Tag Archives: chastity

Book Review – Chastity Is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin

Ave Maria Press recently gave me the opportunity to read and review Arleen Spenceley’s  Chastity Is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin.  I was given the book free of charge, but the opinions in my review are 100% my own:

 

Arleen Spenceley was a journalist for the Tampa Bay Times when, in 2012, she “outed” herself as a 26-year-old virgin in an op-ed that went viral.  Chastity Is For Lovers tells that story (and so many others), while inviting young people to discover the meaning of chastity in our universal call to love.

I was intrigued to read Spenceley’s book not only because I am a sucker for chastity books but also because it sounds like the beginning of a romantic comedy (another thing I can’t resist).  Young spunky journalist writes op-ed about being a virgin and is caught in the midst of a media frenzy—hilarity ensues.

Chastity Is For Lovers did not disappoint, and Spenceley’s unique voice and style of storytelling was a refreshing change of pace on a topic that can often feel over-saturated with voices merely repeating one another.

The risk of a chastity book written by a self-professed “happy virgin” is of course that it has the potential to come off as prideful or judgmental to those who have walked a different path.  Or, to compensate for this fear, often those who preach chastity are so afraid of coming off as judgmental that they end up all but apologizing for their virginity. But Chastity Is For Lovers succumbs to neither of these pitfalls.  Spenceley is bold enough to be authentically herself—neither apologizing for her virginity nor boasting of it.  And it pays off.

All in all, Chastity Is For Lovers is a solid book on the Christian virtue of chastity that I would definitely recommend for young Catholics of dating age, or anyone looking for encouragement in navigating the world of dating.

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Woman In Love: A Love Story Worth Reading

I’m sort of a sucker for love stories. 

But then again—aren’t we all?  Love is the most basic human need.  The music we listen to, the TV shows we watch… everything about the culture we live in testifies to the fact that we are starving for real love that satisfies.  Because of this, I believe that great love stories—REAL Love stories—deserve to be told and re-told.  The story of Mark and Katie Hartfiel, which I got to read this past week in Katie’s book, Woman In Love, is one of those stories.

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As a highschooler in Colorado, Katie was convicted one week to begin praying in earnest for her future spouse.  She began to keep a notebook in which she would write letters to her “Husband-to-Be” (or simply, “HTB”), assuring him of her love and prayers for him.  Years later, she would discover that the very same week she began her journal and her prayers for her HTB, a young man in Houston, Texas was inexplicably brought to his knees one night in an outpouring of grace that began his conversion to a life in Christ.

Woman In Love tells the story of Mark and Katie’s journey towards true Love, while encouraging young women everywhere to follow in Katie’s footsteps and “get in the trenches” for their Husband-To-Be.  What I especially enjoyed about the book was that it was both a love story as well as a practical guide to living a life of purity.  With each chapter you get a little bit more of Mark and Katie’s love story, but the story is infused with practical advice for young women to live out our universal call to Love.

Every woman can and should be a “Woman In Love”—in love with Jesus and in love with her future spouse (some will even learn that the two are actually one in the same!).

If you are a young woman or if you know a young woman, I encourage you to pick up this book.  Here’s just a little excerpt from the first chapter:

“…Yes, your vocation has a name.  This name was spoken when the Lord breathed you into being within your mother’s womb.  Your Creator set out a perfect plan for your life ending with a triumphant ‘happily ever after’ as you fall back into the Father’s arms at your death…

…Does this mean that there is only one person for you?  Maybe…then again maybe not.  What it does mean is that the Lord knows everything.  He stands outside of time and is intimately aware of every breath you will take.  He knows the decisions you will make.  He knows the man you will marry, and He knows where your Husband-To-Be is at this very moment.  He would love to shower grace upon him in response to your prayers.”

You can read more about Katie, and order Woman In Love, by clicking the image above, or visiting www.womaninlove.org

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Love and Marriage and the Catholic Church

I’ve gotten several questions over the past few months about the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage.  It’s a topic I’ve written on before, but today I wanted to focus on the bigger picture.  Let’s put same-sex marriage aside for a just one second and discuss what love and marriage are supposed to mean to man according to the Catholic Church.

The official teaching of the Catholic Church for all persons—gay, straight, male, female, single, married, what have you—is that we are all called to chastity.

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Let’s just stop for a moment and think about how counter-cultural that idea alone is.

As a Christian, I don’t believe that two unmarried people should live together as if they were married.  I don’t believe that any person—married or single—should look at pornography.  I believe, as Jesus teaches, that any man who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (and vice-versa).  I believe that the marital embrace ought to be reserved for, well, marriage.  I believe that a valid marriage is binding until death.  I also believe that marriage is for both the procreation of children and for the unity of the couple.

Let’s face it, you guys.  In eyes of the world, we’re nuts long before you even introduce the idea of same-sex marriage.

But this is sort of where the problem lies.  Like the frog slowly boiling in the pot, we’ve gradually become accustomed to the way the rest of the world views sex, love, and marriage (and unfortunately, it’s usually presented in the that order).  We invite all sorts of misrepresentations into our homes in the TV shows and movies we watch.  We stand by silently as our friends move in with their significant others before marriage.  Artificial contraception is accepted as normal— even responsible— for the unmarried and married alike.

We excuse our silence in the face of all of this because, “it’s not our place to speak up.”  It’s not our place to impose “our views.”

