Faith/Spirituality Forum: Pre-Martial Sex
Pre-Martial Sex QUESTION from Mark January 15, 2001 I am having a difficult time dealing with issues of pre-marital sex and catholicism. It is my understanding that catholicism considers this a mortal sin. My difficulty lies in the fact that I love my girlfriend and my girlfriend loves me, but in today's age, two people that love each other, for a variety of reasons, wait to get married and consummate a lot longer than in biblical times. It just seems to me that it can't be wrong because it seems so right to share intimacy with the person I love. Does catholicism take, or has it considered, changing times and the feelings of participants into consideration on this issue?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on March 19, 2001 Dear Mr. Mark:
We need to be careful in allowing contemporary and popular mores get in the way of our relationship with God and in the godly relationship with others. How can it be wrong when it seems so right or similar words is a theme of several popular country songs. Music is a powerful brain-washer. People can and are motivated by music to experience fear, courage, joy, sorrow, morality, immorality. Just try watching a movie without the music and one can easily see how the music scripts our emotions and thoughts.
In fact, when I was a Baptist my wife ran off with another man. She thought about returning to me a couple of times, but one of the things that gave her motivation to run off and never return was a country song that essentially said How can it be wrong when it seems so right and I don't care what my people say, I'm going to love him anyway.
You know, I think the writers and the singers of those songs will be held accountable before God due to the influence those songs have on encouraging people to sin.
The sexual morality of the Church is the sexuality morality given to us by God. God made us. He knows how we work better than any doctor or scientist or psychologist. And God says that pre-marital sex is wrong. God says the pre-marital sex is NOT love.
The Church cannot change this moral law because it is not a disciplinary issue within the power of the Church to change. It is a moral law, a part of the deposit of faith which is infallible and unchangeable. It is unchangeable because God does not change and neither do we humans. The human race is still the human race whether in 10,000 BC or 2001 AD. That which gives humans dignity remains the same forever. That which harms the human soul and spirit and damages relationships with God and man also remain the same forever.
This issue is NOT about some false notion that in the old days people got married at younger ages and thus did not have to withhold themselves for as long as we do today. That theory is just plain bunk. It is a popular notion asserted by those with an agenda to thumb their noses at God, but it is a notion that is false.
Not everyone got married at 16 in the old days -- especially men. And the moral teaching remained even for older people who were widowed. They still have sexual drives too you know. Yet, despite the death of a spouse, the morality is still no pre-marital sex.
Let us review the Church teaching on the reasons for this. This is rather long, but please read it all. I include all this so that you may see the full context of what sex is all about and therefore why pre-marital sex is not only wrong, but is an act that is NOT loving. The Bottom line is that sex outside of marriage is an offense to the dignity of marriage and the order of sexuality as God created it. God created sex to be a unitive bond between husband and wife and for the procreation of humanity. The unitive bond in love that sex provides (but is not the only way in which that unitive factor is possible) is part of the way ordered sex so that the husband and wife will form one bond, one family. We are not like dogs who mate and go our way. Humans are designed for Family and Family is the bedrock of our whole society. Sex is a bonding glue for that unity between husband and wife that assist them in making a family. Sex is not designed by God to be recreational or to be a mere expression of one's love. Conjugal love MUST be within the context of the commitment of marriage for the protection of the family and the good spiritual and psychological health of the couple.
The following is long because to answer your question I must first establish the why of sex. The why of sex is family. Thus what is the nature of marriage and family. Once understanding this, it becomes easier to understand not only why sex outside of marriage is wrong but that is MUST be wrong.
Please read all of the following.. All of this is official Church teaching. At the end is the specifics of the offenses against the dignity of marriage.
Male and Female He created them . . .
2331 God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image . . .. God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them; He blessed them and said, Be fruitful and multiply; When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.
2332 Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.
2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.
2334 In creating men 'male and female,' God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity. Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.
2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator's generosity and fecundity: Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. All human generations proceed from this union.
2336 Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins. In the Sermon on the Mount, he interprets God's plan strictly: You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder. The tradition of the Church has understood the sixth commandment as encompassing the whole of human sexuality Each for the other - A unity in two
371 God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him. None of the animals can be man's partner. The woman God fashions from the man's rib and brings to him elicits on the man's part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Man discovers woman as another I, sharing the same humanity.
372 Man and woman were made for each other - not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be helpmate to the other, for they are equal as persons (bone of my bones. . .) and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming one flesh, they can transmit human life: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents co-operate in a unique way in the Creator's work.
Marriage in the order of creation
1603 The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws.... God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.
1604 God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.' 1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: It is not good that the man should be alone. The woman, flesh of his flesh, his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a helpmate; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been in the beginning: So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
The grace of the sacrament of Matrimony
1641 By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God. This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.
1642 Christ is the source of this grace. Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony. Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ, and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb:
How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father? . . . How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit. The unity and indissolubility of marriage
1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: so they are no longer two, but one flesh. They are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving. This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.
1645 The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection. Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.
The fidelity of conjugal love
1646 By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement until further notice. The intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them.
1647 The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning.
1648 It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God's faithful love. Spouses who with God's grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community.
1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble.
1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ - Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.
1651 Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons:
They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace. The openness to fertility
1652 By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.
Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: It is not good that man should be alone, and from the beginning [he] made them male and female; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: Be fruitful and multiply. Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day. 1653 The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life.
The nature of the family
2201 The conjugal community is established upon the consent of the spouses. Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. The love of the spouses and the begetting of children create among members of the same family personal relationships and primordial responsibilities.
2202 A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated.
2203 In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity. For the common good of its members and of society, the family necessarily has manifold responsibilities, rights, and duties.
The Family and Society 2207 The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.
2208 The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
2210 The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity.
The Love of Husband and Wife
2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.
2361 Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not simply something biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.
Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety. So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying, Blessed are you, O God of our fathers. . . . You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve as a helper and support. From the two of them the race of mankind has sprung. You said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.' I now am taking this kinswoman of mine, not because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together. And they both said, Amen, Amen. Then they went to sleep for the night. 2362 The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude. 145 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:
The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation. 2363 The spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.
Offenses against the dignity of marriage
2350 Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.
2390 In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.
The expression free union is fallacious: what can union mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?
The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments. All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.
2391 Some today claim a right to a trial marriage where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim.
Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate trial marriages. It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.
Sins against Chastity
2353 Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.
Bottom line Mark.... TRUE LOVE WAITS!!!!
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