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Author finds happiness in chastity

“Chastity is for Lovers” will be released this Friday. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Arleen Spenceley is a 29-year-old virgin and isn’t ashamed to admit it.

The Tampa Bay Times writer and author of the new book “Chastity is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin,” embraces her label as well as the idea that she may always be a virgin.  

“I believe I’ll be fine if I never get married,” Spenceley said.

While her book focuses mostly on living a chaste life, it also debunks some myths about the Catholic Church, of which Spenceley is affiliated, and uses humor to open her writing for discussion, rather than lecturing readers on lifestyles.

“It’s a window into a different world,” she said. “My world.”

Chastity isn’t always an easy decision, especially in a culture Spenceley said does not really understand her lifestyle choice.
“People confuse abstinence with chastity,” she said.

Chastity, for Spenceley, is about being “thoughtfully in control” and having “moderation of one’s own behavior.” Chastity doesn’t end after someone gets married and has sex, she said.

It’s a personal decision, and Spenceley wrote her book on why she’s saving sex for marriage to make one thing clear: Chastity is for everyone, not just the religious.

In the book, Spenceley wrote about the idea that some people aren’t aware that chastity is a choice available to them.

Spenceley, a USF graduate, knows her intended demographic — young adults. She said her book is important for college students because, in college, no one is discussing it in the same way as her.

“Discussions of sex and chastity end with youth groups,” Spenceley said. “If we stop talking about it because a kid isn’t a kid anymore, we imply it isn’t relevant.”

Spenceley has made it clear she not only wants to help those with the same values feel less alone, but also be able to show those who have made different choices aware of the other options.

“If I tell myself I can only be happy if I am married, then I will be only be happy if I am married,” she said.

The book also clears up a lot of the words used when discussing chastity. She discusses the difference between chastity and purity, dedicating an entire chapter to that distinction alone.

“Chastity is something I do with God’s help,” Spenceley said. “Purity is something that is entirely in
God’s hand.”

The book also speaks to the separation of prude and prudent.

“As someone who practices chastity it is my responsibility to be prudent,” said Spenceley.
Not to be confused, however, with the word prude, implying someone who is excessively proper or modest in his or her mannerisms, while prudent generally refers to wisdom or discreetness.

“This is basically the most personal thing about me,” Spenceley said. “If I put something so personal for all to see … what will my future clients think of me? Will they feel uncomfortable?”

And Spenceley’s decision to go public about her choice, originally back in a 2012 essay published in the Tampa Bay Times, hasn’t been easy. However, Spenceley admits her essay was worth it.

“Now all my colleagues, my friends, my family and… 40,000 readers know,” she said. “I almost backed out. Ultimately it changed the course of my career in great ways.”

At the end of the day, Spenceley believes chastity is not just about sex: it is about behaving moderately.  The book is her way of hoping to restart the conversation of a chaste lifestyle and maybe change a few minds about the stereotype.

“Chastity is for Lovers” is scheduled for release Friday and will be available in digital and paperback through most major booksellers.