Questions from Sexual Morality talk on Feb 11, 1997
More material on the topic of Sexual Morality may be found on the following pages:
Premarital Sex and “fooling around”
Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead? (Not specifically on sex)
Also recommended (notes from classes):
The following are some questions from the high school students in the C.C.D. program at Blessed Sacrament Church. The questions have been edited for clarity and profanity has been changed to general terms. Similar questions have been grouped, and one response written. You can send more questions anonymously through the guestbook. Time ran out during the talk, and so we didn’t get to discuss the questions that were written down, even though they were very important, so here at least are some answers. We may get a chance to get together in smaller numbers later, and we can discuss these then, too. Some additional places for information are at the end of this page. Not all of the questions were on sexual morality. There are additional questions and answers on our home page.
For non-Catholic readers: we consider you our brothers and sisters in the Lord, although separated. Most Christian churches are in agreement on these matters. Where we mention the bishops and the Pope, consider whom you trust as a leader instead. If your pastor/religious leader believes that premarital sex is okay with God, read the New Testament verses quoted about this subject elsewhere on our site and pray about it. Please write with any other questions or comments.
If you are looking specifically for the sexual morality questions, click here. However, some of the questions in between may help explain the later answers.
How did you come here to talk to us? What inspired you?
I became Catholic at age 12. I felt like the Church wanted me to grow and prepare for a role in the Church, but that there wasn’t much work for me at the time. I know now that was wrong. Young Catholics are not the Church of the future, you are the Church now. Everyone, of every age, contributes in his or her own way. At your ages, you are the Body of Christ, the Church. When I talk to you, I hope to wake you up to the knowledge that you are precious to God, and that he is striving to make you holy. I hope that you will not make the same mistakes I made. I think I would have done better if I had known that I was “bound for Glory.” I want to tell you the Good News: “God has created you for abundant life, let it start today!”
The greatest joy in my life is to help anyone get a little closer to God. Please let me know how I’m doing.
How do we know when we have faith in God?
The Scriptures speak of a “peace that passes all understanding.” Some people think they have this, but they are just very sleepy. None of us can really judge our own faith, but there are some things that can give us clues.
Look at your closest friends. Do they love God? Do you love them?
Do you find that most people are very kind? Are you impressed with the goodness of people in general?
Do you find it almost impossible to miss Mass, except when really, really sick?
Do you read Scripture? Do you enjoy it?
Do you pray often? Do you thank God for his love and gifts?
Do you obey God? If you fail, do you ask for forgiveness and try to heal the damage?
If the answers to these questions is yes, praise God and don’t worry. All you can do is trust God, and hope for the best. If you worry about it, remember that Jesus loves you, and died for you. You must be worth a lot to God.
I would like to know if somebody stopped coming to church for a while and then came back, could they still receive Holy Communion?
In the Catholic Church, one of the most serious obligations is to be at Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of obligation. The Sunday commitment is as old as the Church. If we miss Mass because we don’t care, we must go to Reconciliation (Confession) before receiving Holy Communion. If the reason for not attending Mass is because a parent refuses to take you or because of illness, there is no sin on your part, and please do receive when you can. Once you start driving, or if a way can be found to get to Mass, you must go (provided something you can’t control doesn’t stop you). If you aren’t sure where you stand, go to Reconciliation and ask the priest about it. We are all glad to see you again, no matter what the reason for your absence.
I have stolen over $2,000 using someone else’s credit card. I’ve begged God to forgive me, but I still feel guilt. I thought that one way to get rid of the guilt would be to donate all the things I stole to charity, but I don’t want to. Will I still be forgiven?
First of all, be thankful that you have guilt. It is like a pain that makes us go to the doctor for a cure. Let’s try putting this in medical terms:
First, you did something (the crime).
Then you feel pain (guilt).
The doctor says the pain is a serious condition, and something must be removed. (give it back)
You don’t want to have the operation (you want to keep the stuff).
