Abstinence, Purity, Chastity – What do you think of when you hear those words?
Sometimes, when we talk, we use words and we assume everyone has the same understanding of the words. But this can lead to misunderstandings. So occasionally, we need to pause and clarify what we mean.
Today, let’s pause and clarify what we mean when we use the words abstinence, purity, and chastity in regards to sexual activity.
The most common definition of sexual abstinence is not engaging in any form of sexual activity. That isn’t just limited to vaginal, oral or anal sex. It includes any contact between your genitals and any part of your partner’s body or vice versa.
Purity and chastity are words often used when talking about moral or religious reasons for abstaining from (saying no to) sexual activity outside of marriage. These words are more about the attitude behind abstinence – the religious virtue that motivates someone to avoid sexual activity before marriage.
But not all people who choose abstinence base that decision on a religious reason. People choose to be abstinent for different reasons. Some people choose to be abstinent on possible fertile days to avoid pregnancy. Some people choose to be abstinent for longer periods of time. For instance, some people choose to be abstinent until they are out of college or until they are in a long-term committed relationship or until they are married. Some people even choose to be abstinent their entire lives.
Anybody can be abstinent. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what gender you are or what your sexual identity is.
Why might someone choose to be abstinent?
Some people are abstinent to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Abstinence is the only free form of birth control and the only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy or STDs.
Other people are abstinent because they believe that is the morally correct choice or because it seems best for them. Abstinence makes them feel good about themselves. Some people are abstinent because they want to build a strong foundation for a relationship in other ways before beginning physical intimacy.
Some important things to consider:
You don’t have to be a virgin to choose abstinence. Many people abstain from sexual activity at different times in their lives for different reasons.
You don’t have to be religious to choose abstinence. Again, people from different backgrounds and belief systems abstain from sexual activity for different reasons.
Find a trusted person to talk to. This is a big decision, and you don’t have to make it alone. Find a trusted friend or advisor – maybe a best friend, a parent, a pastor, a teacher, a counselor – and discuss this decision. If you can’t think of anyone off the top of your head or if you still have questions or feel uncertain after talking to your person, we’d be glad to listen and help you sort through your decision.
If you want more information about abstaining from sex or if you want helpful strategies for following through with this choice, we’d be happy to sit down with you and talk with you about this. Call us or stop in today.