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Chastity is a virtue related to temperance, one of the seven Christian virtues and it is defined as refraining from any sexual conduct or romantic relationships. Chastity is usually defined within the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization or religion. The term is closely associated (and can be used interchangeably) with sexual abstinence, especially in the context of premarital and extramarital sex.
The words "chaste" and "chastity" stem from the Latin adjective castus ("pure"). The words entered the English language around the middle of the 13th century. At that time, they meant slightly different things. "Chaste" meant "virtuous or pure from unlawful sexual intercourse" (referring to extramarital sex),while "chastity" meant "virginity". Not until the late 16th century did the two words come to have the same basic meaning as a related adjective and noun.
For many Jews, Muslims, and Christians, acts of sexual nature are restricted to marriage. For unmarried persons, chastity is identified with sexual abstinence. Sexual acts outside or apart from marriage, such as adultery, fornication, and prostitution, are considered immoral due to lust.
In many Christian traditions, chastity is synonymous with sexual purity. Chastity means not having any sexual relations outside marriage. It also means fidelity to husband or wife during marriage. In Catholic morality, chastity is placed opposite the deadly sin of lust, and is classified as one of seven virtues. The moderation of sexual desires is required to be virtuous. Reason, will, and desire can harmoniously work together to do what is good.
In marriage, the spouses commit to a lifelong relationship that excludes sexual intimacy with other persons. A third form of chastity, often called "vidual chastity", is expected of a woman for a period after her husband dies. For example, Anglican Bishop Jeremy Taylor defined 5 rules in Holy Living (1650), including abstaining from marrying "so long as she is with child by her former husband" and "within the year of mourning".
The particular ethical system may not prescribe each of these. For example, Roman Catholics view sex within marriage as chaste, but prohibit the use of artificial contraception as an offense against chastity, seeing contraception as unnatural, contrary to God's will and design of human sexuality. Many Anglican communities allow for artificial contraception, seeing the restriction of family size by artificial contraception as possibly not contrary to God's will. A stricter view is held by the Shakers, who prohibit marriage (and sexual intercourse under any circumstances) as a violation of chastity. The Catholic Church has set up various rules regarding clerical celibacy, while most Protestant communities allow clergy to marry.
Celibacy is required of monastics—monks, nuns and friars—even in a rare system of double cloisters, in which husbands could enter the (men's) monastery while their wives entered a (women's) sister monastery. Required celibacy among the clergy is a relatively recent practice: it became Church policy at the Second Lateran Council in 1139. It was not uniformly enforced among the clergy until 200 years later.Eastern Catholic priests are permitted to marry, provided they do so before ordination and outside monastic life.
Vows of chastity can also be taken by laypersons, either as part of an organised religious life (such as Roman Catholic Beguines and Beghards in the past) or on an individual basis: as a voluntary act of devotion, or as part of an ascetic lifestyle (often devoted to contemplation), or both. Some Protestant religious communities, such as the Bruderhof, take vowsof chastity as part of the church membership process.
The voluntary aspect has led it to being included among the main counsels of perfection.
Chastity is a central and pivotal concept in Roman Catholic praxis. Chastity's importance in traditional Roman Catholic teaching stems from the fact that it is regarded as essential in maintaining and cultivating the unity of body with spirit and thus the integrity of the human being. 2332 It is also regarded as fundamental to the practise of the Catholic life because it involves an apprenticeship in self-mastery. :2339 By attaining mastery over one's passions, reason, will, and desire can harmoniously work together to do what is good.:
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, not evangelical church), chastity is very important, quoting:
"Physical intimacy between husband and wife is a beautiful and sacred part of God's plan for His children. It is an expression of love within marriage and allows husband and wife to participate in the creation of life. God has commanded that this sacred power be expressed only between a man and a woman who are legally married. The law of chastity applies to both men and women. It includes strict abstinence from sexual relations before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to one's spouse after marriage.
"The law of chastity requires that sexual relations be reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.
"In addition to reserving sexual intimacy for marriage, we obey the law of chastity by controlling our thoughts, words, and actions. Jesus Christ taught,"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:27–28)."
LDS teaching also includes that sexual expression within marriage is an important dimension of spousal bonding apart from, but not necessarily avoiding its procreative result.
Chastity is mandatory in Islam. Sex outside legitimacy is prohibited, for both men and women whether married or unmarried.
