Sex is a hot topic in our society. I went through a grocery store checkout line the other day, and was not surprised by the tabloids and magazines that were just plastered with sex talk. It sells magazines. However, few people are willing to talk about the real story of sexual relations and the many problems that occur when a person has sex outside of marriage. As a priest, I hear the “behind the scenes talk.” Many young people share that they feel bad, even spiritually ill, because they know they have made a mistake. “I’ve gone too far and now I regret it.” “I have gotten into something that I know is wrong.” “I have made a mistake I cannot take back.” Their peace is gone. Sexual activity before marriage is objectively a serious sin and it is a good thing if you are feeling bad about it. That actually shows some spiritual health! Sexual relationships are meant for marriage. God made the sexual relationship of husband and wife to be a gift that simultaneously does two things. It joins the procreative powers of husband and wife so that, with God, new human beings can be created. It also renews the oneness of husband and wife – “the two shall become one flesh.” Both of these dimensions are united and must not be divided. What God has joined, man must not divide! When people have sex outside of marriage, they not only sin, but they hurt themselves on many levels. Our teens might be interested to know that I have heard many married adults say, “I regret having had sex before marriage. That is one thing I would change if I could.” They say this because they can see how the baggage of past sexual relationships has hurt their marital relationship. So – for those of you who are dabbling in sexual promiscuity – please take heed. You are messing with your future on earth and in heaven! OK, what to do? A person has lost his or her sexual innocence or virginity and wants it back. Is there such a thing as “secondary” virginity, or “recovered virginity?” The good news is YES! Our faith is clear. Jesus Christ forgives our sins. Our sins put him on the cross – and he willingly accepted it for us. He wants our sins removed. He wants to give us a new start. He died on the cross to make us clean and he rose from the dead to show us that in him we receive a new life. We can live a new life because of his power and presence within us. That power and presence is the Holy Spirit! So, our Lord holds out a lot of hope for anyone whose sexual innocence is lost but who wants to start again. You cannot change your past, but you can change your future.
Here is what to do: Ask Jesus to forgive your past sins. Make a good sacramental confession. Make a firm resolution not to have sexual relations of any kind before marriage. Pray this simple prayer:
“Dear God, I recommit myself to you. I pledge, with your grace, to seek purity and modesty in my relationships. I offer you the gift of my sexuality as a spiritual sacrifice. If you call me to marriage, I pledge to withhold having sexual relations until then. If you call me to the single life, I will do my best to live as Jesus lived – for the sake of God’s Kingdom – in purity and love for you. Amen.”
Evaluate your current friendships. Be honest with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Tell him or her that you have made a decision to reserve sexual relations for marriage because of your faith in Jesus. You are a Christian and that is what Christians are called upon by Christ to do. Avoid arousing sexual feelings through sensual touching or kissing. I always recommend carrying a water squirt gun to cool things off! Avoid photos, images, pornography and speech that are immodest, lewd or impure. Jesus said we can sin if “we look with lust” at another person. Develop a daily prayer life and read Scripture. By doing this you are putting on God’s armor. One of the best remedies to fight temptation and to live a new life in Christ is to fortify your soul with God’s Word. Fill your heart with these passages. Read each one prayerfully at least three times. You will feel God’s strength come to you.
“Do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.” (Rom 6:13)
“If you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13)
“I urge you...by the mercies of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom 12:1)
“...it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light. Let us conduct ourselves properly, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Rom 13:11-14)
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6: 19-20)
“So, whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor 5:17)
“...live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16)
“Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24)
“God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” (Gal 6:8)
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14)
“All of us once lived among them [unbelievers] in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy because of the great love he had for us, even though we were dead in our sins, brought us to life with Christ.” (Eph 2: 3-5)