If this were medical, you would eventually die, right? It is the same thing with the soul. You will have to decide what you want from life: stuff or God. Lots of people prefer material things to God. They have that choice. You must choose what you want. If you want to follow God, you can’t profit by your sins. Make an appointment with Fr. Jim, or a priest of your choice, and tell him the whole story. Do whatever he tells you without fail. The priests cannot tell anyone what you say in confession, so don’t worry about that. Once you are forgiven (better yet, start now), read Scripture, pray constantly, and avoid people that commit these crimes, or situations that tempt you.
You can’t be forgiven if you aren’t sorry. Feeling guilty is not the same thing as being sorry. There are two kinds of sorrow for sin: being sorry because we are in trouble, and being sorry because we have sinned against the God who loves us. When we sin, we are betraying our best friend.
You will have to decide: God or money. You cannot love both.
Will we be tested on the Ten Commandments to see if we obeyed them before we are allowed into Heaven?
We do believe that we will be judged, and all of Christian morality is based on the Ten Commandments. Jesus said that love of God and love of neighbor covers all ten, though, and some very good leaders in the Church say we will be judged on our love for God. The new catechism talks about the Ten Commandments, and you might be surprised how much we consider to be contained in them. If you really try to follow Jesus the best you can, love as much as you can, and ask for forgiveness when you fail, you will certainly go to Heaven. In short, everyone is judged by what they know, and according to their faith in Jesus. It is not like a test at school.
What is the first commandment (of the Ten Commandments)?
I AM the Lord your God, you shall not have other gods.
God is supposed to come first in our life, before anyone or anything: boyfriends, girlfriends, sex, getting a wife or husband, a baby or anything else you might think of.
Is it bad to sin? How bad?
All sins are offenses against God, who loves us. Jesus suffered the penalty for sin by dying on the cross. That is where you will find the answer: as soon as you can, find a crucifix and kneel in front of it in prayer. Look at what sin did to Jesus. Spend some time meditating on the Agony in the Garden, the beating of Jesus, the nailing, and the hours hanging on the cross. After that, read the newspaper and try to find the ways that people suffer because of sin: broken marriages, murder and suicide, robbery, beatings, lies and starvation. These things are sins, or come from sin. We have made a mess of our world because of our sins. You can make it better by turning your heart to God.
Is premarital sex wrong? Why? What if you are in love?
The Church teaches that sexual pleasure can only be enjoyed in the Sacrament of Matrimony (marriage). Some people say that it is only natural to have sex outside of marriage. This is true. It is also natural to have fleas, worms, and not have toilets that flush. The difference between people and animals is that we don’t have to do what is natural. We can change our lives by inventing things like houses, toilets, medicine and shampoo. God gave us the ability to rise above the natural, and marriage is one of the ways He gave us to do it. St. Paul tells us to stop being natural, and become like Christ: supernatural.
When people say they are in love, they may mean it, but it usually doesn’t last. A better name for this feeling is “infatuation.” This means that you are very interested in the person. Usually, this infatuation comes after a couple have already started committing sexual sins with each other, but often before having intercourse. Take a look at your friends and people in your school. How often do these couples stay together for 5 years? Ask married people if they were ever “in love” with someone else before they married their spouse. Most of us have feelings of being “in love” with several people before we actually marry someone. If you really believe being in love makes premarital sex O.K., you will probably have sex with many people, which is not God’s plan, and really is not as good as a Christian marriage. The plan, as Jesus said, is that a man and woman commit themselves to one another for life, and grow in their friendship and love through their whole marriage. They will have a balanced life together, with romance, friendship, work, affection and prayer all present in powerful and passionate ways. As a married person, with friends that are married, I’ve seen what Christian marriage can be, and I’ve seen how it can fail. Premarital sex is one way to start a marriage off the wrong, even if the sex was with the person that you eventually married. It blinds us to seeing the other person as they are, and really getting to know them. That is why so many people are so upset after they get married and find out that the other person is not very nice. If they had spent time getting to know them instead of having sex, they would have known better than to marry them.
What do you think about a guy getting a girl pregnant before marriage?
Before marriage, sexual pleasure is wrong. Sometimes when people sin, a child results. This is sad for the child and the parents. Much of the time, the girl kills the baby either by abortion or by murder after the child is born. If you have sex before marriage, you take the chance that a child will be created without a family to love them. Some girls say, “I want to have a baby so someone will always love me.” Think about this: how do you feel about your parents? Your child will probably feel the same about you. Do you cause your parents problems? Your child will do the same for you. My wife and I have found raising children hard enough even with the love and prayer and friends we have. It is much harder for a young woman with no income or loving husband to give her love to a child. What do you think about it?
