Life Unexpected. Immorality Accepted. True Love Rejected. – Part 2
In my last blog on the television show Life Unexpected, I discussed how the show portrays cohabitation and why the Church teaches what she does regarding living with your significant other before marriage.
In this blog, I will be discussing fornication and the teaching of Holy Mother Church.
Throughout the show, fornication is a constant. Two of the main characters, Baze and Cate, had sex while in high school and Cate became pregnant with and gave birth to his child. Cate and her fiance Ryan sleep together before being married. After Cate and Baze get their daughter back (at which point Cate and Baze are not together) Cate and Baze sleep together. Ryan finds out about this, breaks up with his then fiancee Cate, and goes and sleeps with his old girlfriend, Julia. It later comes to their knowledge that Julia is pregnant with Ryan’s child. Baze sleeps with multiple women throughout the series, his father cheats on his mother, and the list goes on and on. You get the picture. While this happens, they all hide it from one another. Whenever the truth then comes out, mostly by accident, it destroys the relationship between the parties involved. They feel betrayed, hurt, and cannot figure out why the other would do it. The other party makes excuses. It wounds their hearts, yet they still do it.
Fornication is defined as:
1. Voluntary sexual intercourse outside of marriage
2. law voluntary sexual intercourse between two persons of the opposite sex, where one is or both are unmarried
3. Bible sexual immorality in general, esp adultery
Likewise, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that ”2353 Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.”
David Bohr describes very well in his book, Catholic Moral Tradition, how our relationships should look when he says that, “created in the image and likeness of God who is a tri-unity of loving relationships, the human person, as an embodied spirit, mirrors that image in the quality of his or her relationships.” He goes on to say that ,”the Christian story or tradition discloses the spousal significance of the body, presented in the Book of Genesis as God’s plan ‘from the beginning.’ Thus we read: ‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body’ (Gen 2:24). The total giving of a man and woman to each other is expressed through the genital act.”
The reason that fornication does so much damage to those that engage in it is because
“2361 Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.” <http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm>
So, sexual love is meant to be ordered toward unity and procreation between spouses. Couples engaging in fornication are not truly united as they have not become one in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It is especially difficult when the breakups happen because those persons fornicating have engaged in an act meant to be engaged in by married persons who have vowed to be one until death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church supports this when it says that ”2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.”
God knows engaging in sexual acts outside of marriage will eventually hurt us. It is how He wired us. Sure, engaging in sexual acts outside of holy matrimony may feel good – but only in the moment. God knows how much it will destroy our hearts, piece by piece, and so, God calls us to be chaste for love of him, and love of each other. Again the Catechism states that “2348 All the baptized are called to chastity. The Christian has “put on Christ,” the model for all chastity. All Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his Baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity.”
The Catechism goes on to say that:
“2349 “People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single.” Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence:
There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.
It is important to note that for couples who are engaged to marry, they are not married, and are still called to live chastely according to their state of life. The Catechism states that:
2350 Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.”
David Bohr gives a great summary of the damage that can and does occur from premarital sexual activity, when he says, “outside this ‘definitive community of life’ called marriage, however personally gratifying or well-intended, genital sexual intimacy is objectively morally wrong. Relational misunderstandings and break-ups, the sense of being used or betrayed, the trauma of unexpected pregnancies, sometimes followed by abortion, constitute some of the real personal harm that can result from sexual intimacy expressed apart from the bonds and fidelity of marriage.”
Marriage between a Christian man and woman is intended to be a sign of Christ’s love for his Church. Let us take to heart what this really means for all of us, in all of our respective states of life, and pray for those who do not really know the true joy of the sacrament of marriage, both those who are married and unmarried. If you are someone who has experienced this, or are currently experiencing this pain, know there is hope in Jesus Christ, and mercy through the Sacraments. Listen to Christ as He said to Mary Magdalene “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”.
To be continued . . .