Are you allowed to think about sex before you are married?

I understand that it is the teaching of the Church that thinking about impure thoughts on purpose, or alowing yourself to ponder upon an impure thought that came to you on accident is a sin against chastity.
What I’m wondering is does that mean you’re not allowed to think about sex at all before you’re married? If this is so, how is a young lady like myself able to read the Song of Songs or Theology of the Body without sinning?

What about movies that happen to feature a married couple? Even if they’re not doing anything graphic (ex: kissing, tender embraces, laying next to eachother, etc.), would that be an impure thing to watch for an unmarried person such as myself? As for this issue, I’m writing a story which I might have a few, brief scenes where a married couple is laying together in bed (clothed). It is not meant to impure but would it be wrong to do this? This book of mine is geared towards older teens and adults.

I’ve been trying to make an effort to order my thoughts to think about things in the way God intended us to. To think of all the ways that makes the human person a beautiful creation and all the ways their actions and functions imitate the God they were modeled after. This is why I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Theology of the Body’. It explained how the way our bodies were made and marital unity reflected God’s unity for the Church and the mystery of the Trinity.

Such reflections of how we were made in God image and likeness cause me to see the beauty of humanity all the more and such knowledge brings me great happiness :slight_smile:

But this whole issue with not being allowed to ponder upon the the beauty of the marital act is confusing to me. You know what I mean? There is clearly a way to think about it in a pure way (Pope John II was the one who wrote Theology of the Body, am I right? I’m sure he wasn’t lusting after the human body or trying to think lustful thoughts about the marital act while writing TotB, right?).

I want to be pure, but I enjoy meditating on all the things that make us human and made in God’s image. I’m not sure what to make of this.

Any thoughts or/and advice is appreciated.

God bless :slight_smile:

Absolutely, you can, should, and must think about sex before marriage. Since sex is an intended part of marriage, “the two shall become one,” it doesn’t make sense that you wouldn’t think about sex. You can think about it in a pure manner: abstractly or theoretically if you do not have an intended, not lustfully if there is someone special in your life with whom you intend to spend the rest of your life.

It definitely sounds like you’re on the right track in trying to order your thoughts along the lines of the teachings of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.


Sex is a wonderful gift of God, it just has to be in the right context. Priestly celibacy is putting God above the wonderful gift of marital love for the sake of the Kingdom. So don’t think of sex in a puritan way. Paraphrasing Bishop Fulton Sheen, he said that the farther he was away from Christ in his Priesthood, the harder celibacy was. Sex is a wonderful gift. But, we order and restrain our sexual desires because, unlike animals, we have a rational soul that can choose to follow God or not. We can control ourselves and live our lives for Him.

Thank you for your insight. It helped a lot :slight_smile: You too, jmr_1985.

I guess where my confusion lies is this: I was reading a little of ‘How to find your Soulmate without losing your Soul’ (it’s a really good book, so far :)) and I came across this passage…

“Where do you draw the line when it comes to your thoughts? One rule of thumb is to remember that if the particular action is not moral for you to act upon, then do not allow your mind to linger on the subject. For example, if you are not married, don’t fantasize about marital intimacies. It’s not wrong to desire such intimacy, but you would do well to wait on God, allowing Him at the appropriate time in your life to lift the veil from that mystery.”

If you SHOULD think about sex before you’re married, (and if they have things in the Bible like the Song of Songs that seem a bit “un-vieling” in this way) what do they mean by this?

God bless :slight_smile:

No time to get into thing or read all there -but one ought not have impure thoughts or desires. Such lustful thoughts are gravely sinful.

One is not permitted to engage in such or consent to them if they occur.

*there is a difference in say a single person studying the theology of the body - and the person engaging in lustful thoughts. Or needing to study to be a doctor and needing to study the reproductive system.

One must take good care though in such subjects of study and readings. Even with Sacred Scripture like the Song of Songs.

I know you say you haven’t had time to read the whole thread yet, but the OP makes it clear in the first post that she/he understands and accepts that impure thoughts are to be avoided always, the question is rather what constitutes an impure thought. And seeing as the OP is worried that it might be impure to write a scene in a book where a married couple is lying in bed fully clothed I highly suspect that the OP is on the scrupulous side when it comes to all of this, rather than erring on the side of lust and impurity. Replies to this thread should be made with that in mind.

Yep, that’s basically the gist of what I’m asking :slight_smile:

Those with that struggle ought to have a regular confessor to direct them…such is very important (he can address questions one has as ones confessor knowing ones struggles) -so I while I still have not had time to read the thread- I will rather here direct you to such if that is the case to one degree or another.

Whether thoughts are impure, or counter to chastity, depends entirely on the motivation you have and the manner in which you go about the reading / thinking / pondering. Plainly, it is not intrinsically wrong to read TOB!