The most famous personal example of chastity in the Quran is Virgin Mary (Mariam) :
"And [mention] the one who guarded her chastity, so We blew into her [garment] through Our angel [Gabriel], and We made her and her son a sign for the worlds." (21 :91)
"And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.She said, "Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah ."He said, "I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy."She said, "How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?"" (19:17-20)
Extramarital sex is forbidden and the Quran says:
"And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way." (17:32)
"And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated -Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful." (25:68-70)
The injunctions and forbiddings in Islam apply equally to men and women. The legal punishment for adultery is equal for men and women. Social hypocrisy in many societies over history had led to a double standard when considering sin committed by men versus sin committed by women. Society tended to be more lenient and permissive towards men forgiving men for sins not forgivable when women do them. In a list of commendable deeds the Quran says:
"Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so - for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward." (33:35)
Because the sex desire is usually attained before a man is financially capable of marriage, the love to God and mindfulness of Him should be sufficient motive for chastity:
"But let them who find not [the means for] marriage abstain [from sexual relations] until Allah enriches them from His bounty. And those who seek a contract [for eventual emancipation] from among whom your right hands possess - then make a contract with them if you know there is within them goodness and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you. And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life. And if someone should compel them, then indeed, Allah is [to them], after their compulsion, Forgiving and Merciful." (24:33) The prophet's prescription to the youth was:
Those of you who own the means should marry for this should keep their eyes uncraving and their chastity secure. Those who don't, may practise fasting for it curbs desire. " (Ibn Massoud)
Chastity is an attitude and a way of life. In Islam it is both a personal and a social value. A Muslim society should not condone relations entailing or conducive to sexual license. Social patterns and practices calculated to inflame sexual desire are frowned upon by Islam, such incitements to immorality including permissive ideologies, titillating works of art and the failure to inculcate sound moral principles in the young. At the heart of such a view of human sexuality lies the conviction that the notion of personal freedom should never be misconstrued as the freedom to flout God's laws by overstepping the bounds which, in His infinite wisdom, He has set upon the relations of the sexes.
Chastity is highly prized in the Bahá'í Faith. Similar to other Abrahamic religions, Bahá'í teachings call for the restriction of sexual activity to that between a wife and husband in Bahá'í marriage, and discourage members from using pornography or engaging in sexually explicit recreational activities. The concept of chastity is extended to include avoidance of alcohol and mind-altering drugs, profanity, and gaudy or immodest attire.
Hinduism's view on premarital sex is rooted in its concept of Ashrama (stage) or the stages of life. The first of these stages, known as Brahmacharya, roughly translates as chastity. Celibacy and chastity are considered the appropriate behavior for both male and female students during this stage, which precedes the stage of the married householder (Grihastha). Sanyasis and Hindu monks or Sadhus are also celibate as part of their ascetic discipline.
In Sikhism, premarital or extra-marital sex is strictly forbidden. However, it is encouraged to marry and live as a family unit to provide and nurture children for the perpetual benefit of creation (as opposed to sannyasa or living as a monk, which was, and remains, a common spiritual practice in India). A Sikh is encouraged not to live as a recluse, beggar, monk, nun, celibate, or in any similar vein.
Celibacy is a must for all Jain monks and nuns. Chastity (Bhramacharya) is one of the five major vows of Jainism. The general Jain code of ethics requires that one do no harm to any living being in thought, action, or word. Adultery is clearly a violation of a moral agreement with one's spouse, and therefore forbidden, and fornication too is seen as a violation of the state of chastity.
The teachings of Buddhism include the Noble Eightfold Path, comprising a division called right action. Under the Five Precepts ethical code, Upāsaka and Upāsikā lay followers should abstain from sexual misconduct, while Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni monastics should practice strict chastity.
The Five Precepts of the Daoist religion include No Sexual Misconduct, which is interpreted as prohibiting extramarital sex for lay practitioners and marriage or sexual intercourse for monks and nuns.
Celibacy is the state of voluntarily being unmarried, sexually abstinent, or both, usually for religious reasons. Mostly used in terms of abstaining from sexual relations. It is often in association with the role of a religious official or devotee. In its narrow sense, the term celibacy is applied only to those for whom the unmarried state is the result of a sacred vow, act of renunciation, or religious conviction. In a wider sense, it is commonly understood to only mean abstinence from sexual activity.
Sexual abstinence or sexual restraint is the practice of refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity for medical, psychological, legal, social, financial, philosophical, moral, or religious reasons. Asexuality is distinct from sexual abstinence; and celibacy is sexual abstinence generally motivated by factors such as an individual's personal or religious beliefs. Sexual abstinence before marriage is required in some societies by social norms, or, in some countries, even by laws, and is considered part of chastity.
The views of religions and religious believers range widely, from giving sex and sexuality a rather negative connotation to believing that sex is the highest expression of the divine. Some religions distinguish between sexual activities that are practised for biological reproduction and those practised only for sexual pleasure in evaluating relative morality.
Adultery is extramarital sex that is considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds. Although the sexual activities that constitute adultery vary, as well as the social, religious, and legal consequences, the concept exists in many cultures and is similar in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. A single act of sexual intercourse is generally sufficient to constitute adultery, and a more long-term sexual relationship is sometimes referred to as an affair.
Virginity is the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions that place special value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth.
Clerical celibacy is the requirement in certain religions that some or all members of the clergy be unmarried. These religions consider that, outside of marriage, deliberately indulging in lustful thoughts and behavior is sinful; clerical celibacy also requires abstention from these.
