Students squeezed their way into the crowded Lindsey Auditorium at Sturm Hall last night to hear guest speaker, Jason Evert, discuss what he considers a marriage-saving life practice: chastity.
In an enthusiastic and animated speech titled “How to save your marriage before meeting your spouse,” Evert proposed that chastity frees the soul, enabling you to find true, authentic and, most importantly, life-long love.
“The virtue of chastity frees you to love and frees you to know if you’re being loved,” said Evert. “It’s not about repressing sexual desires. It’s about falling in love for the right reasons.”
Indeed, Evert called chastity more intimate than sex.
“Chastity is an expression of love,” he said. “And when you’re dating someone, it’s a greater expression of love than making love, because you’re doing what’s actually best for the person, rather than what feels good in the moment.”
Evert travels the globe as a speaker for the Chasity Project, a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about sex and chastity. He has spoken to over a million people and has authored more than ten books on the subject. He was invited by D.U.’s Catholic Student Fellowship to speak at the university.
One might think Evert’s ideas to be quite unpopular on a college campus, a land supposedly rampant with the so-called “hook-up culture.” However, based on the sheer quantity of audience members and the looks of engagement on their faces, one could tell many students had a genuine interest in the topic.
Almost every seat in Lindsey Auditorium was filled, and waves of laughter swallowed the auditorium as Evert shared amusing anecdotes, such as how he and his wife were featured on the British show, Anna in Wonderland. The show follows Anna as she explores bizarre cultures across the globe. Apparently the idea of an American couple not having sex until marriage was wacky enough to be featured in the same show that covered a vampire colony in the following episode.
When asked for their key takeaways for the event, students Laura Anderson and Ali Hilliard responded with similar answers, saying that people should follow what they believe in rather than succumb to peer pressure.
“My biggest takeaway would be just not listening to the world,” said Anderson, a freshman studying environmental science. “Listen to your heart and to God… Do what you know is right, not what everybody else tells you.”
“[My takeaway is] being myself and not letting a guy tell me I’m not good enough” said Hilliard, a freshman studying biology and chemistry.
Hilliard shared how a recent ex-boyfriend berated her for devoting too much time to studying and for not wanting to have sex with him. She reflected how the speaker event reaffirmed her beliefs in waiting for marriage and how it helped her in moving on from the ex.
So a lot of students are interested in the chaste life, but how does one necessarily practice it?
It begins with clear and mutual commitment, according to Evert. In addressing your intentions, you surface your partner’s beliefs. In Evert’s words, you find out if your partner shares or only tolerates your morality.
Another factor is establishing the level of intimacy that you approve of. Evert recommends saving any deliberate sexual arousal until marriage.
“The more pure we are in a relationship, the more easy it is to be pure,” he said.
This includes making out, according to Evert. He likens this act to lighting the wick of a candle. Once lit, the flame will not stop until it consumes everything, leaving you burnt up and empty, according to him.
A notably missing discussion in Evert’s speech was that of homosexual relationships. When asked about it after the event, he replied that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but he thinks that same-sex partners should also practice chastity.
Evert ended the interview after his speech with the advice, truly define what sex means to you.
“What is sex, and what is its meaning?” he proposed asking yourself. “It’s the total gift of the person — the total gift of the body.”