From ArticleWorld

The term chastity is loosely derived from the Latin word for “chaste” and originally meant having a pure state of conformity with respect to the Greco-Roman religion. In English, the term has come to mean having a virtuous state of mine and body. Practically speaking, in today’s terms, having chastity includes being of virtuous mind and abstaining, because of one’s own sense of purity and duty to God, from sexual activity.

The term “chastity” continues to have significant cultural, sociological and religious implication and involves more than just the avoidance of sexual intercourse. In other words, a virgin can or cannot have chastity but one who is chaste (has chastity) must be a virgin.

Religious Traditions

The Old Testament speaks to the issue of chastity and has had an impact on both Judean and Christian religions today. Having chastity in the strictest historical sense meant refraining from any sexual act whatsoever prior to marriage. This is also the case in Islamic faiths. This includes acts unrelated to virginity such as artificial contraception, having lust, viewing pornography, masturbation, oral sex, rape or sexual intimacy between members of a couple during menses and for a period of time following childbirth. The traditional Western world concept of chastity primarily considers chastity as not engaging in intercourse before sex, anal sex, prostitution or adultery.

Note that the traditional concept of chastity includes refraining from sexual activity in a married person with someone other than their spouse and the use of any form of contraception other than natural family planning.


Chastity can be compared to the concept of virginity in that the implications of having chastity are broader and involve a pure state of being as opposed to virginity, which means that the actual physical act of sexual intercourse has been avoided. In addition, a celibate individual defines one who chooses not to engage in sexual activity for a period of time. Such a person is defined by their actions and not by the purity of mind and lack of intention toward sex that the term “chastity” includes.