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O’Donnell Advocated for “Chaste” Lifestyle

September 7th, 2010 at 12:24 pm | 31 Comments |

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Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate in Delaware’s GOP primary, wrote in favor of living a “chaste” lifestyle in 1998:

Adolph Hitler once said that to engineer a society you must first engineer its language. Starting with the youth, he set in motion a design to erode the power of words, to steal the significance and beauty of a single word.
We can see the unfolding of that plan in our society. Society’s ” sexual liberation” has unleashed an entirely new lexicon. For example, “gay” has always meant joyful and gleeful. Yet, today, when we say that Ellen is gay, we’re certainly not talking about her emotional well being.

In the same way, even Christians have become caught up in the new uses for old words, often in an effort to remain competitive in the public debate. Words like abstinence and phrases such as secondary virginity are now commonplace in the marketplace of ideas put forth to counter the sexual ideology of the 90s.

I don’t encourage anyone to seek ” abstinence.” I cringe at terms like “secondary virginity” or “recycled virgin.” One of my goals is to get the body of Christ to stop proclaiming these words. I would rejoice if I never heard “abstinence” from a pulpit again.

Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I do seek to surrender my entire life to the will of our Father. That is precisely why I don’t talk about abstinence or secondary virginity when I am asked to speak about sex. Abstinence is a physical discipline, not a calling. It makes our physical condition the goal.

As Christians, virginity is not even our goal. Purity and holiness are our calling in Christ. In Philippians 3:14 when the apostle Paul urges us to “press toward the goal” he is not calling us to push the limits as long as we don’t cross the line. He continues to assure us that it is a prize, a great reward, to live as Christ calls us to live.

I don’t like the term “secondary virginity” because it, too, makes virginity the goal and seems to classify certain people as second-rate Christians. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” It does not say “all things except our virginity.” When Christ heals people from cancer, there is no doubt that the physical body has been restored. Yet sometimes our own shame can cause us to doubt His ability to restore our purity. Christ promises to cleanse us from all of our sins.

Someone may challenge this idea by pointing to the fact that many Christians may have contracted AIDS in a promiscuous past. Sexually transmitted diseases or a pregnancy are consequences set apart from our healing. God may choose to heal someone from cancer, yet that person still has a great deal of medical bills. The outstanding bills do not determine whether or not the patient has been healed by God.

I know many physical virgins who are not sexually pure. I know many virgins who are into pornography or who are “doing everything but” with their boyfriends. On the flip side, I know many non-virgins who live beautiful, holy, pure lives through the power of Christ’s blood.

Another disagreeable point about abstinence is that it does not transcend into marriage, yet our call to purity does. Married couples, especially, are called to sexual purity. When a married person uses pornography, or is unfaithful, it compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse’s purity. As a church, we need to teach a higher standard than abstinence. We need to preach a righteous lifestyle.

So what word do we preach? I struggled with that for a while. I was continually being asked to do media interviews or give speeches about sex. I would talk about this concept of holy living, yet had no word for this idea. I prayed for God to give me a word that applied to all people; married, single, virgins and non-virgins. This word would encompass our entire lives, not just our sexuality.

About a year ago, I was talking to a crowd about my thoughts on abstinence and the need for a higher standard. After my talk, a woman approached me and suggested that I use the word chastity. I politely thanked her but quietly thought how sad it was that she missed my point.

The whole purpose of the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth was to restore Biblical values in a way that is relevant to this extreme generation. It was not to bring back, what at the time, I thought were Victorian, puritanical ideas about sex. So, I continued to search for a word. God was probably laughing at my refusal to see His answer to my prayer.

This past summer I was invited to speak at a large Christian rock festival. I wanted a powerful word to drive home this concept to the crowd. I begged God to give me a word, but He continually reminded me of that woman’s face and her love for the word chastity. Then, just days before the festival, I recalled a speech that I had given about strategy of engineering language. I instantly felt embarrassed that I was blind to my own point! So I researched the word chastity.

