I am Catholic. I converted about 10 years ago and stopped going to Mass etc. about 3 years ago. I got sick, I had a job, and I was lazy. My faith has always been important to me, whether I’ve been in that Church on Sundays or not. I know that the Catholic Church says I must be there every Sunday to be considered practicing.
The issue I am having now is difficult for me. I am engaged and so excited to marry my best friend in less than a year. And to top it off, he has decided to become a Catholic as well! I am planning to go to confession as soon as possible and begin attending Masses again. I want to do this. I want us to do this together.
My FI and I have had sex. Our relationship actually began as friends, but quickly (like a week into it) turned into a kind of friends-with-benefits sort of arrangement. We had sex and we enjoyed it. Neither of us were looking for a relationship in particular. It was just “fun”.
It wasn’t long at all before we realized we had real feelings for each other. So we transitioned into a “dating” status and we have spent several years getting to know each other and each other’s families (my family adores him). We’ve had sex on and off. Our relationship isn’t based on sex anymore and hasn’t been for years, since we agreed to date.
I feel guilty. I know what the Church says about sex before marriage. I was also on birth control until recently (that’s a whole different issue). I don’t want to go against this faith that I love and do believe. I understand completely why the Church says these things. So does he. We’ve talked about it many times. He’s willing to stop until our wedding and everything. He’s 100% on board.
The problem is… I’m not sure I am. I love my faith. And I love my FI. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am going to marry that man next fall on the best day of our lives. I also know I like having sex with him. I am attracted to him. I’m having a hard time with the idea of stopping.
But I have to. To get married in the Church, I have to be practicing. I want/need to get married in the Church. I’ll regret it forever, if I don’t. I also can’t, in good conscience, lie about being a practicing Catholic. I have to make this happen. I’m just frustrated and disappointed that I have to. And I’m really stuggling not to break the rules.
Has anyone else dealt with something like this? How did you handle it?
I’m with you! I completely agree and understand the Church’s teachings on this, but it is such a challenge! I think it takes a lot of grace, mass and confession, prayer, and trust in God’s love, mercy, and goodness. I try to remember that this teaching is rooted in love, in trying to love well and that the sacrifice can be offered up for the good of my fiance’s soul. Trying to look at the beauty of the Church’s view on sexuality and love, instead of it being this burden, is also encouraging to me. I think that focusing on improving your prayer life (especially with the rosary) and also in penance (fasting, denying yourself in other ways), and in growing with your fiance in prayer and service, your whole relationship with God gets stronger and maybe you have more strength to be chaste. The holiest people I know are also the most beautiful and true witnesses of God’s goodness. They remind me how virtue can be so attractive. I will pray for you and ask for your prayers, as well.
These are some wonderful videos from one of my favorite priests:
Mr. Pockets and I have waited to have sex, which is great, but BOY IS IT DIFFICULT to not have sex!! We’ve messed up with a lot of other stuff, have avoided intercourse, but there are moments that are just downright painful to not do it.
I hear ya though on the not 100% on board. My FH is the one who’s much more dedicated to our chastity than I am. Honestly, I’m still working through the process for why for me chastity isn’t always important.
I agree with @vanessa7 and she provided some great advice!
If you ever want to PM when the going gets rough and we can chat and be each other’s support. I know I need someone to chat with sometimes about it all.
We stopped for seven months and it was SO difficult. The only way we were able to do it was with God’s help. I fought with the idea for a while and really didn’t want to stop but I felt really convicted. Like I said, we ended up stopped for seven months and it was grreat for our relationship. Good luck!
Maybe it would help to understand the *why’s* of not having sex? I didn’t check out those videos above, but they are probably really good. There’s also lots you can read; try starting with Christopher West, his most basic book is “The Good News About Sex and Marriage.” (Not that it’s basic=boring. Rather, it’s FABULOUS and discusses many very interesting controversial topics.)
I struggle with the same thing too, OP. When FI and I started dating I was in a bit of a faith lull, so I didn’t really have a problem with us having sex. But recently we have both become more in tune with our faith, but it’s kind of hard to put that cat back in the bag. We keep trying. We also keep failing. Honestly, I’m just excited to be married in 5 months so we can have sex and not feel bad about it (obviously not the only reason I’m excited to be married, but it’s definitely on the list!).
But as for you not being a practicing Catholic, all that requires is going to Mass and confession. Practicing Catholics, like every person ever, are sinners. Loads of practicing catholics have pre-marital sex, use contraception, tell lies, are unkind. That doesn’t make them not practicing Catholics.
I’m a bad Catholic in more ways than one, but I haven’t stopped having sex and I don’t like a horrible person… I still love Christ more than ever, and I’m happy to be married in his home. However, this is probably very non-catholic of me to admit this…but sexuality is a gift from God to be loved and cherished. I don’t want to step on any toes, but to me, God is everything that is love. And to care so deeply about someone and to share that feeling in unity is not sinful to me. I know many disagree, and I know I’m not being very helpful. But if you do want to practice chastity, I fully support you and I wish you the best of luck to fight temptations, you are stronger than you know.
@Vintagekay: Sometimes I think this way too or it makes it harder for me to understand why it’s sinful, after all, we love each other, we aren’t using each other, we’re going to be married one day. It can be so frustrating! At the end of the day though, I think you have to trust that the Church’s teachings are grounded in truth and demand our obedience, which isn’t easy at all. I’m not saying we should be blindly obedient or not be rational about it and try to understand the Church’s reasons for the teaching, but sometimes I just have to accept that God knows what’s best for me, and that real love is demanding.
