Week Six: Saving Sex for Marriage
This is the sixth blog post in a series from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!
“Three Strikes, I’m Out!”
When I was first taught about sex in fifth grade, it was presented biologically. A man and a woman had sex; one sperm fertilized the egg; a baby was made.
“Your mom had a baby last year,” one of my classmates reminded me, her eyes wide. “That means your mom and dad must have had sex!”
“I’m not sure,” I answered, blushing and looking down. “I think there might be another way.” Kissing seemed nice – I kissed lots of people all the time – but sex? You had to be naked. It was weird.
“What’s the other way?” my friend asked, raising an eyebrow. Our teacher hadn’t mentioned any other methods.
I shrugged, embarrassed and wanting the conversation to end. “I think you can ask God for a baby and then he gives one to the mother…my family really likes babies…”
My friend shrugged back. “Maybe.”
By sixth grade, I understood that although sex didn’t always lead to a baby, sex was the only way a baby was conceived. With that in mind, as we continued to learn about sex and our changing bodies, I thought, “Who do I want to have a baby with?”
The obvious and only answer was the man who would be there for me and our child. And the only man I’d know was going to be there would be the man who’d marry me. That’s what marriage vows meant.
Strike one for having sex before marriage.
As a young girl, I was more interested in books than boys, but still my heart yearned for romance. I wanted to be part of a great love. If sex was the same personal act, whether you were or weren’t in love, how could you later turn to a spouse and say, “That time with Mike meant nothing, though the motions were the same; sex with you is my real expression of love.” A special love would be special, would look nothing like your past loves, I thought. Nothing could be more romantic than telling my husband, “Even before I met you, you were always on my mind, and I’ve reserved this act of love for you and you alone.”
Strike two for having sex before marriage.
Once a week, my friends and I would walk from our middle school to our parish, where we attended Religious Ed classes. It was thrilling to be eleven, old enough to walk the ten minutes through “town” to get to Religious Ed. I was also slightly embarrassed that year. My mom had volunteered to teach my class and guess what the last chapter of the book was focused on? Yep, sex.
Sex, I learned, was intended by God for married couples. It was good, and it was special. That’s all I needed to hear.
Strike three for having sex before marriage.
It seems too simple. By the age of twelve, I’d already committed myself to being a virgin until marriage based on biology, notions of romance, and Church teachings. That’s it?
And eleven years later I haven’t wavered on that point (though I have been tempted to, for sure)?
The Divine Pitcher.
I have to chalk it up to God throwing those strikes and a whole lot of grace at me! He knew the arguments that would persuade me to wait until marriage. Thank God!
Today, knowing that contraception is not 100% fool proof (besides forbidden by the Church), I still wouldn’t have sex unless I knew that that man would be around to parent our child and support me. Actions speak louder than words, and marriage would have to be involved.
I yearn for romance, and sex outside of a permanent, loving bond seems to be devoid of any of that. We’d just be satisfying an urge or building false intimacy. Thinking of my husband as a real, flesh and blood person, out there somewhere, stops me from doing things I’d regret to have to tell him about.
Now that I’ve gone through many more years of faith formation, the Church teachings continue to confirm and shape all that I think about sex. “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 something simply 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.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2361) Amen!
Not having sex has made it easier to not have sex. This seems like a dumb point to make, but the temptation for physical union is a strong one, and as a virgin I still find it hard to fight. I really respect and pray for those who are not virgins and are struggling to find their way out of sin and for those re-committed to abstaining until marriage or complete celibacy. May God continue to strengthen us to live chastely.
Father and protector of chastity,
glorious Saint Joseph,
in whose faithful custody was entrusted the very Innocence,
Jesus Christ and the Virgin of virgins, Mary;
for this twofold and most loved token,
Jesus and Mary,
I pray and plead you to help me always
to purely serve Jesus and Mary
with an uncontaminated soul,
pure heart and a chaste body.