STUDY ON CHASTE CONVERSATION‘Chaste conversation’ is a phrase that is tossed around a lot in religious circles. I have found that often it was easier for me to define what UN-chaste conversation was than it was for me to define what WAS chaste. In an effort to clarify the term, I did the following study. While it will likely have broader implications than only those that concern women, my study was narrowed to women/wives.
First, I looked up the word chaste. It is used three times and only in the New Testament. Each of these uses is in the context of describing a Godly wife:
II Corinthians 11:2
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
This carries an implication that treatment/training/keeping of a young woman produces a chaste, virgin bride.
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
A chaste wife will prevent the word of God from being blasphemed.
1 Peter 3:1,2
1Likewise ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wifes;
2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
Coupling suggests that one doesn’t move without the other – chaste conversation and fear -- a reverent obedience to God.
Other forms of the word chaste also appear in Scripture: chasten, chastened, chastenest, chasteneth, chastening, chastise, chastised, chastisement, chastiseth. Before this study, I hadn’t really bothered to note the connection between the word chaste and the other words made with this root. As they appear in Scripture, these other forms of the word chaste carry the intent of changing not only the behavior, but the heart’s desire.
These other terms are used to describe the process used to make one chaste.
The word chasten is used six times in the context of great displeasure. Twice the phrase ‘hot displeasure’ is used. Also, pleas for mercy are mentioned, suggesting that this is a painful experience.
II Samuel 7:14
I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
God uses a rod on His children . . It is the rod of men. He uses men to chasten men.
O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
Rebuke & chastening while God is angry are feared.
O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
Rebuke & chastening while God is angry are feared.
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Done early, chastening brings hope for the future. Don’t be swayed by tears.
Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
Chastening of self before God. Cf. fasting Psalm 69:10
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
A sign of God’s love. The proper response is to become zealous and repent.
This word is used eight times to describe a grievous, undesired experience. The one who is chastened has a painful memory.
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
A child who is not becoming chaste by means of chastening is not a child of the heart – but is a stubborn and rebellious child – words do not move him. . . . An interesting definition of rebellion is ‘one not moved to action by words.’ This broadens the definition to those of inaction, not just those given to rebellious actions.
He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
Chronic body (strong) pain that cause the sufferer to be bed-ridden is a type of chastening.
When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
We can chasten our soul with fasting – a self-chastening can make you a reproach to those whose conscience is pricked when they see your chastened life. cf. Daniel 10:12
Psalm 73:13, 14
13Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocency.
14For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
Troubles throughout the day and chastening each morning; Frustrated by chastening while attempting to show repentance.
17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
18The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
Chastening can leave you with lingering hurt but the LORD ‘hath not given me over to death.’
1 Corinthians 11:32
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
God judges and chastens us in order that we avoid condemnation as the world will be condemned.
II Corinthians 6:9
As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
Chastening leads to life not like condemnation which leads to death.
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Some will chasten us for the pleasure it brings them. God’s chastening is for the purpose of making us partakers of His holiness.
This form of the word is used only once and is a description of a present circumstance.
Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;
A blessed thing. A teaching tool.
In this form, the word is used three times and used in connection with loving training of a child.
Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
Just as a man would not allow a son to run wild, neither will God allow His own children to do so.
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Repeated, early consistent, involved training/correction is what we would see from a loving father towards his son.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If we are received as sons, we will be chastened as sons.
Used six times, the word chastening is found in passages that describe the response to chastening. These include: happiness, not despising the chastening, not tiring of the correction, prayer, not fainting, assurance of sonship, and grief that yields righteousness.
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
HAPPY – not despising chastening
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
Not despise – Don’t get tired of His correction
LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.
A Prayer poured out as an offering (possible tears?)
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
Not despise – Don’t faint
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
With knowledge of sonship
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Grievous but you emerge righteous if you allow yourself to be exercised thereby.
