When I finished school and entered college, one of the first peer pressures to hit me was through the popular line “who’s your chick, man?” or in other words do you have a girlfriend and if so, who is she? It was kind of customary to have a special girlfriend to generally hang around with so as to be with the “in” crowd. Be it custom or not, the trend is definitely here to stay with the current generation. Strangely, in previous generations, our parents, grandparents and upwards seemed to have had a far stricter view of boy & girl relationships. One wonders if perhaps they knew something of the dangers involved and therefore used the stricter and wiser approach. We will never know for sure because correct instruction in these truths were never properly handed down to future generations. However, God in his wisdom and love for His youth is helping us to see the dangers of pre-marital relationships between young people in search of love.
Let’s start from the beginning. When God created man and woman, he built into them a powerful drive called a “sex drive” that psychologists say literally drives all that a person does. It is this same drive that also drives us towards the opposite sex in what we call “attraction”, which again is something normal. This attraction begins to be felt only after one has passed through the adolescent stage of life which is approximately around 12 / 13 years of age in both genders. It is at this time, together with the hormonal development that takes place within, that the emanating desires and sexuality of the young person begins to make itself felt. This process continues to develop over the years and is quite normal and under control, if kept under control.
However, this stage is also a volatile and most vulnerable stage of life for any young person. Even as he or she is struggling to come to terms with his/her sexuality during this time, the young person has now to contend with external “trigger factors” which are constantly making a pitch for their attention. I am referring here largely to the current media that is constantly bombarding the minds and value systems of young people. The blatant nudism, passionate kissing and lewd gestures and attitudes available in our living room television sets are deliberately crafted by the enemy of our souls towards stirring and inciting the sexual desire and lusts that lie within all of us. If a Christian adult can hardly get by without being affected by these overt gestures, one can imagine the damage it is doing to young and impressionable minds. Pope John Paul II had this to say about the media in his message for World Communications Day “The family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion and homosexuality. Such portrayals, by promoting causing inimical to marriage and the family, are detrimental to the common good of society.” (Quoted from Zenit. org; January 25th 2004)
The point is this, due to such external triggers such as the media, the powerful sexuality that has been developing quietly all along, is now being stirred and awakened into desiring its own experience. Since this is forbidden at this stage, the young person is left in a dilemma as to how to handle his/her raging desires. Very often this gives rise to masturbation. The Bible instructs us: “Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wicked-ness, but yield your selves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13). The Catholic Church describes it as: By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action” No. 2352, CCC. Most often sexual experimentation of the self (masturbation) and between the same genders (homosexuality) happens when the young child is still in school. (Note: When conducting retreats for school and college youth, this has often come up as a huge problem for counselling.)
Needless to say, if the problem which may have started innocently as an experiment, is left unchecked, it will mushroom into a huge tree in later years. Homosexuality cannot happen overnight, it is the result of years of indulgence in the practice of “same gender” sex (See Gal 6:7). God created them male & female (Gen 1:27) as Adam & Eve and not Adam & Steve. No homosexual (contrary to popular opinion) was ever born as one. Homosexuality is not hereditary and therefore not a genetic problem, it is a sin problem and hence needs a spiritual answer that can be found only in Jesus. The Bible explicitly states: “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death….” Leviticus 20:13 NIV). This rule is perennial and does not change.
The Catholic Church states the following: [Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (See Chastity & Homosexuality No. 2357, CCC)].
Another trigger that acts even more powerfully is a romantic relationship with a person of the opposite sex. In my college days, we called it “getting friendly with” someone. Please note, that having boy-friends and girl-friends is not essentially a sin, in fact it is a healthy part of life and relationships. Whenever I address the youth, I tell them that if they want to have boy-friends and girl-friends, to go ahead and have 100 of them because that is absolutely safe. But the trouble begins when we want to have a special friendship with one particular person of the opposite sex. Very often this starts with the deep need that we all have for that most elusive element called “love”. Perhaps, we have not received enough of it during our childhood and as we begin to move into our mid-teens this vacuum of unmet needs together with our emerging sexuality begins to create a problem.
Given below, is an example of more or less how this works. Let me say at the outset, that this example is just an ideal and not necessarily the exact experience of every young couple in terms of timing or sequence of events. However, the build-up of desire is something that is common to all and that is what should be noted. Eg: A boy begins to feel an attraction for a particular girl (or vice-versa). After a little initial struggle of breaking the ice in getting to know her, he then begins to draw up closer. Usually, any couple that is attracted to each other would want to date each other as soon as possible in order to know each other better. All is innocent and normal so far and so a date is set for the first outing.
Scenario 1: Let’s say that they choose the local gardens or park that is available for a quiet evening stroll. Initially, there will be just random small talk about the weather and the flowers or even some spiritual stuff if the couple are good Charismatics. Being the first date, nothing more than this will probably happen on the outside, but what is not seen and often goes undetected is a gentle stirring of the emotions and warm feelings of love or infatuation that begin to rise up on the inside. Here, we come to an important principle that is set in motion. These desires and emotions, gentle as they are at this stage, always work in a progression. That is the way that God has designed it to work. This means that both parties will want to progress in their relationship of getting to know each other and hence draw closer to one another.
