Some years ago a questionnaire was published in the Religious
Bulletin of the University of Notre Dame. It listed some fifty
virtues, qualities of mind and body and accomplishments. The list
included such virtues as purity, humility, and justice; such
qualities of the mind as tolerance and humor, of the body as figure
and beauty: such accomplishments as skill at tennis, swimming
and music. Five hundred young men were asked to choose one
virtue or quality or accomplishment which they would have above
all others in their future wives.
Most of the choices were sensible and mature. However, out of five
hundred young men we could expect some to be immature if not
juvenile. I remember that one demanded of his future wife that she
be an expert swimmer. He would have this above all else in his
companion for life. He must have been an habitue of the
swimming pool; perhaps he was on the swimming team. Evidently,
he could visualize his wife swimming along through life by his
We should not be surprised that a dozen or two were not too
serious or intelligent in their selections. You might not agree with
the remaining choices. Although you might not decide on honesty,
for example, yet you would probably hesitate in passing up this
Well over three hundred of these young men picked the virtue of
purity. Instinctively young men realize that the virtue of purity is
a prerequisite for marriage. The girl who lacks it is a bad risk for
marriage, whatever else be her assets. No self-respecting young
man will seek out for his wife a girl who has been pawed over by
every Tom, Dick and Harry in the neighborhood.
A girl who develops the reputation for being "fast" with the boys
will win dates from inconsequential young men. She will have what
she thinks is a good time for a few years. But she is wasting her
time as far as finding a good mate for life. The worthwhile young
man looking for the girl to be his inspiration, his faithful
companion, and the mother of his children, will pass her up; or, if
he should unknowingly become acquainted with her, will on
learning of her real worth, drop her like a hot potato. Allow me to
say that this is not just theory. Remember the three hundred men
at Notre Dame who chose purity in their future wives above all
Lest anyone need more convincing, it should be mentioned that
authorities on family life are in agreement that violation of purity
to the extent of sexual experience before marriage is a handicap
for a future married life. No one says that the handicap cannot be
overcome. Yet, it remains a handicap, and the girl who is preparing
herself to be the ideal wife heeds the voice of experience and
avoids this obstacle to future happiness.
These opinions are held by some with no religious convictions
about purity. Some of them do not seem overly concerned about
religion. Their experience in dealing with marriage problems tells
them that lack of purity often wrecks a marriage. This is their
observation, and it is honestly stated.
By nature a girl is strongly inclined to modesty. It becomes her and
enhances her charm. "Depart not from a wise and good wife, whom
thou hast gotten in the fear of the Lord, for the grace of her
modesty is above gold." Eccu. VII, 21. A good home life, her
religion, and her school promote this natural instinct and carry it
along to the full-blown, delicate flower of purity. It is a drastic
change in the life of a girl for her to abandon, even temporarily,
the virtue of purity. The cause must be considerable. One great
cause for loss of purity among girls of high school and college age
is an inferiority complex.
Take Hattie for example. She was not a ravishing beauty. Yet, she
was attractive enough; or at least she could have been if she
worked along the correct lines. Hattie missed a prom or two. She
was being passed over by the boys. Visions of her old maid aunt
haunted her. Panic set in and she lost confidence in herself and in
the future. She began throwing herself at the boys. The word got
around. And it was not long before she was receiving the attention
of several of the most odious young reprobates of her
neighborhood. You may be sure that these characters who
contributed to the destruction of a girl's virtue would not hesitate
to ruin her reputation.
Hattie was now getting the attention which she craved. She now
had dates, but she was a marked young lady. And time was quickly
running out. Opportunities for a happy married life were growing
dimmer with each succeeding "fast date." Remember the choice of
the young men at Notre Dame?
It is obvious that Hattie's frantic efforts to have dates were her
undoing. She lacked confidence in herself, the quiet confidence,
which comes to the girl who is developing her personality. It is not
necessarily true that the girl who has the most dates during high
school years will catch the best husband in the shortest time. This
is especially true if she compromises her purity in order to acquire
The young lady who abandons purity or allows it to become
tarnished sells herself much too cheaply. She is not preparing
herself to become the ideal wife. In fact, she is frittering away her
chances of becoming a wife at all.
