A misconception of conjugal chastity leads to considering it, among other things, repressive, insipid, restrictive, prolific, boring, difficult and negative.
If it’s not that, they said, then where is its merit?
Chastity has to do primarily and directly with sex, with sexuality: it regulates its exercise, it represses it.
Like any other virtue, chastity has to do directly and primarily with the development and improvement of love.
And like every virtue, it enables, empowers and impels (not only makes capable, but also inclines and pushes) spouses to love more in a certain area, which in this case are all acts of love between spouses: it enables them to love each other more and better as husband and wife.
(And, consequently, by being better spouses, it puts them in a good position to also be, if that is the case, better parents–and educators–of their children).
Like any other virtue, conjugal chastity has to do directly and primarily with love: in this case, with the love of the spouses as spouses.
On the whole, chastity causes a decrease in pleasure in conjugal relations.
Like any other virtue, chastity makes it possible to love well and to enjoy more, and more deeply, the corresponding acts of love.
This is exactly what distinguishes the virtuous person: that he or she enjoys doing good (as opposed to the person who does not have virtue, who has to make efforts… and may not be able to perform the acts proper to it: in the case of conjugal chastity, as we have said, any act of love between husband and wife, in the whole course and breadth of their life together).
All things being equal (if we may speak in this way), both in the conjugal relations as a whole and in each one of them, to the same extent that virtue grows–and thanks to this development–joy is also greater, deeper and of a higher caliber.
Like any other virtue, chastity makes it possible to love well and to enjoy more, and more deeply, in doing so.
Conjugal chastity forces a decrease in the number, quality, diversity, creativity, fantasy… of conjugal relations.
Not true. Conjugal chastity allows and helps to discover and live well all those means that effectively serve to manifest, complete and make grow the authentic love between husband and wife: all of them.
Moreover, it helps to discern–in a natural way, without excessive effort or need for much deliberation–whether a particular means is or is not suitable to manifest, complete and grow the love between the spouses (and to rectify it if it is perceived to be inappropriate).
Marital chastity has to do with the number of children: having many children is a test or an index of marital chastity.
Like the other virtues, conjugal chastity has to do directly and properly with love; in this case, with the love of two persons of different sexes who have given and accepted each other’s full capacity to love as a woman and a man.
Children do not enter directly into virtue: they cannot and could not enter, because they are not in our hands.
It is possible to live marvelously the virtue of conjugal chastity and to love each other very much as husband and wife and enjoy that love to the fullest… having many children, or enough or few or none. That is not the measure.
Living in conjugal chastity is difficult (otherwise it would have no merit).
It is precisely virtue that makes it possible to live more easily, with less possibility of making mistakes and enjoying more the acts that are proper to it: in this case, all the manifestations of love between husband and wife, precisely as such, as husband and wife, as man and woman.
What is difficult, and even impossible, is to live the acts proper to this virtue (loving each other well as husband and wife in all situations and circumstances), without developing this virtue in depth.
And, as a consequence, it can also be difficult to acquire virtue (it depends on the circumstances of each one: both those that are based on one’s own way of being and those that arise or unfold throughout one’s biography: what you do during your life; the way you develop and improve, or leave your freedom unused).
But the difficulty decreases, precisely in the same proportion as the virtue increases.
Like any virtue, conjugal chastity makes it possible to live more easily, with less deliberation and possibility of making mistakes, and enjoying more the acts that are proper to it.
Conjugal chastity leads above all to refusal, to avoidance of certain behaviors, to “abstaining”.
Like every virtue, chastity is always a free affirmation of and for love (it is born of love and nourishes it).
Specifically, conjugal chastity is the prolongation of the “yes” of the wedding (it arises – it is initiated or it germinates – from the act of joint freedom by which the contracting parties accept and mutually give each other all their capacity to love, as man or woman: past, present and future).
It makes it possible and drives us to love our spouse more and more every day – every minute!
It does not tell us what not to do in bed (which we also have to do), but – above all and most importantly – what we have to do, in any situation, to fall more and more in love with the person to whom we have given all our capacity to love.
Conjugal chastity is the prolongation of the “yes” of the wedding, initiated precisely thanks to and because of that “yes”.
WHAT ABOUT MERIT?
As in other cases, merit is linked to difficulty: the more difficult, the more meritorious.
This is one of the most deep-rooted and deeply rooted – and most mistaken – ideas, not only with respect to the virtue of chastity and any other virtue, but to the whole of ethical life: to think that something is worth more and is more meritorious if it costs more.
It depends! The measure of value is solely and exclusively the love at stake: the intensity and quality of that love.
Therefore, in terms of effort, love and size of the act (if these three “variables” could be measured), the opposite is true: the act that costs… less is more meritorious in every way! (as the sedimented fruit of growth and commitment that has given rise to virtue).
An act is more meritorious to the same extent that it costs “less” if that “saving of effort” is a consequence of having acquired and developed the corresponding virtue.