When I heard the word chastity it would conjure up uptight images of chastity belts. I was succumbing to a meaning of Chastity that robbed the beauty of the word as well as its true definition. Chastity comes from the Greek word hagnos, which means clean, pure and holy. It is synonymous with the Greek word hagios, which means consecrated and sacred.

God wants us to live chaste lives. The dictionary listed words like integrity, honesty and purity as synonyms. It did not mention our sexuality. Surrendering our sexuality to God before and after marriage is a by-product of living chaste.

We can proudly, with honor, proclaim that we are consecrated to God. Yet there seems to be a stigma attached to proclaiming that we live chaste lives.

We should just as proudly proclaim our chastity. When God looks at His people, He looks at the integrity with which we live our lives. He searches our hearts and distinguishes between who has surrendered every crevice of their hearts to Him and who has not.

God does not distinguish between who is a virgin and who is not. Christians tend to ask each other whether or not we’re virgins. The real question is whether or not we are chaste.

Christine O’Donnell is the founder and president of SALT-Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth)

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31 Comments so far ↓

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Mr. Frum, thank you for this unfiltered post of O’Donnell’s views. She is a strong advocate for sexual morality and this statement shows that she understands the way that immorality insinuates itself into the minds of populace. Mary Magdelene is a good example of one no longer a virgin but whose great love moved her to chastity and true happiness.

  • Carney

    Both the Bible and longstanding Christian tradition (the latter being recognized as being equally authoritative as Scripture by her denomination – Catholicism) place great value on and respect for virginity, but O’Donnell is of course correct that few are “called to” or expected to live up to virginity, and that most are instead expected to be chaste.

    In any event, I question why this was posted on FrumForum, a site that has done little but criticize social conservatives and in effect tell us to shut up, care only about money and physical safety, and keep mindlessly voting for establishment candidates. I suspect that to a social liberal and/or a person raised outside of practicing Christianity, a piece like this which takes conservative social values and traditional faith seriously seems outlandish, and “discredits” its author without need of further comment.

    What such people do not realize or appreciate is that family values aren’t undermined in isolation – corrosive policies that hurt traditional norms by increasing divorce, illegitimacy, single motherhood, etc. also have cascading effects – they ultimately increase crime, welfare use, drug abuse, educational failure, unemployment, and pressures to increase entitlements to unsustainable levels in a failed effort to clean up the mess caused by the collapse of traditional mores.

  • TerryF98

    She needs to talk to David Vitter, John Ensign and the other pseudo Christian “family values” hypocrites who screw around with whores wearing a diaper or screw around with their married assistants then do a pay off to the husband to keep quiet.

  • TerryF98

    (Catholicism) place great value on and respect for buggering little alter boys. FIXED

  • MSheridan

    @Carney,

    Regarding thisI suspect that to a social liberal and/or a person raised outside of practicing Christianity, a piece like this which takes conservative social values and traditional faith seriously seems outlandish, and “discredits” its author without need of further comment.
    you would be mistaken in your guess. I am a social liberal. My grandparents were Catholic; I am not a devotee of any faith. I think this was an excellent piece of writing, and demonstrated a fine concern for the distinction between following religious doctrine and living it.

  • jjv

    So is Michael Castle for unchaste lifestyles? I don’t think so. I assume this was meant to denigrate O’Donnell but it does not. Her problem is not her position on chasteness, but on whether she is a winning candiate which she is not.

  • MSheridan

    @TerryF98,

    You would probably object if someone attempted to paint all Muslims as terrorists, or wife-beheaders, or stoners of adulterers. You would probably point out that the vast majority of Muslims do none of those things. Why do you feel it is acceptable to tar all Catholics with the same brush, ignoring the vast outcry among them against the very crime you named? As for the errant politicians you named earlier, what on earth do they have to do with this piece? The simple fact that they are professing Christians?

  • Noah Kristula-Green

    No one finds the Hitler references in the opening paragraph jarring?

  • TerryF98

    Msheridan

    I have seen no vast outcry against the rape of small boys within the Catholic “Church” sect. Only a vast coverup from the Pope downwards.