How stupid it is to think that purity will scare away young men. If
a girl is a "wall flower," it is not because of her purity. It is in spite
of it. Purity of itself attracts. The introvert has the makings of a
"wall flower." While the introvert sits on the side lines, she has
plenty of time to reflect. Often her reflections indicate a not overly
generous soul. If she attributes her own lack of popularity to the
virtue of purity, to what does she attribute the popularity of many
of her acquaintances? She refuses or is too dull to see that it is
their vivacity. They are interesting people and can have a good
time and can promote fun for others.
"Ah! sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee. Ah! I know at last
the secret of it all . . . For 'tis love and love alone the world is
seeking." No truer words were ever sung than these in the famous
love song. The only excuse for our existence is the love of God. For
this He made us, to love and be loved.
The virtue of purity is not an end in itself. It is the guardian of
love. As we ascend toward God through His creatures, we are
waylaid by a host of enemies. One of these is lust of the flesh. Its
most subtle and overpowering assault is to masquerade as love.
Purity guides us around this booby trap. The path it takes us over
at times is stony. This is particularly true for young people who
are seriously courting or are engaged.
To love a person is to wish him well, to hope for and plan for and
work for his happiness with all your being. A real Christian wishes
all mankind happiness and thereby fulfills the great precepts of
Christ to love his neighbor. This love of neighbor, all embracing
and including the little Pigmy in far off Africa and even our
enemies, is a spiritual thing. It emanates from the soul, from the
mind and the will.
We know that the opposite sexes were made by God to attract each
other. This attraction in itself is not love, unless it includes the
spiritual side of our nature. Many people physically attract each
other even to the extent of marriage. Yet, many of them are not
really in love. They do not seem capable of love. They are too self-
centered. Love is just the opposite. It looks outside for self, forgets
self. The marriage built on physical attraction alone will last just
as long as the infatuation lasts, and this generally is not very long.
For a normal, happy marriage there should be both the spiritual
and physical attraction between husband and wife. Ordinarily, love
begins for a young girl when she becomes well enough acquainted
with a young man to develop a spiritual affinity with him. She
admires his qualities and abilities. She likes his attitude toward
life in general. She begins to feel at ease, at home in his presence.
Then other things begin to happen. A simple phone call brings a
flutter to her heart. Her pulse quickens when he calls at her home.
She has eyes for no one but him.
With reason she wonders whether she is in love. Her doubts will
vanish when she reaches the point of growth in love where all her
being reaches out for him in the effort to bring him happiness. Her
own whims and desires fade into the background. His happiness is
her only real concern.
Obviously, this early stage of love, undeveloped and untested by
actual married life though it be, poses a real problem for engaged
couples. Their spiritual love for each other readily flows over into
the physical side of their nature. These emotions quickly enkindle
the sexual impulses. Here the virtue of purity, the watch-dog of
love, must come into play to steady the two lovers.
Champions are not made overnight. Long and tedious practice
must precede real success. The daily exercise of purity over the
years is required to build up the virtue or facility of purity. It will
be a safeguard for these engaged couples when they need it most
in times of emotional stress. Intelligent reflection in moments of
calm will show them the foolishness of hasty desires and the
danger to their love and respect for each other in stealing
privileges from their future married lives. The period of
engagement is a challenge to the sincerity of their love. It is a test
of sacrifice and self denial, without which loves flies out the
window. How often the nascent flower of love has been choked off
by the rank weeds of impurity.
The sham and insincerity of pretending to be better than one is
renders the hypocrite obnoxious to all. The failing is more
common after middle age, when the tendency of hiding sins and
blemishes of character grows. Young people are more likely to be
the victims of another hypocrisy, the pretense of being worse than
they actually are.
I saw so much of this when I was overseas with the Air Forces
during the war. Many of the young fliers, half-way through their
allotted missions, seemed to feel it necessary to impress the
recent arrivals from the States as to how reckless they were with
the female population of Paris. With divers winks and knowing
looks these self-styled old reprobates (many were only nineteen or
twenty) would have the young lambies believe that they had
plumbed the depths of Pigalle from one end to the other.
I suppose that we should not begrudge the young blades the foible
of parading as overwhelming lady killers. Yet, half of these fancied
"wolves" would find themselves hard put later on in married life to
fill the bill emotionally for all but the most feckless of wives.
Obviously, only the very young would be taken in by this display
of masculinity. But that is just the trouble. These hypocrites were
dealing with the young. The hypocrisy of pretending to be better
than reality hurts no one. The hypocrisy of pretending to be evil
has led many a person into serious sin. The power of example is
prodigious, and what a calamity it is when failures in the virtue of
purity have followed such a will o' the wisp as the feigned example
of the hypocrite.