Why is pre-marital sex a sin?


#1

Okay, this question is not posed by me. I feel like I understand the church's teaching on this issue and totally agree. One of my husband's good friends since they were small children was here visiting the other night. He was raised Catholic, very strict parents, comes from a family of 10 kids and perhaps this is a little bit of him rebelling and having to come to conclusions on his own. He's 26 right now, and he now has a girlfriend. He was saying the other night how his parents have been concerned and keep telling him he should wait til his wedding night and he sort of implied to them that he had already had sex and didn't understand why it was wrong. He actually said "If someone could give me a reason why sex is a sin, I might consider not doing it anymore" He was saying things like he wasn't hurting anyone, and that as long as he was in a committed relationship he didn't see the big deal. I was having problems coming up with things on the spot but I did say that sex was meant to be open to life, and that is one of the reasons why it is sinful to use contraception and have sex outside of marriage. I feel like I failed a little bit in that I couldn't come up with anything very convincing at the moment, but I was kind of on the spot. It was in front of the friend, his girlfriend, my husband, me and our other male friend.
Anyway, I would like to maybe send him an article because I actually think he would read it. I need something not too dry. Christopher West's talks were very empowering for me, but I know he wouldn't listen to 4 hours of talks. What would be great would be if someone could kind of sum up Christopher West's main points to bring it to my memory. Anything you could offer would be helpful though. I'd like to get this to him ASAP, thanks in advance.


#2

It is wrong because God said so!

There are some rules to live by that do not seem fair when you are in the middle of breaking them. They just do not make sense. That is the nature of temptation.

Of the 613 laws in Leviticus, we have to follow relatively few. Moreover, isn’t eternal life worth a little sacrafice? Is eternal damnation worth indulging for the same little while.

Think of this. Knowing the church teaching, glowing engaged couple succumb to temptation. One or both die before confession and penance. What do you think they will be doing for the rest of eternity?


#3

As a teenage girl I know countless people who struggle with this.

The problem with pre-marital sex is that it distorts your mind and desecrates a sacred act (sex) into a source of pleasure.

The consequences are unavoidable. Condoms and birth control are only 80-90% effective and pregnancy can result regardless of whatever precaution you take.

In marriage, you are fully prepared to address any consequences (good or bad) of sex. You are properly equipped to raise a child. The risk of STDs is almost nothing and you feel no guilt at all for what you did.

People who have pre-marital sex inevitably view the opposite sex as sources for pleasure. Pretty soon your mind is filled with impure thoughts and it leads to pornography, masturbation, etc. If you let it go far enough, your mind gets so perverted that you do things such as rape and incest.

Whenever I feel tempted to give in and just do it, I think of this idea that hits guys (and girls) hard: If you wait until marriage to have sex, and also abstain from things like pornography and masturbation, your wedding night will be amazing -- your wife/husband will be unbelievably sexy to you and the sex will be incredible -- because you have waited so long for it and you're finally free. ;)


#4

Actually, this is wrong if you are implying that sex is not legitimately a source of pleasure in the proper context, i.e., marriage. It’s not just a “sacred” act, nor just intended for procreation. Sex is a legitimate source of pleasure when it occurs in the context of marriage.

Given the extreme Catholic stricture on re-marriage after divorce, I’m also tempted to say that pre-marital sex in a committed relationship is not a grievous sin. There have been periods in church history where pre-marital sex was allowed in order to ascertain fertility because infertile couples could not divorce. The modern adaptation of this is sex in order to determine compatability for a permanent relationship that cannot, on Catholic principles, conclude in divorce.


#5

You're right, my mistake. God created sex to be pleasurable but to be enjoyed by married couples only.

What I mean is that pre-marital sex makes sex into an act that is used only for pleasure. Pleasure is only a very small part of sex because sex is meant as a physical sign of the love a married couple shares and to procreate.

