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Students of religious studies confuse chastity with celibacy

Students’ belief that masturbation is a sin against chastity tallied with the official catechism of the Catholic Church, but other Matsec candidates still confuse chastity with celibacy, and others believed chastity only pertained to priests or religious people

james
James Debono
11 January 2017, 8:00am
chastity does not entail abstaining from sex but is understood as 'the positive integration of one’s sexuality'
chastity does not entail abstaining from sex but is understood as 'the positive integration of one’s sexuality'
Some home truths from the Matsec examiners’ report on the Religious Studies intermediate level test: masturbation is still a sin. It was one of several sins that students had to mention as a “sin against chastity” and to define what chastity meant.

“The large majority of candidates gave correct examples of sins that go against chastity. The most common answers specified masturbation, pornography, adultery, fornication, prostitution and rape as such sins,” the report states.

Students’ belief that masturbation is a sin against chastity tallied with the official catechism of the Catholic Church, which defines masturbation as “the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure”.

Not just… it goes on to describe it as “an intrinsically and gravely disordered action,” and that the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” 

Most candidates described chastity as a moral virtue, a gift from God or “a fruit of the Spirit.” But other candidates still confuse chastity with celibacy, and others believed chastity only pertained to priests or religious people. 

Indeed, chastity does not entail abstaining from sex but is understood as “the positive integration of one’s sexuality, irrespective of the person’s choice of state in life: married, religious, single or ordained.”

Seven in 10 candidates sitting for the exam chose to pen an essay on the Sacrament of Marriage. But when it came to explaining the meaning of married love, very few answered that it was the unity between the spouses and their openness to new life. 

“Many explained only the commitment for indissolubility. With regard to what makes a good marriage many kept on what one usually hears in marriage homilies rather than giving the virtues pertaining to the Sacrament of Matrimony.” A similar examiners’ report for candidates sitting for the religion O level test reveals that although most students know the ninth commandment (“You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife”) they mistakenly interpreted this to mean, “Do not commit adultery”. 

Indeed the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence, or any intense form of human desire.

The report has highlighted the greater awareness of students on the Church’s teachings on social justice and environmental issues. Most candidates answered correctly as to why every human being was bound to protect God’s creation and make good use of it. A small but significant number even mentioned the ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical, which is still not included in the syllabus. And most students gave more than one option on how to respect creation, with the majority of answers being of “exceptional quality”. 

“The candidates showed that they have a high awareness of the environment and the human duty to safeguard it, but only the very few showed how to improve it”. 

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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