Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chaste Sex: Not What You Think It Is

If you think being chaste means not having sex, you're wrong.  Chastity means using your sexuality in the way God intended.  Single people who are chaste don't have sex (and don't do a lot of other things as well).  Married people who are chaste DO have sex.  But, one reader asked, what exactly is chaste sex?  Some people complain that the Catholic view of sex reads like a long list of "nos" -- no pornography, no masturbation, no contraception.  So, based on a little research and a few informal online surveys, I came up with a list of 58 ways that devout, validly married Catholics say "yes" to sex.  Warning: the following is for mature audiences only.

From Blessed Pope John Paul II:

1.  Yes to simultaneous orgasms.

From ordinary Catholic laypeople:

2.  Yes to sex at every opportunity.
3. Yes to doing it in all sorts of positions.

4. Yes to building anticipation when sex isn’t appropriate at that very moment.
5. Yes to lots of foreplay.
6. Yes to fantasizing about your spouse, but not about anybody else.

7.  Yes to displaying sexy parts in private, but not in public.
8. Yes to using arousing language (the modern equivalent of your breasts are like gazelles).

9.  Yes to kissing your spouse everywhere.  I repeat, everywhere.
10. Yes to having sex with Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' at full volume (Bose stereo optional).
11. Yes to nakedness.
12. Yes to saying, "I love you naked."
13. Yes to saying "I love you" while intimate.
14. Yes to saying, "I enjoy this."
15. Yes to spending a lifetime getting to know your partner in an intimacy that proponents of "casual sex" do not even know exists.
16. Yes to never thinking of pregnancy as a "problem" to worry about.

17. Yes to the hope that this time a child will be conceived.
18.  Yes to saying, "I hope this child will be a Saint."

19.  Yes to making your wife feel beautiful.
20.  Yes to making your husband feel appreciated.
21.  Yes to saving yourself for your future spouse.
22.  Yes to giving your virginity to your spouse as a wedding gift.
23.  Yes to learning together as newly-weds the fine art of making love.
24. Yes to never suffering any stress over possible STDs.
25. Yes to never worrying if your partner will be there in the morning.
26. Yes to never worrying if your partner is comparing you to someone else.
27. Yes to accepting that things don't need to be perfect.
28.  Yes to keep trying until you get it perfect.
29. Yes to the knowledge that you are together because you love each other, not because you "need" the "sex".
30. Yes to "no"!  Yes to knowing that times of sexual abstinence, whether by mutual decision or by force of circumstance, improve your relationship.
31.  Yes to Natural Family Planning methods of periodic abstinence.
32.  Yes, if every time we come together in the marital act, we're open to the possibility of life.
33.  Yes, if my spouse accepts and practices the Church's teaching on contraception.
34. Yes, if my husband's not committing Onan's sin (coitus interruptus).
35. Yes, if it's an expression of love and not to use each other for simple physical gratification.
36. Yes, if there's lots of cuddling afterwards (falling asleep is okay).
37. Yes, if it's the normal way (no a**l sex, and the such).
38. Yes, if it's just the two of us (no swinging or extracurricular partners!).
39. Yes, if my spouse loves me third (first God, then Our Lady, then me).

40. Yes to thanking God for the gifts he gave us -- first for our spouse, and second for the gift of sex itself.
41.  Yes to saying the rosary as a couple every night before jumping into bed.
42.  Yes to mutual respect.
43.  Yes to total self-giving.
44.  Yes to being an earthly echo of creative Trinitarian love.
45.  Yes to knowing why it matters.

