The concept of sexual abstinence is not as popular as it once was. Tragically, even some Church goers have little or no regard for it. They choose to follow the lead of pop culture rather than the teachings of their faith. Even so, most men and women, at least subconsciously, believe that fornication (sex outside of marriage) is wrong.
The standard defense for condoning fornication is usually a variation of the following: "Thereís nothing wrong with sleeping with someone you really love. " Curiously, the same men who say this to their girlfriends say the opposite to their sisters and daughters. If a man really thought the act was acceptable he wouldnít object to his loved ones participating in it. The idea that it is okay for men but not for their daughters and sisters is nonsensical. Men don't want the women they care about fornicating because they know from their own experience that it is wrong and destructive.
It is obvious that women also realize that fornication is wrong. When a woman is challenged on the morality of sleeping with her boyfriend, it is not unusual for her to say: "Itís not like I am sleeping with a lot of men!" This statement is totally irrelevant but very telling. Whether or not an act is right or wrong has nothing to do with how many times it is done. A woman would only know that fornicating with a large number of men is wrong if she first knew that fornicating with one is wrong.
I think we could all agree that stealing is wrong. Can the person who has stolen from one person claim that he is innocent of wrongdoing because he didnít steal from many people? Of course not! Stealing from many people is certainly worse than stealing from one person, but stealing is stealing. An act is wrong because of its intrinsic nature. Repetition just makes it worse. It acts as a magnifying glass. When you look at something through a magnifying glass it is hard to deny what it is,
Of course to really love someone you have to really know them. This takes time, effort and a clear mind. The promise of sex at the end of a date can cloud oneís mind. This is not at all conducive to a couple getting to really know each other. Perhaps you might be saying, "But I really do love him/her." If thatís the case you shouldnít be afraid to proclaim it publicly and to commit yourself to him/her which, by the way, is what we call marriage. Which do you think is an indication of "really loving somebody" Ė sleeping with them or committing your life to them?
Sex is addictive. With each new partner less discernment is used. It becomes easier and easier to cross the line. The act, rather than being a profound expression of love becomes an end unto itself. Sexual desire easily becomes lust and the other person becomes more an object and less of a person. We think only of the moment and ignore the long term effects of our actions.
Everywhere you look fornication is portrayed as normal behavior. Movies, television, magazines, and so called school health clinics reinforce the idea that sex outside of marriage is natural and even expected. But ideas lead to actions. And actions have consequences. Sexual actions have consequences on a number of levels. They affect us physically, psychologically and spiritually.
Physical Effects Ė There are some thirty-seven sexually transmitted diseases (STDíS). Some of them are incurable and some are deadly. Societyís answer to this problem is "Safe Sex." Just give people condoms and they can go about having safe sex thus eliminating unwanted pregnancies and deadly STDís. Unfortunately this solution has more to do with ideology than reality. "Focus on the Family" noted in a recent newspaper ad the results of 25 years of "Safe Sex" ideology. They wrote:
Ten percent of all 15 to 19 year-old females become pregnant each year (Kids Having Kids, A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing, June 1996, p 1).
More than 80 percent of pregnant girls under age 17 who give birth and keep their babies end up on welfare, costing society a staggering $21 billion a year (ibid, 20).
Three million new cases of STDís among teens are reported each year (Division of STD Prevention. The Challenge of STD Prevention in the United States, available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/dstd/STD_Prevention_in _the_United_States.htm)
Up to 29 percent of sexually active adolescent girls have been found to be infected with Chlamydia (Alan Guttmacher Institute, Facts in Brief (Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the United States) Sept. 1993.
A study of sexually active college women showed that 43 percent acquired HPV infection within a 3-year period (Ho, Gloria Y.F., et. al., "Natural History of Cervicovaginal Papillomavirus infection in Young Women," The New England Journal of Medicine, February 12, 1998, Volume 338, Number 7, p 442).
The physical effects of sex are not limited to just pregnancy and STDís. According to Health Canada: "You are more likely to develop cervical cancer if you have multiple sexual partners or if you become sexually active at an early age. Early sexual activity is believed to increase the risk because during puberty, cervical tissue undergoes many changes that might make the area more vulnerable to damage."
In an article on Chastity, Mary Beth Bonnacci tells about yet another physical effect. She writes:
Hormonally, sexual arousal and intercourse set off a chain reaction designed to keep married couples bound together. Women experience a flood of oxytocin Ė the same hormone which they produce in labor and in nursing a baby. Oxytocin causes a woman to be forgetful, decreases her ability to think rationally Ė and causes an incredibly strong emotional attachment to form with the man she is with.
In other words the woman bonds to the man in a way similar to the way she would bond to her child. Consequently, she loses her ability to discern and may end up marrying or moving in with a man whom she would otherwise reject. This can cause her and any future children a great deal of pain. Even if this doesnít happen a breakup under these circumstances can be especially devastating.
Psychological Effects Ė It is not unusual for individuals who engage in casual sex to become plagued with regrets. The Heritage Foundation found that about 25% of sexually active girls say they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time while only 8% of girls who are not sexually active feel the same way. Low self esteem, promiscuity and even suicide are other problems that can develop.
Spiritual Effects Ė Christianity has always taught that fornication is illicit behavior. Some try to get around this by saying: "Isnít God a God of Love? Doesnít He love us just the way we are?" Yes God loves us but that doesnít mean that He approves of everything we do. The same Bible that tells us of Godís incredible love for us in John 3:16 also calls fornication evil in Mark 7:21-23. And itís also the same Bible that tells us that fornicators will be outside of the city [heaven] in Revelation 22:15. You see, God is a loving Father, but He is also a just judge.
For those who have succumbed to the addictive nature of fornication, all is not lost. Godís grace can restore you. Not only does God offer us forgiveness but healing as well. Indeed this has been the case for many. As the Scripture says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). For more information, arrange a meeting with your pastor (if you donít have one find one).
Recent studies illustrate the superiority of Christian Sexual ethics. One study found that non married men and women report significantly higher rates of sexual dysfunction than do married men and women (Sexual Dysfunction in the United States, Prevalence and Predictors, Edward O. Laumann, et. al.).
Another study found that married couples have the best and most satisfying sex (both physically and emotionally). The study further found that enjoyment was greatest when there was only one sexual partner in a lifetime (The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, Edward O. Laumann, et. al., table 10.5, p 364).
Abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage is the only sure way to avoid STDís. Combine that with the results of our two surveys and it is easy to see that adhering to Christian sexual ethics is the best way to achieve safe sex and great sex. And isnít that what everybody wants?
Copyright © 2005 StayCatholic.com
For Further Study
by Mary Beth Bonacci and Pure Love
by Jason Evert and
Amor Puro (Pure Love - Spanish)
by Jason Evert and
Theology of the Body Explained - Revised Edition
by Christopher West.
DVD - Sex and Love: What's a Teenager to Do? by Mary Beth Bonacci The Pure Life by Jason and Crystalina Evert
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