Body from soul
What are some misconceptions of chastity that you have believed or heard?
Chastity is not just about our sexual conduct, it's about us living with integrity, hence the word integration. When we live with integrity, what we claim to believe is able to be found in the way we live. We learn to wholeheartedly live out our beliefs whether we are at home alone, with family, at work, with our friends, at our church… anywhere and everywhere! This is the recipe for a fulfilling and wholesome life.
Let's look at part of what the Catechism has to say about "The Vocation to Chastity" (1):
"Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman (…) [Integrity] tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech."
In other words, integration of sexuality means that we live as body AND as spirit.
To better understand integrated sexuality, it might be helpful to see what disintegrated sexuality looks like. Disintegration occurs we when we separate body from soul. On one end we may act on all our impulses because the body is our only driving force. Here we ignore the fact that we have a spirit that can reason. On the other end we might repress everything that the body experiences because the spirit is the only driving force. Here we ignore the fact that we have a body that gives us valuable information.
What we are called to do is to integrate the two into how we live. More specifically we are called to "permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason" and we can't live in this way unless we acknowledge both our spiritual and bodily self. It may take time and a lot of effort on our end to learn how to experience feelings without judging ourselves, indulging or repressing these feelings but we know that "either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy."
The Catechism explain that our journey towards a chaste life is never over, it continues throughout our life here on earth. Be gentle yet honest and demanding of yourself. Let's reach for greatness so that we can learn to live in genuine and authentic relationships with other people, where we aren't using, but are able to instead make a gift of ourselves for another.
You can do it! (not alone though!)