Chastity after Divorce

St Monica

“We must be pure. I do not speak merely of the purity of the senses. We must observe great purity in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.”
Saint Peter Julian Eymard

 As a young Catholic woman, I was raised with the understanding that sex was reserved for married couples. By college I had a fairly good handle on why the Church forbade sex outside of marriage including the emotional, physical and psychological effects of such intimacy. Fast-forward sixteen years’, I’m divorced and again faced with this challenge, but this time it is not just about physical intimacy but the emotional as well. Before I married, I knew I had to be careful not to cross physical boundaries but now, although I’m living without the benefit of the masculine presence, I am still bound by the sacrament to my husband. I may not receive his love, help or touch, but faithful to him in thought, word and deed I must be. This is heartbreaking, frustrating, humiliating etc…but in truth it is extremely important to remain chaste both physically and emotionally after divorce.

What I’d like to focus on here is the divorced, single-parent. Much of what I’ll say applies to the annulled as well, but one fundamentally important distinction will not. That distinction is that without an annulment: you are still married! Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament cannot be undone through civil divorce. The Church will always find in favor of the marriage unless it has been decreed null and this includes the period of time after filing for an annulment. Until a formal decree of nullity we must, under pain of sin,  remain faithful to the marriage vows. “But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:28

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