In conversation with Fr. John Eudes of the Abbey of the Genesee in January, I commented that in the 1970’s there was a huge shift from sex being reserved for marriage, to sex being a date night diversion akin to dinner and a movie. Fr. Eudes agrees with my decision that as God transformed my life, I made a vow to have sex only with someone to whom I am married. Those who have read my book, Chasing My Father may be quick to criticize that it wasn’t always my philosophy, but God has amazing power to change us.
I shared with Fr. Eudes that my desire to be loved and “fit in” led to indiscriminate intimacy. I lived with both husbands before we got married, and both ended in divorce. It was after my divorce in 2008 that I realized that I had to change in order to experience true love.
Sister Terese Auer writes in The Human Person: Dignity Beyond Compare, “In itself, sensuality is not bad; it is a natural orientation, directing a person toward the objective good of the body of another person. Sensuality, then, is the raw material of true conjugal love. If it is integrated with other nobler aspects of love, sensuality will be a vital part of authentic love. Because sensuality is “quite blind to the person,” human love needs to advance beyond this sensual level of emotional love if it is truly to be human love and thus to give the fulfillment human love was designed to give. If the person does not make this advance, then sensuality will degrade both persons involved.”
Having sex makes us “blind to the person.” It takes months or even years for two people to stop putting our “best foot forward” and reveal our true selves. Only time allows us to determine whether our values are the same, and if our human characteristics are either similar or compatible. Sleeping with each other on a second or third date changes this dynamic with the drive for enjoyment directed toward the body of the person. It doesn’t allow time for a deeper relationship to develop.
For most of my life I depended on physical attraction and emotional love, both with God and my human relationships. I wanted desperately to love God, but it wasn’t until 2006 when I was sure that He loved me. As my understanding of the depth of God’s love for me has grown and nurtured my free will, I want the same for my human relationships. I know now that once I’ve invested my body in a relationship, I can’t withhold my heart.
Our culture seems to be fixated on homosexuality. Should Christians ask themselves a different question: “Where did Jesus say it was okay for two people to have sex when they weren’t married to each other?” In the Gospel of John, Jesus doesn’t condemn the woman who had committed adultery, but instead he told her to “Go, and sin no more.” Isn’t that enough for Christians to stop having sex outside of marriage?
Withholding physical and emotional gratification for marriage allows us to discern true love, and to allow friendships to either flourish or appropriately dissolve.
Blessings, my friend,
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