You know you’ve really arrived when you find strangers on the internet discussing your sex life.
I’m constantly amazed at how many people I meet who want to “be” me – or at least to do what I do. “It must be so fun and so glamorous, being famous and traveling and giving those big talks,” they say, their eyes glazing over slightly.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being me, and I love doing what I do. But there’s very little “glamour” in the coach section of the plane, or in the airports where I find myself stranded between connections. And I love the schools and rallies and parishes where I speak, but glamorous they ain’t.
As for being “famous”, that just makes me laugh. People sometimes introduce me to someone by saying “This is Mary Beth. She’s famous.”
See, to me that’s just proof I’m NOT famous. Famous, by definition, means never having to tell people you’re famous. They’re supposed to know.
I AM well known enough to have had a stalker. (Gee, what a lovely perk.) And, because I’m known for chastity, I’ve apparently been the topic of some pretty bizarre conversations among people who are complete strangers to me.
For instance, imagine surfing the internet and discovering a group of people you’ve never met, holding a rather spirited on-line discussion about, among other things, your own personal sex drive.
Still want to be me?
Yes, it really happened. In the midst of a search, I ran across a chastity discussion group. It consisted largely of people who were rationalizing their decision not to live chastity, and a few brave souls trying to preach the Good News to them.
Apparently, at some point in the discussion, my name came up. One of apparently-not-living-chastity people wrote that she had a theory about me. She said that I, and other people like me, “simply like being single, don't wish to marry, have a low sex drive -- and since they don't want to look weird in our Noah's Ark culture, they have to say ‘I'm waiting till marriage.’”
I honestly don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.
You can see it for yourself if you’d like. Just do a Google search on “Mary Beth Bonacci” and “low sex drive.” The quote will pop right up.
I actually thought about joining the group, just to chime in and freak them all out. I still may, but it looks like nobody has posted to the group since April, so I’d probably be talking to myself.
So I’m here instead, in a nationally syndicated column, to announce to the world that
a) yes, I live chastity;
b) while I believe that God wants me single right now, and there are aspects of my single life that I enjoy very much, I don’t “love” being single, and I would be highly in favor of becoming happily married at some point; and
c) I most definitely do not have a low sex drive.
So there you have it.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. Basically, it’s that we live in a very strange society. I can’t tell you the number of talk shows I’ve been invited to appear on, where the focus wouldn’t be on chastity the virtue, but on me personally and my bizarre, no-sex lifestyle. (“Do you have a boyfriend? Can we get a shot of you two riding bikes together?” I could just picture it. “Here’s a virgin riding a bike. Here’s a virgin cooking dinner.” And I’m going to drag someone I’m dating into a freak show like that?) To me, there’s something a little weird about going on national television to discuss your sex life – even if you don’t have one.
In this strange society, the assumption is that nobody does anything that requires sacrifice or (God forbid) renouncing pleasure. If you’re in good shape, it’s because you’re “lucky.” (“Oh, you can have a piece of cake. You don’t have to worry, you’re thin.”) And if you advocate chastity, it’s obviously because you aren’t interested in sex.
I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. People who live chastity do so not because they’re repulsed by sex, but because they’re in awe of sex. They hold it in much higher esteem than anyone in the apparently-not-living-chastity crowd. They believe that it speaks the language of permanent self-donation. They believe that, no matter how good it would feel to speak that language outside the context of permanent commitment, to do so would cause damage. And so they chose not to.
It’s not an easy choice to make. It requires a lot of prayer. It requires a lot of pleasure-renouncing. But the rewards are worth it -- peace with God, healthier dating, better marriage decisions.
And, if they’re really lucky, they can read about theselves on the internet.