Even in a committed unmarried relationship sex is still wrong because there is nothing holding the couple together. The woman could get pregnant and the man could just abandon her with no questions asked. It's different in marriage because they have a covenant to stand by each other. In an unmarried relationship there is no real bond whatsoever.


#6

If this is a sarcastic comment, I wish you well. God did create sex for pleasure in a committed relationship, especially marriage.


#7

[quote="L2P2, post:6, topic:181335"]
If this is a sarcastic comment, I wish you well. God did create sex for pleasure in a committed relationship, especially marriage.

[/quote]

Sorry! I don't know how I did that again. I fixed the post.


#8

Understood. We posted at the same time.


#9

[quote="L2P2, post:4, topic:181335"]
Actually, this is wrong if you are implying that sex is not legitimately a source of pleasure in the proper context, i.e., marriage. It's not just a "sacred" act, nor just intended for procreation. Sex is a legitimate source of pleasure when it occurs in the context of marriage.

Given the extreme Catholic stricture on re-marriage after divorce, I'm also tempted to say that pre-marital sex in a committed relationship is not a grievous sin. There have been periods in church history where pre-marital sex was allowed in order to ascertain fertility because infertile couples could not divorce. The modern adaptation of this is sex in order to determine compatability for a permanent relationship that cannot, on Catholic principles, conclude in divorce.

[/quote]

Premarital sex in a committed relationship is a mortal sin. How is it not grievous? There is no exception to get to know your partner sexually before marriage.


#10

Because God said so is the short answer :slight_smile:

Not hurting anyone? Perhaps not, but what is he giving to his girlfriend that he is having sex with? How is he elevating her? And what is the measure of hurting someone? Perhaps for his girlfriend the real hurt won’t kick in until after they break up and she cannot emotionally unattached herself from him because of the physical connection (remember, bonding hormones are released during sex, the same released during labor to secure attachment). Not hurting anyone? What about his future wife or his girlfriend’s future husband…will they always have an inkling of wondering if their spouse is thinking about past lovers? And even if he does marry this girl…someday when she is pregnant, sick or feeling vulnerable - will it suddenly dawn on her that her husband has no moral issue with sleeping with a woman who is not his wife? He didn’t think he was hurting anyone after all when he was sleeping with her before marriage. Sounds like a world of hurting and mental anguish to me.

The truth is, sex is not something that should be downplayed into a sport or past time. It has life giving potential and it is the foundation for a family and thus society. Oh yea and it is holy. But there is another side, it can also take lives through disease. It can leave people feeling exploited and vulnerable. Sex can’t hurt anyone? Tell it to the millions of aborted babies who parents did not understand the sanctity of sex. Did you ask him what his plan is if contraception fails? With sex comes the acceptance to become a parent, or else you are pro-abortion, there really isn’t a middle ground.

God is so much smarter than us. He created sex!


#11

There have been periods in church history where pre-marital sex was allowed in order to ascertain fertility because infertile couples could not divorce.

I'd be really, REALLY interested to see your source for this assertion. I cannot for the life of me in all my years of study remember seeing anything like this. Quite the contrary. In fact, one of the issues with our old friend Henry VIII of England was that his wife Catherine of Aragon was considered to be 'infertile' (in that only 2 of her pregnancies resulted in living children, a boy who died at age 52 days and a girl, later Queen Mary). Henry wanted a divorce in order to have a 'son' (well, that was part of it) but he had a slightly different argument about why he felt the marriage was not valid. So it wasn't exactly that 'infertile couples could not divorce' (I don't know where you get that. NO validly married couple may divorce, whether they have children in the marriage or NOT.) I think you might be confused?


#12

I'm not going to weigh into the "right and wrong" side of the subject - there are many people here more articulate than I in that matter. But let’s examine a more base issue - what are the benefits and what are the negatives to a premarital sex. Benefit - about 5 to 20 minutes of physical pleasure - maybe. Negative possibilities are STDs, depression, anxiety, unplanned pregnancy, sterility and a number of other social problems. Put that and scale and decide how it weighs out.


#13

[quote="HouseArrest, post:9, topic:181335"]
Premarital sex in a committed relationship is a mortal sin. How is it not grievous? There is no exception to get to know your partner sexually before marriage.

[/quote]

Of course. Also, I'm talking about trial marriage, not promiscuity outside a committed relationship. And I'm speaking of the relative weight of mortal sins.

In my hierarchy of values, divorce is a much bigger sin than pre-marital sex. We over-emphasize the sin of sex outside marriage for the young and under-emphasize it for older people who divorce and either re-marry or play around. This is a particular problem when they have children.

Look at the language on trial marriage in the new catechism. They make it clear that it's a sin, but the language is comparatively soft. In other words, there are bigger sins.

When was trial marriage allowable? There are wedding paintings in the Netherlands from the 15th century where the bride is clearly pregnant. Trial marriage was socially accepted because divorce was not allowed and fertility was highly valued. The Church, I am sure, always taught that sex outside marriage was sinful, but there was a period when it elected not to emphasize this in the case of engaged couples.


#14

The Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West is a quick read that could be useful for him.


#15

[quote="OSUbride0708, post:1, topic:181335"]
He actually said "If someone could give me a reason why sex is a sin, I might consider not doing it anymore" He was saying things like he wasn't hurting anyone, and that as long as he was in a committed relationship he didn't see the big deal.

[/quote]

The sexual act is a language that seals the marriage vows and says, "I am yours completely, exclusively, forever." Outside marriage, this language is a lie. It is not a permanent gift because there is no real commitment; it is not indissoluble. (That would be marriage.) It is not a complete gift because contraception is usually involved. ("I give myself to you, except my fertility.")

Premarital sex is an abuse of the gift of sexuality that God has given us for the dual purpose of "babies and bonding" — to seal a permanent bond (marriage) between the couple for their mutual well-being (including spiritual well-being), and for the procreation of children (that is why every sexual act must be open to life). To eliminate either of these purposes from the sexual act is to ignore the purpose for which God gave it to us.

[quote="OSUbride0708, post:1, topic:181335"]
Anyway, I would like to maybe send him an article because I actually think he would read it. I need something not too dry. Christopher West's talks were very empowering for me, but I know he wouldn't listen to 4 hours of talks. What would be great would be if someone could kind of sum up Christopher West's main points to bring it to my memory. Anything you could offer would be helpful though. I'd like to get this to him ASAP, thanks in advance.

[/quote]

If you could get him to read a whole book, I would give him Christopher West's The Good News about Sex and Marriage amazon.com/Good-News-About-Sex-Marriage/dp/1569552142/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262184125&sr=8-1-spell . There is also a CD version available.

If that is too much, you may want to e-mail him Christopher West's article "A Basic Theology of Marriage." It is available online at thepastoralreview.org/cgi-bin/archive_db.cgi?priestsppl-00087 . Of particular note:

The marital embrace
The free exchange of consent properly witnessed by the Church establishes the marriage bond. Sexual union consummates it — seals it, completes it, perfects it. Sexual union, then, is where the words of the wedding vows become flesh. The very ‘language’ that God has inscribed in sexual intercourse is the language of the marriage covenant: the free commitment to a union of love that is indissoluble, faithful, and open to children …

The often-disputed sexual moral teachings of the Church become lucid when seen through this lens. Like all sacramental realities, if sexual union (as the consummate expression of the sacrament of marriage) is truly to communicate God’s life and love, then it must accurately symbolise it.

Sexual union that is free, total, faithful and open to new life (i.e. sexual union that truly expresses wedding vows) symbolises and participates in the communion of Christ and the Church. Masturbation, fornication, adultery, intentionally sterilised sex, homosexual acts, etc. — none of these accurately symbolise, and thus never bring about the love of Christ for the Church. None of these behaviours is marital. Thus, for sexual union to consummate a marriage it must be performed in a ‘human manner’ and be ‘per se suitable for the generation of children’.

