Haydock Commentary adds the following words about verse 1: “Glory. The offspring of the chaste is happy, (Calmet) and honorable: (Haydock) very different from that of adulterers. (Calmet) --- Bodily chastity is a great virtue. (Worthington)”
The Book of Tobias teaches spouses to practice chastity
Another great story of virtue and chastity found in the Old Testament Scripture is the story of the holy youth Tobias in The Book of Tobias or Tobit. Not surprisingly, this book is sadly missing from most protestant “bible” versions. Sad to say, being controlled by the devil and impurity, it is not hard to understand why the devil was allowed to fool the protestants to reject this biblical book since they are such fierce enemies of all sexual purity and morality.
The Book of Tobias describes how the holy youth Tobias was commanded by almighty God through the Archangel Raphael to never perform the marital act for the sake of lust and that he shall be “moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham” he “mayest obtain a blessing in children”. Tobias, who was a holy, chaste and virtuous person of course consented to this admonishment by the Holy Angel Raphael and answered God in his prayer, saying to Him that: “not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity [children], in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever”, thus showing us a great and edifying example of marital purity, and the necessity for all to perform the marital act for the sole purpose of procreation of children and the love of God, if they want to perfectly please Our Lord rather than their own fleshly lusts and desires.
Tobias 6:22; 8:9 “And when the third night is past, [after praying to God for three days in chastity] thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing in children… [Tobias said:] And now, Lord, thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever.”
Tobias 6:16-17 “Then the angel Raphael said to him [Tobias]: Hear me, and I will show thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power.”
The holy youth Tobias approached his bride Sara after three days of prayer and chastity, not for fleshly lust but only for the love of posterity, having been instructed by the Archangel Raphael that to engage in the marital act he shall “be moved rather for love of children than for lust” so “that in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing in children”. Our Lord’s words about “the seed of Abraham” refers to those who are going to be saved from Hell by Christ’s redemptive blood since God solemnly revealed in the New Testament Scripture that “if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29) The “blessing in children” obviously refers to an abundant blessing of offspring blessed by God for those who perform the marital act for the sole motive of procreation rather than the satisfaction of their sexual lust.
The practice of observing chastity for three days after one gets married as the Holy Bible and the Church have always told us to follow, is something that God’s Holy Word considers to be vitally important, and that is why every couple should follow this biblical advice of praying together or individually in chastity, purity and holiness for three days before consummating their marriage. In truth, after they have consummated their marriage, they should also continue this practice of prayer for three days before they perform every marital act since Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself commanded “that we ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Our Lord’s words in the Bible are not to be followed only once, but should be practiced every day even until death in order to increase grace and virtuous living.
Our Lord spoke to Tobias through the Archangel Raphael, saying: “But thou [Tobias] when thou shalt take her, go into the chamber, and for three days keep thyself continent from her, and give thyself to nothing else but to prayers with her. … But the second night thou shalt be admitted into the society of the holy Patriarchs. And the third night thou shalt obtain a blessing that sound children may be born of you. And when the third night is past, thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayst obtain a blessing in children.” (Tobias 6:18, 20-22)
Notice how Our Lord and God in the biblical Book of Tobias clearly promises that all those who pray and abstain from the marital act for three days before having marital relations shall receive the inestimable graces of receiving “sound children” on the third night and that they shall be admitted “into the society of the holy Patriarchs” on the second. The honor of being “admitted into the society of the holy Patriarchs” is of course too great to even describe in human terms since the Holy Patriarchs were the most beloved friends of God because of their purity. The blessing on the third night of “sound children may be born of you” obviously means that those couples who do not perform the marital act for the sake of lust or too often and who are virtuous and wait for three days in accordance with the promise of Holy Scripture, will give birth to a child without birth deformities or defects. This may be hard for many to believe, but this is really and truly what Holy Scripture is promising and saying.