I love these quotes:
“All love on this earth involves choice. When, for example, a young man expresses his love to a young woman and asks her to become his wife, he is not just making an affirmation of love; he is also negating his love for anyone else. In that one act by which he chooses her, he rejects all that is not her. There is no other real way in which to prove we love a thing than by choosing it in preference to something else. Word and signs of love may be, and often are, expressions of egotism or passion; but deeds are proofs of love. We can prove we love our Lord only by choosing Him in preference to anything else.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen
I have to remember that choosing Christ requires me to surrender my will to him.
This one too: “Trust the Church of God implicitly even when your natural judgment would take a different course from hers and would induce you to question her prudence or correctness. Recollect what a hard task she has; how she is sure to be criticized and spoken against, whatever she does; recollect how much she needs your loyal and tender devotion; recollect, too, how long is the experience gained over so many centuries, and what a right she has to claim your assent to principles which have had so extended and triumphant a trial. Thank her that she has kept the faith safe for so many generations and do your part in helping her to transmit it to generations after you…O long sought-after desire of the eyes, joy of the heart, the truth after many shadows, the fullness after many foretastes, the home after many storms–come to her, poor wanderers, for she it is, and she alone, who can unfold the meaning of your being and the secret of your destiny.”-Blessed John Henry Newman
I hope this doesn’t come off as preachy because I completely feel like that sometimes, but I try to remember this stuff.
Your faith can’t be THAT important to you if you can’t not have sex for that long. I’m sorry to be judgemental. Nowadays people want the best of both worlds and that’s not how religion is meant to work In MY opinion.
@meetmethere2013: Can I ask why? The original intent of a “no sex before marriage” rule was to protect women in an age where it was much worse to get left with a baby. In the modern age we have other ways to project against women being kicked around that way, so the rule is really no longer required. Not only can women protect themselves, but engagement periods are significantly longer now than they were when the rule was put in place. You got married MUCH more quickly — often days or weeks after the business was decided, not months or years.
So in that event, isn’t the rule a bit oudated? If a couple is committed to spending the rest of their lives together, does it really matter if they’ve had the party yet or not?
@meetmethere2013: I don’t think it’s really fair for you to claim you have some sort of objective view of her inner life. By saying her faith can’t be that important to her, you’re essentially saying that you, a stranger on the internet, know her better than she does. Her relationship with God is beteween her and God.
If we were going to rule out people who still struggle with unchastity as having their faith be not important to them, we have to rule out St. Augustine and say his faith wasn’t important for him. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not wiling to say that…
Judge not lest you be judged. Live and let live. No reason to say something mean on the internet. It’s not going to make her change and it’s not going to make her life any beter, so why do it?
@meetmethere2013: I get what you’re saying totally. Churches are overrought with hypocracy these days. And attack me if you will, not no one can keep it in their pants within the church.
My best friends wedding ceremony just tanked because the minister of 30 years was finally outted for having affairs with his congregation for decades. Therefore she had to have some last minute fill in who couldn’t even pronounce their names.
And I hate to say this, I was born and raised Christian and going to church, but those who claimed to be the most “Christian” and from Christian families were always the first to have sex or get pregnant or do drugs. Not all, there are good Christian folks out there. But many stand there in judgement of others because they’re gay or poor or whatever else.
I’m not saying anything about the OP. I don’t know her, and I applaud her for at least wanting to stop having sex. However, don’t bring religion up if you don’t want to get at least some people with opposing views. Religion has been a blood sport for centuries.
I apologize to anyone I offended. I am hurt that my bridesmaid who claims to be super ultra Christian is having yet another baby with another guy she barely knows and not coming to my wedding beause of it. That is where that comment came from and I apologize to OP as I do not know you or how you value your faith. That’s my own issues talking.
@vanessa7, thanks for sharing! And it’s not preachy, if God is love than it’s important to embrace that. I think I am definitely drifting from the church and I’m going through a re-discovery phase. I’ve actually been uneasy over the church for 2 years now. We didn’t wait for sex, but we did wait for a wedding. We’ve been together over 5 years, and I can understand waiting a year for sexual relations, but I guess I don’t exactly ‘believe’ in all the church’s rules. And I have never taken the bible word-for-word (not to upset, just to be honest). I think about God and pray constantly in my life, and I try to be a good person to others…I stetch myself in my own ways and limitations, but I have a hard time fitting into the church’s box. I just want to love God with all my soul and body and cherish every second of life on earth awaiting the promised land. Now THAT sounds preachy, but being spiritual to me is more than what the church ‘expects’ me to be.
@Vintagekay: I’m sorry you’ve been uneasy! 🙂 I’ve been with my fiance for years now and it’s hard to be patient! I still feel like I’m trying to understand the teachings on sex with regards to union/procreation. I get that sex can’t be reduced to procreation, but I guess in my head it’s hard to separate the two aspects and also trying to understand what being “open to life” means. I do whole-heartedly believe that the Church’s rules aren’t there to box us in, but to give us freedom to order our loves well towards the good, but trying to understand it all is a struggle. I think God knows what is in our hearts and knows that we desire to please Him.
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