Is teen pregnancy a sin?
No. Sexual contact/pleasure outside marriage is a serious sin. Some people marry in the Church when they are only fourteen or fifteen (in other countries where they are more mature than people that age here). They can have sex and babies without sin because they are married. We have friends that married that young and are celebrating 50 years of marriage. They have a beautiful marriage and family, because they obeyed God.
Can you have a white wedding gown even if you have been involved sexually with someone…?
There was more to this question, but the answer is very simple… The Church has nothing to say about the color of wedding gowns. Generally, they are white to symbolize purity. If the bride has committed sexual sins with the groom or anyone else, she is to confess them to the priest as soon as possible after the sin, and then stop committing the sin(s). If she has been forgiven, and really wants to live a holy life with her husband, she is pure and the white gown makes sense. If she doesn’t want to be forgiven or plans to keep committing sexual sins after marriage, there is no point in getting married.
Is it possible to receive a “second virginity?”
There are two kinds of virginity: physical and that of sexual pleasure. If a woman is in a car accident or a fall, it is possible for her hymen (the physical virginity) to break. I know several women whose hymens broke in accidents when they were very young. This is not what most people mean by virginity. When we say a woman “loses her virginity,” we usually mean that she gave it away, either to a husband or not. Sex outside of marriage is a sin, so it can be forgiven. That is a kind of “second virginity,” since God forgives the sin. If God has forgiven a woman, it would be wrong for anyone else to continue to think about it.
In the case of rape or incest, the woman (or girl) may lose her virginity physically, but since she did not want to have intercourse, there is not sin on her part. In rape, the man or woman committing the sexual attack is committing one of the most evil of all sins, and the victim is not to blame. It is possible that a woman might tempt a man to commit rape, but the entire fault is his if he does so.
By the way, a recent poll showed that most high school (male) students believe that rape is not wrong at least some of the time, and 1/3 of college men said they would rape a woman if they could get away with it. Almost half of the female high school students thought rape was acceptable if the man had spent a lot of money on the woman. Think about this, ladies, next time you date. And the gentlemen reading this had better examine themselves and see if they have the appropriate respect for women.
Is abortion wrong? Why is abortion wrong for raped women?
Abortion is a sin because it is the murder of the unborn child. Regardless of the reason a woman is pregnant, the child is a human being with a right to life. Whatever penalty we want to impose on a rapist, it is wrong to execute the child, who is also a victim of the rape. Abortion is the only situation where we execute the victim instead of the person that committed the crime. This may seem hard on the woman, but forcing her to murder the child in her womb is worse, and people do apply a lot of pressure in these situations (for the woman to abort).
Why is artificial contraception wrong?
First of all, I’d recommend reading Humanae Vitae, written by Pope Paul VI. In short, it separates the sexual act from one of its purposes: procreation. Not every sexual act creates a child, so using the normal cycles of a woman’s body to avoid pregnancy is acceptable and healthy. Natural means that involve avoiding sex at certain times do not absolutely make pregancy impossible, and so there is not a separation. There is a longer response on this site, too, in answer to another question. Check out the catechism, too.
What is masturbation?
The deliberate stimulation of the sexual organs for sexual pleasure outside of marriage. This is a paraphrase from the new catechism. Notice that it doesn’t say anything about being alone. Sexual pleasure in dating is frequently a kind of mutual masturbation. In marriage, it would mean alone or with someone other than the spouse.
Why is it bad to have sex after you get married, then get divorced?
If a couple is married in the Church, and then get divorced, they can still have sex, because the Church still considers them married. If you are talking about them having sex with someone other than the person they married, that is called adultery. Adultery is bad because it violates the sixth Commandment, and it means breaking our promise to our spouse. Jesus taught us that marriage is for life.
Why is it wrong to be a stripper?
The Church teaches that sexual pleasure outside of marriage is a sin. If a woman makes money by giving sexual pleasure to many men, what do you call it?