Each time this word is used, it refers to a punitive action meant to leave a physical mark AND designed to leave a mark on the will of the individual. This is a means employed by government to punish lawbreakers as a warning to others and to rehabilitate the offender (if he survives). Chastise is used six times.
Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
God will – in fury – walk contrary . . . He will chastise seven times for sins.
And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
This is a punishment for a man that lies about a virgin he took to wife, stating that she was not a virgin.
When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.
This punishment will descend upon the guilty like a net on a bird and before the congregation.
It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.
The chastisement of a sinful nation (Israel).
I will therefore chastise him, and release him.
A public punishment (ref. Christ)
And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.
A public punishment (ref. Christ)
This word is used 5 times. Four of those five instances refer to the administration of punishment by an authority that is unwise in the wielding of his power.
I Kings 12:11
And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Used as a display of power
I Kings 12:14
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Used as a display of power
II Chronicles 10:11
For whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Used as a display of power
II Chronicles 10:14
And answered them after the advice of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add thereto: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Used as a display of power
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.
Comparing the punishment of a nation to that of a balking animal that needs the trusted Master to turn him.
Chastisement is used five times in Scripture describing a punitive action towards those called sons. These verses show God using powerful measures to chastise His own children.
And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,
It is suggested that those who have not been chastised cannot have an appreciation for God’s greatness and/or might – AND that God holds those who HAVE known His chastisement to a greater measure of accountability.
Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:
An appropriate response (a chaste response) to chastisement.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
What was our own chastisement was borne by Jesus, Who gave us peace and healing in its place.
All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.
The ‘multitude of thine iniquity’ can earn chastisement administered by a cruel one that leaves marks.
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Proof of legal sonship. A bastard is not corrected as a son.
Chaste is used in this form only once. In context, ‘Chastiseth’ indicates that God will correct/chastise those who are in the position to chastise others.
He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?
If we administer chastisement upon the heathen, we can expect no less to be done towards ourselves.
How do we become chaste?
From reading the verses that appear, I conclude that a wife becomes chaste as she yields to the chastening of the Lord. Said another way, it is God’s task to make you chaste. It is our task to yield to His chastening. If we are not chastened by God, then we are not His children (Hebrews 12:8 ). He holds His children that have been chastened to account (Deuteronomy 11:2). If we do not yield to His chastening, we are called rebellious (Deuteronomy 21:18). If we continue to struggle against His chastening, He will not relent from measures at his disposal (Proverbs 13:24) until we yield (Job 34:31). He does this to make us chaste and in order that we not be condemned (I Corinthians 11:32).
For me this is great encouragement. None of the Scripture I found stated that my chaste conversation was dependent upon my environment, my history or my husband. Rather, my chaste conversation is a work that the Lord IS NOW ACCOMPLISHING in me as I yield to His hand. This gives me even more confidence as I come before His throne in prayer asking Him to guide and direct me into all chaste conversation. I know this is His goal for me.
I was also encouraged that this is in fact God’s work. While He may use the ‘rod of men’ (II Samuel 7:14) He does this for our profit (Hebrews 12:10). I was only able to find chastening in the context of a parental authority towards children to change the bent/direction of the heart OR from a governmental authority to administer punitive consequences and ‘rehabilitate’ the individual. I did not see where a spouse was directed to attempt to treat another spouse in this way, which is consistent with the connotation of a parent-directed activity.
I believe that our ‘chaste conversation’ is actually a gift from God – the gift of being taught how to love that which delights Him.
II Thessalonians 2:10
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
Which brings us to a key question:
What is chaste conversation? What does it look like?
It appears to me that ‘chaste conversation’ is not so much about how well we corral our inward impulses and keep them from influencing our outward behaviors. Remember that conversation refers to what is your habit. If choosing to walk with chasteness, causes you inward turmoil, frustration, etc., then I would suggest that it is not ‘chaste conversation.’