Scenario 2: Before long and a few phone calls later the desire for a second date has risen and so another date is fixed. As you can imagine, this time there will be less of talking shop and more of getting closer to each other. The bolder of the two will be the first to take the other persons hand and hold onto it, perhaps sending a few spine tinglers and the clear but unspoken message “I like you” across to the other. Progress has been made. Again, I hasten to say, not every date will go exactly this way, but every relationship will surely progress. This closeness and beginnings of intimacy begin to stir up not just emotions but embers of low heat within, which again cannot be seen or detected. The couple again goes back to their respective homes very often walking on cloud nine unaware of anything except the blissful memories of the evening.
But as pointed out, this always works in a progression and by the law of diminishing returns. This law simply stated says; the more I experience, the more I want the next time and this will go on and on in a progression and will not stop till it culminates in the highest level of intimacy possible between a man and woman – that of sexual intercourse. I dare to say at this point, that this is how God created it to work in the first place and any efforts to keep the balance are a sheer waste of time and effort. That is why Solomon said – “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right” (Song of Solomon 8:4, NLT). One might ask at this point, that if God has created it to happen this way, then why all the fuss about premarital sex? We will return to answer this later, but first let’s move to stage 3.
Scenario 3: The desire for a third date is now quietly raging within and at the back of the mind (male mind at least) which has already been thoroughly prepared by the vicious and relentless bombardment of the media and their kind. There springs up many options of when and where the third date could be. Options, I am sure would make our prudish grandparents squirm in their graves. Normally in a youth retreat or rally when addressing this subject, I randomly ask the crowd where they think the third date should be. I ask this as a test to find out their thinking patterns on the subject. Almost every time I ask this question, pat will come the reply, that the venue of the next date should be the movie theatre. The ramifications of this statement are apparent and hardly need to be explained. When a young unmarried couple goes to the movie theatre just by themselves for a date, usually the agenda is other than watching the movie. Again, when posing this same question in a youth outreach in another city, the stunning answers from the girls section said that a “Hotel” should be the next venue. God forbid! But this made me wonder about the female mind also, because it always amazes me how the girls do not object to the venues chosen by the boys. Needless to say, silence is definitely consent in such matters.
The dark surroundings of a theatre provide the perfect setting for a lot of petting as the progression must go on. Usually, kissing mouth to mouth is the start and things soon become heady leading to a mild intoxicated like condition of rising passions. For the couple, this is heaven’s delight, but what they do not know and cannot see, is that the lips are a very sensitive area where many nerve cells travel from the lips via the brain to almost every other part of the body, especially the sexual organs. [See LIPS as erogenous zone; Wiki]. As they indulge in prolonged kissing (which is nothing but sexual foreplay), strong signals of passion are aroused and sent to every other part making the whole body taut and ready for further action. Seeing how the progression has worked so far, one can appreciate the difficulty experienced by either the boy or the girl in preventing what comes next. It is a matter of time, if not at this date then by the next, when the hands will begin to stray into forbidden areas. By this time in the relationship, the hormones and sexual desires are raging and screaming for gratification because they have been illegitimately aroused.
Let me pause at this point to make a statement : “The Bible & Catholic Church Teaching teaches clearly that any form of sexual activity outside the boundaries of the Marriage Covenant is SIN”. (See Hebrews 13:4) “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous“. See also (1 Cor 6:9-10 NASB) – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God“. The Catholic Church states: (“The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose” No. 2352b, CCC.)
So we can see that this second trigger is extremely powerful and will stir all the sexual passions within the couple. So the couple are left with just two options :–
1) Struggle with wanting the relationship and yet wanting to remain chaste at the same time which is the most miserable condition to try and hold on to, OR
2) Give in to sinning with their bodies and gratify their flesh and thereby lose their virginity which is sacred leaving a permanent scar on their sexuality.
Returning to the question asked earlier, if God has created us with such powerful drives then why make such a fuss about pre-marital sex. Precisely for the above reason. God has created us with powerful drives which are meant to end in a satisfying sexual relationship provided the couple are of marriageable age and ready to take up the responsibility and commitment that comes with being united in Marriage. In other words unless a young couple courting one another have a marriage goal in sight that is reachable within a reasonable span of time, they should not get involved with each other. If they get friendly without the goal of marriage ahead, then they will be susceptible to the same tensions and temptations described above.
Lastly, dear youth, let me assure you that God has a plan for your life (Jer 29:11-12 NASB), and that plan includes a wonderful person for marriage, if marriage is what God has called you to. Therefore, don’t jump the gun and don’t submit to the world and its pressures, but preserve your single-hood for the Lord by keeping yourself holy and pure. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength (Lk 10:27), for no eye has seen, nor ear has heard what God has prepared for those who wait for him (Isa 64:4).