by Theresa Notare
February 7, 2003
"What's so wrong about sex outside of marriage?" many young adults ask today. "It's so natural," they say, "so how could it be bad?" "It feels so good, why not enjoy it?" "We love each other, so why not?" "We're not hurting anyone."
It's easy for all of us to be overwhelmed with the "sex is natural–so do it!" message of our culture. Maybe we can't fight the pleasure factor–who will listen? And we have to realize that people today, especially young people, are used to sound bites for answers.
The truth about sex, as God has designed it, has a difficult time competing for attention in this climate. Words need to be found that will cut through the current cultural mind-set and not only teach but inspire. Where can we find such words? How do we know as Christians that sex belongs in marriage? Here's one answer:
Have you not heard that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female? .... For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall become as one. Thus they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined. (Mt. 19:4-6)It is Jesus who said this. He said that sex is natural because God the Creator made it. He takes this matter back to the beginning–the way God wanted it to be. Sex is good, responds the Lord God. And right after creating humanity in His own image, God instructs them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply'...." (Gen. 1:28) Jesus reminds us, "Thus they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined."(Mt. 19:6-7)
So sex is "exclusive," meaning that it is between one man and one woman–forever. And "let no man separate what God has joined" rules out sex for single people. So if you think you're not hurting anyone–how about yourself? Remember, God made the bond to work one way–to be exclusive with one person. Sex is the most complete "body language"expressing that union. To falsify this meaning is to fragment yourself.
Sex, the way God made it and wanted it to be, includes openness to children. Forgetting this hurts not only ourselves but our children too. God's "Be fertile and multiply" means we must not ignore the possibility of children. At the same time, God also created women to have only a few days in each cycle when they can achieve pregnancy. It's His design for family planning.
Because we believe in Jesus and the God who sent Him, we should incorporate these beliefs into who we are as a people. The messages of our culture are not completely off base–sex is the good thing we think it is. But as Christians we take it further–it's good because God made it for marriage–"and the two shall be one."
Theresa Notare is the Assistant Director of the Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.