Sexual continence

Sexual continence

Sexual continence is a lifestyle in which one refrains from all sexual contact even while married. In the Early Christian Church of the West, sexual continence was required of deacons, priests and bishops. ["Celibacy in the Early Church: The Beginnings of Obligatory Continence for Clerics in East and West", Stefan Heid, p. 15] Sexual continence is a form of the virtue of chastity (to refrain from sexual contact outside of marriage) but is not necessarily the same as celibacy (the unmarried state). Sexual continence is distinct from celibacy in that one can be continent within marriage but celibacy is the unmarried state.

There are two types of continent individuals - those who choose to be continent, and those who simply "happen to be" continent. Those who choose to be continent are a diverse group. Latin Rite Catholic priests and consecrated religious, for example, take a promise of chaste celibacy, meaning they do not marry and are chaste, meaning they refrain from all sexual contact. Buddhist monks also choose to live a continent lifestyle. Orthodox monks and bishops also choose to be continent. There are a plethora of others who choose to be continent, including gays who believe that they are sinning if they engage in sex, people who suffer from a fear of the sexual act, and those who are scarred from childhood sexual abuse.

An opinion has gained ground in modern times, not only among the general public, but also among physicians, that the belief in the physiological value of continence belongs to the dark ages of religious superstitions and scientific ignorance, and is incompatible with physiological knowledge. Certain pseudosexologists, have exploited this idea to their commercial advantage and have created in the public mind a phobia in regards to continence, which is regarded as a cause of nervous and mental diseases and a positive health danger. On the basis of this belief, physicians and psychoanalysts have looked on continence for the cause of the nervous ailments of youth and have advised young men to visit prostitutes.Fact|date=November 2007


Sexual continence includes refraining from all sexual contact including masturbation. However, many philosophers and theologians disagree. Many say that masturbation is a natural act, that has medical benefits, so it should be permissible. Many say that it is an involuntary act (i.e. wet dreams). Some go as far as to say that refraining from masturbation can have severe psychological side effects.

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II, in his book Theology of the Body, talks at length about chastity, continence, the conjugal act, lust of the heart, and the nuptial act.


External links

* [ Sexual Continence]
* [ Physiological Value of Continence]

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  • Continence — Con ti*nence, Continency Con ti*nen*cy, n. [F. continence, L. continentia. See {Continent}, and cf. {Countenance}.] 1. Self restraint; self command. [1913 Webster] He knew what to say; he knew also, when to leave off, a continence which is… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Continence — • Defined as abstinence from even the licit gratifications of marriage Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Continence     Continence      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Sexual abstinence — is the practice of voluntarily refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity. Common reasons to deliberately abstain from the physical expression of sexual desire include religious or philosophical reasons (e.g., chastity), material… …   Wikipedia

  • continence — late 14c., self restraint, from O.Fr. continence (14c.), from L. continentia a holding back, repression, from continent , prp. stem of continere (see CONTINENT (Cf. continent)). Especially of sexual desire from late 14c.; of the body s… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Continence — may refer to: Fecal incontinence, the inability to control one s bowels Incontinence (philosophy), a lack of self control (Greek: ἀκρασία) Sexual abstinence as a state of life Urinary incontinence, the involuntary excretion of urine This… …   Wikipedia

  • continence — [känt′ n əns] n. [OFr < L continentia < prp. of continere: see CONTAIN] 1. self restraint; moderation 2. self restraint in, esp. total abstinence from, sexual activity …   English World dictionary

  • continence — 1. The ability to retain urine and/or feces until a proper time for their discharge. 2. Moderation, temperance, or self restraint in respect to the appetites, especially to sexual intercourse. [L. continentia, fr. con tineo, to hold back] * * *… …   Medical dictionary

  • continence — noun Date: 14th century 1. self restraint; especially a refraining from sexual intercourse 2. the ability to retain a bodily discharge voluntarily < fecal continence > …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • continence — /kon tn euhns/, n. 1. self restraint or abstinence, esp. in regard to sexual activity; temperance; moderation. 2. Physiol. the ability to voluntarily control urinary and fecal discharge. Also, continency. [1350 1400; ME < L continentia. See… …   Universalium

  • continence — noun a) The voluntary control of urination and defecation. b) Moderation or self restraint, especially in sexual activity; abstinence. , Ant …   Wiktionary

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