sexual conduct of a person that is deemed praiseworthy and virtuous
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Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion. In the western world, the term has become closely associated (and is often used interchangeably) with sexual abstinence, especially before marriage. However, the term remains applicable to persons in all states, single or married, clerical or lay, and has implications beyond sexual temperance.


  • In all that concerns chastity and marriage their principles are of the utmost purity. Everywhere the great teacher recommends chastity and temperance; but at the same time he directs that the married should first become parents before living a life of absolute celibacy, in order that children might be born under favourable conditions for continuing the holy life and succession of the Sacred Science (Iamblichus, Vit. Pythag., and Hierocl., ap. Stob. Serm. xlv, 14). This is exceedingly interesting, for it is precisely the same regulation that is laid down in the Mânava Dharma Shâstra, the great Indian Code. Adultery was most sternly condemned (Iamb., ibid.).
  • The authors of antiquity are agreed that this discipline had succeeded in producing the highest examples not only of the purest chastity and sentiment, but also a simplicity of manners, a delicacy, and a taste for serious pursuits which was unparalleled.
  • CHASTITY. Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another's Peace or Reputation.
  • You will tell me, perhaps, that, high-born as you are, reared in luxury and used to lie softly, you cannot do without wine and dainties, and would find a stricter rule of life unendurable. If so, I can only say: Live, then, by your own rule, since God's rule is too hard for you. Not that the Creator and Lord of all takes pleasure in a rumbling and empty stomach or in fevered lungs; but that these are indispensable as means to the preservation of chastity.
    • Jerome, Letter 22, p.11; as qtd. in "Church Fathers: Letter 22 (Jerome)", New Advent, translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.
  • We cast out, then, and banish from our sight those who only wish to seem and not to be virgins. Henceforward I may bring all my speech to bear upon you who, as it is your lot to be the first virgin of noble birth in Rome, have to labor the more diligently not to lose good things to come, as well as those that are present. You have at least learned from a case in your own family the troubles of wedded life and the uncertainties of marriage. Your sister, Blæsilla, before you in age but behind you in declining the vow of virginity, has become a widow but seven months after she has taken a husband. Hapless plight of us mortals who know not what is before us! She has lost, at once, the crown of virginity and the pleasures of wedlock. And, although, as a widow, the second degree of chastity is hers, still can you not imagine the continual crosses which she has to bear, daily seeing in her sister what she has lost herself; and, while she finds it hard to go without the pleasures of wedlock, having a less reward for her present continence? Still she, too, may take heart and rejoice. The fruit which is an hundredfold and that which is sixtyfold both spring from one seed, and that seed is chastity.
    • Jerome, Letter 22, p.15; as qtd. in "Church Fathers: Letter 22 (Jerome)", New Advent, translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.
  • As pure as a pearl,
    And as perfect: a noble and innocent girl.
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Lucile (1860), Part II, Canto VI, Stanza 16.
  • 'Tis chastity, my brother, chastity;
    She that has that is clad in complete steel,
    And, like a quiver'd nymph with arrows keen,
    May trace huge forests, and unharbour'd heaths,
    Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds;
    Where, through the sacred rays of chastity,
    No savage fierce, bandite, or mountaineer,
    Will dare to soil her virgin purity.
  • So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity,
    That, when a soul is found sincerely so,
    A thousand liveried angels lacky her,
    Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt.
  • Like the stain'd web that whitens in the sun,
    Grow pure by being purely shone upon.
  • Chaste as the icicle
    That's curded by the frost from purest snow
    And hangs on Dian's temple.
  • Neque femina amissa pudicitia alia abnuerit.
    • When a woman has lost her chastity, she will shrink from no crime.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV. 3.
  • Even from the body's purity, the mind
    Receives a secret sympathetic aid.
  • Ne derer is none in Goddys hurde
    Than a chaste womman with lovely worde.
    • Robert de Brunne, Handlyng Synne (c. 1303), quoted in The Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250–1918 (1931), p. 13. Compare: F. J. Furnivall, ed., Robert of Brunne’s Handlyng synne (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd., 1901), pp. 68-69, 234–8
    • hurde = flock.
  • In life she is Diana chaste,
      In truth Penelope;
    In word and eke in deed steadfast.
    • John Heywood, "A Praise of His Lady", in Tottel's Songes and Sonettes (1557)
  • But if a kiss prove unchaste,
    Then is true love quite disgraced.
    • Robert Greene, "Philomela’s Ode in her Arbour", Philomela (1592)
  • Highly thus is love disgraced,
    When the lover is unchaste,
    • Robert Greene, "Philomela’s Second Ode", Philomela (1592)
  • He wept for joy, t’ enjoy a wife so fit
    For his grave mind, that knew his depth of wit,
    And held chaste virtue at a price so high, ...
  • I snatcht her gowne; being thin, the harme was small,
    Yet striv’d she to be covered there withall.
    And striving thus, as one that would be chast,
    Betray’d her selfe, and yelded at the last.
  • Collatine’s fair love, Lucrece the chaste.
  • Haply that name of ‘chaste’ unhappily set
    This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
  • Thou seest our mistress’ ornaments are chaste.
  • Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears
    That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed.
  • In thy weak hive a wandering wasp hath crept,
    And suck’d the honey which thy chaste bee kept.
  • ‘Now, by the Capitol that we adore,
    And by this chaste blood so unjustly stain’d,
    By heaven’s fair sun that breeds the fat earth’s store,
    By all our country rights in Rome maintain’d,
    And by chaste Lucrece’ soul, that late complain’d
      Her wrongs to us, and by this bloody knife,
      We will revenge the death of this true wife.’
  • But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
    Quenched in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon,
    • William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 2, Scene 1
  • Thy banks with pionèd and twillèd brims,
    Which spongy April at thy hest betrims
    To make cold nymphs chaste crowns; ...
    • William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1
  • Where lives the man that never yet did heare
    Of chaste Penelope, Ulisses’ Queene?
    Who kept her faith unspotted twentie yeare,
    Till he return’d that farre away had beene, ...
  • Ye blushing virgins happy are
      In the chaste nunnery of her breasts—
    For he’d profane so chaste a fair,
      Who’er should call them Cupid’s nests
    • William Habington, "To Roses in the Bosom of Castara", Castara: The First Part (1634)

  • We take this opportunity to address those who are engaged in education and all those whose right and duty it is to provide for the common good of human society. We would call their attention to the need to create an atmosphere favorable to the growth of chastity so that true liberty may prevail over license and the norms of the moral law may be fully safeguarded.
    Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men's baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture or by pleading the liberty which may be allowed in this field by the public authorities.
  • They are greatly deceived who, having underestimated or neglected those means which rise above nature, think that they can induce men by the use and discovery of the natural sciences, such as those of biology, the science of heredity and the like, to curb their natural desires. We do not say this in order to belittle those natural means which are not dishonest; for God is the Author of nature as well as of grace, and He has disposed the good things of both orders for the beneficial use of men. The faithful, therefore, can and ought to be assisted also by natural means. But they are mistaken who think that these means are able to establish chastity in the nuptial union, or that they are more effective than supernatural grace.

Catechism of the Catholic Church


Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition. Catholic Church. (December 8, 1992).

  • Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.
    The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.
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  • The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
    • Paragraph 2338
  • The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of ‘’temperance’’, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.
    • Paragraph 2341
  • Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. "Man . . . day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth."
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  • Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is "an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society." Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.
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  • Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to [[w:Imitation of Christ|imitate the purity of Christ.
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  • Charity is the form of all the virtues. Under its influence, chastity appears as a school of the gift of the person. Self-mastery is ordered to the gift of self. Chastity leads him who practices it to become a witness to his neighbor of God's fidelity and loving kindness.
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  • The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality.
    Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one's neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.
    • Paragraph 2347
  • All the baptized are called to chastity. The Christian has "put on Christ," the model for all chastity. All Christ's faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his Baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity.
    • Paragraph 2348
  • "People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single." Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence:
    There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.
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Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 108-09.
  • There's a woman like a dew-drop,
    She's so purer than the purest.
  • That chastity of honour which felt a stain like a wound.
  • If she seem not chaste to me.
    What care I how chaste she be?
  • A nice man is a man of nasty ideas.
    • Jonathan Swift, preface to one of Bishop Burnet's Introductions to History of the Reformation.
  • Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
    The deep air listen'd round her as she rode,
    And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
  •   Encyclopedic article on Chastity on Wikipedia
  •   The dictionary definition of chastity on Wiktionary