This is not to say, however, that personal sins of the parents are the only reasons for why children are born with defects or deformities. There are also other causes for a child’s defects described in The Gospel of John, where the apostles asks Our Lord the reason for why a man was born blind: “And Jesus passing by, saw a man, who was blind from his birth: And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:1-3)
Our Lord also tells us in The Revelations of St. Bridget that sin and the disorder of nature produce the defects that we all have to endure: “I am the Creator of all things, and all things are foreknown to me. I know and see all that has been and all that will be. But, although I know and can do all things, still, for reasons of justice, I no more interfere with the natural constitution of the body than I do with the inclination of the soul. Each human being continues in existence according to the natural constitution of the body such as it is and was from all eternity in my foreknowledge. The fact that one person has a longer life and another a shorter has to do with natural strength or weakness and is related to a person’s physical constitution. It is not due to my foreknowledge that one person loses his sight or another becomes lame or something like that, since my foreknowledge of all things is such that no one is the worse for it, nor is it harmful to anyone. Moreover, these things do not occur because of the course and position of the heavenly elements, but due to some hidden principle of justice in the constitution and conservation of nature. For sin and natural disorder bring about the deformity of the body in many ways. This does not happen because I will it directly, but because I permit it to happen for the sake of justice. Even though I can do all things, still I do not obstruct justice. Accordingly, the length or brevity of a person’s life is related to the weakness or strength of his physical constitution such as it was in my foreknowledge that no one can contravene.” (The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 2, Chapter 1)
It is indeed very sad to see that no one today, whether married or unmarried seem to care anything about these promises and wonderful, virtuous deeds of chastity and purity in Holy Scripture and that so few people actually try to practice any of these virtuous deeds we have just seen and read about, that will produce these remarkable and wondrous graces from Our Lord and which He promised He would bless a virtuous couple and their offspring with. One would think that even a worldly or ungodly couple would appreciate the grace of receiving a child that is sound and without deformity and that they—if they believed in God or were aware of these promises—would act in accordance to the words of the Holy Scripture; but now neither “Catholics” or so-called Christians nor any else of the world seem to care anything about these words of our Lord that promises the inestimable grace and blessing of receiving a sound child free from all birth deformities or defects, and the honor of being admitted “into the society of the holy Patriarchs”.
The words in the Book of Tobit also shows us that spouses must remember their bond with the Lord first and foremost and that the fleshly or physical part of the marriage must always come secondhand. In truth, “married women who have observed mutual fidelity and have neither known anything outside of themselves not even themselves except the desire for children, if they continually give alms and observe God’s precepts as well as they can, will merit happily to be associated with holy Job, Sara, and Susanna, along with the Patriarchs and Prophets.” (St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 6:7, 6th century)
By practicing this highly and virtuous act of abstaining from marital relations for three days, the devil’s might and power over married couples is undoubtedly thwarted and diminished. Holy Scripture thus advice spouses to be “joined to God” for three days in prayer before performing the marital act. Not only that, but spouses should always fervently pray to God before every marital act in the future and ask Him to protect them from falling into sin, and also after the marital act in order to ask Our Lord to forgive them if they committed any sin during the act of marriage. This is the safe road of the fear of God that every righteous man or woman should follow if they wish to enter Heaven.
St. Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, A.D. 419: “Whosoever possesses his vessel (that is, his wife) with this intention of heart, [that is, for the procreation of children] certainly does not possess her in the "disease of desire," as the Gentiles which know not God, but in sanctification and honor, as believers who hope in God. A man turns to use the evil of concupiscence, and is not overcome by it, when he bridles and restrains its rage, as it works in inordinate and indecorous motions; and never relaxes his hold upon it except when intent on offspring, and then controls and applies it to the carnal generation of children to be spiritually regenerated, not to the subjection of the spirit to the flesh in a sordid servitude. That the holy fathers of olden times after Abraham, and before him, to whom God gave His testimony that "they pleased Him," thus used their wives, no one who is a Christian ought to doubt, since it was permitted to certain individuals among them to have a plurality of wives, where the reason was for the multiplication of their offspring, not the desire of varying gratification.” (Book 1, Chapter 9 - This Disease of Concupiscence in Marriage is Not to Be a Matter of Will, But of Necessity [for the Procreation of Children])
God’s Holy Word is clear. Spouses are to engage in the marital act moved rather for love of children than for lust. They are also to practice chastity from time to time (Ecclesiastes 3:5; 1 Corinthians 7:5).
