Do nuns have to be virgins? (the vow of chastity)

Growing up in a Christian background, my parents did not restrict us on which Christian route to take. Therefore, my sister decided to take a “nun route,” as she was convinced that was her calling to serve the Lord while I attended theology school. This led me to have a deeper interest and research more about what being a nun entailed. Also, I am always questioning my sister about what is required for one to be a nun. During one of our discussions, an interesting topic came up; the vow of chastity. She extensively explained to me about this vow and what nuns should observe after they take this vow. Last week, during one of my Bible study sessions, one member randomly inquired if nuns have to be virgins. Because I am well-informed about the vows the nuns take and the requirements to be one, I cleared all the myths. So, do nuns have to be virgins?

No, nuns do not have to be virgins. You could be a nun if you were engaged in sexual behavior before. Also, the church allows divorcees and those with children to become nuns. However, after you take the vows, you are required to remain celibate and not engage in any sexual activity.

So, let us dive into interesting facts that govern the nuns. I will expound on what the vow of chastity means, what happens if a nun breaks this vow, if nuns are allowed to have sex and much more. Keep reading to learn about this and more.

What is the nun’s vow of chastity?

Do nuns have to be virgins? 
What is the nun’s vow of chastity? Image source: Pixabay

The vow of chastity means that nuns commit to celibacy. This means they are not allowed to engage in romantic behavior, whether marriage or sexual acts. This vow is based on Mathew 16:24, where Jesus notes that whoever wants to serve Him as a disciple must deny themselves. This vow frees nuns from the demands of being in an exclusive romantic relationship. Therefore, they give themselves fully and wholly to the Lord.

Do nuns have sex?

According to the vow of chastity, nuns are not supposed to have sex or engage in sexual activities of any kind. However, that does not mean that they do not have sexual urges. Just like all human beings, they do. However, they are supposed to not act on these urges, as by taking the vow of chastity, they have committed to celibacy. Therefore, they are supposed to devise healthy ways of dealing with these urges.

However, since we are humans, some nuns give in to these sexual urges, a decision that they later regret. Furthermore, there have been reports of nuns being sexually abused, which, either way, means that they have broken the vow of chastity.

How sexually active are nuns today?

Sadly, the cases of nuns engaging in sexual activities and being sexually abused have increased now more than ever. And though nuns take the chastity vow that requires them to abstain from sexual activities, it has become quite challenging to stick to this vow in today’s world. There have been cases where nuns have been reported pregnant. Therefore, it is safe to say that nuns are more sexually active today.

How do nuns deal with sexual urges?

the vow of chastity
How do nuns deal with sexual urges? Image source: Freepik

Being a sexual person is part of humanity, so nuns are not exempted from these temptations. You might wonder, how do they navigate their whole life being celibate? Nuns simply don’t act on their sexual urges. Think of it through a marriage lens. You can be married and committed to one person but still find others attractive or even get yourself almost “falling” for others. Just because you find other people attractive, that does not mean you must act on that feeling; you have a choice to make on what to act on and what to let go.

So, for nuns, they first acknowledge that it is okay to have sexual urges. They then come up with healthy ways of dealing with it, like taking cold showers, confessing to a trusted friend, and engaging in other things that are healthy and will keep them busy.

If a nun gets raped, is she still considered a nun?

Nuns do not cease being nuns after being raped. This is because being raped does not translate to voluntarily breaking their chastity vows. Mostly, when different orders discover that a nun has been raped, they try to resolve the issue within the order before forwarding it to a higher authority. However, in case they get pregnant, they will be forced to leave their order if they choose to raise the child.

What happens if a nun has a child?

If a nun has a child before making the vows, then there is no issue with that. However, for the women who become nuns and have children, their children must be old enough not to depend on them. This is because the core purpose of being a nun is to dedicate your life fully and wholly to Christ. However, if a nun happens to get a child after taking the vows, then it means they have broken the chastity vow and thus lose the right to be a nun.

What happens if a nun breaks her vow of chastity?

If a nun breaks the chastity vow, or any other vow (vow of poverty and obedience vow), they give up their right to be a nun. This means that they will be required to leave the convent and are also encouraged to depart from their community. Though this consequence seems so harsh for a nun to undergo, it can be viewed as a blessing in disguise. This is because if they are allowed to stay in the same community, they will be reminded of the shame of the sin they committed. Therefore, moving to another community allows them to start a new life.

Can nuns become pregnant?

Do nuns have to be virgins? 
Can nuns become pregnant? Image source: Freepik

The chastity vow prohibits nuns from becoming pregnant or engaging in any sexual activities. However, some nuns have found themselves pregnant after going against this vow. A famous example is Sister Virginia Maria, a nun from Italy who, during the 17th century, broke the chastity vow and got pregnant twice. When nuns get pregnant, they are required to leave behind their religious duties. This is because deciding to raise their children means giving up the monastery.

Can nuns use birth control?

This question has been met with a lot of controversy. This is because nuns take a chastity vow which bars them from engaging in any sexual behavior. Therefore, one might wonder, what is birth control for? In cases of rape, nuns are allowed to take a contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy. There are also some controversial publishes that suggest that nuns should take birth control to reduce their risk of getting cancer since they do not get pregnant. However, because nuns are required to abstain from any sexual behavior, they are essentially not supposed to use birth control.

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