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Table of contents
PREFACE
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.1
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.2
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.3
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.4
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD-1.5
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.1
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.2
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.3
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.4
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.5
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.6
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.7
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.8
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.9
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.10
SEXUAL EDUCATION-2.11
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.1
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.2
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.3
SEXUAL EDUCATION AND NAKEDNESS-3.4
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.1
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.2
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.3
THE VALUATION OF SEXUAL LOVE-4.4
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.1
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.2
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.3
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.4
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.5
THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY-5.6
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.1
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.2
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.3
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.4
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.5
THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABSTINENCE-6.6
PROSTITUTION-7.1
PROSTITUTION-7.2
PROSTITUTION-7.3
PROSTITUTION-7.4
PROSTITUTION-7.5
PROSTITUTION-7.6
PROSTITUTION-7.7
PROSTITUTION-7.8
PROSTITUTION-7.9
PROSTITUTION-7.10
PROSTITUTION-7.11
PROSTITUTION-7.12
PROSTITUTION-7.13
PROSTITUTION-7.14
PROSTITUTION-7.15
FOOTNOTES-1
FOOTNOTES-2

CHAPTER V. 

 

THE FUNCTION OF CHASTITY. 

 

Chastity Essential to the Dignity of Love--The Eighteenth Century Revolt 

Against the Ideal of Chastity--Unnatural Forms of Chastity--The 

Psychological Basis of Asceticism--Asceticism and Chastity as Savage 

Virtues--The Significance of Tahiti--Chastity Among Barbarous 

Peoples--Chastity Among the Early Christians--Struggles of the Saints with 

the Flesh--The Romance of Christian Chastity--Its Decay in Mediaeval 

Times--_Aucassin et Nicolette_ and the new Romance of Chaste Love--The 

Unchastity of the Northern Barbarians--The Penitentials--Influence of the 

Renaissance and the Reformation--The Revolt Against Virginity as a 

Virtue--The Modern Conception of Chastity as a Virtue--The Influences That 

Favor the Virtue of Chastity--Chastity as a Discipline--The Value of 

Chastity for the Artist--Potency and Impotence in Popular Estimation--The 

Correct Definitions of Asceticism and Chastity. 

 

 

The supreme importance of chastity, and even of asceticism, has never at 

any time, or in any greatly vital human society, altogether failed of 

recognition. Sometimes chastity has been exalted in human estimation, 

sometimes it has been debased; it has frequently changed the nature of its 

manifestations; but it has always been there. It is even a part of the 

beautiful vision of all Nature. "The glory of the world is seen only by a 

chaste mind," said Thoreau with his fine extravagance. "To whomsoever this 

fact is not an awful but beautiful mystery there are no flowers in 

Nature." Without chastity it is impossible to maintain the dignity of 

sexual love. The society in which its estimation sinks to a minimum is in 

the last stages of degeneration. Chastity has for sexual love an 

importance which it can never lose, least of all to-day. 

 

It is quite true that during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many 

men of high moral and intellectual distinction pronounced very decidedly 

their condemnation of the ideal of chastity. The great Buffon refused to 

recognize chastity as an ideal and referred scornfully to "that kind of 

insanity which has turned a girl's virginity into a thing with a real 

existence," while William Morris, in his downright manner, once declared 

at a meeting of the Fellowship of the New Life, that asceticism is "the 

most disgusting vice that afflicted human nature." Blake, though he seems 

always to have been a strictly moral man in the most conventional sense, 

felt nothing but contempt for chastity, and sometimes confers a kind of 

religious solemnity on the idea of unchastity. Shelley, who may have been 

unwise in sexual matters but can scarcely be called unchaste, also often 

seems to associate religion and morality, not with chastity, but with 

unchastity, and much the same may be said of James Hinton.[69] 

 

But all these men--with other men of high character who have pronounced 

similar opinions--were reacting against false, decayed, and conventional 

forms of chastity. They were not rebelling against an ideal; they were 

seeking to set up an ideal in a place where they realized that a 

mischievous pretense was masquerading as a moral reality. 

 

We cannot accept an ideal of chastity unless we ruthlessly cast aside all 

the unnatural and empty forms of chastity. If chastity is merely a 

fatiguing effort to emulate in the sexual sphere the exploits of 

professional fasting men, an effort using up all the energies of the 

organism and resulting in no achievement greater than the abstinence it 

involves, then it is surely an unworthy ideal. If it is a feeble 

submission to an external conventional law which there is no courage to 

break, then it is not an ideal at all. If it is a rule of morality imposed 


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