Chastity is not the absence of sexual desire. Chastity is the refusal to place your sexual desires above the demands of love. You put love before your hormones. It's about having character. One young man said, "I heard somebody say that you can judge your own character by the things you do in private. I'd take that a step further and say you can judge your own character by the things you do with your girlfriend."
I travel around the country frequently to give talks about chastity, and I often end up in conversations aboard airplanes about my line of work. Inevitably, people ask if I practice what I preach. After I explain that I did save my virginity for my wife, the person--without fail--looks bewildered. Then comes the universal question: "So . . . you just didn't have the desires, then?" I have pondered all sorts of amusing ways to answer this, but the bottom line is that the world can not fathom a young person who has sexual desires and does not surrender to them. Working toward God's plan for love does not eliminate sexual desires, it orders them. The chaste person experiences sexual attractions in all their intensity but places love for the other above the temptation to lust.
When you refuse to do this, you may claim to be sexually liberated, but you've really just become a slave to your hormones. Instead of loving an entire person, you begin to love only their body--which isn't love at all. When lust overpowers love, the person values pleasure above all else.
Take, for example, the song "Mambo Number 5." The lyrics read, "A little bit of Rita is all I need, a little bit of Tina is what I see, a little bit of Sandra in the sun, a little bit of Mary all night long, a little bit of Jessica here I am, a little bit of you makes me your man!" Why only a little bit? Because the singer is not man enough to handle an entire woman. Lust allows us to reduce others to "bits."
This is why the impure are never satisfied or free. They have yet to learn that they can not be filled unless they empty themselves. Ironically, the satisfaction and freedom they yearn for is waiting for them in the place they least expect it--chastity. It trains us in self-control so that we can become truly free. "The alternative is clear," the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, "either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy."
1. True Love Waits, "Interview with a Non-virgin," 15 April 2001.
2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2339 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994).