Many Christians have different views on whether sex outside of marriage is acceptable or not. Whether religious or not, the majority of people believe that adultery is wrong and therefore determine that the vow to remain faithful in marriage is one that should be followed.
The media has an increasing affect on Christians, and especially younger Christians. They’re exposed to acceptability of casual sex before and during marriage. Soaps in particular often present adultery or sexual activity before even beginning relationships with each other. Even in magazines aimed at age ranges of 10-16 contain content that promotes sex and subsequently influences them. These examples are presented as the norm and there is a passive acceptance that what we see and read about is the norm. This represents societies declining standards and acceptability of sex before marriage.
The Catholic Church believes that sexual intercourse should be confined to marriage. Sex outside of marriage is a serious misuse of one of God’s greatest gifts, trivialising and spoiling an activity which can be the source of great blessing. Instead of confirming and supporting a couple’s love for eachother, sex outside marriage only encourages selfishness. Catechism 2533 states “It is gravely against the dignity of the persons and of sexuality which is naturally ordered for the good of married couples.” This teaches that sex before marriage is highly undignified
God’s intention is for a couple’s love to be expressed in marriage and family life. Sex is the reward for a successful marriage and so should not be taken for granted casually.
Chastity (obtaining from sex) is the normal attitude which Catholics should adopt towards sexual activity.
Through sex, the couple have the potential of continuing and contributing to God’s great creation. I believe when a couple have sex, they offer themselves to create new life and so sex should only occur with this possibility at heart. Others regard sex as a natural necessity and it is irrelevant whether it happens in or outside of marriage. It can be seen as mere fun; pleasure for themselves, disregarding the importance to the gift of sex. This treats the other person as an object of pleasure and plays with their emotions. This attitude is weak and can separate one from God as they’re ignoring God’s plan of pro-creation.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus taught about faithfulness and how adultery can be created simply from lust; “Anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart.” Although this is strong teaching, it does warn of the dangers of mistaking lust for love and serves to remind us that adultery can begin in small ways but it can grow and ultimately wreck lives.
Some believe that sex is no longer special if you do not wait until the Sacrament of marriage. The catechism states, “a man and a woman belong to eachother in a permanent, exclusive, sexual partnership.” So the couple cannot have sex until commitment is made. I think that through sex, the couple are united and come to deeper knowledge of eachother. Sex outside of marriage is likely not to have this importance because the couple involved cannot be sure that they mean the same to eachother; outside of marriage sex doesn’t have the chance to express its full potential.
However, nowadays if you haven’t lost your virginity at the mere age of 20, you’re seen as some sort of ‘reject’ or ‘freak’. So the importance of sex before marriage means less to younger people, maybe because of peer pressure, or maybe because the lack of recognition to religious views. Personally, I recognise and respect the issue that sex is only right within marriage, but in the environment I live in today, I don’t think I will apply this statement to my life.
I believe that marriage should only be undertaken when the couple fully understand and love eachother and I think the steps towards marriage include sex as the couple grow and mature through the act. For that reason, I think sex is justified outside of marriage when the couple are considering marriage and have been together for a while. However, I strongly disagree with the promotion of casual sex and the excitement of adultery.