You Will Get Pregnant and Die: 4 Better Reasons to Wait

It’s not hard to make an argument for chastity. After all, STDs are terrifying and unplanned pregnancies aren’t ideal. And there are the statistics that show increased depression in sexually active teens and increased rates of divorce among those who had multiple sexual partners. But if you’ve ever been in love, you know that scare tactics won’t work. “It won’t happen to us,” you think, and rightly so. You ought to be so deeply in love that you think nothing can go wrong. That’s a good thing—at the beginning. But it means that our explanation of the importance of chastity has to be more than cherry-picked statistics intended to terrify teens into super-gluing their pants on.

Pregnant and dieI spoke with a young friend recently who is really struggling with chastity. She and her boyfriend are in love and in a committed relationship. They’re both strong Catholics who know that it’s wrong to sleep together outside of marriage, but she wanted a little more of the why. Now bear in mind that these arguments aren’t directed at the unchurched but at those who are really striving to do God’s will. If you’re not coming at them from that perspective, they might not be terribly compelling. But for those of us who are seeking chastity not just to avoid dying of a terrible venereal disease and going to hell but in order to glorify God, I think they might help.1

1. Sex renews the covenant of marriage. Sex isn’t just fun—although I’m told it is that. Sex is the sign of the covenant of marriage. Every covenant2 is renewed by a repeated action, an action that reminds each party of their commitment, an action by which they recommit themselves. In God’s covenant with Adam, it was the Sabbath.3 In the covenant with Moses, it was the Passover meal. In the covenant with Jesus, it’s the Eucharist4 and in the covenant of marriage, it’s consummation.

Like this couple:  married 60 plus years, 9 children, 25 grandchildren and 40 plus great-grandchildren. Now THAT's love!

Like this couple: married 60 plus years, 9 children, 25 grandchildren and 40 plus great-grandchildren. Now THAT’s love!

Renewing your vows is a beautiful gesture, but it’s just that: a gesture. Even when a couple celebrating 60 years together repeats their vows with tears of joy in their eyes, it’s just a symbol; it doesn’t do anything. The way you renew the covenant of marriage is by saying with your bodies what you said with your vows: I give myself completely to you forever.

Sex makes a marriage; sex outside of marriage isn’t just sin, it’s sacrilege. It’s renewing a covenant that doesn’t exist, like receiving the Eucharist if you’re not baptized or wandering in to a Seder meal, grabbing some lamb, and walking on through to flip through the paper in the other room. It’s more than just rude—it’s wrong.

If this incredible act of love was created for marriage (not just restricted to marriage), to create and renew and strengthen marriage, it just doesn’t make sense in any other context.

2. Sex is a sign of God’s love. Sex didn’t have to be awesome. God could very easily have designed human beings without family. Even with marriage and procreation, sex didn’t have to be an ecstatic, all-encompassing gift of self. He designed sex as a shadowy image of his love for us. It’s a foretaste of heaven. And the marriage that it consummates is a sign of God’s covenant with each human soul. The purpose of sex is to show you how deeply God loves you: a love that is indissoluble, for better or for worse. When you give yourself completely to your spouse, you experience a sliver of the complete self-emptying of God for you and (God willing) you begin to give yourself to him in return.

Look how excited they are to have said forever!

Look how excited they are to have said forever!

But when we engage in sex outside of marriage, we give ourselves completely to one who has no obligation to us, one who could–theoretically–use us and move on. Our relationship is necessarily tinged with uncertainty and even shame. We are giving ourselves but there’s no guarantee of tomorrow. Even if you’re absolutely certain that you’re going to get married, “Baby, I’ma love you forever” in the heat of the moment is very different from standing up before God, your momma, and everyone and saying “until death do us part.” You may mean forever but you haven’t vowed it and your heart knows that.

What does this tell us about God’s love for us? In this context, our experience of self-giving always has reservations–”for now,” we say, or “but not my fertility.” Our consummate experience of love is absolutely conditional. It has no flavor of eternity or surrender or promised sacrifice. And so we begin to feel that God’s love must also be conditional. He loves us as long as we’re young or beautiful or innocent or loveable. This damages our ability to love each other and our ability to receive God’s love.

Certainly even married sex is never perfect. There are conditions to the love of fallen man, fears and insecurities. But the vows you made are strengthened by God and the ideal is possible because of his grace. It is that ideal that speaks–in the thrill of married love–of the unending love of the great Lover of souls. Don’t cheat yourself of that.

3. You owe it to your children. I knew an agnostic teenage girl once who told me that she wasn’t going to have sex until she was married.5 “I owe it to my children,” she said, “to give them a father.”

This girl knew in her gut that sex isn’t just about pleasure or even just about love. It’s about family. It’s about a love so strong that it brings new life. And that new life deserves the stability of married parents.

Be warned: sometimes 1 + 1 = 4. Just ask my sister.

Be warned: sometimes 1 + 1 = 4. Just ask my sister.

