– Corrado Gnerre
I am a married woman with older children. For years I have also been a catechist to the children of the parish. I think I can explain the doctrine well, but I am silent on the question of sexual morality. Knowing what the situation of young people’s life is today, I have difficulty dealing with the issue of premarital sexuality. Can you offer me some ideas?
First of all, we need to explain what sexuality is according to Christianity. It is of value because it is created and therefore desired by God. For Christianity, what is achieved by sin is not of value, but what God has inscribed in nature, in this case in the nature of man. Human beings were not intended by God to be as angels, that is, with an exclusively spiritual nature, but as a union of spirit and body. Now, sexuality is nothing more than the corporeal dimension of the reciprocal donation of a single man to a single woman and vice versa who have united in the indissoluble bond in the sacrament of matrimony.
From this we understand the illegitimacy of premarital sexuality (and obviously also of the extra-marital one). Indeed, such sexuality cannot be experienced in the dynamics of donation. In fact, donation needs definitiveness. What is still temporary and provisional is not definitive. Nobody can deny that the engagement is not definitive … if it is an engagement, it is precisely because there is no definitiveness. Nor does it make sense to make an objection of this type: But who tells us that the marriage will be definitive? An objection that does not hold: there would be a contradiction in what the Church affirms if it admitted the solubility of marriage, which is not the case.
Dear reader, I once listened to a beautiful definition of premarital chastity. In addition, I listened not to a priest or a theologian, but to a lay father of children. A definition that not only I consider very precise, but which makes it clear how much chastity, in a certain sense, does not take the form of a type of renunciation as an end in itself, but to build what really matters. The definition says this: Premarital chastity is the ability to remain faithful to one’s husband and wife even before knowing them. Recalling this definition, he can say to his boys: Who feels like denying how important it is to remain faithful to one’s husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend? So why deny how important loyalty is also from the perspective of the future? Why believe that fidelity is a value only in the contemporary world – knowing the husband or wife – and not also in the perspective of the future, that is, when it is still unknown who will be the life partner that Providence will want.
Regarding the issue of premarital relations, another objection that is usually received is this: But why deprive yourself of the pleasure of sexuality? Isn’t it God himself who inserted it into human nature? The answer is not difficult. Certainly, God has inscribed pleasure in sexuality just as he has inscribed pleasure in every important need of human nature. He also inscribed pleasure in eating. Imagine what would happen if we didn’t enjoy eating. We would do this reasoning: Now I have to work with my jaws … which makes me do it. I will eat tonight … and then also in the evening we would postpone the next day and so on … and in the meantime we would die of starvation. And so also for sexuality: if there were no pleasure dimension, humanity would have already become extinct. But – and here is the point – it is one thing to appreciate the dimension of pleasure, it is another to make pleasure the fundamental component and criterion. To return to the example of eating: if I have to eat to feed myself, it is good to appreciate the pleasure of eating; but if at that moment it is not good for you to eat so as not to damage the body, I cannot and must not eat only to satisfy a pleasure that will, in turn, damage my health.
But in addition to this reason, dear reader, premarital relationships are also illegal because they are always irresponsible. The reasoning is very easy: the safest contraceptive method is the anti-fertilization pill, which has a percentage of “success” (saddening to use this terminology, but we do it to make ourselves understood) not higher than 90%. This means that occasional contraceptive methods (those that are usually used among young people) have a “success” rate well below 90%. This means that sexuality outside of marriage is always irresponsible: it “plays” with a third life that not only has the right to be born if it was conceived, but that also has the right to find a stable family unit, a dad and a mom. Therefore, pre and extra-marital sexuality are, in addition to being a mortal sin (and this should already be enough to understand), is always and in any case an irresponsible act.
Unfortunately, dear reader, little is said about these things. Sociological data are taken into account and one almost gives up. One thinks: it is now impossible to get out of it. Now, such an attitude not only constitutes a serious sin of omission, because the truth must always be said but also a sort of “complicity” that allows many souls to lose themselves for eternity. Yes, you have understood correctly: they are lost for eternity! Our Lady to little Jacinta of Fatima said it clearly: The sins that make you go to hell more are the sins of the flesh. Certainly, the sins of the flesh, among the mortal sins, are not the most serious. But they are the ones which can not only be committed more easily but also those which pervert the thought. By bestializing behavior, they also bestialize reasoning. Once the law of God has been removed from behavior, God himself will be removed from his convictions and his own judgment of life.
I think, dear reader, that this is enough to understand and to make us realize how in our apostolate we must not neglect this important question.
(From La buona battaglia. Apologetica cattolica in domande e risposte, 2019©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with the permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)