That makes sense :slight_smile: …but on another thread I started before this one (I started this one to better explain my concerns), someone said that:

“Unchastity in thought means mentally unveiling that which should be covered and respected as private. This means that the motivation is significant.”

I’m not sure what he/she is saying by this but…dang it, I’m confused! :banghead: You say it depends entirely on motivation and the other says you simply shouldn’t think “unveiling thoughts” or something like that.

The rest of the quote (might as well): “Even is one maintains the bounds of the local cultural limits, it is possible to focus on some object to obtain sexual pleasure. This will depend upon what each person finds appealing, and which may be natural or unnatural, and, for example, can be imagined words, glances, touches, embraces, kisses, situations, appearances, situations, or roles. It may be simple or extremely complex.”

Here’s the thread it came from…if that matters…

…I don’t quite understand what he/she means but it sounds different from your explaination =__=

You also quoted from the book: “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul” and you mentioned a quote from the book that concerned you:

“Where do you draw the line when it comes to your thoughts? One rule of thumb is to remember that if the particular action is not moral for you to act upon, then do not allow your mind to linger on the subject. For example, if you are not married, don’t **fantasize **about marital intimacies. It’s not wrong to desire such intimacy, but you would do well to wait on God, allowing Him at the appropriate time in your life to lift the veil from that mystery.”

Are you fantasising about marital intimacy for the purpose of sexual pleasure? I think you know that would be wrong, and what you describe does not sound like that.

If the thoughts you describe are regular, almost daily occurrences, then perhaps they suggest your efforts need to be re-focussed on real relationships with people?

This confusion you are experiencing is why its probably a better idea for you to find a good spiritual director rather than looking for advice online. Find a good trustworthy priest and then speak only with him about these concerns you have and listen to and follow his advice, otherwise you will find yourself more confused than ever by people’s different takes on things.

Do not know the book. Nor thus the complete context. It is likely if it is a book regarding chastity that the person when saying “it is possible” there means “possible to happen” not that it is moral. Just to offer what I think may help.

Is is* gravely sinful* to do so.

Sexual pleasure is not something to be sought or consented to by those who are not married.

One must discipline ones thoughts and imagination…

One is to be chaste and modest in ones thoughts and actions and desires.

I wasn’t quoting a book but another user from this site.

I understand sexual pleasure is something that should be saved for marriage.

Yes, I agree. I often find, because of my ocd, that I find myself immediatly shoving away certain thoughts that I know for a fact shouldn’t be thought. Thoughts I know I didn’t put there and sometimes happen spontaniously. However, these thoughts are different in nature from the thoughts this thread is questioning about.

Perhaps I should :o
I’ve never had a spiritual director before.

It’s also a bit confusing because I’m not sure whether or not this person was just giving an opinion or stating a doctrine of the Church :o

Ought an unmarried person be imagining the marital act?

No not ordinarily.

See also Catechism:

Read carefully and slowly the whole there.

It seems that you already understand the difference between fantasizing and giving consideration to the topic. It is a good thing for a person who is going to be married one day to give consideration to the realities of a sexual relationship with a future spouse. Understanding how sexual relations works, learning about sexual function, preparing oneself mentally, physically, and spiritually for such an intimate encounter; these are all good ways to develop as a human being before marriage. Reading books or watching movies that depict an affectionate encounter between a couple is fine.
And what would courtship and engagement be without the joy of eagerly anticipating the wedding night? So even being happy at the thought of one day being intimate with the one you love is good. The challenge there is to maintain self-control, even though the desire becomes stronger as your love for your future spouse grows.
Innocence is good; ignorance is not helpful. No bride or groom should face their wedding night with fear and confusion because they were not properly educated and they didn’t give consideration to the realities of the sex act prior to marriage. How horrible that would be for them!
This is all different from fantasizing for the purposes of arousal, and reading or watching sexually-explicit materials. Those actions would obviously be wrong.
I hope that helps!

Thats exactly the reason why it can be so important to find someone you trust and let them guide you. Not every aspect of morality is clearly and explicitly defined by the Church. Because of that you will find many different opinions from many different people about which interpretation of Church teaching is correct, and thats without getting into the area of things on which the Church just hasn’t said anything or even people who decide to pick and choose from among the Church’s official teaching. Add to that that some people are convinced that their opinion is actually Church teaching, even if its not actually because of how they were raised or who they heard it from. Listening to all of these people can make it extremely difficult to determine what is actually true. Which is especially difficult for a person with scrupulosity or scrupulous tendencies because you will always be able to find somebody else with a different opinion, often backed up by quotes from the bible or church documents (which are not always taken in context). You could keep searching forever without finding a definitive answer on the internet. So instead find a good and holy priest who is faithful to the magisterium and ask him for guidance. It will help increase your peace of mind significantly.

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