But it’s not just that you might get pregnant. After all, you might not. And even if you did, you might end up happily married for many years. This isn’t a consequentialist view of morality6 but one that looks at the inherent purpose of an act, not merely its consequences. Sex is about family. Sex outside of the context of family (even a family of two) is disordered. Remember that sex is one image of the Trinity–two Persons whose love for one another is so strong it becomes a third Person. If it’s outside of marriage and openness to family, it’s closed in on you two and not about a love that spills forth to the world. This act of complete self-gift becomes an act of selfishness. That will begin to take its toll on your love.

4. Chastity prepares you for a healthy, happy marriage. I don’t mean to come out all roses and butterflies about how pleasant and happy marriage is. I know too many married people to think that a healthy marriage is all smiles all the time. Marriage is hard. And so is chastity–before marriage and after marriage. When I’m asking you to be chaste, I understand that it seems a Herculean task, especially when you’re in love. It takes a lot of work, months and even years of self-control and self-sacrifice, of patience and communication, of fortitude and purity and respect, obedience, and selflessness. If you’re going to make it to the altar unsullied, you’ll have to work and work and work at these virtues.

Because "happily ever after" is just the beginning.

Because “happily ever after” is just the beginning.

Fortunately, these are exactly the virtues that you need for a strong marriage. That patience and selflessness and self-control is exactly what’s going to hold your marriage together during the tough times. And after a few years of absolute celibacy while dating the love of your life, celibacy on a business trip or with a good friend who suddenly seems like more won’t be quite so tough. Marriage isn’t a magic wand that makes it possible for you to be chaste but if you’ve trained yourself in self-control, fidelity in marriage will be a lot easier.

I often hear people argue that premarital sex is actually a good idea as it’s practice for marriage. You know what’s really practice for marriage? Doing what’s right even when it’s hard. Sacrificing and communicating and learning how to be strong for each other. Chastity is the best practice for marriage. Love your partner enough to wait.

 

Now, obviously God is merciful and people and relationships can be healed. You’re not SOL because you messed up, even if you messed up repeatedly and unrepentantly. Where sin abounds, grace abounds the more.7 But if you’re at a crossroads and you’re wondering if it’s worth fighting this overwhelming desire, it is. I promise you won’t regret it.

  1. Note: there’s only so much nuancing that can be done in a blog post. It’s already too long. I love you and I’m not judging you! []
  2. Remember that religion class vocab word? Irrevocable exchange of persons. []
  3. So take a real Sabbath this Sunday! It’s God’s gift of love to you. []
  4. Which, of course, is also the Passover meal. []
  5. Well, she said “in a permanent relationship” because she didn’t believe in marriage, but it comes to the same thing. []
  6. The idea that the morality of an act depends entirely on its consequences. []
  7. Rom 5:20 []

You might also enjoy:

About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
This entry was posted in Goodness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to You Will Get Pregnant and Die: 4 Better Reasons to Wait

  1. Kelsey says:

    Hi Meg;

    I’ve been reading your blog posts for a while, but this one hits so close to home that I have to comment. Everything you say here makes me hopeful, as a young woman who has been having many, many problems with chastity. One question I have though: regarding your last paragraph about being able to turn around and start over, do you think that applies to couples as well as individuals? All the chastity advice that I’ve received implies that you can repent and start again, but that the relationship where the immorality happened is probably too broken to be saved.

    • Meg says:

      I’m so glad this post was helpful to you, Kelsey! As far as your question, it’s a hard one. I would say (gut reaction) that nothing is irredeemable in Christ. BUT it would take a lot. First and foremost, you BOTH have to be absolutely convicted of your sin and totally committed to chastity. If one of you is trying to drag the other along, it won’t work. Second, you both need to go to confession and to keep going back regularly even when you’re not messing up. Third, you need to step your physicality way back–probably to nothing. Don’t get anywhere near that line and it’ll be easier not to cross it. In general, I’d say your best bet is to break up and practice chastity alone for a year before getting back together, but that’s not always the best option. Certainly I’d limit it to chaste kisses (like you’d have with your grandma) and be absolutely certain that you’re never anywhere alone together. Remove the opportunity to fall and it’ll be easier to stay strong. And, of course, pray, pray, pray! I’m working on a post with practical advice for chastity, so stay tuned. But I don’t think you necessarily HAVE to give up on a relationship because of where it’s been. Good luck, friend–I’m praying for you!

      • Kaylie says:

        For Kelsey: Wow. Meg, in my experience, is spot on in her reply.