By the grace of God, let us not live like pagans or heathens anymore who only searches for ways to please their flesh and the world and others, but let us rather strive to please God our heavenly Father and our spiritual nature; and that is also why we all, (whether married or unmarried) who have resurrected with Christ from the dead, and from our old sinful nature, must leave every form of carnality and impurity behind, instead looking up and embrace Our Lord in the purity of the heart and of the body, longing for what is above, and for high and spiritual things. “This then I say and testify in the Lord: That henceforward you walk not as also the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts. Who despairing, have given themselves up to lasciviousness, unto the working of all uncleanness, unto covetousness. But you have not so learned Christ.” (Ephesians 4:17-20)
Contrary to the world today, Saint Augustine, writing On the Good of Widowhood in about A.D. 414, describes the pure mindset of the Holy Jews and Patriarchs during the Old Testament era, telling us how they would willingly have chosen a life of perpetual chastity rather than the marital life had it been known to them that children could be had in another way than through sexual intercourse: “Forsooth different in the times of the Prophets was the dispensation of holy females, whom obedience, not lust, forced to marry, for the propagation of the people of God, that in them Prophets of Christ might be sent beforehand; whereas the People itself also, by those things which in figure happened among them, whether in the case of those who knew, or in the case of those who knew not those things, was nothing else than a Prophet of Christ, of whom should be born the Flesh also of Christ... Whence also holy women were kindled, not by lust of sensual intercourse, but by piety of bearing; so that we most rightly believe of them that they would not have sought sensual intercourse, in case a family could have come by any other means. And to the husbands was allowed the use of several wives living; and that the cause of this was not lust of the flesh, but forethought of begetting, is shown by the fact, that, as it was lawful for holy men to have several wives living, it was not likewise lawful for holy women to have intercourse with several husbands living; in that they would be by so much the baser, by how much the more they sought what would not add to their fruitfulness.” (St. Augustine, On the Good of Widowhood, Section 10)
The Book of Leviticus commands spouses to practice chastity during the woman’s menstruation and infertile period under pain of death, thus showing us that God wants married persons to practice chastity during this time period
The way to perfection regarding the marital act is that spouses only perform the act with the sole intention and hope of conceiving children. That means spouses are to be chaste during the monthly infertile period of the woman and when she is pregnant.
We read in the Old Testament that God had forbidden the marital act during the infertile monthly cycle of the woman: “The woman, who at the return of the month, hath her issue of blood, shall be separated seven days.” (Leviticus 15:19)Haydock Commentary explains: “Days, not only out of the camp, but from the company of men.” As soon as a woman showed signs of infertility (menstruation), intercourse would cease until the cessation of the flow of blood and she became fertile again: “Thou shalt not approach to a woman having her flowers: neither shalt thou uncover her nakedness.” (Leviticus 18:19)Haydock Commentary adds: “Saint Augustine believes that this law is still in force. [On Lev. 20:18] This intemperance was by a positive law declared a mortal offense of the Jews.” This clearly shows us that God does not want spouses to perform the marital act during this time.
To abstain from sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstrual period or pregnancy and subsequent restricted days has all but been ignored by most of today’s people. Observing the period of restriction for sexual activity not only diminishes sexual sins and temptations, but it also places a woman into her fertile period when it is most beneficial for conception to occur. This helps to fulfill the initial command of God to “be fruitful and multiply,” a command that is clearly not being observed by many people today.
A woman’s menstrual cycle is about 28 days long, and the menstrual phase is about 5 days. Adding 7 days after the menstrual phase in accordance with God’s word in the Bible would mean that men and women should remain chaste for at least 12 days out of every 28 days during the woman’s natural menstrual cycle.
