My Q & A on ‘continence’, ‘celibacy’, and ‘chastity’

Great answers to a very complicated issue.

In the Light of the Law

A Catholic Q & A columnist recently offered an explanation of terms “continence”, “celibacy”, and “chastity”. My explanation would have differed in several respects. Shall we?

Hi, and thanks for your question about “continence”, “celibacy”, and “chastity”. I understand why you are confused. These terms are widely misunderstood and misused not just in the secular media but even among Catholics.  Let me suggest how they are best used in Catholic contexts.

Celibacy is the chosen, deliberately made, resolve not to enter marriage. Celibacy is not simply ‘being single’ (else, every child is a ‘celibate’), but rather, it means having chosen to live single either for a while (e.g., till I finish grad school, or till my ailing mother dies) or for life (e.g., I have been ordained or I took permanent religious vows). Celibacy can be chosen for good reasons (e.g., I wish to follow the Lord more freely, or I…

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