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Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P.
Premarital Sex

     One reason for avoiding pre¬marital sex is that it is a danger to the heart. And I don't mean a coronary. It affects one's ability to give and receive love, to grow in love. And that is at the core of the mystery of life.

     We could compare this to a little boy who is learning to play the piano. After ten lessons he is able to plunk out his first tune. Everybody applauds. He thinks he has arrived. And he never goes on to learning anything else. He stops his development, continues to play his one song, and never learns what real music is all about. So, too, one who gets sexually involved before marriage could easily be led to believe that the chase and the conquest, the excitement, the performance, the "romance," is really what living in love is all about. Premature involvement can make one a dwarf in this crucial area of life.

     Good sex is possible in marriage because of the atmosphere. The ingredients of that atmosphere are security, trust and openness.

     Security.  "You are my husband (or my wife), my one-and-only." This means that despite the failures, frustrations and rejections of everyday life, one is confident that there will always be someone who cares, who wants to understand, and who will stand by. This is a solemn promise. It gives one the peace of mind and the foun¬dational assurance that a life can be built upon. Because of the sexual exclusion of others, in¬tensity of love is possible. This love will have a unique personal history. It holds the promise of a future.

     Next, trust. What a precious gift! If someone believes in you and has in¬vested his/her life in you, this fills you with confidence. In marriage there is a mutual pledge, "for better or for worse." Husband and wife can pour themselves out, -- thoughts, words, feelings, dreams, fears, chaff and grain together. And "a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."  There need be no fear of rejection. They can let themselves become important to each other. Safeguarded from being exploited, they can give themselves more and more to each other. They can be real.

     Finally, openness. This stems from the promise, "till death do us part." It is one of the most mind¬-blowing of human experiences to deeply know someone and be known in return. This takes time. A lifetime is too short. There is wisdom in the wedding song, "We've only just begun." Most couples on their wedding day have only the beginning of love, which we call "romance." They have "fallen in love." True love grows slowly. Barriers to intimacy are removed gently. New dimensions of the beloved's personality are discovered gradually. The skills and sophistications of sexual union are a long series of new begin¬nings. Love is never entirely fulfilled, but always capable of fuller blossoming. A permanent commitment makes this process possible.

     Security is not available in pre¬marital sex. There is no promise. There is no total gift of self. One never knows what the future holds with this individual. Lots of anxiety results.

     Trust is not there. If someone feels free to have sex with you before marriage, that person may also be having sex with someone else. You don't know. Jealousy results. Suspicion. And holding back. Trust is a beautiful gift exchanged between husband and wife. It is not easy to come by.
     Openness is out. The gentle and mutual discovery of each other takes time. Unless there is a lifetime commitment there is little incentive to master com¬munication, overcome difficulties, and progress to a new stage.

     It is difficult to feel secure, to trust the other (and oneself), and to freely reveal oneself, if one engages in sex before marriage.

     God created the body and all its parts. He created sexuality. He knows its possibilities. He knows the level of fulfillment and joy that life offers to those who use his gifts correctly. So sex before marriage is surrounded by cautions and safeguards precisely to make the heart capable of real and even profound love in marriage.

     A wedding ceremony doesn't guarantee marital success. It's a beginning, a promise of love made in the presence of the community. The couple enlists the support of this community to build a life of love. And in this pledged life together there is a guarantee of God's faithful love for the husband, the wife, and the family.

Peace and blessings,

Fr. Alan