C. S. Lewis on How to Persevere in Chastity

First, he says we must really want to grow in this virtue. He notes how a famous Christian—when looking back at his life—realized that his prayer for chastity was really saying something like: “Oh Lord, make me chaste. But please don’t do it just yet.” Of course, his reference here is to the great St. Augustine. Indeed, every saint has a past and every sinner a future. It’s good to know about saints who struggled, since that can give us confidence that we, too, can overcome.

Second, Lewis notes that many never set out on this great battle for chastity because they assume from the outset that it’s impossible to attain. This assumption deters us from really giving our all in this fight. We go in half-heartedly, accepting defeat before we even begin. But as Lewis points out—with a great many things—we often surprise ourselves with what we can do when our backs are against the wall: “People quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to.” We recognize the merits of not giving up in so many other areas (e.g., sports or school), but for some reason we assume that the moral and spiritual life should not call forth this same kind of effort. What would happen if we went after safe chastity devices and holiness with the same intensity and vigor as we hit the weight room or the track?

Thirdly, Lewis counsels that we must ask for God’s help. Here Lewis is exceptionally insightful and strikes a chord in the spiritual tradition: we often wish that God would heal our vices and instantly empower us with heroic virtue; but perhaps if he did, we would fall into the even greater sin of pride. “Very often,” Lewis writes, “what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.” This process teaches us to depend upon God in a radical way—and this is the great secret to sanctity; indeed, this is the meaning of the first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The poor in spirit are humble and recognize their need for grace; in this way, they become soft clay, allowing God to work more fully in their lives.

For this reason, Lewis writes: “We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.”

The etymology of the Hebrew word Satan is instructive here: “Satan” means “to accuse.” In temptation, the Devil is our buddy, coaxing us to play along. But when we fall, he becomes the accuser, seeking to douse us in shame and keep us from the throne of God’s mercy. The Devil’s greatest temptation is for us to doubt God’s love for us; indeed, his greatest attack is to get us to believe we are too far gone—that we are beyond the pale of his forgiveness. But God is Love; and perhaps the paradox of the Christian life is that he calls us to greatness—and yet he above all else knows that our path to greatness comes only by first turning to him in our weakness. Indeed, a father loves his kids just the way they are—but too much to leave them that way. The same is true of God: He loves us as we are—but so much so that he wants to see us not only forgiven but healed and transformed. And he is ready and willing in our time of need—not to condemn—but to help. All we need to do is ask.

Chastity Belts: The Middle Ages-Esqe Sex Toy You Never Knew You Needed

Most people’s idea of a chastity belt probably comes from the Middle Ages, when artists would commonly show women wearing metal underwear fastened with a lock to which only their husbands or fathers held the key. Back then, it was a totally messed up way to control women’s sexuality, though it turns out that Middle Ages’ chastity belts didn’t really exist. Instead, according to The Smithsonian, these devices only existed in art as a way of humorously depicting men’s fear of being cuckolded or of their daughters’ virtue being stolen.

The real chastity belts that you see in museums were created later, “as curiosities for the prurient, or as jokes for the tasteless,” according to The Smithsonian. If you’re disappointed by this news — don’t be. Chastity belts are very real today and are frequently used in BDSM play as a way to control your partner’s orgasm, according to kink website Kinkly. The basic idea is still the same: A chastity belt is made of metal or plastic and covers someone’s genitals. There are versions made to cover vulvas as well as versions to lock up penises. No matter what your or your partner’s anatomy is, every belt comes with a lock so that the person wearing the belt can’t have their genitals touched — even by themselves — unless the person who has the key opens it. Typically, a belt made for penises locks in a flaccid position so that whoever is wearing it can’t get an erection.The locked-up nature makes chastity belts perfect for orgasm denial, a kink that’s often used in BDSM spaces and involves making someone highly sexually aroused for a long period of time without the possibility of release. Maybe surprisingly, it’s people with penises who enjoy having their genitals locked up the most, according to kinky sex blogger Cara Sutra. Most chastity belts sold now are cock cages and penis erection prevention devices, she writes.
Related Stories

Can Consent Be Sexy?

But what’s the benefit of locking someone’s genitals in a cage and holding the key? As a BDSM dominatrix, Sutra finds chastity play extremely erotic. “Many men feel like the very core of their masculinity comes from their genitalia, having a penis and balls and being able to use them to perform in a sexual manner,” she wrote. “Having this ability restricted or taken away makes them question their masculinity. This is a really potent blend of taboo, fear, and worry and that’s when the playful element of this part of BDSM really kicks in.”

Although women and non-binary folk likely won’t have the same kinds of attachment to their genitals as cisgender men, wearing chastity belts can still be an erotic way to play for them. Because even if the dominate partner isn’t looking to humiliate their submissive by having them question gender roles, locking up someone’s genitals gives the dom the key to their pleasure — literally. And that means that the submissive has to ask the dominate partner for any sort of release. Giving permission is often a part of BDSM play, but chastity belts make asking for permission absolutely necessary.

Depending on how long the submissive partner wears the belt, it can also make sure that their every sexual thought is focused on the person who holds the key. “Although discomfort is minor, the emotional impact is extreme,” wrote another dominatrix, Ava Zhang. “He may have a change of heart and convince himself that his consensual lock-down was a mistake, crawling back to his Mistress and BEG (I love it when they beg) to be freed.”