Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How far is too Far?

Warning: This post contains explicit language.


Lately I've been asked several questions by young adults. I'm going to name things by their name since you seem to be okay with that from what I saw in the presentation. Can you help me to define:

When speaking about the 4 bases in physical intimacy (1st-kiss, hug, 2nd touching, 3rd, orgasm stuff, 4th intercourse), 3rd and 4th are definately for marriage and should lead to 4th base. Is 2nd base okay? Girls wonder if it's okay for guys to touch their breasts if their relationship is mature, yet not married yet.

Also, sleeping in the same room together.

The guys say they need some leaway/ range to grow in their intimacy on the physical level in the relationship, they seem to have a plan of steps. Girls are satisfied with step one, unless they have worldly values and want to experiment or jump to 4th base quickly.

Especially the young adults in their 30s, they seem to rationalize that they are mature and can be trusted, so sleeping in the same room, touching/caressing, laying on top of eachother, etc is okay. Any clarification in this matter would help.


The thing about Chastity is that it is about an attitude or a virtue, not about a legalistic rule. The result of this is that I can't give a hard and fast rule that works for everyone. Chastity is about an expression of love, which cherishes the others sexuality and protects it, both before and within marriage.

The problem with fore play is that it's supposed to come 'before the play.' Kissing and touching obviously cause arousal and lead to heightened desire for sex. It is not really intended with pleasure as an end in itself.

When a couple engages in this kind of behaviour, it automatically triggers the hormonal response in them- oxytosin in the woman and epinephrine in the man. The result of this is an increase in bonds and pleasure, and motivation to go further, and a dimminishment of inhibitions. All of these things are great within a marriage, but are destructive outside of marriage. If a couple is in a casual relationship and they continue to cause oxytosin, for example, to be formed, this relationship will hurt more when broken. It still sends a message to the brain of both parties that this relationship will last forever, because any actions which induce those hormones is intended to be in a relationship that lasts forever.

In short, every couple will have to determine for themselves where the line is that they will not cross, but that line should be based upon their bodies response to an action. As soon as the action is 'turning them on', or sexual in nature, it has crossed the line. I have serious doubts that there are many out there who can french kiss without crossing that line. When I was engaged, that was the boundary I set with my (now) wife. In time, I had to add that we would not even kiss on the lips, since for us that was arousing, and made it more difficult to keep our other resolutions.

Anything you save for marriage will be special between you and your spouse. (My wife never kissed anyone before me.) Anything you make common with other relationships will take away. I suggest that if a couple is in their thirties, and feels that their relationship is at a level that is mature enough that this would be apropriate, they ought to ask themselves why then they have not gotten married. If they are dedicated for life, then they should make it official before God and their families before acting like it is official at home.

I don't think it is wrong for guys and girls to sleep in the same room, but never just one of each. That is too compromising, and tiredness also takes away inhibitions. Chastity is something to be guarded. (I speak from personal experience on this.)

Catholic teaching on this is so profound that no gloss over regulation will be satisfying. I highly recommend "Good News about Sex and Marriage" by Christopher West. In it he summarizes the teaching, and it has a handy glossary for specific questions.

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