    This has been going on for generations, not just the recent past. Please point me to articles describing the huge rallies against this from the grass roots of the Catholic sect! Show me the articles by the cardinals railing against this and pleading with the Pope to do something. I will wait till hell freezes over.

    I have a very personal reason for feeling very angry about this.

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Noah, why would those be jarring? Hitler apparently mastered the technique of word manipulation to further his cause of eugenics. In the writer’s view homosexual practices are immoral so to use a word that denotes happiness with respect to this immoral act is diabolical just as the effort to use words to justify experimentation on and torture of humans.

  • MSheridan

    Terry,

    If there aren’t huge rallies in the Muslim world against the crimes I named, then by your logic that is what Islam stands for. That seems ridiculous to me. From my outsider’s perspective, Catholicism has many doctrinal problems and an even bigger problem with internal corruption, but I still wouldn’t say that the faith itself (and by extension all its practitioners) “places great value on and respect for buggering little altar boys.”

  • TerryF98

    MSheridan, please go argue with your straw man.

  • jakester

    TerryF98
    True, when last spring the story of Ratzinger’s involvement in the scandals broke, all those bastions or morality like O’Reilly and Prager were busy attacking, not the church, but the NY Times. Oh yes, they all said how much they hate child molesters in one breathe as they moved on to fry bigger “librull media” fish in their endless quest to make American journalism a friend of conservative religion

  • jakester

    Why do all these chaste Christian women go out of their way to look so hot if they are all down on wanton sex?

  • MSheridan

    Yes, Terry, it was a straw man argument. I readily admit it. I used the same criteria you were applying in an effort to show you that.

  • Stewardship

    “Adolph Hitler once said that to engineer a society you must first engineer its language. Starting with the youth, he set in motion a design to erode the power of words, to steal the significance and beauty of a single word.”

    Sounds like what Limbaugh did to the word “conservative.”

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    “Your body is a temple.” That is a good and true message whether you are a believer or not and can have application in terms of avoidance substance abuse, eating right, and sexual morality. Recognizing that chastity is a virtue is recognition that people need to keep their body pure as a temple without stain of fornication.

  • buddyglass

    Yeah. I don’t find a lot to object to in what she wrote. Which sort of begs the question: what was the intent of posting the text on FF? I get the subtle feeling the poster expected it to reflect negatively on her.

    Note: Not living in Delaware, I know next to nothing about this woman. For all I know, I might find the majority of her positions to be totally appalling. But I find this particular bit of text to actually be kind of refreshing.

  • Oldskool

    When God looks at His people, He looks at the integrity with which we live our lives. He searches our hearts and distinguishes between who has surrendered every crevice of their hearts to Him and who has not.It sounds as if she found some bit of solace or happiness, as tortured a journey as it was. But it’s sad that she feels the need to believe in an invisible guy in the sky who spends most of his time helping people win ballgames and Oscars and saving others from accidents while letting others die horrible deaths. So she should consider herself lucky she’s able to get in touch.

  • mpolito

    I don’t support Ms. O’Donnell in the primary, but what exactly is bad about support a chaste lifestyle? With all due respect, David, would you prefer to see the alternative, which is a promiscuous lifestyle? C’mon now.

  • abj

    O’Donnell would be an absolute, unmitigated disaster for the GOP if she somehow wins next week’s primary, but that said – c’mon. Seriously. I don’t share her views on sexuality, but there’s nothing terribly objectionable here. Live and let live.

  • TJ Parker

    “Your body is a temple.”

    Yeah, but its “mortification of the flesh” that Paul preached, and that the Catholic Church embraced, even unto the extremes of auto-BDSM, as in the case of your last Pope and his favorite belts. Ouch.

    As this Pope and the legion of child-raping priests demonstrate, chastity leads to perversion.

  • jakester

    The word gay has changed over the years to mean queer. Big freaking deal, word meanings do change. Like liquor once meant any drinkable liquid or girl meant a youth of either sex. What normal language evolution has to do with Nazis is beyond me, but it seems like the right spends an awful lot of time calling people Nazis.

