Catholic Teaching

Dating, Marriage and Sex

In the proper order, dating precedes marriage, and marriage precedes sex.  In addressing this, I would like to briefly start with marriage then quickly touch on the topic of sex.  I hope that in showing the importance of both marriage and sex, a true awareness of their sacredness will lead to a true understanding of the sacredness to be found in dating, so let me start by mentioning a few hallmarks of marriage that should be known.

First, marriage is a serious and life-long commitment between a man and a woman and it is ordained by God.  Second, Jesus elevated marriage to a sacrament in which God gives graces to the husband and wife, helping them exercise their duties to each other and to their children.  Third, marriage makes it possible for one to cooperate with God in creating life.

The primary purpose of marriage is to bring children into the world by way of the union between husband, wife and God.  Its secondary purpose, though not separated from the first, is the mutual help of husband and wife and their care and education of the family.  

With this in mind, it is a privilege for a father and mother to be instruments used by God to bring children into the world.  Children made in His image and likeness! Children with immortal souls!  Children whose destiny like yours and mine is to be God's children in both this world and the next!  And though marriage has both difficulties and responsibilities, it also has tremendous God-given rewards:  love and all that love means to human life, and children who bless and cement the union of the spouses’ hearts.

My question to you: If the primary purpose of marriage is to bring children into the world, and, children are conceived through sexual intercourse, what is the purpose and place of sexual relations?

Its purpose is the union of husband, wife and God in the creation of new life. Its place is only within marriage because of its purpose.

In marital relations, two things must be present: First, openness to life; second, giving fully of oneself to the other first demonstrated in the exchange of marriage vows.

If even one of these is not present, sexual relations are desecrated and defiled. Sexual relations have become not an expression of love but of lust!

Dr. Scott Hahn puts it this way, asking, "Is sex good?" to which many answer, “Yes, sex is good.”  Then he asks, "Is sex great?" to which many answer, “Yes, sex is great.”  To this he responds, "NO! Sex is not great! Frosted Flakes, they're GGGGREAT!!!"  He concludes by saying, "Sex is holy, and treating it as if it were something that was just good, or just great would be to desecrate it, defile it, and thus make it unholy."  This is a great evil.

So, sex is holy and is only to be found within marriage, which is also holy.  And since marriage and everything that belongs to and in marriage is holy so it should be with everything that precedes it!

Dating by its very nature presupposes marriage.  People date or should date to seek a "match"– someone compatible to form a life-long, committed relationship with through marriage.  So dating too must be holy.  And for it to be holy, both man and woman must exercise and maintain the virtues of chastity and purity.

Chastity refers to self-control over your passions and sexual desires, and purity refers to cleanliness and goodness in the thoughts, words and actions which come from your heart.  Jesus says, "Out of the heart comes every evil thought, murder, adultery, fornication..."  But he also says during his Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

So I say to you, if both these virtues are not constantly exercised, maintained, and respected, happiness is far off, joy will not be present, and pain is inevitable.  Please do not equate pleasure, which is a human emotion with happiness, which is only found in God.  When we say a good act of contrition, we ask God to help us not to sin again and to avoid the near occasions of sin.  Brothers and sisters, be careful in your relationships.  Remember always that you and every other human being is created in the image and likeness of God.  Remember that in treating yourself and others in an inappropriate manner, you neglect the holiness conferred upon you, a child of God, when you were baptized.  Love between a man and woman should be expressed physically only after the marriage ceremony in which they fully commit their minds, hearts and bodies to each other with the blessing of God.

In closing, only when sexual desires are under control is one fit to make a mature decision about either marriage or celibacy.  With the thoughts of Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, "First comes self-control; then self-mastering and finally, self-donation.”  With this attitude, there will be many more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, many more stable and happy marriages and many more pre-married couples with much happier courtships.


By George Velez

George is a 29 year old, husband and father of five, residing in Brooklyn. He has a strong association with Defenders of the Holy Trinity (DHT) in New York City, who occasionally provide articles for The Defender.  He, along with his wife, Amarilys, are Third Order members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. George came back to faith in Christ at the age of 18, having left the Catholic Church at the tender age of nine. Upon having a conversion to Jesus back in 1995, he spent the better part of a year fellowshipping in many different Christian communities until finally discerning the Catholic Church, the church of his youth, to be that one church founded by the Lord Himself. His wife, Amarilys, was raised Pentecostal, but a month before their wedding in 1998, she came home and converted to Catholicism. George belongs to the Parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Williamsburg and has submitted his formal application to the Diaconate for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. He begs for all to pray for him and his family and always promises to 'settle up in heaven' anything he may owe you for these prayers.



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