Good husbands and wives do not have sexual relations whenever their unbridled lust desires it, but only at times prescribed for this purpose and when it is necessary. The guide of good and pious husbands and wives are thus their conscience and reason instead of their selfish, unbridled lust. “All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-5)
The phrase “A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces” refers to the marital act. Haydock Commentary explains: “Ver. 5. Embraces. Continence was sometimes prescribed to married people, Leviticus xx. 18., and 1 Corinthians vii. (St. Jerome) (St. Augustine, Enchiridion 78.) (Calmet).” This shows us that the marital act must sometimes be abstained from altogether and not engaged in everyday as the evil and immoral world teaches. As said already, one of the reasons for abstaining from the marital act is in order to cultivate virtue and chastity. This is important to do from time to time, for people who have sex often are more likely to become enslaved by this pleasure and fall into sexual sin. “The task of the law is to deliver us from a dissolute life and all disorderly ways. Its purpose is to lead us from unrighteousness to righteousness, so that it would have us self-controlled in marriage, in begetting children, and in general behavior.” (St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book III, Chapter VI, Section 46, written about 198-203 A.D.)
People who never try to control their lust and that let their temptations roam freely—indulging in it whenever it pleases them—have allowed their lust to become their “fix” or “high”. People who act in this way have become worshipers of this fleeting fleshly pleasure and have grown attached to it. Such people must be very careful about themselves, for whenever they die and are called before the throne of Our Lord Jesus Christ, their eternal destiny will be decided based on what they loved more in this life: Our Lord and His Love, or themselves and their unbridled, selfish lust. If they loved themselves and their lust more than they loved the Lord, they will not be saved. Only in Hell will many spouses regret that they never thought of controlling their lust or that they never had relations at proper times or at proper seasons. In truth, “there are others who have become absorbed by marriage and fulfill their desires... and, as the prophet says, "have become like beasts" [Ps. 48:13].” (St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book III, Section 67)
If we claim that we are not pagans anymore, but yet act in the same way as them, satisfying our flesh and the world at every turn, how shall we not stand condemned before Our Lord in the frightful day of Judgment? “And you, when you were dead in your offenses, and sins, Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief: In which also we all conversed in time past, in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the will of the flesh and of our thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest: But God, (who is rich in mercy,) for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, (by whose grace you are saved,) And hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus. That he might shew in the ages to come the abundant riches of his grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-7)
CHASTITY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE NEW LAW
The Holy Bible is clear that “It is good for a man not to touch a woman”, and that married people should abstain from the sexual act from time to time “that you may give yourselves to prayer”
St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is one of the most clear examples in Scripture of how God places the virtue of virginity, chastity and purity above the marital state. Our Lord Jesus Christ, speaking through the mouth of St. Paul in First Corinthians, is crystal clear that: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” and that “he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”
St. Paul is also clear that every married couple should practice chastity from time to time, in order to give time to prayer: “But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render the debt to his wife, and the wife also in like manner to the husband… Defraud not one another, [of the marital debt] except, perhaps, by consent, for a time, that you may give yourselves to prayer; and return together again, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency.” (1 Cor. 7:2,5)
Haydock Commentary explains FirstCorinthians 7:2,5: “Verse 2. &c. But because of fornication, let every man have, and live with his own wife, and not leave her, nor dismiss her. Take notice, that St. Paul speaks these words to those that are already married, and speaks not of the unmarried till the 8th verse. He does not then here exhort every one to marry, but admonishes married persons to live together, and not to refuse the marriage duty, which neither the husband nor the wife can do without mutual consent, because of the marriage engagement. Yet he advises them to abstain sometimes from what they may lawfully do, that they may give themselves to prayer, and as it is added in the common Greek copies, to fasting. St. Chrysostom observes, that the words of St. Paul, are not only, that they may pray, (which no day must be omitted) but that they may give themselves to prayer, that is, may be better disposed and prepared for prayer, contemplation, and for receiving the holy Sacrament, as we find the priests even of the ancient law, were to abstain from their wives, when they were employed in the functions of their ministry. But such kind of advice is not relished by all that pretend to be reformers. And return together again....yet I speak this by way of indulgence, of what is allowed to married persons, and not commanded them, unless when one of the married couple is not willing to abstain. (Witham)”
St. Paul could not be more clear in First Corinthians, 7:1, 7-10, of the perfection of chastity and how this pure life is preferable and better than a marital life. He says, “Now concerning the thing whereof you wrote to me: