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Religious Tolerance logo

An essay donated by H. Paul Drinkard

What ever happened to chastity?

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Whatever Happened to Chastity?

I like to think of myself as being reasonably tolerant. I try not to force my personal opinions on others, generally practicing the philosophy of “live and let live.” I am apolitical and avoid voicing my personal opinions in a political context. However, when deeply held beliefs based on moral principles are characterized by so many as unenlightened, intolerant or based on bigotry, one feels compelled to speak out.

Patti and Jeff Ellis recently appeared on CNN, promoting their website,, and telling about coming to accept their 16-year old son's homosexuality. Reading their comments on their website, it became clear to me that the Ellises are hung up on the question of whether or not being homosexual, in and of itself, is a sin. Many people make this same mistake.

Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary defines heterosexual as “having sexual *desire* for those of the opposite sex.” Notice, that one is deemed to be heterosexual whether or not one acts on such desire. Similarly, homosexual is defined as “having sexual *desire* for persons of the same sex.” Again, one is deemed to be homosexual whether or not one acts on such desire. Reasonably, one is not deemed to be a sinner simply on the basis of one's sexual orientation or desire. Therefore, one's merely being homosexual in orientation is not a sin in and of itself. However, the practice of fornication is a different matter altogether.

The Christian congregation, established by Jesus Christ in the first century of our common era, is subject to God's moral standards as set out in the Holy Scriptures. At 1 Corinthians 6:18, Christians are admonished, “Flee from fornication. Every other sin that a man may commit is outside his body, but he that is practicing fornication is sinning against his own body.” Simply put, fornication is deviant, illicit, or immoral sexual behavior, including sex outside of a scriptural marriage, adultery, sexual activity between persons of the same sex, sexual abuse of children, and human sexual interaction with animals.

So, are there not really two issues involved when discussing acceptance and tolerance? The first issue is one's sexual orientation which may have been affected by inherited sin and possibly other factors. But, whether one is a homosexual or an unmarried heterosexual, the second issue is, Will one choose to lead a virtuous, chaste lifestyle by practicing celibacy, or will one choose to lead a sinful, immoral lifestyle by practicing fornication? It is really that simple. If society in general rejects God's moral standards in favor of finding heterosexual and homosexual fornication acceptable, how long will it take for society to find the sexual abuse of children and bestiality equally acceptable?

We hear a lot of talk today about values, and not so much talk about virtues anymore. Could that be because people may pick and choose their own values, whereas virtues are determined by God? Discriminating between virtuous and immoral behavior used to be championed by society in general. Have we really become more enlightened? Call me old-fashioned, but whatever happened to chastity?

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Originally posted on 2010-OCT-31
Latest update on: 2010-OCT-31
Written by H. Paul Drinkard

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