsibility first. 

As professionals or as students, we each have responsibilities to fulfill. Among them are responsibilities we’d rather avoid. As a journalist, I don’t enjoy calling the subject of a story to divulge that I’ve discovered the criminal record that he or she forgot to mention. It’s super awk. Sometimes people yell at me. Which is exactly why I should do it as soon as possible. Starting your day by doing what you have to do but don’t wanna fortifies your ability to do the right thing, despite discomfort—such as telling a guy or girl that you’re saving sex (or sex from now on) for marriage.

4. Let somebody else have the last piece of pie. 

Or the last red velvet Oreo cookie when they come out next month. Or the last handful of kale chips, if that’s your thing. Whatever. The point is that letting somebody else have the snack you really want fortifies your ability to forego what you want for the sake of somebody else’s good. If you can sacrifice for the good of your beloved’s palate, you can also sacrifice for the good of your beloved’s mind, body and soul, which we all have to do to authentically love.

5. Make an intimidating commitment. 

For all of 2015, I will not ever eat dessert. Dessert is my favorite meal, so this was a daunting commitment to make. But I did it because promising to do what you think you can’t fortifies your ability to accept that you are stronger than you thought you were. We are created able to practice chastity, which the culture that surrounds us calls impossible. Committing to do what intimidates (but is good for) you will remind you that you that you can do this.

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profile pic fall 2014-3

Arleen Spenceley is author of the book Chastity is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin. She works as a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. She blogs at arleenspenceley.com. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Image via FlickrCC 2.0.

21 Comments

  1. love this!

    By Mary | 2 years ago Reply
  2. This is great, Arleen! Thank you! I know someone whose mom used to say, “If you can’t say no to that cookie, you’ll never be able to say no to a boy.” It’s so.true.

    By Joan | 2 years ago Reply
  3. Great stuff Arleen, thanks or writing! Good and wise thoughts.

    By Eric | 2 years ago Reply
  4. Thanks Arleen, looking forward to your upcoming chastity talk in St. Louis in February. Do you have any reccomendations for me to share my experience with others as you do?

    By Konner Kloster | 2 years ago Reply
    • Awesome! Can’t wait to speak in St. Louis. As for recommendations, I’d say you should share your experience using your best talents. If you can write? Write it. If you can speak in front of groups? Speak. If you are really great at boiling messages down to 140 characters or fewer? Spread your message on Twitter. 🙂

      By Arleen Spenceley | 2 years ago Reply
  5. Thanks Arleen! Your text is great! And you’re right to say that we have to make sacrifices to prove ourselves strongers than we thought we were!! That’s great!!!

    By Thais Calil | 2 years ago Reply
  6. Thank you for writing this piece!

    By Lola | 2 years ago Reply
  7. Good article but I think the fullness of the meaning of chastity is being drowned in the abundance of articles that mention only non-married people. Chastity is for every body regardless, and for whatever age you happen to be! It’s not saying “no” all the time – it’s saying “yes” to what you’re meant to be!

    By Gemma Saccasan | 2 years ago Reply
  8. Very good article. Will share share.

    By Myriam Perez | 2 years ago Reply
  9. This is great, broadcast let it reach to the ends of the earth.

    By christian nwakamma | 2 years ago Reply
  10. Arleen, I am a Redemptorist Deacon from India. Thanks for this thought: It’s a virtue for all of us—single, married, priest, nun—that creates conditions in which we can do what we were designed to do: love God and each other.

    By Sandeep | 2 years ago Reply
  11. You echo my thoughts Arleen..I can testify by experience that what you have suggested are excellent ways to strengthen one’s chastity muscle! Alleluia

    By Silpa Paul | 2 years ago Reply
  12. This whole concept is very unhealthy and hints at mental instability. Please dont follow this childishness.

    By Gary oak | 2 years ago Reply
    • How is resisting the temptation of sin childish, or indicative of mental instability? The inability to control one’s actions and emotions is very dangerous.

      By Karalynn | 2 years ago Reply
  13. Great read. 🙂

    By Kristina | 2 years ago Reply
  14. Sooooo right:)

    Whenever I say I’m virgin.
    They laugh

    But I don’t care:)

    By Maica | 2 years ago Reply
  15. Please come out to the state of California.

    By Lupe | 2 years ago Reply
  16. Thank you for such wisdom! Blessings on you.

    By Tim Wright | 2 years ago Reply
  17. Excellent article! I just have to ask: were successful with that dessert resolution? 🙂

    By Grace Noelle Jezek | 2 years ago Reply
  18. Not listening to music in the car is tough for me. That list is tougher than it seems. All the more reason to try it.

    By Jimmy | 2 years ago Reply
  19. Thank you so much for writing this. It has really been teaching me to grow in responsibility and to COMMIT to being pure. I have been trying to fast and offer up little sacrifices for my guy friends.

    By Liza | 2 years ago Reply

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