“If you’re happy and you know it, it’s a sin” was a statement my former coworker made as to how he thought the Catholic Church viewed sexuality and dating. He made that statement because I had told them I was waiting for marriage and wanted to be chaste.
Unfortunately, this is the viewpoint many people think the Catholic Church has towards sex and dating. This deception is far from the truth – what the Catholic Church actually teaches is how to truly love to the fullest.
When Catholic teens start dating the question always comes up is “How far is too far?” The answer is that there is no such thing as going too far, only too little. Before you click out let me explain.
Let’s start with why we wait till marriage. We wait not because sex is bad but because it is a great gift. God wants humanity to be able to share in His creative power and to have the joy that comes with creating. In what better way shall someone experience the joy and love of creation than when he/she shares an intimate moment with his/her spouse.
True love is sacrifice and it means to give EVERYTHING and ALL of you, as Christ did. That is why someone would wait till marriage because they would want to make a covenant before God saying, “I will give everything I am for this person I will now call my spouse.” What sex’s role is in this is that it consummates the marriage, meaning it perfects it, by making the sacrament flesh along with spirit. Like when Tobias prayed, in the book of Tobit, with his wife and said, “We do not do this because of lust, but for a noble purpose.” The point is if you only have sex for pleasure with no intent to have kids or giving your life to your loved one, then you are cutting it short. Sex without the promise before God to be with this person for the rest of your life is abusing a great gift.
“Ok, premarital sex is not the way. We get that, but what can we do then?”
The problem with having your dating goals low, focused only on avoiding pre-marital sex, leaves a large dark area between a chaste relationship and sin. If you keep walking in the dark area, you eventually will take a step that leads to sin without even seeing it. What I mean by these “steps” is like hugging, holding hands, kissing, and so on and so forth. If someone takes each step just to see how far they can go, eventually that one step that leads of the edge will be crossed, and you can fall to sin.
Sin can go beyond pre-marital sex. It can get to the point where one uses his/her loved one only for pleasure. Instead of a simple expression of love this could be through kissing or even any type of physical contact.
“But what if it’s true love, and you would die for them?”
You really aren’t showing true love then if you chose sin and pleasure. Love takes the opportunity to die unto yourself and wait to make a lifelong pact. You are given the chance to die for them every time you have those feelings of wanting pleasure through dying onto yourself, saying you will wait until a covenant before God. You show true love by dying for them, not acting out those temptations.
“But they are natural biological feelings? Our hormones are raging and to fight makes it unhealthy!”
I am not saying at all that these feelings are unnatural! They are from God to have this need for intimacy. What is from the devil is to use someone else for pleasure and taking away their dignity. Love is saying “this is my body given up to you” while lust is saying “that is your body which I am going to take” as Matt Fradd says. We should not fight those feelings of lust because the demons have nature on their side. Instead we should offer it up to God saying “I have these feelings Lord, you make all things good so please give me the purest intentions”
I am not saying this would take the feelings away. It is to give us pure love to make our bodies temples. It is pure to admire beauty, but it is impure to desire only selfish pleasure.
So to recap, sex does not equal sin. Do not spend your relationship thinking that having sexual desires is wrong, it just needs to be in the right context. And going too far actually equals cutting it short by just wanting pleasure of the body instead of joy for the soul. Kissing, holding hands, and hugging are all fine to show an expression that you care for the person, but it all depends on your intentions for doing so.
Do you do those things because you want to show a moderate expression of love, or because it feels good to do so? Remember to have a relationship with the person you are dating, not with their body.
What’s the best way to stay pure? Feed the soul and satisfy the body, but feed the body and starve the soul. “For man does not live by bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God” as Christ said to the devil when he was tempted with the flesh.
“Well what if I take these feelings out on pornography? I mean I am not hurting anyone and if I was dating someone, I wouldn’t be using their body.”
NO! Trust me when I say that does not help any situation whatsoever. To look at pornography and have that be your release thinking it doesn’t hurt anyone is a very inconsiderate thought. Besides the numerous studies of how it affects your brain like a drug, it also hurts the loved one. When someone is dating someone and decides to look at pornography, he/she is also telling Satan, “You can have my possible future spouse, who gives me love, while I have this false person, who does not even know me.”
We should fight for our future spouses! That is what I mean to die unto self! Express to your partner that he/she means something so great, that you are waiting patiently for him/her. People do have natural feelings that arouse when dating but there is more to love than just sex just how there is more to a person than just the flesh. There is also the soul that needs to be satisfied by being pure.
Lust is easy. Love is Sacrifice.