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Carol wrote:

Hi, guys—

I met my boyfriend on Catholicmatch about a year and a half ago. He is such a good man and we love each other very much. We also have a lot of the same values and feelings about the Catholic Church. We want to honor God, especially in our relationship, however things have been moving forward quite a bit. He recently removed his shirt for me when we were kissing. This is a big deal because he has body image issues and scarring from past skin problems. He said he was comfortable around me and knew I wouldn't judge him, which I don't.

While kissing, I removed my shirt; I was wearing a bra. Consequently, later on in the day, we stripped each other down to our underwear. We didn't have sex, and we weren't laying together (just standing). We kissed gently, hugged warmly, and just stood there smiling at each other for about 5 minutes. We were loving and enjoying God's creation and being grateful for the gift He had given us by letting us find each other.

Here's what I'm concerned with:

Based on what I've read on Christian dating books, we went too far because it could lead us to sin, but I'm not worried about that. We both have the same desire to save sex for marriage, something we may be headed towards. He loves and respects me so much. I never feel used or lusted after, and I don't do that to him either. He told me that he loves me so much and that he wants to get to know every part of me. (Again, we will not have sex before marriage.)

  • Based on how we have handled our relationship, were we in the wrong?
  • The way we viewed it, was that it was no different than being in our bathing suits, but is this a correct way to view it?
  • And if so, should he also keep his shirt on when he stays over?

He lives two and a half hours away and our parents are fine that he sleeps in the basement overnight.

I love him so much, but I also love God and I want my Father in Heaven to be proud of me and to love me just like any child would want of their parent to love them.

  • I would love any advice please.

Thank you and God Bless.

Carol

  { Have we taken our on-line dating relationship too far according to the Church? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Carol,

Your thinking is incorrect. Not only were you putting yourselves in a near occasion of serious sin, but you were being intimate with each other. If you had been in public at a beach, it would have been a different context and had a different meaning. It seems that you think that to do something: sexual, joyfully, reasonably, gently and non-lustfully with good intentions means it's okay. The fact is that married sex is supposed to be that way.

You are seeing the good of sex and thinking that since it is good, it is moral to do. It is immoral to do these things because you have no right to do them because you don't belong to each other.

I would hasten to add that your interpretation and reaction, as a female, is far different from his, no matter what he says. You are tempting him almost beyond ability, and that, too, is not right. You may not be worried about sinning, based on your subjective reactions, but females respond completely differently than males to visual stimuli. He is having all sort of thoughts and passions at the time and later. You shouldn't lead him on.

As for his sleeping over in your parents' house, I gather that you are a minor. You should do nothing that you would not do, in front of your mother and father! If you want him to know that you accept him as he is, with his scars, then go swimming in public with him.

Mary Ann

Mary Ann followed up later:


I would add that this behavior is immoral because you are taking a good thing when you have no right to it.

It's sort of like stealing, in this case stealing what belongs to someone's future mate.

Mary Ann

Carol replied:

Hi, Mary Ann —

Thank you for your response.

I have since talked with him and we agreed that we may have moved too fast and that our previous behavior should be saved for a later time.

I would like to set the record straight though:

  • I am 22 years old, and he is 23, going on 24.
  • Our families love each other and love us together.
  • There is more to our relationship than just the physical. We can hold intelligent conversations and can have fun doing everyday activities like:
    • chores
    • errands
    • car rides
    • watching movies
    • etc.

A lot of our time spent together actually involves our family. When he comes over, we play euchre with my parents, sit down to table for dinner, or watch movies with my sister. I've gone to Mass with his family, and we have gone to the zoo together. We share a lot of the same beliefs and values when it comes to the Catholic Church and we pray most every morning through the Liturgy of the Hours. We're a bit rusty but we teach each other. We laugh about our inside jokes and comfort each other when things get rough.

We truly want what is best for each other and what will bring us closer to God.

We do feel that we went a bit too far, but at the same time, we find it hard to feel guilty, because it was done with love and innocent intention, but I guess I can understand what you mean, that we do not belong to each other and that some intimacies should be saved.

I have never done anything before with a guy. He is my first boyfriend. I have waited my whole life for someone like him and I love him more than I can express, however, I love God more and I don't wish to continue any act that would offend God.

I feel that it is impossible for strangers to understand our relationship because you don't know us, and you don't know our pasts, but I do appreciate your advice, though it seemed a tad harsh.

  • I am curious as to what you would consider to be acceptable "rules" for intimacy in this day and age.
  • Is any level of "making out" okay?

We haven't and will not french kiss, per my request, when we first started dating.

For Lent, we have decided to give up our more passionate physical intimacy. We believe our relationship will only grown because of this sacrifice, and we can focus more on the other parts of our relationship, which we agreed on and are pretty rock solid to begin with.

Carol

Mary Ann replied:

Carol —

I congratulate you on a lovely relationship. You have made a good decision.

As for feeling guilty, we often confuse feeling bad or dirty with feeling guilty, and that makes it difficult to sort through things.

You are old enough to consider marriage and to begin preparation for it.

Mary Ann

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