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Emily wrote:

Hi, guys —

My fiancé is new to our faith and at the moment is trying to understand chastity.

He understands not having sex before marriage, and rather begrudgingly accepts not fooling around before marriage. I know this is a fine-tuned matter of respecting each others dignity, even at the cost of denying ourselves, should our desires go against the other's dignity.

Nevertheless, he is having a hard time understanding why we can't sleep in the same bed, even if we aren't going to DO anything.

I've exhausted all my explanations.

  • Do you have any thoughts that may help him understand that I am not holding my ground on this issue to inhibit our relationship, but rather to help it?

On a related topic, I understand the do's and don'ts on sexuality to be rather abstract as opposed to a clear cut list of yes's and no's; outside the big yes's and no's:

  • no sex before marriage
  • no fooling around before marriage
  • yes, we can hold hands
  • yes, we may chastely kiss
  • etc.

My fiancé, on the other hand wants a clear list of yes's and no's. This is hard for me since I don't actually know where the line exactly is, and it especially concerns me because I know there is still a line even within marriage (for example, fellatio, anal sex, etc.) and he doesn't understand that.

Please help!


  { How do I explain that I don't wish to inhibit our relationship and is there a list of yes's and no's? }

Eric replied:

Emily —

Tell your fiancé if he's not going to Milwaukee, don't get on the train.

In other words, don't engage in something that has a good chance of leading to sin. We call this avoiding the occasions of sin. To sleep in the same bed will tempt you both to do what you shouldn't be doing and lower your inhibitions. It's simply not appropriate.

There is a good book by Christopher West called:

Good News about Sex and Marriage: Answers To Your Honest Questions About Catholic Teaching

which I recommend. He discusses these very topics (pp. 70-78). There are also some resources at that may help.

They have two booklets (albeit directed to teens) entitled:

  1. Pure Love and
  2. another called Pure Manhood.

There are some other resources on Christopher West's web site.


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