Brahmacarya is a concept within Indian religions that literally means "conduct consistent with Brahman" or "on the path of Brahman". In Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism it generally refers to a lifestyle characterized by sexual continence or abstinence.
Zināʾ (زِنَاء) or zina is an Islamic legal term referring to unlawful sexual intercourse. According to traditional jurisprudence, zina can include adultery, fornication, prostitution, rape, sodomy, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality. Although classification of homosexual intercourse as zina differs according to legal school, the majority apply the rules of zinā to homosexuality, mostly male homosexuality. The Quran disapproved of the promiscuity prevailing in Arabia at the time, and several verses refer to unlawful sexual intercourse, including one that prescribes the punishment of 100 lashes for fornicators. Four witnesses are required to prove the offense. Zina thus belongs to the class of hadd crimes which have Quranically specified punishments.
In Islamic law (sharia), marriage is a legal and social contract between two individuals. Marriage is an act of Islam and is strongly recommended, the age of marriage being whenever the individuals feel ready, financially and emotionally. Polygyny is permitted in Islam under some conditions, but polyandry is forbidden.
Mā malakat aymānukum is a Quranic expression referring to slaves.
The social construction of sexual behavior—its taboos, regulation, and social and political impact—has had a profound effect on the various cultures of the world since prehistoric times.
Islamic sexual jurisprudence is a part of Islamic family jurisprudence that concerns the Islamic laws of sexuality in Islam, as largely predicated on the Qur'an, the sayings of Muhammad (hadith) and the rulings of religious leaders' (fatwa) confining sexual activity to marital relationships between men and women. While most traditions discourage celibacy, all encourage strict chastity, modesty and privacy with regard to any relationships between genders, holding forth that their intimacy as perceived within Islam – encompassing a swath of life broader than sexual activity – is largely reserved for marriage. This sensitivity to gender difference, gender seclution and modesty outside of marriage can be seen in current prominent aspects of Islam, such as interpretations of Islamic dress and degrees of gender segregation.
Josephite marriage, also known as spiritual marriage, chaste marriage, and continent marriage, is a religiously motivated practice in which a man and a woman marry and live together without engaging in sexual activity.
Natural family planning (NFP) comprises the family planning methods approved by the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations for both achieving and postponing or avoiding pregnancy. In accordance with the Church's teachings regarding sexual behavior, NFP excludes the use of other methods of birth control, which it refers to as "artificial contraception."
Anal sex is anal intercourse between individuals. It is considered undesirable by many Sunni and Shia scholars.
Catholic theology of sexuality, like Catholic theology in general, is drawn from natural law, canonical scripture, divine revelation, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Sexual morality evaluates sexual behavior according to standards laid out by Catholic moral theology, and often provides general principles by which Catholics are able to evaluate whether specific actions meet these standards.
In the Buddha's first discourse, he identifies craving (tanha) as the cause of suffering (dukkha). He then identifies three objects of craving: the craving for existence; the craving for non-existence and the craving for sense pleasures (kama). Kama is identified as one of five hindrances to the attainment of jhana according to the Buddha's teaching. Throughout the Sutta Pitaka the Buddha often compares sexual pleasure to arrows or darts. So in the Kama Sutta (4.1) from the Sutta Nipata the Buddha explains that craving sexual pleasure is a cause of suffering.
If one, longing for sensual pleasure, achieves it, yes, he's enraptured at heart. The mortal gets what he wants. But if for that person — longing, desiring — the pleasures diminish, he's shattered, as if shot with an arrow.
Sex and gender roles in the Roman Catholic Church have been the subject of both intrigue and controversy throughout the Church's history. The cultural influence of the Catholic Church has been vast, particularly upon Western society. Christian concepts, introduced into evangelized societies worldwide by the Church, had a significant impact on established cultural views of sex and gender roles. Human sacrifice, slavery, infanticide and polygamy practiced by cultures such as those of the Roman Empire, Europe, Latin America and parts of Africa came to an end through Church evangelization efforts. Historians note that Catholic missionaries, popes and religious were among the leaders in campaigns against slavery, an institution that has existed in almost every culture and often included sexual slavery of women. Christianity affected the status of women in evangelized cultures like the Roman Empire by condemning infanticide, divorce, incest, polygamy and marital infidelity of both men and women. Some critics say the Church and teachings by St. Paul, the Church Fathers, and scholastic theologians perpetuated a notion that female inferiority was divinely ordained, while current Church teaching considers women and men to be equal, different, and complementary.
A born-again virgin, is a person who, after having engaged in sexual intercourse, makes some type of commitment not to be sexually active again until marriage, whether for religious, moral, practical, or other reasons, and is subsequently considered by some a virgin.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery", one of the Ten Commandments, is found in the Book of Exodus of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament. What constitutes adultery is not plainly defined in this passage of the Bible, and has been the subject of debate within Judaism and Christianity.
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