Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Virtue of Chastity

By Fr. Phillip Reese  - From the "The Voice of Orthodoxy"

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

The virtue of chastity, or sexual self control; the value of virginity and of waiting until marriage is virtually gone in our western world today. Christendom is teetering. To carry these values and beliefs into the reality of today’s world where the opposing message comes at us relentlessly through the various forms of media, academia, culture, politics, government, and even other churches, are like going against a great monster.

So many of our Orthodox young people have succumbed to it. Many minimize or cease their participation in Church life, some returning after marriage and the arrival of children, recognizing the Church’s teachings and influence as a positive aspect in their lives. Very many never return, their faith shipwrecked as they find little relevance for the Church in their lives molded by modern, secular thought. It is a big problem which faces not only our Orthodox Church, but churches all over America and the Western world. Children not only face it, but also adults.

The early Church began in the pagan Roman world filled with sexual license and ambiguity. The first Christians were firmly connected with their faith and with each other. They did not look to the pagan world and its institutions for support. They accepted the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and lived each day as the Church, concerned with the advancement of His Kingdom in this world. It was a minority faith that was peculiar and strange to the masses. The members faced opposition and bitter persecution from the beginning. The names and stories of so many the martyrs of that period are with us today. They are our heros and our heritage as a believing community. Their faith, along with with the ideals of chastity, sexual purity, the sanctity of marriage and self control have changed the world. It is that faith, the Orthodox Faith, that continues that heritage even today in the presence of the licentious and profligate monster (or idol!) which we all face and are challenged by.

As in the early Church, so today; being firmly connected to our faith in Jesus Christ and to each other is key. He and His Holy Church must be the center of our lives if we are to tame the influence of this monster our lives. It’s time to repent, to organize and to pray. Retreat is not an option.

May the Lord, in His mercy, bless you and inspire you! 

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