Teaching Values: Chastity

by Jeff Asher

Webster defines chaste as "not having engaged in unlawful sexual intercourse; virtuous; free from obscenity, descent; undefiled or stainless." Roget gives as synonyms the words: pure, virginal, virtuous, unsullied, unblemished, innocent, good, wholesome, moral." In the Bible the word translates agnon which is properly "clean" and tropically, "innocent, modest, perfect, chaste, pure" in a moral sense. This word is derived from agos (an awful thing) sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated. It is the word for holy and saint.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when chastity is trivialized. Young men and women are ridiculed in movies, music and literature if they have maintained their virginity. Yet, our society is beginning to see the damage that has been done. However, it is a shame that chastity has to be "promoted" and "advocated" like a fad when it ought to be the expected norm.

Bible Principles that Relate to Chastity

In the first place, we need to recognize that God made us sexual beings (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4-6). It is His intent that men realize and fulfill their sexuality (Genesis 1:28; 8:17). Furthermore, our sexuality is for our good and our pleasure. When God announced His intent to make a woman, it was because it was not "good" for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Numerous times in the Bible God encourages man to find the joy of companionate marriage (Proverbs 5:18; Song 4:9–5:1ff).

However, the true joy of our sexuality can be found only in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4). God has so designed man that he is intended only for monogamy. The Bible declares that anything else is "against nature" (Romans 1:26–27). To be promiscuous is to "sin against one's own body" (1 Corinthians 6:18). Contrary to popular belief, it is not "just sex". There is a one flesh connection made that is corrupted and perverted through fornication. You cannot demean that and avoid the consequences. Therefore, God has said one should maintain virginity until marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-21; 1 Corinthians 7:36-38).

Once married, faithfulness to one's spouse is essential to a joyful sexuality (Matthew 19:5 Ephesians 5:31). Fornication is the only sin that God regards as serious enough to justify a divorce (Matthew 19:6–11; 5:28–32). Marital infidelity strikes at the very heart of marriage. It violates a covenant which established trust and created intimacy (Proverbs 2:17; Malachi 2:14–16).

Possess Your Vessel in Holiness

Paul states the issue plainly in 1 Thessalonians chapter four: "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness" (vv. 1–7).

Whether one understands vessel to refer to himself or the spouse, the truth of the passage is the same, we are set apart unto our own spouse and none other (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3–5). As already noted fornication is a sin against our own body, but it is also a sin against our mate. We are not holy or chaste if we, as the wise man said, "Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets" (Proverbs 5:16).

How to Be Chaste

In the Bible we read about a man who had a friend that actually encouraged him to commit fornication (II Samuel 13:1ff). In our society today, the billboards, the TV, the literature is filled with inducements to this sin. There is incredible pressure on the young and the old to forsake holiness. How do we wage war against it?

Like the proverbial monkeys, we must protect our eyes, ears and mouth against evil. Protecting the heart will stay the feet (Mark 7:21; Matthew 15:18–19).

Job said that he had made a covenant with his eyes (Job 31:1). And, David purposed that he would set no wicked thing before his eyes (Psalm 101:3). A first step toward protecting the heart from adultery is to restrain our eyes from wandering and contemplating adultery (2 Peter 2:14; Hosea 2:2). What are you watching?

We also need to guard our hearts from adultery by protecting our ears. Jesus said, "Take heed what you hear" (Mark 4:24). The music and literature of our day extols "love" (cf. Proverbs 7:18). The popular philosophy is that man was never intended to be monogamous. What are you listening to?

Closely related to that is our speech (Ephesians 4:29; 5:3–4). Paul condemned "foolish jesting" and "corrupt speech." There is a lot of conversation that goes on in the world that is filled with sexual innuendo. Most affairs begin with smutty talk at the water cooler and gossip about one's mate to a stranger. The adulteress of proverbs chapter seven seduced her young fool with tales of her loneliness, flattery and the promise of love. What are you talking about?

Finally, remember David. He fell into adultery because he was not where he belonged. Had he been in the field doing his duty rather than in the palace he could have avoided adultery (2 Samuel 11). Had Bathsheba stayed at home rather than going to the king's rooms, sin would not have occurred. Often fornication occurs because we use foolish judgment and go to places where we do not belong (Proverbs 7:8ff). Where are you going?

When Purity Is Lost

Sadly, fornication occurs. While one will never be a virgin again once that choice is made, it is not impossible to regain purity.

God is merciful and will forgive (1 John 1:7–9; 2:1–2). He will cleanse, restore to a pure condition, every one that will repent of sin and seek His pardon (Acts 8:22). Like the woman taken in adultery, the woman at the well, or the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears, you can be clean (1I Corinthians 6:9–11). To these Jesus said, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). Once cleansed possess your vessel in holiness which pleases God.

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