Sexual Ethics and Chastity

The Anscombe Society believes that sex, when properly understood and experienced, is unifying, beautiful, and joyful, and that it serves several purposes, providing a couple intimacy, unity, pleasure, and the chance for procreation. All of these purposes, however, can be fully realized only within the context of marriage. If experienced outside of this proper setting, we believe that sex loses its value, proving harmful to both the parties involved and to their relationship.

Within marriage, sex serves as the ultimate physical expression of love and unity. Because in marriage spouses are united to one another on the mental, emotional, legal, and perhaps spiritual levels, it is appropriate and good that they also be united on a physical level. Such physical union is actualized in sexual intercourse. The nature of this sexual act is itself unitive–two become one flesh. Sex is thus the actualization of the marital union, concretizing the mutual gift of self between the partners. If experienced outside the context of marriage, therefore, it cannot actualize the union, for no union exists.

Outside of the context of marriage, then, sex ultimately reduces the participants to mere instruments serving an incomplete end–be it the desire for emotional intimacy, physical pleasure, or personal security. Even if two people love each other and plan to marry later on, sexual intimacy must articulate a unity and gift of one’s entire self that has yet to take place. To use sex for pleasure or emotional fulfillment alone not only fails to realize the essential purpose of sex, but degrades the inherent dignity of the human being to that of an object–a means to an end.

A chaste lifestyle, on the other hand, respects the inherent dignity of every individual as a whole person, viewing sex as proper only in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. In this way chastity avoids reducing human beings to only their sexual qualities. While chastity is not synonymous with celibacy, it does embrace abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage.