Bernardo M. Villegas
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Real Love Among the Young (Part 2)

          The trouble with having sex outside of marriage is that in having sexual intercourse, the couple are speaking a lie to one another in the language of the body.  It may not be their intention to lie to one another, but they are not being sexually honest.  In his book Love and Responsibility, St. John Paul II observed: “A woman and a man, if their ‘mutual love’ depends merely on pleasure or self-interest, will be tied to each other just as long as they remain a source of pleasure or profit for each other.  The moment this comes to an end, the real reason for their ‘love’ will also end, the illusion of reciprocity will burst like bubble.”  This is not just a religious belief of Catholics.  It is based on the very biological nature of the human body.  During sexual arousal, the brain releases a hormone called oxytocin.  It works like human superglue because uses a great emotional bond, increases trust, and makes you less ritual of the other person.  Such blinding and binding help married couples to persevere though tough ties.  But if the intercourse is outside marriage, it can be dangerous.  It could act like a memory airbrush, which fact partly explains why it is difficult to convince the young people to leave harmful sexual relationships.  In her book on the female brain, Dr. Louann Brizendine observed: “If high levels of oxytocin and dopamine are circulating, your judgment is toast.  These hormones shut the skeptical mind down.”  But  when you’re choosing a spouse, you want your critical thinking abilities to be functioning at 100%!

         It is neither a valid argument for sex outside marriage to use the excuse that the couple want to test if they are compatible by sleeping together before they tie the knot.  If the other person fails to live up to your expectation in the bedroom, would you love that person less?  If so, you can be certain that it was never love to begin with.  If you want to eventually marry, cohabitation will not strengthen your marriage.  In fact, couples who cohabit prior to marriage have higher rates of divorce, infidelity and abuse.  As Jason Evert wisely points out: “One reason why living together undermines marital stability is because the parents are essentially saying to each other, ‘I’m no so sure about you.  I want to be with you, but I want to make sure I can escape if I change my mind.’  This isn’t a great foundation for lifelong love.  As a result, many people cohabit not because they are deeply committed but because they are afraid of commitment.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it bluntly: “Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement ‘until further notice.”

         For couples who are Catholics and intend to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony, they have to realize that no matter how committed they are to one another before marriage, they are not yet husband and wife.  It is within marriage that they make a commitment before God and the Church to belong completely and exclusively to one another.  They then receive the sacramental grace not only to live out their marriage vows but to become a visible sign to the whole world of Christ’s love for the Church.  In the meantime, the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls them to “reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love.”  Catholics have to be reminded that remaining chaste before marriage is not about human willpower alone.  Purity is a gift from God, and we must ask for it.  All too often, we fail to be chaste because we are too self-reliant.  We must have recourse to prayer and the sacramental life.  It is through our union with Jesus Christ and His Church that we can have the strength to overcome any temptation and love as God loves.

         Those who are interested in attending any of the sessions of the PICC Forum on “When Is Love Real” may log on to or call +632 908 896 8597 or +632 534 8580.  For comments, my email address is