Practically speaking, don't we need to "test drive the car before we buy it?"

Of course the Bible says that sex outside of marriage is a sin.

But we know that sex is a major issue that can make or break a marriage. It is important for people to know what their partners like and don’t like in sex, and how much libido their partners have. We know that a marriage that is not open to life is also a sin, in Catholicism. We know that lack of sex, or bad sex, can ruin relationships and destroy marriages.

So practically speaking, despite what the Bible says, don’t people need to “test drive the car before they buy it,” in other words, have sex before marriage to test each other’s sexual compatibility? Isn’t it a foolish risk to not “test drive a car before buying it?” Wouldn’t it be a possible setup for failure to not have sex before marriage?

Let’s discuss.

Realistic answer: Yes. Lots of people want to learn how to drive properly and test drive many cars until they find the one they want to keep.

The Catholic answer you will hear: Of course not, sex before marriage is a grave sin, and you are only supposed to drive one car for the rest of your life, only in the state of marriage and for the purpose of having baby cars.

Are you seriously equating human sexuality with testing out a car? Is that how low we’ve sunk and how little respect we have for the dignity of the human person?! :open_mouth: Its all about “my happiness” and “my satisfaction” and “my sex drive”. Not a man and a woman giving themselves away in love to each other. Sex has just become about satisfying ourselves, not giving away ourselves. No wonder divorce is so high these days; if this is the mentality, how will couples be willing to sacrifice themselves every day for the good of the other?
What is a marriage anymore?

An overreaction. My whole original post was about a couple considering marriage. Shouldn’t a couple have sex before marriage to understand their sexual compatibility, to prevent disaster later on??

What’s the return and exchange policy going to be? After all, if I test drive a Maserati and then bring home what turns into a Pinto I’d be pretty upset.

If you make performance that central to your relationship won’t dry spells be really hard to go through?

It doesn’t work, because people change and because people can’t give themselves out in samples without changing their very selves. If you want a marriage to last, you have to be willing to work past it when what was once compatible is no longer automatically easy. A car is a machine, but people grow and change…and sometimes they regress. They backslide. They also need acceptance most when they are the least impressive. They need to know you will give them exclusive preference without reference to who else is “on the lot,” because you aren’t asking for a ride. Your asking for their whole self. It is all they have. That’s why you have to commit before presuming to accept all. Otherwise, you are handing out rejection and abandonment and insecurity, if you decide “oops, not compatible…not good enough, have a life without me.” The willingness to hand that out is a pre-eroded foundation for a marriage.

Nope. Studies show that the opposite is in fact true (the first study I pulled off google examined living together before marriage, which would follow similar reasoning, and found that 19% of couples who lived together before marriage contemplated divorce within the first 10 years of marriage, as opposed to 10% of those that did not. Other studies have similar results).

Basically you’re using an overly simplistic view of what sex is. In this analogy, you’re treating it as a commodity that makes marriages smoother, but it itself is a sign of commitment and our bodies know this. You can find many resources explaining its deeper meaning (google theology of the body).

As for the test driving a car analogy - I’d say it’s more like testing the functionality of a scuba tank by jumping out of a plane to see if it slows down your fall. The test doesn’t actually accomplish the goal because wearing a scuba tank under water and while plummeting through the air are entirely different situations, and the test also involves its own dangers.

I’m being facetious here (I hope that’s obvious!); I do very much understand it’s a problem people have (I had, once upon a time) with Catholic teaching, but let’s rephrase the question…

Would you test-use a toothbrush?

You know I was just about to ask the same question as the OP. But reading everything past theCrow’s response seriously makes me wonder how many posters on these boards have a clue and how insensitive they are to the pains of those being mocked because they lack sexual experience.

It’s true that sex isn’t the end-all be-all to a relationship. We oh-so-evil secular cafeterians don’t just casually dismiss that. What you think we’re all some part of horny hive mind from hell?

In reality, we’re just not naive enough to do the opposite extreme: consign sexual pleasure and technique to the most insignificant depths of pointless depravity. I can’t think of any alternative to this view other than twisted medieval Catholic attitudes when even sexual positions were regarded with varying levels of sinfulness. God, gimme a break!

Oh and surprise, surprise! I’m still a virgin. A fact that’s constantly rubbed in my face by peers who think my gaming and card-playing skills are the typical nerd (oh yes nerd, not geek :rolleyes:) defense mechanism of overcompensation. Do not try to sympathize with me and say it’s an ill sign of the times, that I should just simply preserve myself while keeping up a noble knight act (an archetype I actually despise). I would very much rather prove to any girl that I have just as much sexual prowess as Christian Grey and Magic Mike over there.

Do I need to test drive just to prove it or improve on it? You’re all lucky I still have doubts about that. But make no mistake, the majority of responses I’ve read up to this post aren’t very enlightening. (More like the complete opposite.)

Can you link these studies for us please? I can’t say that equating sex before marriage is the same as shacking up together before marriage. I want studies focused on the actual impact of sexual experience in terms of happy and long-lasting relationships.

A more misogynistic person than I would actually counter with equating women to the toothbrushes you discarded since you started brushing.

“Practice makes perfect” according to them. :shrug:

There are quotes in the bible that condemn adultery–a married person having sex with someone other than their spouse–as a sin…but I can’t find a passage anywhere that specifies it is a sin for a couple to have sex before they are married.
Can you?


I assent to the Church, but these studies are fairly meaningless and really shouldn’t be brought up in defense of waiting until marriage. What these studies basically say are that religious people believe in divorce less, and nothing else. They don’t really provide a good social commentary on sex or living together before marriage.

A person who lives together before marriage, by definition, is significantly less likely to be an orthodox, practicing Catholic. Therefore, they are also significantly less likely to believe Catholic teaching on divorce. Thus, people who don’t live together before marriage are more religious, and thus they also divorce less. But it can’t really be construed as a cause-and-effect (e.g. these studies say nothing about the practicality or effectiveness of living together before marriage).

To be honest, there’s no true way to study that, absent in-home sociological observations on a grand scale, which would be heavily awkward and probably skewed anyway.

I have long found this to be a pretty insulting and not at all apt analogy.

First, my spouse is not a new car. I am not “buying” her. If I don’t know that I can live with her before I marry her, sex isn’t going to simplify my discernment process. It is only going to make it more complicated. Statistics back that up, too. Cohabitation and the like lead people to make worse marriage decisions, not better ones.

Second, even if we do allow for a “shopping” analogy, a more apt comparison would be a new house. I may go and check out a new house, but they sure won’t let me live in it until I sign on the dotted line. And even if they did, living in it for one night isn’t honestly going to tell me much about the long term.

I think the whole idea of “sexual compatibility” is way overblown. It’s not as though I would be passionately in love with my spouse and then mysteriously not enjoy having sex with her. Frankly, I don’t see how that would ever be possible. :shrug:

Last week I went to the car show. As much as I love my vintage Chevy, I sometimes resent owning the thing because of the occasional rash I get from whatever was left on the seats by one of the guys who drove it long before I did. I feel uneasy and inadequate whenever I drive it because I’ll never know if I handle her as good as some of those other guys with bigger feet, who know how to shift better than I do and who drove many more and faster cars than I ever did before they got behind my baby’s wheel. It also embarrasses me that I had to move two towns over because, whenever I’d go to one of these shows, I never knew which guys I’d bump into who had driven her before, who had looked under her hood, lubed her chassis and filled her tank. I sometimes wish I’d just bought a new car, one I could have learned to handle on my own, which wouldn’t have had all the dents, scratches and mileage from all the other drivers. But now I’m stuck with my Chevy. Sure, I love it, but I don’t know if I’ll ever quit wondering whether I should have held out for a pristine, untouched model.

Beautifully said. Besides, sex in the beginning of a marriage is so much different, say, 10 years in. In my opinion, it just gets better! So “test driving” before marriage couldn’t possibly predict how things will be later on down the road! :wink:

“Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the Kingdom of God” 1 Cor 6:9-11

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,” Mark 7:21

Furthermore, Catholics are not sola scriptura. The tradition against fornication and any kind of sexual immorality outside of marriage is a strong one established in the pre-NT period and carried forward by all truly Apostolic Churches. So frankly I don’t need to point to passages in the Bible, when I can cite a whole load of Sacred Tradition.

I know neither of these things. When divorces happen and a person blames “bad sex” or “lack of sex”, that is not the real culprit. The real culprit is that at least one of the parties doesn’t intend to keep their vows – which has nothing to do with sex.

My father was incapacitated at age 40, so that my mother quite suddenly lost her lover. But of course, he was still alive, so she couldn’t just “move on” to another husband/lover. She has heroically kept her vows. The lack of sex hasn’t destroyed their marriage. Marriage doesn’t exist to sexually “fulfill” us.

So practically speaking, despite what the Bible says, don’t people need to “test drive the car before they buy it,” in other words, have sex before marriage to test each other’s sexual compatibility? Isn’t it a foolish risk to not “test drive a car before buying it?” Wouldn’t it be a possible setup for failure to not have sex before marriage?

If my wife and I had tried this, we would have likely been disappointed. There were some kinks we had to work out over time. But now our lovemaking is absolutely awesome.

Yes, this.

The reality, too, is that sex is a skill that anyone can get better at who commits to it. You CAN figure out if you’re attracted to somebody before you marry them, and you CAN ask them to discuss their feelings about sex before you marry them (and you probably should.) Those feelings might change somewhat after the experience, but at least you have the background to be able to discuss sexuality. If sex is dissatisfying, you can generally do something to fix it - and that’s going to be easier with a spouse whom you know is open to communicating about sex.

Funnily enough, in our society we seem to think it’s basically OK to go to bed with a perfect stranger, but if you say that sex is something that should be talked about we get all prudish about it.

Myth 1: “You should have sex with the people you date because you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first.” It is true that one would not buy a car without test driving it. It is also true that cars are objects, and that a person who owns a car is supposed to use it. But people are not cars. We’re not objects. A married person is not supposed to use his or her spouse. A married person is supposed to participate in “total mutual self-giving” (CCC 1644), and to exemplify the “absolute and unfailing love” God has for us (CCC 1604). The need for a test-drive, when the quest is for a car, exists because we have to see that the means (a car) serves its purpose. The need for a test-drive, when the quest is for a spouse, is a myth, because a person who treats a spouse like a means to an end is a person who doesn’t love.

Being a great lover has two aspects: (1) passion, and (2) skill. The cool thing about marriage, though, is that you learn skill TOGETHER. Since you’re marrying someone who is sold on YOU and not merely on your erotic capacities, marriage is a safe place to experiment and to learn. Oh, for the days when newly married couples didn’t even quite know how to “do it” and stumbled through the motions! What a beautiful discovery they could make together!

As for passion, it’s much easier to have passion when you experience an obstacle to your coming together. Catholic marital norms are such an obstacle, and they certainly generate passion and longing.

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