NAS : Sex!

Our culture is obsessed with sex. With anyone! At anytime! If you want to, just do it! But, the Church teaches that sex was created for the context of marriage. Why do you choose to abstain? Why aren't you going around having sex with just anyone? How would you encourage others to do the same? How do you remain strong when everything in our culture is encouraging you to abandon your convictions?

Although until this point I've just been a lurker in the NAS series, I found that this topic provided me with much food for thought, and so I thought that I'd chime in.  This blog post will mostly answer the question, "Why do I choose to abstain".  

As a teenager and in my early 20s I 'bought into' the abstinence message due to a lot of rhetoric I received from family, church, and studying Theology of the Body.  

As I've grown older, however, I've seen over and over again that women who have sex with their boyfriends find themselves in U-D-E-S-I-R-A-B-L-E situations.  Here's just a few scenarios I've seen in my somewhat limited experience.  (Although the following are pretty personal examples, since this is an anonymous blog I'm sharing them here.)   

  • A friend of mine lived with her boyfriend for about four years, they bought a house together, and were even engaged.  She backed out of the wedding, however, when she discovered that he'd been cheating on her.  In the aftermath of the break-up, she had to foreclose on the house and now suffers from PTSD.
  • Another friend of mine characterized her relationship with her college boyfriend as revolving primarily around sex.  She married him after college and had five children.  He was repeatedly unfaithful, and the couple is now divorced.  She cannot pay her mortgage, and he is in prison for a ponzi scheme.
  • A lady who I nannied for married a man who she had lived with for several years.  Although from all outward appearances the couple seemed happy, he had an odd habit of spending tons of money on himself (buying himself a BMW & expensive skiing equipment) and then griping that his wife would spend $20 on a brand new DVD when she already owned an IPOD (both husband and wife worked as lawyers).
  • My sister just informed me that she's broken up with her boyfriend (a sexual relationship) since he wasn't willing to make a lasting commitment her.  (As a side note, what's quite pathetic about this 'liberated, I-can-have-sex-with-whoever-I-want' woman is that she's literally having to beg a man to marry her!)

(Oh--all of these women are reasonably intelligent, college educated (one ivy league!), & have developed careers, leading me to think that the relationships failed/has deep-seated issues not because each of them made stupid choices with men, but that the sexual nature of the relationship was fundamentally flawed.)

And though not every sexual relationship leads to such unfortunate (and sometimes nightmarish) aftermaths, I've seen these situations arise often enough to recognize a pattern ~ and so having sex outside of a marriage is a bit of a crapshoot for a woman. 

What's absent from all these scenarios above is any sense that a woman would be pursued by a man or set on a pedestal.  And I don't think that it's unrelated to the sexual nature of these relationships.  

John Paul II says something to the effect that a woman who has sex with a man who she's not married to is letting herself be used as a sexual object, even when it's a situation that she seeks out for herself.

Tobit discusses the difference between lusting a woman and loving her sexually; "I take this wife of mine not for lust but for a noble purpose." (Tobit 8:7)  I think that it's more of this lusting nature of man that woman are appealing to when she's deciding to have sex with him before he's decided to marry her. 

I just know that, for myself, I would not choose to enter into a sexual relationship with a man I was not married to since I wouldn't trust that he really loved & respected me. 

I suppose that it's easier said than done, since I do not think that chastity is simply an act of will -- a friend of mine who was struggling to remain chaste with her boyfriend once told me that sex is like crack.   

And on that point I suppose I'll end this post.  I know I haven't discussed the other questions presented but think that I have rambled long enough! 


  1. Good question you raised--does having sex whenever you want make you liberated? Judging by the examples I'd say no!

    1. thanks for your comment, Kate. yes, I think that what some women put up with in order to be in a relationship is just terrifying.

  2. Your post is the antithesis of the recent string of articles by women who wish they hadn't waited until marriage (none of whom are ever Catholic, by the way). Having practical, real-life role models is so important. In your case, you have model of what you *don't* want. I agree that having sex outside of marriage is a crap shoot. I'm no gambler.

    1. where are these articles, Lindsay? yeah, I think that it's easy for a woman to say 'it's ok to have sex before marriage; look at my great relationship' without realizing that her experience represents only a fraction of the reality. thank you for your comment!

    2. Arleen Spenceley posted one abstinence pledge regret on her blog recently: http://arleenspenceley.com/virginitypledge/

    3. oh, interesting article, yeah, it's too bad this young woman received so much mis-information. and I think that she was right to reject this 'Christianity' that had been taught to her since it was pretty flawed. That double-standard stuff is pretty stone age. And to say that if you save sex for marriage that you're marriage will be successful (and vice versa) is a huge fallacy & oversimplification. However, she kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater, and perhaps doesn't really have a personal relationship with Jesus if she could reject her religion so easily. Hmmm.....yeah, in regards to sex I'm pretty happy that I'm a Catholic. It's the only religion that seems to have sensible teachings on the subject.