This could be why the rest of the world is— somewhat justifiably— so confused and so angered by our stance when it comes to things like same-sex marriage.  We don’t make a huge fuss when it comes to all of the other ways in which society has skewed the truth about sex, love, and marriage—why are we picking this one to be so upset about?  It’s a valid question.

Many other people in the Christian blogosphere have already made this point.  And by it I don’t mean to say that we’re so far gone that we should just let this one slide, or even that same-sex marriage is “no big deal” because we’ve already accepted so many other misrepresentations of what God designed sex and marriage for.  It is a big deal—but it’s also in some ways just the next [il]logical step along the slippery slope on which we’ve set ourselves.

So what’s a Christian to do in the face of misrepresentations of the truth about love?

We start living out the truth—the whole truth—of God’s plan for love in our lives.  Instead of opening up a book on what the Bible says about same-sex marriage for the sole purpose of winning the argument in the Facebook comments, let’s open up the pages of Scripture and ask God to write His Law on our hearts.  Let’s begin to speak up when love is misrepresented, and make an effort to stop welcoming the lies into our homes without so much as batting an eyelash.  And let’s do all of this not because we’re angry, but because it genuinely breaks our hearts to see love misrepresented as something less than what it is.

We’re called to be light to the world.  Are we living our lives in such a way that people are surprised to learn that we believe in the truth about God’s plan for love, marriage, and family life? 

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Why True Love Doesn’t Always Wait

It’s Human Nature 101:  We all have a desire within us to give love and to be loved in return.  And while we may seek to fulfill and express this desire in many different ways (some ways healthy and good for us… many twisted and damaging to us) it usually all comes back to this basic principle.  We’re human.  We need love.

And when it comes to love, there is often a lot of emphasis in our society placed on “waiting”.  Obviously at this point I could point to how us Christians talk an awful lot about “waiting” until marriage.  After all, true love waits, right?  But we also hear a lot of talk about “waiting” in our secular world, too.  When things don’t work out with what’s-his-name, for whatever reason, it’s ok, because we tell ourselves that Mr. Right will come along eventually.  We just have to wait.  It’s classic Disney.  “Someday my prince will come.”  But until then, I’ll just wait.

This is all well and good.  And it is certainly true that love is patient (1 Corinthians 13, anyone?).  However, in all this talk about waiting for marriage, and waiting for Mr. (or Miss) Right, it seems we all too easily forget that Love is waiting for us, too.  And in this case, a response is required on our part—right now. (And later today.  And tomorrow.  And every day for the rest of our lives)

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You don’t have to wait another minute for your love story to begin, because Love has been waiting for you since the moment of your conception (talk about Love being patient!).  This Love waits on you even when you refuse it and turn away from it.  This love waits on you even when you spit in its face.  The one who created you loves you more than you are capable of understanding.  And until we begin to realize this, we’re really missing the bigger picture of this whole “love” thing anyway.

If God does one day call you to marriage, I’m sure that your Mr. (or Miss) Right is going to be amazing and is going to love you more than you even know.  But, whether you believe it or not, the fact that God loves you is always going to be a bigger deal.  (And the right “Mr. Right” will tell you that himself).

So pray for your vocation.  Pray for your future spouse.  But most of all, pray that God will open your heart to receive His love, and pray for the grace to love Him in return.

 

 

 

 

 

Naked Old Ladies = +1 for Woman’s Rights?

First, there was the Calendar Girls movie.  Then, Dove told us to campaign for Real Beauty by baring it all.  Recently, people are asked to wear bracelets with “Boobies” written across them to raise awareness for breast cancer (and who knew that 12-year-old boys cared so much about the plight of women against cancer?).  And yesterday, I logged onto Facebook and was met with a picture of a plus-sized model posed discretely nude to help improve body image.

Yes, there is a certain level of marketing genius behind it all (or at least, there was at first).  But it begs the question: Size 24 or size 0—why is it that we as women still think we have to take our clothes off to get a point across?

There is a small victory being won here, and that is that women are finally beginning to realize the great power our femininity possesses.  There is a line from the movie Eat Pray Love that I have never been able to get out of my head because it speaks so clearly to this:

Julia Roberts’ character is eating lunch with her friend, who expresses dissatisfaction with her body.  Roberts, with her newfound wisdom, asks her friend, “have you ever been naked in front of man and he’s asked you to leave?” Her friend of course replies, “no”.  Making her point, Roberts says, “Exactly.  Because when a man sees a woman naked, all he can think about is how he won the lottery because he has a naked woman in front of him!”

Roberts’ character, and every woman who loves this line so much, has just discovered what we all ought to have engrained in our minds from the time we are little girls.  Our beauty is not dependent on what size we are.  We have a certain loveliness and grace within us, simply by virtue that we are women, that no amount of pounds or wrinkles can take away (and all of that other, “I am woman.  Hear me roar,” stuff).

The problem with all of this is that, even though we have made great strides in realizing the power we possess as women, campaigns that have women of any size pose nude for the whole world to see just show that we have not yet fully realized the gift of our femininity.  We’re stuck giggling about it when we ought to be safeguarding it.  We undervalue it so much that we treat it as some silly little ploy to gain attention.  But it’s more than that.  And until we realize that, we are taking one step forward and five steps backwards.

So, women of the world of all shapes sizes, standing up for any and all causes: please, put your clothes back on.