4.20 Is 'no sex before marriage' old-fashioned?
The most intimate way in which a man and a woman can express and experience their love is in their sexual relationship. Here they give themselves completely to each other, and become truly one. From this sexual union children can be born, who are best raised in a family.
For these and other timeless reasons, it is still relevant today to reserve sex for marriage. After all, marriage is all about true love and faithfulness: the main ingredients for truly successful sex.
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The Wisdom of the Church
What are the goods of conjugal love to which sexuality is ordered?
The goods of conjugal love, which for those who are baptized is sanctified by the sacrament of Matrimony, are unity, fidelity, indissolubility, and an openness to the procreation of life. [CCCC 495]
What is the meaning of the conjugal act?
The conjugal act has a twofold meaning: unitive (the mutual self-giving of the spouses) and procreative (an openness to the transmission of life). No one may break the inseparable connection which God has established between these two meanings of the conjugal act by excluding one or the other of them. [CCCC 496]
What are the essential elements of Christian marriage?
- Unity: Marriage is a covenant that by its very nature brings about bodily, intellectual, and spiritual union between a man and a woman;
- Indissolubility: Marriage lasts “until death do us part”;
- Openness to offspring: Every marriage must be open to children;
- Commitment to the spouse’s welfare.
If one of the two spouses deliberately excludes one of the four points listed above at the time of their wedding, the sacrament of Matrimony does not take place. [Youcat 416]
What significance does the sexual encounter have within marriage?
According to God’s will, husband and wife should encounter each other in bodily union so as to be united ever more deeply with one another in love and to allow children to proceed from their love.
In Christianity, the body, pleasure, and erotic joy enjoy a high status: “Christianity … believes that matter is good, that God himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty and our energy. Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once” (C. S. Lewis). Pleasure, of course, is not an end in itself. When the pleasure of a couple becomes self-enclosed and is not open to the new life that could result from it, it no longer corresponds to the nature of love. [Youcat 417]
This is what the Church Fathers say
The Lord, being invited, did come to the marriage [in Cana], to confirm conjugal chastity, and to show forth the sacrament of marriage. For the bridegroom in that marriage, to whom it was said, 'You have kept the good wine until now' (Jn. 2:10), represented the person of the Lord. For the good wine - namely, the gospel - Christ has kept until now. [St. Augustine, On the Gospel of St. John, 9:2 (ML 35, 1459)]