From Christopher West's Good News about Sex and Marriage

46.  Yes to receiving each other's bodies worthily.
47.  Yes to the challenging demands of authentic love.
48.  Yes to keeping the lights on.
49.  Yes to looking deep into each other's eyes at the most vulnerable moment.
50.  Yes to oral sex as foreplay but not as an alternative to making love.
51.  Yes to oral sex afterwards if a husband has not yet pleased his wife.
52.  Yes to asking your spouse's forgiveness for not saving yourself for marriage.
53.  Yes to giving your flashbacks of past experiences to Christ and asking him to heal you.
54.  Yes to expecting miraculous changes of heart if your spouse still insists on using contraception.
55.  Yes to recognizing that we may all have mixed motives.
56.  Yes to letting the power of love hold sway over the pull of lust.
57.  Yes to becoming one in a life-giving communion.
58.  Yes to becoming a sacramental sign of the union of Christ the Bridegroom and the Church, his Bride.

In conclusion--

If you're not practicing chaste sex, then you don't know what you're missing.


  1. Fantastico! I read the list with tremendous interest and upon completion found myself wanting to pick my favorite...not an easy task. To pick is to reveal something about myself, not a bad thing, but certainly something I will look forward to undertaking with my beloved wife (you know who you are and fortuneately for me I'm fairly certain you read this blog on a regular basis). I had a fun time breaking down my birthday into corresponding items on the list and asking myself how that may apply to my marriage...lets see, 7/23/69, so #7, #23, and since there is no #69 (though perhaps there should be) lets just break it down to #6 and #9...its fun, give it a try.

  2. It isn't that this stuff is inherently right or wrong, but I remember a time when Paul VI said in Humanae Vitae, and JPII said in Man and Woman He Created Them that Catholics should be respectful and careful when talking about these things, respecting modesty. Is "kissing everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE" passing that test? Or joking around publicly about engaging in the marital embrace while an absurd song is playing through a Bose stereo? Why not 2 Live Crew instead? Afterall it is just between the spouses!

    1. Kevin, thank you for your perspective. I meant no disrespect.

    2. And I understand people don't intenionally mean disrespect. Nor am I neccessarily offended. (I'm 30, engaged, and heart a lot worse!) I just think we should probably do our best in the public forum to speak about marriage with a bit more respect. As you mentioned in one of your lists, we can do certain things as couples in private, but not in public. Shouldn't that extend to writing about it to a popular audience, versus that which is best handled intimately, or when teaching it, on a one on one basis, just so people make sure we are understood.

      If one were going off this list, one would seem to think that sex and climaxing during such is the most important part of Catholic marriage, as you have to go 15 spots before you really start talking about self-sacrifical love

    3. This is an extremely difficult topic to write about, and in fact this is my first post on the subject. My general approach is to meet people where they are and then take them to where I want them to go. I began at the lowest common denominator, so to speak, and ended with reflecting the union of Christ and his Bride, the Church. My hope is that people will read the entire post and consider all the points together.

  3. I don't think Karee is trying to be disrespectful at all. As someone who is more of a revert to true Catholic teaching, I appreciate an explicit list of what is OK and what isn't, because the usual sources are often vague and it leaves a lot of people guessing and confused.

    I've been married for a little over five years, and while I was not a virgin on my wedding night, I had only been with my husband. Just like we didn't go on one date and then have sex (and not three dates, either...I didn't make that choice lightly), I'm glad that there are writers out there like Karee who are telling men and women that you don't have to "go all the way" on your wedding night. I can only imagine the relief that many women (and men too) feel after reading this.

    As I'm learning more about how some couples don't even kiss before their wedding day, or limit their affection to only kissing, had I been in their shoes, I would be terrified to think about going from kissing to sex in a span of a few hours. I know several engaged women who are nervous about their wedding nights for this reason. Again, if you haven't done anything with your spouse prior to marriage, there is no need to rush into everything immediately after. Make out for a few hours if you want! Have fun and respect each other. I think when couples are told not to do anything for years and years (or choose not to do anything), and then suddenly are able to do "whatever," it can be VERY intimidating and it shouldn't be. Additionally, if couples don't know what is OK and what isn't, there might be confusion and misunderstandings. I think it's our place as married women (and men too) to share these things with those soon to be married, in a thoughtful, caring manner. Since it is not always easy to meet like-minded people for in-person discussions, the internet can be a valuable tool.

