From Questions Young People Ask Before Marriage, Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R., 1950’s
Sex Experience before Marriage
I recently attended some lectures given at a secular university on the subject of preparation for a happy marriage. In one lecture it was stated that some sex experience before marriage is necessary for happiness in marriage, on the ground that by experiment one learns whether married life will be happy. Is there any truth in this? I am not a Catholic, though I read your column, and 1 feel that this sort of teaching can do an immense amount of harm. Do you agree?
This sort of teaching has frequently crept into marriage courses given to young people in secular colleges and universities today, and you are right about its being very damaging to all who take it even half seriously.
Both on religious and on practical grounds it can be proved that any sort of sex-experimentation before marriage is bound to result in unhappiness.
This should certainly be clear to every God-fearing, Christian boy and girl.
Impurity, the right name for “sex-experimentation” before marriage, is a violation of nature and a transgression of God’s law.
It is an inexorable law of nature and a demand of the justice of God that every sin must be atoned for, and most sins are atoned for not only in the next world, but also in this. “The wages of sin is death.” There are many forms of death by which such sins are atoned for, and one of them is the death of that true happiness, built on the love of God and obedience to His law, that is looked for in marriage.
This religious truth is forcefully confirmed by experience. We recall a statement made by the head of a modern marriage problem clinic, who professed no particularly strong religious convictions.
He said that his experience with the problems of married people forced on him the conclusion that not one in a thousand marriages that had been preceded by sex indulgence turned out to be really happy; none turned out to be as happy as marriage should be.
It stands to reason that this should be so; the law of chastity is so deeply engraved in the conscience that it cannot be violated without major repercussions on the whole personality, nor without spoiling the whole relationship of marriage.
Marriages do suffer, sometimes, from ignorance on the part of husband or wife.
Even before marriage, all ignorance about marriage should be removed by proper instruction. But sin is never a good or prudent preparation for anything.
I am a widow, thirty-one years old, with two children. Before my husband died two years ago I promised him that I would never marry again.
I did that of my own accord because I loved him so much and we had been so happy together. He never asked me to make the promise, and only smiled when I did so.
Now in the past few months I have been going out with a single man of 35, and I already know that if I continue to go with him, he will ask me to marry him.
I want to keep my promise to my husband because I feel bound by it, but at the same time I find it awfully difficult to think of giving up this new friendship. Can you advise me?
There are two things to be considered in solving this problem for yourself. The first one is this, that if you were unequivocally determined to carry out your promise and to remain single, it would be obligatory upon you not to enter into company-keeping at all.
The reason is that you would be in danger of falling into serious sin if, on the one hand, you were prepared to resist all inclinations and invitations to marry again, and at the same time you were making it possible for yourself to fall deeply in love.
It has been said here frequently that regular company-keeping is lawful only if there be a possibility of its ending in lawful marriage.
If you yourself exclude the possibility of marriage from your future, you must go the whole way and exclude regular company-keeping as well.
If you do not, you shall suffer mentally, physically, and probably morally.
The second thing to be considered is the fact that adherence to your promise, under the changed circumstances of the present, may prove to be very foolhardy and imprudent, because of your relative youth and evident inclination toward male companionship.
Unless you are motivated by deep spiritual principles, fortified by strong spiritual habits, and are willing to live a more or less secluded life for the love of God and for the sake of your children, the next ten years may be very difficult ones for you, unless you accept an invitation to marry again.
If you are a Catholic, the best thing to do is to lay your case before a confessor and permit him to decide for you.
After questioning your motives and studying your character for a while, be will be able to tell you whether you may be freed from the promise you made, and whether to marry again may not be the will of God for you.
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