        Some additions:
        1) Trust your instinct if you believe God is leading you one way or another regarding your relationship. (Sure, people can often help you figure it out. But God alone truly knows whether your relationship is best continued or not, definitely listen to him and your gut feelings.)
        Even in my case where God lead me to continue with my now-husband, it is one heck of a challenge to get back to a healthy sexual relationship after doing it the wrong way. I’d advise to only undertake repairing that relationship if you believe you have the blessing (go ahead) of God. I’d say both you and your partner should spend a dedicated period individually praying about this. Again, trust your instincts no matter what.
        2) In the case you get a yes from God and your guy commits to it, too, it doesn’t mean he will be able to walk the walk all the time. In my case, my fiance agreed to wait for sex but he was often wanting to be physical/intimate in other ways and it really wore on me to have to constantly say no. Even when I would confront him about this, it didn’t have a huge effect. So just be prepared for that. I think it’s harder for guys so Meg’s advice about not being alone together and scaling the boundaries waaay back is probably a good idea so you don’t have to struggle with the issue so much!

        My Story: My now-husband and I lost our virginity to each other as seniors in high school. After graduation, we couldn’t make our relationship last once we moved away to different colleges in different states. During our years apart, we each came to have a passionate faith in God. When we got back together as 20-somethings, we both wanted to do things differently in the physical department. At first, this meant avoiding sex… but we did plenty of other sexual things. Over time I realized it still wasn’t right and it was hurting our relationship, so I told him we really have to honor God. (One of those times where you realize God’s ways really are best.) We stepped things back even more (way less sexual but still physically intimate) yet it still didn’t seem like we’d gotten to the right place. I researched the topic of even cohabiting online (to figure out whether he should spend the night anymore) and when I read someone say, “You shouldn’t mock the marriage bed”, I realized that all of sexual intimacy belongs in marriage. If one finds themselves just trying to find loopholes (keeping clothes on, spooning, whatever) I think they’re missing the point. Once one sees the spirit behind God’s laws and understands the point of them, it’s easier to figure out what one should do. I decided I wanted us to behave in a way we could be proud of to our future children. It was very personal decision, but it turns out I wasn’t satisfied until we would only hold hands, if laying in bed together. (This sounds pretty funny to a girl that was raised on MTV, in a high school where everyone was doing it and had multiple sexual partners, unfortunately). It came time that we got engaged. I was unsure about marrying him so I sought the Lord in prayer multiple times, desperately. God doesn’t always answer prayer directly, but in this matter he finally did and once he answered my prayers we got married (and I’m so glad we did). That being said, I had hoped that if we had reformed ourselves and waited for marriage, that everything would be great once we were married. Well, getting married isn’t a magic wand that fixes things. In our case, we are still having to work our way toward a healthy sexual relationship even in marriage. But we know we’re where we’re supposed to be and pursuing a good thing so we have patience.

        I shared all of this with you Kelsey to show that 1) it is a rocky but possible path and 2) we followed God and God worked with us. Do you love the Lord and trust that He wants the best for you? Then go in the way he is leading you. He will bring you to a better place. I love the question, “Does [this decision] bring me closer to or farther away from God?”

        I think you are on a great track to be reading Catholic perspectives on love and sex because they are very wise, in my opinion. Your circumstances are different than mine and anyone else’s but God’s truths are always true. All the best to you and God bless!

  2. Chad says:

    Meg, this was a very good post. As a recently married man, I would say that an additional point to add is the psychological/physiological element of retaining certain things until marriage. Sex is powerful, and people (especially men) form strong associations. But, it’s not just sex, it’s sleeping in the same bed, living in the same house, etc. If these are things that you don’t do before you are married, and only do once you have been married, there is a much stronger psychological bond that forms. In that case, living together, sleeping in the same bed and having sex are all tied up with getting/being married. If you don’t associate sex with anything but marriage, it will be easier to avoid temptation to seek it later outside of marriage.

  3. Meg,

    I am a 42 year old married man, who works as a Coordinator of Youth Ministry and Director of Religious Education, and I haven’t read anything so perfect about the sanctity of marriage and sex, since I read the “Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West right after I got out of college. I have been trying to write this post for about two months now, and I know I couldn’t have even come close to this. It is very clear to me the day after we celebrated Saint Therese, that she is still working in heaven to reach us, and for me, this just happened through you. Of course, with a little help from my Guardian Angel. Thanks so much, and I am already sharing the article from Catholic Lane, and I will be following your blog with much interest. God bless you!

    Jason

  4. Hi Meg! I agree with Jason. This is excellent. I will be sharing this in The Veil of Chastity. Thank you! Cindy
    Cindy@ The Veil of Chastity recently posted…Should Women Pursue Men?My Profile

  5. John Morgan says:

    Excellent Meg. Fifty years ago, it was assumed everybody waited until marriage. Now it’s something unusual. It’s just assumed that everybody has been there and done that. Young people today need encouraging words like these from those of us who have waited a little longer. While they may be effective to a certain extent, they shouldn’t have to read “after the fact” stories from celebrity couples who are already married – while there are real world people willing to tell their story. Thanks for writing this.

  6. steroids says:

    My business is actually empowered together with your creating skillsets as well as with the design for your weblog. Is that this a paid topic and also would you modify them by yourself? At any rate remain within the excellent quality creating, it really is rare to determine an incredible blog site such as this one at present.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge