The Dumb Ox Explains Why Edward and Bella Aren’t Chaste

The Dumb Ox Explains…

Why Edward and Bella Aren’t Chaste

St. Thomas is presented with the mystical belt of purity for his proof of chastity; image taken from

St. Thomas is presented with the mystical belt of purity for his proof of chastity; image taken from

Today, is the Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church.  I’d like to use the opportunity to let him explain why Edward Cullen and Bella Swan are not chaste.

First – For more information about St. Thomas, check out my post on him from last year.  You can learn why St. Thomas is called “The Dumb Ox.”    This post is part of the “Dumb Ox Explains …” series.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, St. Thomas served as my first entry into the world of the Doctors of the Universal Church; and I’ve got an ongoing series on the Doctors of the Church.

Secondly – This is a follow-up to my unfriendly review of Twilight, the book.  In the review, I bemoan the fact that some people want to promote the book as a wholesome view of sexuality.  “Bella and Edward promote a positive model of sex”, they say.  “Their relationship is so chaste.”

My response is:  NO, they are not chaste.  They are not even abstinent.

But, by what authority can I speak about chastity?  I’m just some guy with a PC and an internet connection – just another opinion in a virtual-world full of opinions.

OK.  I’ll let one of the greatest minds ever explain why Edward and Bella cannot be called chaste.  St. Thomas wrote – but left unfinished – his magnus opus, the Summa Theologica.  In it, the great Doctor uses the Scholastic Method to unite reason with faith.  It is one of the greatest works left to mankind.

In the Summa, St. Thomas treats both abstinence and chastity.  I am going to do my best to summarize what the Dumb Ox explains.  But, I’ll provide the links so you can read it for yourselves.

  1. Both abstinence and chastity are both related to the moral virtue of temperance.
    • Virtues are good habits which help us live according to our God-given natures.
    • Temperance perfects the sensuous appetites, like our sex drive and other sensible pleasures (meaning pleasures related to our five senses).
    • The oppostite of virtues are vices, which are bad habits which incline a soul toward sin.
  2. However, abstinence is related to the appetites and desires for food and drink.
    • The act by which we practice abstinence is fasting.
    • The opposite of abstinence is the vice of gluttony.
  3. On the other hand, chastity is the virtue that moderates or excludes the sexual appetites.
    • St. Thomas specifically says that chastity is distinct from abstinence.
    • In fact, the sexual appetites are harder to restrain — and are therefore in greater need of “chastisement” (from where we get the word chastity) and restraint.
    • The more one consents to the temptations of the sexual desires, “this increases the force of concupiscence and weakens the strength of the mind. “
  4. Within the virtue of chastity, we find purity.  In other words, WITHOUT PURITY THERE IS NO CHASTITY.
    • Purity is a way of expressing chastity.  The two are so closely related that “the one is sometimes used to designate the other.”
    • Purity regards “venereal”, or sexual, matters; but especially its outward expressions, such as “impure looks, kisses, and touches”.
  5. The opposite vice of chastity is lust.  Lust is the disordered craving for, or indulgence of, carnal (sexual) pleasure.
    • Lust is designated as a capital — or deadly — sin because the pleasure it desires are so attractive to man’s desire that it can cause him to commit many other sins in pursuit of it.

So, there are the lines of reason, which lead me to this:  Bella and Edward engage in lust; they do not practice purity; therefore, THEY DO NOT PRACTICE CHASTITY.

Now, let me give proofs from their behavior:

Chapter 13 – “Confessions”:  The setting – The two are alone in the forest.  (pages 262-263)

His angel’s face  was only a few inches from mine.  I might have — should have — flinched away from his unexpected closeness…. I smelled his cool breath  in my face.  Sweet, delicious, the scent made my mouth water.  It was unlike anything else.  Instinctively, unthinkingly, I leaned closer, inhaling.

That’s the definition of not practicing purity.  As the Dumb Ox says, the appetites are too strong, and we give in to consupiscent desire.  It’s the definition of lust.

But, there’s more.  (page 275)

I sat very still, the chill of his touch a natural warning — a warning telling me to be terrified.  But there was no feeling of fear in me.  There were, however, other feelings …

Having the feelings is not sinful, or lustful.  The problem is acting against purity.  By placing herself in a position that causes her desires to overwhelm her reason, Bella commits a fatal error.  She craves the other feelings, and she wants to act on them.  Purity would demand that she remove herself from the situation.

There are many, many more examples where Bella and Edward deliberately place themselves in a position that compromises their purity and invites lustful cravings.

Purity is part and parcel of chastity.  Lust is opposed to chastity.

Bella and Edward are not chaste.  Thank you, Dumb Ox, for helping me to explain that.

For more great information about this topic, check out Spes Unica, a blog dedicated to examining the Twilight series.

Now, let the debate rage in the comboxes.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor, pray for us.

This entry was posted in Culture, Doctors of the Church, Dumb Ox Explains, Elements of Faith, Feasts and Solemnities, Movies, pro-life, Saints. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Dumb Ox Explains Why Edward and Bella Aren’t Chaste

  1. sarahay says:

    well uhm okay if u think its just lust why did she risk her life for him?
    wut sin is their to finding true luv
    how will u explain luv then if u think its not wut edward and bella have?
    i mean yea sure they wanted to have sex and they did but only until they got MARRIED. they only wanted to have sex so they can belong to each other in a way.

    • Nicholas Jagneaux says:


      Before I get into my response, I sincerely want to thank you for leaving your comments. We will end up disagreeing, but you have made the effort at dialogue and understanding; and that is to be complimented.

      First of all, I want to make a recommendation to you: Please use correct GUMS (grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling) when writing to people. This might sound like nitpicking, but there is a very good reason for it. If the people you want to reach don’t understand your message because of GUMS errors, then your viewpoint is wasted. Furthermore, people won’t take you seriously, and they won’t take the time to respond intelligently.

      (Note: I’m not talking about the occasional error, which we all make. I’m talking about the insistent disregard for established rules of writing.)

      Now, for the substance of your response:
      It seems that I, too, failed at getting my point across. I thought that I clearly described how Bella and Edward were lustful, using the classic definition written by St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas, for his part, was lucidly fleshing out Christian thinking on the matter.

      So, let me try to be clearer.

      Chastity is a virtue. In order to be chaste, one must be pure. Purity is how we express, how we show, our chastity. Part of purity is avoiding impure thoughts; and part is also avoiding outward expressions of our impure thoughts (like inappropriate touching).

      In opposition to virtues are what we call vices. Every virtue has an opposite vice. The vice that is opposite chastity is called lust. Lust includes the disordered craving for sexual pleasure.

      Because Bella and Edward express a disordered craving for sexual pleasure, they are lustful.

      Now, humans are subject to emotions and sensual desires, especially those regarding sexual matters. There is no sin is these desires. It is a fact of life called concupiscense. We all suffer from concupiscense. (I do not exclude myself. I am often guilty of giving in to these desires; and, so, of sinning.)

      Bella and Edward move from concupiscense to lust because of their willful actions of impurity. When Bella indulges her desires by dwelling on the thought of sex with Edward, she willfully is being lustful. When she fantasizes about the two of them, she willfully is being lustful. When she encourages Edward to take his pleasure with her — so that she might have pleasure — she is willfully being lustful.

      Sarahay, you ask, “how will u explain luv then if u think its not wut edward and bella have?”

      Love is not an emotion. Oh, sure, emotions are an important part of love. Another important part — the most important part — is the desire for the good of the other, regardless of our personal good. When we love, we want only the best for the other person. Sometimes, the good of the other person is not what would make us feel good.

      But, at its foundation, love is an action of the will, not of emotion. We decide to love. We decide to put the well-being of the other ahead of ourselves. Neither Bella nor Edward do that. It is not in Bella’s well-being that she become a vampire — and Edward knows that. It is not in a human’s well-being to become non-human. Just because Bella wants to be one doesn’t make it right. If Bella wanted to be a drug addict, would we encourage her?

      It is in Edward’s power to make the sacrifice to keep Bella’s humanity intact. He (with his family, if they choose) could leave the area. They would have to leave in a year, anyway. Why not leave earlier, and allow Bella to live a natural human life? Because, ultimately, Edward is selfish. He will not make the sacrifice that is in his power to make.

      The ultimate sacrifice — the model for us — is the Sacrifice that Christ made on the Cross. Think about it: God the Father sacrificed His only Son; God the Son (Jesus Christ) sacrificed himself by becoming human and making atonement for our sins. This sacrifice — this love — produces the Holy Spirit.

      God would be God without us. The sacrifice was unnecessary from His point of view. But, from our point of view, it was necessary. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die, but have everlasting life.” (Jn 3:16)

  2. lili says:

    Wow. Have you ever thought of spending time to something other then making dumb remarks about a tween noval? Who would read a love story with no lust? Bella’s a teenage girl. She’s gonna have sexual thoughts. Go back to sex ed. You should make some friends so you’re not this bored anymore.

    • Nicholas Jagneaux says:


      At first I thought about replying with something witty, like: Wow. Have you ever thought of spending time to [do] something other [than] making dumb remarks about a blog entry? Who would read a blog entry with no opinion? You should make some friends so you’re not this bored anymore.

      But, then I realized that such personal attacks are probably uncalled for; after all, I don’t even know you. Other people might decide that the anonymity of the internet makes such rude language acceptable. Thank goodness that people who leave remarks here are above such crass rudeness.

      Now, on to your point: Having been a teenager and an adult, I’m more than aware that teens will have sexual thoughts. And that most “love” stories deal with lust. That has nothing to do with the topic of the post. My thesis was this:
      1. Many people praise Twilight because the main characters are good role models. They remain abstinent until marriage.
      2. What people really mean to say is that they remain chaste (not abstinent).
      3. There is a certain definition of chastity that includes purity.
      4. They do not remain pure; therefore they are not chaste.
      5. The opposite of chastity is lust.
      6. Edward and Bella are lustful.

      Whether or not teens have normal reactions and become lustful is entirely outside the scope of the post.

      I am tempted to finish off my response to you with something like this: Go back to English class where you can learn to develop better comprehension (and writing) skills.

      But, that would be rude. Right?

      • Nicholas Jagneaux says:


        I am sorry for my response back to you. Please forgive me for being uncharitable.

        I should not have taken the sarcastic tone with you that I did.

        I should have simply told you that I felt your comments were rude; but I should not have answered you in the tone that I did.

        I have given a bad example of a charitable Christian response, and I am truly sorry to all whom I have offended.

  3. malith says:

    You have argued a point solidly, but you ask too much of your readers when you ask them to accept your stipulative terms. I understand that you’re pointing out that bella and edward’s conduct does not conform to a certain standard of chastity…

    Words and language are public instruments of communication whose only value is in the general connotations with which they are imbued. You are working with the Dumb Ox’s definition of ‘chastity’, and retort each challenge to your argument by doggedly re-stating your chosen standard. It might very well be true that their actions do not fall within this very narrow designation, but it proves nothing. All you have accomplished is a ‘victory by definition’, whereby you freely reassign the meaning of terms without regard for public convention. This is also called ‘Humpty Dumptyism’.

    It’s true that bella and edward exchange significant looks and enjoy each other’s close-ness; the fact is, so few people would regard that as departure from ‘chastity’ as to render any contrary definition valueless. I wouldn’t presume to impose an alternative definition of chastity, as so commonly understood a term is it, that none is necessary. To selectively skew the denotation of words to wrong-foot an opponent will loose you debates in any competitive forum. It also dilutes the very value of language, rendering all communication arbitrary and pointless. For that reason your argument is flawed.