  • easton

    Noah, of course it was jarring, and goes straight to the heart of Reductio Ad Hitler. If you disagree with me, you agree with Hitler. The word gay is not synonymous with Orwell’s Ministry of Peace.
    The origin of the word is interesting: gay has had various senses dealing with sexual conduct since the 17th century. A gay woman was a prostitute, a gay man a womanizer, a gay house a brothel. This sexual world included homosexuals too, and gay as an adjective meaning “homosexual” goes back at least to the early 1900s.
    So right off the bat, she doesn’t know what she is talking about.

    As to the rest of the piece, she obsesses much to much over sex considering how she isn’t married and is against Masturbation.
    Real Christians devote themselves to the poor and unfortunate among us. It would be nice if she considered that instead of not having sex for a change

  • TJ Parker

    What we all need is more politicians preaching religion to us. Kind of like getting medical advice off TV infomercials. Where is their sense of shame?

  • busboy33

    @easton:

    Assuming Reducto Ad Hitler isn’t copyrighted, you may consider it appropriated as of now.

    Assuming it IS copyrighted . . .well, then consider it stolen, cuz that’s gold and I’m putting it in my lexicon, legality be damned.

  • jakester

    TJ Parker, you mean those magnetic bracelets that cure arthritis, diabetes, cancer?
    Busboy, “Reducto Ad Hitlerium” has been around for a while, just send me $200 for the rights after you clear my table.

  • CO Independent

    >> Yeah. I don’t find a lot to object to in what she wrote. Which sort of begs the question: what was the intent of posting the text on FF? I get the subtle feeling the poster expected it to reflect negatively on her.

    One of the primary purposes of FrumForum is to publish lame hit pieces on Republicans they don’t like. Right now on the front page there are the following hit pieces:
    1. Knepper’s unbelievably lame hit on Perry
    2. Tim Mak’s hit piece on Grimm
    3. Golinkin’s hit piece on Pawlenty
    4. This piece

    Here’s an idea: how ’bout an occasional post about a Democrat?

  • sinz54

    It’s clear from the text that O’Donnell is not recommending that all young people remain virgins before marriage. She is recommending that we all commit to having a moral, upright life–even after marriage.

    I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

    She’s not condemning some young woman who has had sex with her fiance before they got married.

    But I’m sure she would condemn Eliot Spitzer, a married man, for having unsafe sex with prostitutes.

    Anybody want to defend Spitzer?

    (NOTE: I’m not being partisan here, there are plenty of Republicans with questionable sexual pasts. I just picked a random example)

  • easton

    “She is recommending that we all commit to having a moral, upright life–even after marriage.”

    No, this is nowhere near good enough. She is preaching Chastity, but to what end? For its own sake? As though being a Chaste person makes one holy, or can earn a person a spot in heaven? If she believes this she has a very shaky grasp of Christianity. And abstinence is a perfectly fine word, I abstain from alcohol, but I don’t do it for moral reasons, I simply hate it. Hence, I don’t fee morally superior. And this whole article reeks of moral superiority.

    “We can proudly, with honor, proclaim” this is hubris, the sin of pride.

    No, The real question is not whether or not we are chaste. Faith and repentance is sufficient.
    For Christians the only questions are “Do you believe and do you repent your sins.” While this might be sufficient to attain grace, it is not the sole plan of God.
    She seems to have no understanding why these things are. You are not chaste just so you can strut around like a peacock, you choose this so that in your actions you do not harm others.
    After this you can act the way true Christians are meant to act, in service to others. Nowhere in this article is there any acknowledgment of others. A person can have faith, can live in a cave, be chaste in every way, but in the end, what would his life have been about?

    “Christians tend to ask each other whether or not we’re virgins.” No, they don’t. What kind of Christians does she know? I am sorry, but this is a terrible article is so many ways. Full of faux profundities and false theology.

  • Gawker O'Donnell Post Piles Up Big Numbers -- and Pushback - NYTimes.com

    [...] probably supposed to feel O.K. about mousing over this because Ms. O’Donnell has championed chaste living in her public [...]