Tag Archives: chastity

My First Summer Without A Bikini

To be clear, modesty has never been a subject I have taken super seriously.  I mean, I don’t wear clothes that are too revealing; and I don’t wear anything I would be ashamed of my mother seeing (but that’s partially because half of the time my mom has a better eye for what works in a outfit than I do…but that’s another post 🙂 ).  But when it comes to things like a bikini—come on.  I live in Southern California.  Everyone wears bikinis.  And it’s just not that big of a deal…right?

Again I will say it: the Catholic university I go to pretty much rocks.  I’ve had an awesome experience here, and for the most part I have embraced the rules and regulations that are in place and have really thrived from them.

The dress code was a different story.

Oh, I complied with it.  But I definitely had a section of my closet at home that was referred to as “School Appropriate Clothing” (and it wasn’t exactly the largest part of my closet).  Still, that was mostly because I needed to look more “professional” in order to attend class (as opposed to looking like a high schooler in shorts and a t-shirt), which I appreciated.  My main issue was the part of the dress code that banned bikinis in the pool at the student apartments and at school-sponsored functions at the beach.  I can still remember my thoughts, echoed by I’m sure a handful of other girls at my school:

We go to college in Southern California and they expect us to not wear bikinis?  …Seriously? 

So, for the longest time, I simply gritted my teeth, found a “modest” (which, in my mind translated to: not-nearly-as-cute-as-a-bikini) swimsuit, and dealt with the rule—but only when I had to.  When I went to the beach with just my friends, I wore my bikini and got my tan on.

I don’t know that I can point to a moment when things changed.  All I know is that last summer I was in a bikini, and this summer I’m not.  Several months ago, I hardly thought twice about what the effect of what I am wearing will be on the men I meet out in public, and now I never leave the mirror in the morning without thinking about it.

I have come to realize that we live in a world in which guys are virtually expected to objectify women’s bodies.  Of course, there is a difference between “appreciating” and “objectifying”—one is natural, the other is sinful.  But that line is really thin for a guy, and it’s pretty hard to control—especially when he’s walking down the beach on any given Thursday in August.

This doesn’t mean that every guy who sees you in a bikini is objectifying you—it just means that it’s probably really hard for him not to be, at least on some level.  From a Princeton University Study

Another study performed on undergraduate students at Princeton found that when men are shown images of women in bikinis, they associate the women with first-person verbs, such as I “push,” “handle,” and “grab.” When shown images of modestly dressed women, the men associated the images with the third-person forms of the verbs, such as she “pushes,” “handles,” and “grabs.” In other words, the fully-clothed women were seen as being in control of their own actions, whereas the immodest ones were to be acted upon.

But I can’t leave this post without coming back at my most-used argument for why wearing a bikini was ok.  It went something like this:

Guys are going to see girls in bikinis anyway, so they should just get used to it.

First of all, this is just not a very nice thing to do to guys we say we care about.  It’s essentially saying, “yeah, I know you struggle with this; and even though I can, I’m not going to make this any easier on you”.  Talk about selfish.

But more to the point, this argument is right in some respects.  There are still going to be women in bikinis out there.  For most guys, it’s a struggle to control their glances when they are surrounded by girls in bikinis (and can you blame them?  Everything is out on display!).  However, if I choose to cover up, then I am inviting the men I am with to be more present with me—not simply my body.  Wouldn’t you rather have a guy paying attention to the conversation he is having with you than struggling to control his glances?

(Don’t feel like you have to buy an ugly swimsuit to be modest.  Here is a link to a company that designs modest swimwear—and there are a ton of other options, too.)

Catholic and Gay

 

Fact: The Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality is anything but popular.

It’s something we as Catholics shy away from talking about.  Maybe that’s because it makes others uncomfortable, or maybe because often we don’t truly understand it ourselves.  The fact is that I can sit here all day and tell you that my stance against same-sex marriage is not born out of hatred, bigotry, or ignorance, but the majority of people would probably not believe me. When it comes down to it, this issue isn’t going to be solved in political debates.  It’s far too personal.

