The vocation of every man is the dignity of every woman. The calling of every woman is the integrity of every man.
~ Pope St. John Paul the Great
What is emotional chastity?
The question above was once posed to me and at the time I had an inadequate answer. After spending time in prayer and asking myself some tough questions, I’ve come up with 3 problems I see in the male-female dynamic that gives rise to emotional promiscuity. What I have to offer is a list of specific needs from the men around me.
NOTE: Gentlemen, this blog is by no means meant to throw you under a bus. I think we are ALL lost on this issue. I write it knowing that you are good. And most of the time when you fall its because we have fallen with you. Ladies, I DO NOT think men do the following things with the intention to harm. Let’s be patient and prayerful upholding the dignity of who they were created to be.
First we need to understand something primal about Woman!
Woman bears the image of God by being a “Life Giver.” In fact this is what the Hebrew word Ezer or Helper means. Woman has a beautiful and deep capacity for unselfish and unconditional love. (This does not mean that we always live this out … just that its there). This is why in scripture we see a 3:1 ratio of women to men at the foot of the cross. SHE LOVES BIG!! Women show the world how God loves. God wants you! He wants to be in a relationship with you. Trust me He’s not thinking about much else, nor do you want Him to be. Ladies, if you feel stupid for this desire, DON’T! Gentlemen I know this can be a bit intimidating and pressure filled. I’ve heard so many men say, “She just wants to get married.” I know she can be a bit scary when she gets like this; but I have confidence that you can handle it. You bear the image of God’s strength; fear is okay, cowardice is not. St. Joesmarie says, “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the refusal to be mastered by it!”
1. The “friend” zone. I am not saying that men and women cannot be friends. I am saying that these are murky waters and your intentions need to be clear. Gentlemen please do not assume that she knows your intentions. Furthermore, I hear men say things like, “well, I’m just going to get to know her and we’ll see what happens.” Sorry to say it men but this is cowardly. If you are interested in getting to know her because you may want to date her then what is stopping you from asking her out on a date? Your intentions are not honest and friends do not treat each other like this. Imagine your grandchildren asking you how you met their grandmother. Do you really want to be left saying, “I just kinda waited to see what would happen.” Is that the kind of story that makes you proud? No way! Undoubtedly your grandchildren want to hear a rivetting story. They want to hear that you swept her off her feet.
Lastly, Actions Speak Louder Than Words always. If you have told a girl that you are not interested and continued to flirt, rely on, hang out, and confide in her, etc. Chances are she’s not going to hear your words she is going to see your actions. Make sure that those two are in accord. What we need: Communicate your intentions VERY clearly from the start and follow through.
2. Pseudo-Dating. This is when an adult man an adult woman “hang out” by themselves. Why is this not okay?? Our lives are sacraments; outward signs that convey an internal reality. If the outside is conveying something different than what the internal reality actually is, something is wrong or they very least, something is off. If it looks to the outside world like you are on a date but that’s not what really is going on then something is off. Gentlemen please do not make liars out of yourselves or others. Ladies, it is beneath your dignity to allow this. Man was made for more. Give him the opportunity to be more.
Man bears the image of God by being the purser. He is supposed to go outside of himself to capture your heart. THIS IS WHAT JESUS DOES!! He came to humanity, as we are, to capture our hearts. What We Need: If you have the desire to “hang out” with a girl all by yourself. Ask her out properly or avoid the “hang out” entirely.
3. Lengthy and intimate conversations about your spiritual life and/or your “heart.” Unfortunately, men in our culture have been stripped of their emotions. Society tells them not to have emotions or worse, to just be the funny guy. If a man shows for a second any sort of emotion other men look at him likes he’s a weird. Consequently men seek this kind of “emotional release from the women in their life. Guys, this is okay if that woman is a sister (not a sister in Christ but the actual biological kind) a sister-in-law, mom, grandma, ETC. In other words FAMILY.
The problem with having friendships like this is that the man is anchoring himself inside of a woman’s heart. And if you are spiritually inside her you should be physically inside her (or at the very least headed in that direction). Women have an ability to draw people into themselves. That being said it is not always good that we do. Often times men do not understand this aspect of a woman’s make-up. Sexuality for her is directly connected to her insides. She is an internal being. These conversations with her can be like emotional sex. There are certain spaces inside us that should be reserved and guarded for certain people only. Jesus says, “Do not throw your pearls before swine.” Even in dating certain conversations need not take place. In the Christian world we seem to understand where the physical line is with intimacy but we need to think about the emotional line as well. I once heard a priest say, “If you wake-up the morning after your wedding and nothing is different; there’s a problem.” We get it, no sex before marriage. We need to consider this analogy when it comes to our emotions. There are just some things that are reserved for marriage alone. Marriage is a beginning. Allow some knowledge for the engagment and married life alone. Need: Please do not tell the women in your life things that you wouldn’t tell the men in your life. Furthermore ask yourself, “is what I am communicating something that should only be shared with family?”
A few last thoughts for the men…
- Please do not allow us to play games with you. We are good at manipulating. We were made for more. Please expect it from us. We need for you to challenge us in this area specifically. The more intentional you are the less room we will have to play games.
- Please do not allow us to boss you around. We were made to follow you. Give us something to follow. So if that means you need to politely (and with such gentleness) tell a woman to dial it back, then please do.
- Please be patient with us. It is so very hard to spend a life-time waiting. Society tells us that we should not wait. It encourages this constant grasping after what you want, kinda like a pirate. But we know we were made for more. So if you catch us “racing to the altar” don’t be afraid. Just say a prayer for us.
So what is emotional chastity? Plain and simply, emotional chastity is acknowledging the truth in a particular relationship and walking in it.