Note: This is NOT a religious post.
A fortnight ago, at the Westminster Cathedral, the priest spoke about St Agnes, the patron saint of chastity. St Agnes of Rome was supposedly born in AD291 to a family of Roman nobility. She was a beautiful girl, according to tradition, and was pure. At the age of 12, she had attracted many admirers but spurned them all. She was murdered for her chastity, for refusing to give in.
I could hear my 17-year-old daughter’s derisive snort at Agnes’s story.
In the car, I told her that many women (and men, on a smaller scale) today still die to preserve their chastity. Women who fought their rapist to their deaths. Women who would rather die than give in to the violation of the most private part of them. “Why?” I asked her. “If sex is just sex, why didn’t these women just endure the temporary act to save their lives? It’s just a poke, right?”
Silence from the backseat of the car, but I can see the cogs in her brain ticking over.
What I want to get across to my child is what I often write about, not the religion as per what that we do not even know if it was true (who knows if Agnes of Rome was a real person), but how the parallels in these old stories can help us navigate our lives today.
Chastity seems like a very outdated practice these days where casual sex, internet hook-ups and on-demand porn is at everyone’s fingertips, even young children’s. What we lose to gain this ‘freedom’ is intimacy and exclusivity. For me, that is the real value of sex.
This is my analogy:
INTIMACY is how you furnish your house. For instance, you could have a house, but could be cold and empty inside; similarly, you can have sex for years with the same partner, but without the intimacy, it is like living in a house without the nice bits. EXCLUSIVITY is who you let into the space. That very special space could be open to all (not a crime nor up for judgment) but for me, I would rather return home every night to a private one. And conversely, I would rather be a home, not a busy shopping mall.
I think my daughter got it 🙂 and thank you Agnes for the seed that still grows trees these days.
Related post on intimacy: Love in the act