So rather than getting into a lesson on Catholic moral teaching (though feel free to contact me if you want me to cover that later), or talking about homosexuality in the abstract (creating hypothetical people and hypothetical situations), I thought I’d refer you to an article written by someone who understands the Church’s teaching on homosexuality far better than I do, because as a Catholic who happens to be gay, he is choosing to live it.

[I have never met this man. I found the following post on the blog, Little Catholic Bubble.  Apparently, though, he recently went public with his own blog, as well.]

I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same church?

When I go to Confession, I sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. (And to spare him some confusion: Did you say ‘locker room’? What were you doing in the women’s…oh.) I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.

Of the two responses, my ego prefers the first — who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy. (Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.” Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?”

Click here to continue reading.

When I get married, I want 17 kids.

Ok— maybe I’m not honestly planning on having 17 children.  Actually, I’m not thinking about having children at all right now (due, of course, to my unmarried state).

I do, however, come from a family of 5 children—which for many people is a lot of children, especially given the fact that we are all within 2 years apart from one another.  Every one of my 4 siblings is married with at least 1 child, giving me a grand total of 8 adorable nieces and nephews.  And wanna know the “crazy” thing?

None of my siblings (nor my parents) practice artificial birth control.  And if/when I get married, I won’t either.

Call it what you will.  Irresponsible.  Insane.  Outright disturbing.  I’ve heard it all before, and it only makes me more proud to be a part of a family that lives out and takes seriously this most controversial teaching of the Catholic Church.  It’s not that I enjoy controversy for controversy’s sake.  No—it’s that I wholeheartedly believe that a fuller truth, a truer happiness, and a more authentic love are on our side when it comes to the stance my family takes on using artificial contraception.

Why?  Because I believe in marriage, and I believe in love.  I believe the most perfect expression of the love between a husband and wife is the sexual union.  And I unreservedly reject anything that seeks to cheapen or distort that expression of love and turn it into something it is not.  To me (and I believe to anyone who really sits down and reflects on it with an open mind for some time), contraception is one of those things.

My family believes (as the Catholic Church teaches) that the purpose of sex within marriage is twofold: 1) for the unity of the couple, and 2) for the procreation of offspring.  Don’t misunderstand my meaning.  This DOES NOT mean that I think every time a married couple has sex that they need to be intending or trying to have a child.  It simply means that the married couple needs to be open to having children as a result of their union.

It’s pretty clear why the unitive aspect of sex is so important to a married couple; but to our modern society, it’s far less clear why it matters that a couple be open to having children every time they engage in sex.  Simply put, the reason is: love.

Life-giving Love: Sex is supposed to be a total gift of yourself to your spouse.  The act of sex renews the wedding vows, to hold nothing back from your partner.  Using contraception, we close off a part of ourselves from our spouse, cheapening the authentic expression of total, life giving love that sex is meant to be.

Respect: Because contraception rejects the life-giving aspect of the sexual union, I believe that it is a form of disrespect to the body—making the body little more than a mere instrument used for sexual pleasure.  Of course, it is not at all that I think that most couples that use birth control are doing so with the intent of using one another, but I do think that, over time, it can be an unintended, and undesired effect (even if the couple cannot specifically point to birth control as the reason for their eventual emotional distance).

Come on, Get Real

I do realize (as does the Catholic Church) that often times there are legitimate reasons to space out or delay pregnancy within a family.  In those cases, it is still not ever a good idea to contracept, because all of the negative effects that come with it still apply.  However science has made great strides in a natural way for couples who need to either delay or achieve pregnancy.  It’s called Natural Family Planning, and it has a near 99% success rate.

Rather than unnaturally altering or inhibiting the proper functions of the body, NFP requires the couple work with the woman’s body to achieve the desired result (it involves charts and temperature taking and all that jazz.  Of course I’ve never done it, so I can’t really tell ya from experience).  I can tell you that couples who practice NFP have a divorce rate less than 1% (fact).  Though it’s important to realize that it’s not necessary for every couple—I believe that if you have the means to support a family and don’t have a good, non-selfish, reason for delaying children, there is no need to practice NFP in order to delay pregnancy.  Love can’t be selfish, so neither can sex, right?