    Karee--I've popped on your blog before via Trista (Not a Minx...) but came to this post via your comments on Stephanie's blog (Captive the Heart). Well done! I think you were very thoughtful and caring in how you crafted your post, and (sort of replying to Kevin's "15 spots" comment), who is to say you might not write more about this topic in the future?

    1. Hi, Jen. Nice to see that you found me through Stephanie. I actually wrote my post at Stephanie's request. She had mentioned that despite being taught the theology of human sexuality in pre-Cana classes, many young brides were still confused about how to put the theology into practice. That's why I wrote the post the way I did.

      I like your point about young couples not having to go all the way on their wedding night if they don't feel ready, but I can't take credit for it! Thanks so much for your kindness and encouragement.

  4. This is a great post. What a creative way to do this. Love it!

    1. Thanks, Marc! My Catholic circles from G+ and the Catholic Professionals group at LinkedIn were a big help.

  5. "One of the psychological reasons why decent people shrink from vulgar sex discussion is because by its very nature it is not a communicable kind of knowledge. Its method of communication is so personal as to make the two who are involved shrink from making it general. It is too sacred to be profaned. It is a psychological fact that those whose knowledge of sex has passed to a unifying love in marriage are least inclined to bring it back from the realm of their inner mystery to that of public discussion." - Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

  6. I just found this blog. Wow, this is great.

    I understand where some of the criticism is coming from: Sex is a private, personal thing, and it does need to be treated with respect.

    That being said, I think sometimes "respect" becomes an excuse for NOT talking about it or talking about it in a way that is too vague to be useful. "Modesty", "chastity", and "reverence" are not specific terms and sometimes couples need specific advice. Perhaps privately would be best, but often couples are too embarrassed to ask someone and suffer in silence. (Or they may ask a celibate priest who is both embarrassed and, let's just say chaste sex is not part of his vocation.)

    This post is a great list to clear up some misconceptions about what the Church thinks of "the marital embrace". People may think "chaste sex" means "only in missionary" or "only to make a baby" or "only with the lights off", but that isn't the case at all. Chaste sex is about having fun with your spouse! It's OK to try different positions, it's OK to kiss EVERYWHERE, it's OK to play Ride of the Valkyries.

  7. giving others permission to explore chastity and sexuality; sacred sexuality in the forum of marriage is a gift. giving permission to bring G-d's gifts into His Light and by so doing, sanctify them is courageous and edifying. Peace to you.

  8. Wow, I totally agree with Blessed Pope John Paul II - Yes to simultaneous orgasms.

    As statistics say, more than 50% of women do not have orgasm during intercourse.
    While the men have orgasm always , once they rich the point of ejaculation.

    Do men know before they get married that they may have to do extra work, so that the wife gets what the man seems to get automatically?

    I wonder why the woman has to lower herself, embarrassed , and explain why she did not have orgasm ? And many times the man accuses the woman for not being able to have orgasm? Is this what God intended... to make women suffer while the man enjoys the act?

    1. It can be embarrassing but ultimately so freeing to talk directly about this with our spouses! Not even the most caring person is a mind reader. Communicating about our sex life can bring us to the greater unity that God intends.

  9. I have to say......I don't believe that God sanctions 'oral' sex at all, even when it is done along with intercourse. There is such a thing as perverted sex, and I don't think 'anal' sex is the only perverted sex. Oral sex can and does create problems, especially since the human mouth has so much bacteria in it. Many woman get bladder infections from it and probably don't realize it. The actor Michael Douglass is convinced that his throat cancer came from having oral sex with his wife, who had the human papilloma virus, and I'll bet anything that the germs from his mouth is what caused her to have the virus in the first place. The Lord would not sanction anything that would cause problems like that. Also...there will very often be semen going in the mouth even if the man tries to not let that happen....I don't think the Lord wants semen going anywhere other than where it's suppose to go. So you might want to take 'oral' sex off of your list, and also......"kissing everywhere" off of your list, since that could lead to oral sex.

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