Chastity is a virtue of honor and self-respect

Father John A. Kiley
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Most homosexuals lead routine daily lives indistinguishable, for the most part, from their heterosexual neighbors.

Many might be single, a few might have attempted marriage, some might raise families. Some might go out into the night, so to speak, for casual, anonymous liaisons in a parked car along the roadside. Others might seek sad and furtive satisfaction from the Internet. A few will flirt for a while with the bar scene and then wisely perceive its superficiality and exploitation. Most will frankly discover that life holds worthier pursuits than physical attractiveness. Homosexuals with religious faith will come to understand their inclinations as a particularly acute challenge to righteous living but they will not allow themselves to be defined by their carnal predispositions. Even if conjugal fulfillment is denied them, human beings with same-sex tendencies can find self-actualization in the many legitimate and satisfying avenues open to all. Probably most homosexuals through the centuries have pursued this wholesome path.

But then there are those minority of homosexual persons who choose to make what is part of their life into the totality of their life. The so-called gay community has elected to define itself entirely in terms of sexual bearing. These are the “in your face” proponents of a sexually oriented lifestyle who defiantly inflict their proclivities on the rest of society by a barrage of social and political activities hoping to legitimize what most civilizations have found errant and even sinful. The gay community has certainly earned the attention of the entertainment world, the national media and many politicians as well as the sympathy of many of their fellow citizens who have benignly and uncritically accepted same-sex attraction as an alternate and respectable lifestyle.

Clearly, then, there is a vast distinction between being homosexual and being gay. It has been rightly noted that homosexuality is a personality orientation. The Catholic Church goes a step further and considers it a personality disorder. Homosexuality, then, as a personality matter, deserves the concern, consideration and compassion of everyone, especially believers. Being gay on the other hand is a political commitment to further in society the inclinations, aspirations, and goals of a very small segment of homosexuals, specifically those who thrive on sexual ostentation and gender confusion. Such “gay and glad” homosexuals should be ranked alongside “tax and spend” Democrats and “favor the rich” Republicans. They are simply a political force out to promote a debatable point of view. They are not a disadvantaged minority in need of legislative protection. They are a well-funded, well-organized group seeking legitimacy for a fundamentally flawed social movement. They are no more special than the right-to-bear-arms lobby or the environmental movement. Probably most homosexuals are embarrassed and unappreciative of gay antics.

Homosexual persons, like heterosexual individuals, are evidently in need of the forgotten virtue of chastity. Chastity is the good habit by which sexual inclinations – either same-sex or opposite-sex – are brought under the control of reason. The sexual inclination itself is not necessarily sinful. Clearly, heterosexual inclinations are vital to the human race. But all physical inclinations must always be used rationally. Irrational pursuits of any kind can be sinful. The homosexual has the added burden of realizing that his or her same-sex inclinations are always unreasonable. They frustrate the very rationale behind sex: the continuation of the human race. This sober realization might be burdensome but chastity can direct a person’s energies in many rewarding ways. An unchaste life, on the other hand, can easily lead to compulsive, imprudent, and undignified behavior – as any honest person will readily admit.

Chastity is really a virtue of honor and self-respect. It is the virtue by which an individual appreciates himself for what he himself is rather than identify with another person whose physical attributes might be more manifest. It is a virtue particularly difficult to practice in the seductive environment of today’s popular culture. All the more reason for the church’s teaching on chastity – and its guardian modesty – to be preached, practiced, and preserved.