A Final Word on Children

People are uncomfortable with large families and lots of kids.  I’ve never understood why.  Though children are often messy and difficult to control, any mentally stable person who has children will tell you without hesitation about the joy that children bring to a life and to a marriage.  Is raising a family easy?  Hardly.  Does the love they bring to a family make up a hundred fold for all of the struggle?  Drawing from my own experience growing up in a larger family and from literally anyone I have talked to about their children, you better believe it does.

The Problem with Porn

A little over a week ago, I posted a poll on this blog asking for feedback about your thoughts on pornography.

As of yesterday, an overwhelming percentage of you believed that looking at pornography is always wrong, no matter the circumstance. (Of course, these results are likely more so a commentary on the mentality and values of the people who read this blog than they are an accurate and scientific representation of what the average person today thinks of pornography.)

  • 11% of you yesterday believed it depended on the person/circumstance.
  • 6% saw no problem with it whatsoever, thought that it is sometimes healthy and/or necessary for a person, and is only wrong if in a committed relationship or married.
  • 3% of you had no opinion.

The reality is that if you are reading this and are over the age of 11, chances are you have been exposed to pornography at least once already in your lifetime. And if you are a young adult male reading this, chances are extremely high that you regularly view pornography at this time in your life (statistically speaking, anyway).

Alright, but what’s the big deal? I mean, provided you’re not in a relationship or keeping it a secret from your significant other or anything. We are human, after all. Sex isn’t dirty or wrong; and we should all be free to give into our natural desires. We have “needs”, right?

Pornography as “Healthy”

This kind of mentality about sex is nothing particularly new. It goes back as far as the 1930s, and even earlier than that. In 1936, a German man named Wilhelm Reich wrote a book called The Sexual Revolution. In it, he wrote that:

“Sexuality…is the productive vital energy, simply speaking. Its suppression leads not only to medical damage, but also quite generally to damage in the basic functions of life. The essential social expression of this damage is purposeless (irrational) action by human beings: their insanity, their mysticism, their readiness for war, etc…The core of life’s happiness is sexual happiness.”

What is Mr. Reich saying in the above quote? Essentially, if we suppress our sexual desires, we are more likely to be unhealthy, uptight, angry, and violent people.

…Sound familiar? It’s the mindset of most of the popular shows we watch on TV today. The character who plays the president of the chastity club is an uptight prude (and usually a cheerleader?? I’ve never quite understood that…but I digress). The characters that engage in sexual activity are often portrayed as more mature or wise. The thought goes something like this: “We need to be able to do things like look at pornography. It keeps us healthy. It makes us happy. It keeps us sane.”

No Such Thing As Selfish Love

But does it really? Interestingly, most of you who believed that pornography is sometimes healthy or necessary actually thought it was NOT ok within the context of a marriage or committed relationship. Why? Presumably because the thought is that, within a relationship, you should be fulfilling each other’s needs, and that pornography within that relationships is, in the very least, “emotional cheating”.

Let’s think about that for a moment, though. Do you really think of a person you are making love to as just “fulfilling a need” of yours? I honestly think that most reasonable people (religious or non-religious) would say no. Sex with someone you love is supposed to be more than that. It’s supposed to be about love—an expression of that love— not mutually using one another.

If we really believe that sex is about more than using someone else to fulfill a need, then looking at pornography can never be ok. Why? Well, as we have just shown, pornography trains those who look at it to view sex as absolutely nothing more than selfish gratification (read: “fulfilling my needs”). It’s naive (read: “wrong”) to think that your mindset will just magically change when you enter into a committed relationship.

I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say that love cannot be selfishIt has to be selfless.  Begin training yourself in love today.  Waiting for tomorrow may be too late.

In case you missed it, here’s the poll again:

Also Check Out: “5 Ways Porn Saps Your Manliness”

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Sexual Healing – Video