Marriage. The most sacred promise two people can make to each other; a holy union recognized and blessed by the Lord; a testimony to the true gift of oneself and to a lifelong commitment that will withstand the test of time. This magnificent unification is arguably one of the most beautiful symbols of hope in a time of chaos and confusion within modern-day society.
Every little girl dreams of walking down the aisle in a billowing white gown to meet the love of her life. She imagines the bouncy curls that will peak out from under her lace veil, the peach pink matching bridesmaids’ dresses, and the heartfelt dance she will share with her father. She envisions her handsome husband – a fellow who has got it all together. Easy on the eyes, with the ideal job, quick wit, and an all around “good guy” reputation. But at some point, in life a girl grows up and realizes what she truly and sincerely seeks above all else: a man of God.
It can be easy to fall head over heels in a short amount of time with just an “I love you” and a whole lot of flattery from a boyfriend. Upon adopting the belief that this boy does in fact love the girl, any boundaries that she had entering the relationship are quickly broken down. Physical intimacy, an aspect of the relationship that used to be treated with self-control, is transformed into an assumed routine, and the respect for the dignity and sacredness of the body is abandoned. The struggle of living a chaste life is not limited to younger individuals. Engaged couples who are preparing for marriage also face temptations. These couples often reason that because they know that they are committed to each other, that having sex is appropriate. However, if they engage in this marital act before they are married, their actual marriage is not set apart from the time of preparation. When living in a world that encourages instant gratification, self-pleasure, and hedonism, it can be easy to fall susceptible to the desire to give yourself completely to someone else whenever you please. But we cannot fall slaves to this destructive mentality.
In third grade, my parents sat me down and gave me the “Birds and the Bees” talk. I was fortunate enough to learn about sex and the beauty of this holy act in a Catholic context. This talk has the potential to be uncomfortable, and certainly brought about some giggles, but it is such a necessary conversation to have with children. My dad shared a story with me that made me recognize the importance of waiting for marriage. After my dad proposed to my mom, he payed two rents for separate apartments for them to live in. He was a broke grad-school student, but he was committed to saving the gift of his sexuality for his wife. This was a huge financial sacrifice, but one that he is grateful he made. Twenty-two years later, my parents have five children and share a zeal for life and a love for the Lord.
Sex is a beautiful act. Two people sharing an intimate experience, intertwining their hearts, making themselves completely vulnerable. When people scorn Catholics for waiting for marriage, they often claim that we “hate sex.” This could not be farther from the truth. Sex is a beautiful act, a sacred act, and a good act. Sacred things are set apart – reserved for something special, for something greater. Think of a diary for instance. An intimate, private collection of one’s most vulnerable thoughts and experiences. One would not share such a special part of themselves with everyone, only with someone that can be trusted and respected with such a gift.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes the true gift of human sexuality. Fornication, or sex outside of marriage, is considered “gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality…” (CCC 2353). This statement refers to our intrinsic dignity as human beings and children of God. We are made in the image and likeness of God – the Architect of the entire Universe. We somehow resemble Him even in His great Glory, and we deserve to be treated with respect and uphold our innate human dignity. Fornication, however, threatens our dignity and steals our sexuality like a thief in the night.
In the order of creation, the Catechism identifies God as the author of marriage. God is all knowing and always good. Therefore, He only constructs things that produce goodness, truth, and beauty. He has a plan for each of His children that exceeds any plan they could imagine themselves. Many people experience heartbreak and feel used after they lose their virginity to someone who breaks up with them soon after. These painful emotions are a result of the misuse of our sexuality, a gift freely given by God.
After growing in my relationship with the Lord, He has revealed how significant the gift of my purity is. Although it saddens me to see the brokenness in others after losing their virginity prior to marriage, I have hope. I keep a journal for my future husband, fully accepting that God could have other plans for me. Women, I encourage you all to do the same. Document your emotions, develop qualities you seek in a spouse, and write a covenant to them. It is easier to wait for marriage when you have acknowledged the commitment. Men, surround yourself with men of character, who lead you to Jesus, and who acknowledge the beauty and dignity of women. Make the conscious decision to form yourself into the husband that you want to be. And to both men and women, prepare yourselves to serve and to love. Take your vocation to prayer. If the Lord reveals to you that he is calling you to be a wife or a husband, reflect on the qualities that you seek in a spouse. As humans, we fall from grace daily. It is never too late to commit or recommit oneself to waiting for marriage. If it is God’s will, He has designed a spouse that will love you and honor you for the rest of your life.
Rise to the challenge, hold your head high, and find joy in trusting in the Lord!