As I understand the term, it is referring to how strongly our desire is to delight our LORD. This does not mean that we are not grieved when we are mistreated or treated poorly. Instead it means that we have a higher calling, a greater love interest that gives us the desire to please HIM above all others and to consider how our actions reflect upon Him as we move throughout our day. This means that all else comes second to pleasing Him: our hopes, our dreams, our rights, our comfort, our WHATEVER. When all of these things are no longer our CHIEF desire, and that desire is to please HIM, THEN I believe we are walking in ‘chaste conversation.’
It is with this understanding of the term that I again dug into the Scriptures and found some passages that I believe describe some of the ways we can actually observe the outward appearance of chaste conversation (remember, it is to come from within). These are not the only passages, but a few that spoke to me:
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
II Thessalonians 2:15—17
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
16Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
I Thessalonians 5:12-24
12And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
13And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
14Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
17Pray without ceasing.
18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19Quench not the Spirit.
20Despise not prophesyings.
21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
For those who are struggling with the connection between chastisement and chaste conversation:
When I started doing this study on chaste conversation as it relates to women/wives, I was taken aback at the link to the other words made from its root. When I initially thought of a chaste woman, I did not think of one who needed God's chastening. ￼
I wasn't sure what to make of it all until I did the study listed above. I used to think that chastening was simply Gods punishment of or correction of our own poor behavior. However, if you will look, the words punishment and correction are not used interchangeably with chastisement. Chastisement carries with it the connotation of a loving training that is administered by a parent. Chastisement can (if called for) include painful measures, but I don't see that it always does. Rather, from reading the passages, I gleaned that chastisement is intent on capturing the heart of the child and giving the child a heart for that which pleases the parent.
THAT's why a chaste person is a person you'd never think of as needing any chastisement. When God's fingerprints are on the person's heart, she becomes a glory to Him and all that He does. God's chastisement is done with that goal in mind. In other words, we cringe and turn away at the mention of the word chastise, because we've gotten the wrong impression of the term. A slave, a servant, a criminal -- THESE are simply punished. Chastisement (by a parent) is reserved for sons or (by a government) for citizens. Chastisement is not squandered on a person of no value. Depending on the individual, we can be chastised by His voice calling us to another way, or we can require more severe measures. The blessing is that HE knows what is required, and HIS love for us will not relent until we are chaste.
I like to think that (although it does not specifically say this) that some of God's greatest examples of chaste conversation will be women. In the New Testament, only women are mentioned with the word chaste. Although we are weaker vessels, I think that God knew we would have the sensitivity to respond to some of His more subtle measures. Artists know that the genius of the work often lies in the minutest detail.
Chaste conversation (IMO) is so much more than 'living Jesus' or 'being a shining light for Him.' I say this because those phrases seem to emphasize the outer behavior. Chaste conversation is how a person falls deeply in love with Jesus and how that is lived out. If you were to tell a person to do A in order to appear more chaste, she (if not chaste) would be in for a frustrating experiment. BUT, if you helped that person to better love HIM and suggested that they try A, she would be amazed to find that the things which once frustrated her were now a joy (though they may not be simple or easy).
And THAT'S what will win them. When Suzy (who was always critical and angry) suddenly is at peace and full of joy . . . When Mr. Jones can no longer get Mrs. Jones angry or to argue with him . . . When Mr. Smith is moved to secretly read his Bible because he wants whatever Mrs. Smith has gotten ahold of . . . When the children change their behavior because they love their new mama so much that they don't want to hurt her . . . When men who think God can never use them are inspired to hope and dream in the possibility because, 'If He can change HER '. . . When people catch a vision of what God can do because of what they see Him doing in YOUR life, THAT'S chaste conversation!
And that's what His chastening hand brings. Successful chastening yields a chaste woman that brings others to Jesus by her daily living. It isn't just what she does, but her manner, her bent, her heart. God is glorified by this AND He brings blessings/rewards to us through the process. Talk about trading ashes for joy, turning mourning into dancing, purchasing lavish riches without money -- He does this for us and delights to have us called chaste. . . . It's almost too much to imagine!