    Just as an aside, your suggestion that edward is selfish is a false premise. Edward attempted to leave bella in new moon; for her own safety he left her in Forks and he and his family left. He did it because he loved her and valued her life over his love. When it became apparent that she was no safer, in fact, in far greater danger from other rogue vampires and spawning werewolves, he came back to protect her. During his absence she was so distraught and heart-broken that she made several attempts at suicide and frequently succeeded in self-inflicting injury. His sacrifice is this; he desires bella so ardently, far beyond the scope of human experience, that he is in physical pain. In order to be near her (to protect her from enemies within and without) he puts himself in a position where he must continuously deny the impulse to satiate a desire. That in itself is virtuous, though i understand it does not conform to the Ox’s obsolete definition of chaste. So concerned is he with her virtue, he insists on marriage before sex. So selfless is he, he is willing to sacrifice an eternity with the one he loves, for the sake of her humanity. It is only at her insistence, and the insistence of his entire family, and for the sake of her newborn child, and in the face of her impending painful death that he bites her. The reasonable person would not understand this behavior to be ‘selfish’.

    • Nicholas Jagneaux says:


      Thank you for your well-constructed response. You have taken some time to read the post and formulate a polite, meaningful response.

      I am going disagree with you from the outset, however. This blog approaches topics from a Catholic perspective. As such, I use terms like “chastity” from within this tradition. It is the same tradition that teaches us to try to “avoid the near occasion of sin”. Try as we might, we usually fail (thanks to concupiscense 😦 ). But, try we must. Edward and Bella, however, do not try at all.

      Readers who visit here are free to disregard what 2,000 years of Christian tradition has taught us regarding the virtues. However, they cannot expect me to do so.

      As I admitted elsewhere, I only read the first book of the series. From your description, I still maintain that Edward is selfish. It is true that Twilight is fantasy. It is a world with vampires. However, it purports to exist in our world, the real world, a world in which Jesus Christ has revealed Himself and announced salvation. In our world, it is decidedly not in Bella’s interest to become a vampire, to lose her immortal soul.

      Non-Christians (which I understand is the case with Mrs. Meyers) may not agree with me. But, once again, I approach topics from a Catholic perspective. Readers who do not want a Catholic perspective should be prepared to find one here nevertheless.

      Once again, I really do appreciate your comment. And I cordially invite you to continue to comment here.

  4. malith says:

    few people would respond to this kind of argument with such temperance. i admire your conviction

  5. angel d. says:

    While chasity is a virtue, not many can truthfully
    say they’ve never wandered. Bella & Edward only kissed and held hands. If you want to be technical
    about the movie-with today’s world they should’ve been doing a lot more than what they were.
    They did “wait” until they got married and
    that is really the only thing God requires of people.
    Trying is all he wants people to do.
    If they succeed in what they were trying to do
    yes it makes God happier but he won’t send you
    to hell for not being able to complete it.
    Edward and Bella are a wonderful example of
    what today’s teenager should act like.
    You love someone,maybe kiss them,and
    then wait until you’re married to go any farther.
    My comment is not meant to be rude or inconsiderate of anyone’s feelings or religious
    beliefs. “Twilight” was just a good movie.
    If anyone wants to debate a movie’s morals then
    they should look toward “The Da Vanci Code”.

    • Nicholas Jagneaux says:

      Angel D.

      You are so correct when you write, “not many can truthfully say they’ve never wandered”. It is the sad condition of man that not only is he prone to sin – but that he does, in fact, sin.

      But – oh happy fault – by Adam’s Sin we are in need of a savior; and we have been saved by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      As for what God want of us: Jesus tells us (Matthew 5:48) that we are to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. But, we cannot simply be satisified with shrugging our shoulders and saying, “Hey, at least I tried.” We are called to be saints. We must try – as you say – to be perfectly holy saints. Is it possible? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. What if we fail in being perfectly holy? Then we place our trust in the saving grace of Christ. (May God have mercy on me.)

