From a religious conservative perspective, chastity is among the highest of virtues — representing a condition of inner purity that is deeply important to spiritual health. From a secular perspective, emphasis on chastity has been part of a religious conservative attempt to control human beings — and women in particular.
Those with a secular or more liberal perspective largely reject the idea of chastity as outdated or unnecessary, instead emphasizing sexual liberation, which they see as empowering the individual to make free chioces. Those with a religious or conservative perspective see chastity as a safeguard against the emotional, spiritual, and psychological ills and physical risks that come from having sex outside of a committed (usually marital) relationship.
In the conservative view, chastity safeguards the individual as well as society; it protects the individual from the harms that can come from promiscuity, as well as ensures that men and women are incentivized to form committed relationships and form families, which stabilize societies. In the liberal view, choosing when and with whom to have sex should be free of any judgement or cultural impositions, and what people do with their bodies should be considered an entirely free choice made by individuals.
Both proponents and opponents of chastity may argue there is a higher level of scrutiny on female purity in comparison to men, who are sometimes given a pass. Whereas religious conservatives see chastity as reflected in the most ancient of religious texts, Coontz claims, "mutual fidelity is a rather recent invention" p. 22
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
-Do you see chastity as a silly or a serious matter? Explain what’s behind your answer.
-If you are an advocate of chastity, is there anything critics bring up that you find insightful or helpful in any way?
-If you are a critic of chastity, is there anything about the proponents and their message that you find valuable?