“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Chastity. As a nearly 65-year-old woman who came of sexual age in the advent of The Pill, this seems a strange topic for me. I am long past the age where “chastity” in its traditional sense has meaning.
When I was young, the parental mantra was “don’t have sex because you might get pregnant.” Young women in the late 60’s and early 70’s thought The Pill solved that problem.
Parents then ( do they now?) did not talk about STDs and HPV was still an unknown virus. Doctors either didn’t know – or didn’t properly inform – of the side effects of various birth control methods or – as did not parents – about the dangers of STDs leading to infertility, cancer and even death.
It was the dawn of the women’s liberation movement. We in that age thought we were coming into parity with men, including sexually. We thought we were “free” to experiment with who we were and what we wanted from life.
This was also the dawn of “R” rated movies and more sex depicted in them and on TV. It was the season of “The Graduate” and “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.” Life was a buffet from which you could choose whatever suited your taste.
We were wrong. The “drugs, sex and rock and roll” era didn’t lead to liberation. It led to deeper bondage. It led us into the culture of death.
Once the possibility of getting pregnant lessened, so did the consequences for how to deal with it if you accidentally did. Or so we told ourselves.
Mercifully I never had to face an unwanted pregnancy. I never had to contemplate whether I would or wouldn’t have an abortion. I don’t think I could have had one, given how deeply I felt the wound of being “given up” so easily by my birth mother in favor of a man she barely knew.
For me, abortion would have equaled a similar motherly abandonment and that was worse than death in my mind. In my heart.
But I did pay a price for my birth control choices. At least I believe the copper IUD I used during my marriage perhaps contributed to the endometriosis that would result in my hysterectomy in my early 30s.
This is why my son is my only child: because I did not treat my body as God’s temple. If “unchaste” is too old-fashioned a word, then I was undignified in my choices.
My Christianity was more nominal then. I did not see myself as God’s precious daughter, as a royal personage worthy of all respect and honor because of that.
Now my heart is broken for the women I spiritually counsel when talking with them about choices they have made that have led them to lives behind bars with their faces and bodies aged and degraded more than their years.
There are both moral and practical reasons for the instruction that comes to us in God’s word. I think sometimes if the appeal to the Christian lifestyle focused in more on its practicality, the morality sought from the pulpit would naturally follow.
God knows we are fallen creatures and more likely to pay attention when our very survival is at risk.
Why must we hit “bottom” before we are willing to turn our lives and our will over to God?
No wonder his Sacred Heart is sorrowful. It is wounded, and we are the cause.
If I had a granddaughter who was starting to sexually mature, the advice I would give her now would be so different from what I would have given even a few decades ago.
I would tell her to always choose to protect her dignity and her self-worth, not because saving your virginity makes you morally superior, but because you will be healthier and happier when you are older if you do.
Because the body is a temple, it is the vessel that carries you through this life, and to maximize your chances that it be a long one, all the choices you make for your body have consequences.
Don’t do the drugs, wait for marriage to have sex and enjoy the rock and roll for the dancing that is great exercise and a stress reducer.
At least my generation got the rock and roll part of it right, even if we didn’t know about its health benefits.
We just danced for the fun of it.