Father James Martin: 6 Ways To Love Chastely


Father James Martin is a bestselling author and award-winning culture editor of America magazine. The 50-year-old Pennsylvania native has developed an impressive stature, appearing on “The Colbert Report,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” and CNN. Heck, he even commanded a Wikipedia page. 

Father Martin’s latest book, The Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything, published in March 2010, was a New York Times bestseller and still ranks high on Amazon. Its ninth chapter addresses celibacy and chastity. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“The insights of religoius chastity can help you even if you’re not a Catholic priest or in a religoius order  – namely, as a reminder that there are ways other than sex by which you can give and receive love.

…Religious chastity means that you love people outside the context of a romantic relationship. And, if you think about it, that covers most people in your own life. If you’re single, widowed, or divorced, it covers everyone. [If you’re married], it covers all but one person. So the insights of chaste love are more relevant to your life than you might at first think.”

Father Martin proceeds to offer six ways to love chastely, based on the wisdom of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, who preached that love shows itself more in deeds than words. Here’s an abridged account:


1.  Listen compassionately. “Compassionate listening is an important way of making someone feel respected and loved. …Listening in joyful times is important too.”

2.  Be present. “As Jesuit novices, when we were working as hospital chaplains we were taught that a “ministry of presence” – simply being with another person – is an important part of pastoral care.”

3.  Do something practical. “Here’s a good question to ask: What active ways of chaste loving can be part of my life? How about: Help your elderly mother clean her house. Drive a sick friend to the hospital. Babysit for a stressed young couple. Take a friend out to dinner even if it’s not her birthday or a special event. Writer a letter to someone whom you know is lonely…”

4.  Love freely. “One of the hardest parts of love is this: allowing the other to love you as he or she can, not as you want to be loved. …Accepting others as they are means not only trusting in their love, but respecting how they choose to love.”

5.  Forgive. “Forgiveness releases the other from the trap of guilt and can also help to release you from your own anger. It is never easy, but in the end it is an act of love that heals both the forgiver and the forgiven.”

6.  Pray. “Ask God to help those you love. Ask God to be close to them. Most of all, ask God to allow you to see others the way God does.”


Father Martin concludes the chapter with this note:

Such chaste ways of loving can help those who are not in a committed relationship and who fear they might not be able to live a loving life recognize that the ycan lead lives of love and intimacy. While their actions are not sexual, they can be among the most powerful signs of love that one can give.

Also, for those who feel trapped in relationships that seem to be only about sex, these insights about chastity remind us that love is much fuller than simply sexual intercourse, as wonderful as that is. …”

What do you think about loving chastely? How have you loved chastely?



  1. MaryAlice-97161 October 2, 2011 Reply

    Excellent article … all very good advice. Too many single people equate love with sex; and when they do that, the relationship is only doomed to fail. Thank you, Father Martin, for this very succinct advice. God bless and keep you. MaryAlice; Columbus, Ohio

  2. Fadia-725147 September 24, 2011 Reply

    I really appreciate that chaste love , but unfortunately , love has taken another trend nowadays .
    When I talk about this kind of love , young men make fun of me . But God counts the Best
    for me ; I do not lend an ear to their trivial talk .
    May God bless you Father Martin and strengthen your efforts !!!

  3. Patrick-606389 September 20, 2011 Reply

    Well everything got spoiled by number five. Smiles.

  4. Maria-689654 September 19, 2011 Reply

    I have been a caregiver most of my life. I have been doing all these wonderful things and I am happy for the opportunity to have served the sick, the lonely, the dying, their families. I have had my share of caregiving within my own family; I love them so I give it my all everytime. I have been repaid 100 fold over and over. I can never out do God’s generosity.
    But I am not going to deny the fact that I am flesh and blood; and I too need loving. I do not mean sex; I mean genuine love. It can come in many forms and manifested in so many ways: being there, being supportive, a kiss in the forehead and nose?, flowers, a movie with you, a walk or a hike(occasional holding hands), a quite candlelight dinner for two(even at home), a drive and just talking quitely together, I can keep going… let me know I am loved!!!

  5. Vhie-763540 September 14, 2011 Reply

    After raising a home where the kids have grown and became successful professional and good Christian practitioner, then having to let go of a man who have offended me several times by infedelity and still created a friendly forgiving relationship with him, I realized that I have to define a new purpose in life. I found myself serving the poor and deprived communities in one area in a third world country. I surrender myself to serving, loving and caring for those people I can help in anyway I can. In my daily encounter, respect for such unique individuality is not only necessary but it comes naturally for me. These I believe are ways of loving chastely. There is so much joy in living outside of gratifying oneself, and loving chastely is found around the people we help, serve and care.

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