Apr 032012
Esto castus ring ~ Photo by Brent Zupp

I took my teen son to a camp a few summers ago that happened to be Christian based. Our family is not religious, but the camp looked wonderful and welcoming and we felt confident he’d have a good time.

As my son participated in the various activities, I spent a good amount of time wandering the camp and noticed a lot of the older teens wearing a thick pewter ring with some Latin inscription on the outside. It had an old, almost primitive look to it, and I took a liking to it. I later noticed it on sale at the camp store. My son wasn’t interested in the ring, but I bought one for myself and began wearing it around camp.

My mother-in-law, who is a very committed Catholic, worked as camp nurse and noticed the ring on my finger and asked: “Do you know that the inscription on the outside of the ring means?”

I didn’t. The outside of the ring was inscribed…

“Esto Castus”

And as I examined the ring more closely I noticed  an inscription on the inside of the ring that said:

“Thou wilt be pure”

Noticing my puzzled look, my mother-in-law explained that Christian teens wore the ring as a sign of their commitment to remain a virgin until marriage–to remain “pure.”

I laughed so hard.

A less ambiguous translation for “esto castus” is…

Be chaste

And the fact my son wasn’t interested in the ring isn’t lost on me :)

esto castus – be chaste

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  6 Responses to “Esto Castus ~ It’s Latin for…WHAT!?”

  1. Esto Castus means “to be pure”

  2. “Be chaste” makes more sense to me.

    I don’t want to promote a connection between “purity” and virginity.

    Teens have a hard enough time growing up to add that kind of guilt to a natural drive. Statistics tell the story–most teens will experience some sort of sexual activity before they reach 18.

    Why make all those teens feel like they are forever tainted or impure?

    What a terrible message.

    • Brent…I would expect this comment from a man. But, excuse me, purity is associated with virginity. There is nothing wrong with teaching your children to save themselves for marriage. Maybe if that were the norm, the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high.

      • Theresa,

        Nothing wrong with saving sex for marriage.

        Something very wrong about telling those teens who don’t manage to fight their natural (God given?) instinct that they are somehow tainted or less worthy of their God’s love, etc. THAT seems very wrong to me.

        AND I know many women who feel the same, so it’s not a gender thing.

        • God did give the desire sexually for another but did not give it to us to express outside of marriage. This expression and desire is a result of the fall, of sin and our choice to disobey.

          • Thanks, Dave,

            Your belief is specific to your religion. For those who don’t share those beliefs, your reasoning has very little meaning. Your beliefs may not make sense outside the assumptions of your religion, so they may not carry any weight with people who don’t share your religion.

            In other words, people who don’t share your religion may not agree with you.

            So where does that leave us?

            I guess I’m hoping for a common ground of values that are not based on religion, since we live in a society with people of many different faiths. Values like honesty, respect for others, etc.

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