      Finally, you are right about The Da Vinci Code. That book is a blasphemous tragedy.

      Angel, may God bless us both.

      • Dana says:

        (May God have mercy on me.)

        Mr. Nicholas,

        Please forgive me for seeming a bit too blunt, but I got the feeling that you may be struggling with something from within.

        Is my imagination running wild again? I hope that everything is alright in your life.

      • Nicholas Jagneaux says:

        Hey, Dana. Welcome back.

        Don’t worry about seeming too blunt. There’s nothing wrong with your question.

        However, there is nothing in particular that I’m struggling with. My prayer – that God have mercy on me – is a prayer that I try to pray often; but especially when I am reminded of how I fall short in my quest to become a saint.

        Keep in mind, though, that this prayer is not one of despair – that I’ve done something so horrible that I don’t think I’ll be forgiven. On the contrary, it is a prayer of assurance and hope that the sacrifice of Jesus has already purchased forgiveness for the repentant. The prayer is one that acknowledges my state of repentance.

        May God bless us both, and may His mercy lead us to love Him.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Maybe this question is a bit too technical for this forum, but I was googling “Summa theologica impure thoughts,” and I found this blog. I haven’t read Twilight so I can not express an informed opinion. However, I have been having trouble understanding I-II of the Summa, q.74,a.8, in which St. Thomas explains impure thoughts. Is there any help available on this one?

    • Nicholas Jagneaux says:

      Hey, Jennifer,

      Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t been updating this site over the last 3 months; and it’s about to change formats. But, if you’ll check back here in a couple of days, I’ll see if I can come up with anything.

      However, all I am is just a high school teacher with absolutely NO training in theology and philosophy. I’ve done some self-educating on these topics, so I’ll try.

      Take care.

  7. Saqi says:

    Honestly, in my opinion on your opinion on chastity, chastity does not exist. You say that because they are lustful that they are not “chaste”. But can anybody here say that they have not lusted, ever?

    Also, the snippets of the book that you provided were parts where they were kissing, are you saying that kissing is wrong? Because that makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    In fact , Bella and Edward’s relationship was completely “chaste” according to the meaning that I found in my dictionary, which basically states that it is refraining from sexual intercourse that would be regarded contrary to the morals of your religion or church. Edward and Bella did have sex, but they were married at that time, which really cancels out any “impurity”. If you think that they are not “chaste” simply because they lusted and kissed and had sex, then I seriously recommend you make some tea, sit down and think about how your parents made you. (:

    • Nicholas Jagneaux says:


      Thanks for leaving comment. I’m not really maintaining this blog anymore, but I’ll try to give a short response to your comment.

      First, I know that your dictionary (and mine) doesn’t reflect the Christian definition of chastity and lust. That’s why I didn’t use a dictionary definition. I’m interested in the Christian response to temptations.

      So, I went to one of the greatest thinkers and teachers in the history of the world — Christian or otherwise. St. Thomas Aquinas certainly provides Christians with sound teaching.

      You might not like St. Thomas’ definition. Fine. But, I’m not creating something because of my preferences. I’m using an accepted, historical definition of chastity and lust.

      Secondly, I know that in my own life I have lusted. I cannot speak for everybody, but I suspect that most people have lusted, too.

      Just because we lust doesn’t make it okay. It is sinful; just see Jesus’ words on it.

      But, the good news is that Jesus didn’t come here to condemn those who are repentant. He came to save the world.

      Kissing, in and of itself, is not wrong. However, there are certain times when when certaing types of kissing is wrong.

      I certainly do know how my parents made me: the same way my wife and I made our daughter.

      The important difference between the passionate kissing of our marital embrace and the one between Bella and Edward is — the word marital.

      Within the context of a marriage, acts occur that are not lustful; but which are outside the context of marriage.

      You may not agree with this. However, that doesn’t change the truth of the matter.

      May God bless us all.

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