I would also recommend that you direct him to the sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on chastity (#2331–2400, vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm ) and marriage (#1601–1666, vatican.va/archive/catechism/p2s2c3a7.htm ).


#16

No, I’m not the confused one. Civil divorce is allowable; it’s re-marriage that’s not. Read the catechism.


#17

I don't think trial marriage was something in which the Church was much involved. From what I know about it, trial marriage is something seen much more in eastern cultures and, actually, colonial America (at least that's true according to Wikipedia) which was obviously very much NOT Catholic.

Fertility was definitely highly prized in medieval Europe, but I don't think the Church was all too fond of trial marriages should they have taken place at that time. I can see circumstances in which it would take place, especially with wealthier and noble families, but I think that's more of a case where the Church could do little to stop a cultural adaptation by the families to preserve power by ensuring their children did not marry sterile spouses.


#18

[quote="The_Bucket, post:17, topic:181335"]
I don't think trial marriage was something in which the Church was much involved.

[/quote]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically denounces it:

2391 Some today claim a "right to a trial marriage" where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, "the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim."184 Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate "trial marriages." It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.185

The last footnote above (185) refers to the following paragraph from Familiaris Consortio (Pope John Paul II, 1981):

*a) Trial Marriages *

  1. A first example of an irregular situation is provided by what are called "trial marriages," which many people today would like to justify by attributing a certain value to them. But human reason leads one to see that they are unacceptable, by showing the unconvincing nature of carrying out an "experiment" with human beings, whose dignity demands that they should be always and solely the term of a self-giving love without limitations of time or of any other circumstance.

The Church, for her part, cannot admit such a kind of union, for further and original reasons which derive from faith. For, in the first place, the gift of the body in the sexual relationship is a real symbol of the giving of the whole person: such a giving, moreover, in the present state of things cannot take place with full truth without the concourse of the love of charity, given by Christ. In the second place, marriage between two baptized persons is a real symbol of the union of Christ and the Church, which is not a temporary or "trial" union but one which is eternally faithful. Therefore between two baptized persons there can exist only an indissoluble marriage.

Such a situation cannot usually be overcome unless the human person, from childhood, with the help of Christ's grace and without fear, has been trained to dominate concupiscence from the beginning and to establish relationships of genuine love with other people. This cannot be secured without a true education in genuine love and in the right use of sexuality, such as to introduce the human person in every aspect, and therefore the bodily aspect too, into the fullness of the mystery of Christ.

It will be very useful to investigate the causes of this phenomenon, including its psychological and sociological aspect, in order to find the proper remedy.


#19

I meant medieval trial marriages, which were actually trial marriages as opposed to cohabitation with sexual relations and little or no intent to marry. The nature of a trial marriage or betrothal was very different depending on the culture; recall the Gospel where Joseph and Mary were betrothed but it was "before they were living together" when she conceived Christ. That, along with other historical evidence, shows that there was a period of living together for couples before the wedding ceremony that was part of the custom in those ancient times. I don't know if that betrothed period included sex or how long it was though. And obviously that's not applicable to today since the Church and her doctrine had yet to be established!

As for medieval trial marriages, I'm a fair medieval historian (well, I have a minor in it anyway) and I don't recall anything about such marriages with the exception of powerful families trying to "ensure" that their children didn't marry sterile spouses. I have no idea what the Church said about those circumstances hundreds of years ago but I doubt very much that they were condoned and such arrangements would certainly not be condoned today, nor should they be.


#20

Mercy Mia I like your post. :thumbsup:

What makes pre-marital sex wrong is that it is not marital sex. Pre-marital sex is a cheap substitute for the real thing!

Many people think that Catholic teachings focus on sex as “bad” or “sinful”, but the Church teaches marital sex is much greater than our culture realizes. If one recognizes the great importance of unitive marital sex–for the good of the couple and the good of society–anything else pales in comparison. The problem with our culture is most people really don’t know how truly great sex can be, so they settle for something less, hurting themselves and society in the process.


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