What do you do when you #@!%@! in class? (get sexually excited)
The actual term used in the question indicated that the question was asked by a young man, so I’ll answer from a man’s point of view. Sometimes a man’s body gets excited for no apparent reason, and there is no reason to worry about it. It is not a sin. If you are thinking about sex, and this happens, it is a good reminder to stop thinking about sex, and start concentrating on your class. Just ignore it and it will go away. This is not always easy. The “Jesus prayer” may help you. When you get these sexual feelings, make a decision to reject them, and pray “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner,” over and over again, really thinking about the words. If you really mean it, the problem will go away for a while.
Why is it wrong to be gay (homosexual)?
It is not wrong or a sin. The Church teaches that it is wrong to have sexual contact outside of the marriage of a man and a woman. Having homosexual desires is not a sin. Acting on them is a sin. We don’t really know why some people have these feelings, but we do know that many people that are not homosexual sometimes have sexual feelings for someone of the same sex. This doesn’t mean they are becoming homosexual. All kinds of weird things run through our heads, and it is best to ignore the strange ones. Many Catholics have problems with their sexuality and still live holy lives.
It is a serious sin to hate or harm homosexual people. They are still created by God, and He loves them. It is good to hate sin, but we have to love the sinners, because God loves them and we sin, too.
How do you get AIDS? Why is there no cure? (Many specific questions…)
You can get AIDS by sexual contact, sharing needles (for injecting drugs) or by contact with AIDS-infected blood. If you follow Jesus closely, you are almost certainly not going to get AIDS. It used to be that a person that received donated blood was in danger, but the places that take blood donations check it very carefully now, so you don’t have to worry. In sexual contact, a person having contact with semen (the fluid the man’s sperm is in) is most likely to get AIDS, so heterosexual men are less at risk than women and homosexual men. You may have been told that condoms prevent AIDS, but they break and some kinds do not stop the AIDS virus. If people obeyed God, this disease would not spread they way it does, since it depends on multiple sexual partners and drug use. It is not a punishment from God, but a consequence of human choices, like drunk driving accidents and lung cancer (from smoking). Many people in the Church are trying to help people with this disease, including Mother Theresa’s order of nuns. We are required to love the victims of the AIDS virus.
Most STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) are not curable for a very long time. Syphilis was around for a hundreds of years before it was curable. Herpes still is not curable (I know people who have it and will never be cured). Most of the diseases associated with sexual contact come from bacteria, and penicillin (and other antibiotics) will cure them. Herpes and AIDS are viruses, and medicine still can’t do a lot about them. Many famous people died from STD’s before a cure was found. Many people will die of AIDS, too. Pray for a cure, but don’t do anything that will put you at risk, either.
Is smoking bad?
It is wrong for you to damage your body. Only a doctor or scientist can tell you if smoking will damage your body. You should ask your doctor or a health teacher at school for the facts on smoking and make your decision. It is an expensive habit, too, and that should be part of your decision: is it right to spend the money God gives you on smoking?
Why can’t you take natural herbs created by God?
You can. Health food stores sell all sorts of things. I don’t know if they work, and the Church has nothing to say, since we are not a medical group. You can ask a doctor for their opinion, read lots of books and studies, and make up your own mind.
Perhaps you were thinking of drugs that are illegal. Many drugs, some of them legal, are used to help people escape their problems or get extra pleasure. Sometimes people die from using these, or lose their minds. Often, the use of drugs keeps people from becoming as successful as they were meant to be. These drugs lead to crimes, such as child neglect, murder over deals gone wrong, spouse abuse and rape (73% of rapists use drugs or alcohol before the assault). Alcohol and drugs also make you more likely to be victimized (55% of women raped were under the influence of drugs at the time). When we are drunk or under the influence of drugs, we are not ourselves, and so we are not able to serve God or our brothers and sisters.
What if I don’t agree with you?
Keep praying, and talk to other people in the Church that you can trust. Make sure, though, that they are faithful Christians. Some people seem to want to mess other people up. I don’t know why. If anything I’ve said here doesn’t agree with Church teaching, or the teaching of our bishop, I take it back. It is very important to obey the teaching of the Pope and bishops. We have to trust someone…
The Catechism of the Catholic Church