Another of Brother Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues is that of Chastity. A touchy subject that seems to primarily dwell in the domain of religions and is more often ridiculed as old fashioned than not, Chastity is a big part of being a practicing Freemason.
Freemasons are charged with a duty to God, the Supreme Architect of Heaven and Earth, and taught to “erect a spiritual building, pure and spotless, a fit residence of Him that dwelleth with the Good.” Among other charges, this particular responsibility is one that we can gain specific guidance from “that great Trestleboard on which is inscribed the revealed word of God.” Which we’ll get to momentarily, but first, we must define Chastity.
Brother Franklin defined it as: Rarely use venery, but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. Breaking this down, he’s saying that one shouldn’t participate in sexual acts except rarely and then only for the purposes of health or procreation. Further, he proposes that you should never pursue such actions to the point of exhaustion, or at the expense of another.
This definition is still somewhat vague. Honestly, what in the world does Brother Ben mean by never to dullness and weakness? Additionally, some studies prove couples who engage in healthy physical relations are closer and emotionally stronger. Rarely may not apply as rigidly as he’s allegedly proposing. There is one section of the instruction that particularly stands out as appropriate to the Mason who concerns himself with the image of the Institution, and that is the portion about reputation.
The Dictionary defines Chastity (Chaste) as refraining from sexual intercourse that is regarded as contrary to morality or religion; virtuous. Not engaging in sexual relations; celibate. Free from obscenity; decent: chaste conversation. Undefiled or stainless: chaste, white snow. Pure in style; not excessively ornamented; simple.
Here’s where I’ll bring us from Franklin’s Age to our modern day struggles.
Writing it down and hearing it in my head reminds me of just how ugly the word alone is let alone the action. Perhaps the word being ugly is my opinion alone, but this is the direction the article is heading for a few paragraphs, so buckle up.
I’ve read reports that promote the use of pornography to stimulate partnerships’ sexual relations. These reports have suggested that pornography—when used in a healthy proportion—strengthen the relationship. There are even more studies—more longterm and conclusive—that counter this logic. Matter-of-fact, serial killers have been interviewed who have stated that pornography is a significant contributor to their heinous thoughts and acts. I also know of many, many relationships that have been ruined because of porn. Moving beyond studies (I argue all the time that studies are victims of agenda) I’m going to return once again to the Mason’s duty to the Supreme Architect of Heaven and Earth.
Remember that we are to “erect a spiritual building, pure and spotless, a fit residence of Him who dwelleth with the good.” A man cannot accomplish this by being lustful. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 it reads: For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; and in Matthew 5:28 it reads: But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And as if these two admonitions aren’t enough, Galatians 5:19-21 states: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These three verses—which are inscribed on that great Trestleboard—aren’t the only words that enforce the practice of chastity, avoiding immorality in thought and deed. There are dozens even, dare I state it, hundreds of versus compelling us to be chaste in actions, word, and thought.
I have had the misfortune of overhearing Brothers speak of their sexual conquests in all seriousness. Speaking without respect for the gentler sex and with complete disregard for the reputation of the Fraternity. Single men proud of their cavalier behavior who cast dispersions upon our Grand Order by their actions. In large part, I blame their poor representation on ignorance towards Masonic teachings and in small part, I am sure that I’m witnessing society’s influence. No man who is genuinely intent on being a Freemason would participate in rampant promiscuity. Freemasonry is about good men becoming better men.
The character or quality of being obscene; indecency; lewdness. Something obscene, as a picture or story. An obscene word or expression, especially when used as an invective… all definitions of the obscenity the noun. Offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved: obscene language. Causing uncontrolled sexual desire. Abominable; disgusting; repulsive… all definitions of the adjective, obscene.
I suspect that you’re seeing a trend by now.
Famous comedians believe that to be funny, they have to resort to the obscene. Society supports this assumption by paying a great deal of money to be subjected to obscene language, indecent topics, and offensive behavior laughing all the while. We, as Masons, should position ourselves outside of this circle.
Our language should be bereft of obscenities, worthy of educated men, conscientious of potential offense. When we speak, people should be inclined to believe we are better men for our association with the Fraternity. Swearing, crude topics of discussion, and an interest in the obscene should be as much a foreign entity in our refined craft as corruption and ego. Where goes a Mason there also should women and children find no reason for offense.
This attention to duty should extend to our forms of entertainment and where we spend our time. Movies, television shows, and video games that showcase nudity should be avoided. Media that promotes foul language, boorish subject matter, and inappropriate elements should remain outside of a Mason’s purview. Again, I state that we are to be better men. We are to stand apart from what society accepts as good.
Wrapping It Up
The Supreme Architect does not abide in unclean places, and we cannot build up a pure and spotless residence for Him by rolling in the mud. Brother Benjamin Franklin listed Chastity as one of his 13 Virtues as those who practice chastity tend to be the better for it. They positively influence those around them and are stalwart ambassadors of Good in their communities. To be better men, let us strive to practice Chastity.