Dating and purity

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With all aspects of ascetic living, one does not avoid or refrain from something for the sake of rejecting it, but for the sake of something else.

In this case, one refrains from sex with someone other than one's spouse for the sake of union with Christ's body. We often talk in the church about the consequences of having premarital sex — and there are, of course, consequences.

Everything in your relationship gets some of its charge from the uncertainty, the unknown. Married sex is exciting, but its excitements are very different, and much more tender, than the instability of the hook-up scene.

This may be the single most significant way that married sex — sex as it was created to be — differs from unmarried sex. The sex of blind dates and fraternity parties, even of relatively long-standing dating relationships has, simply, no normal qualities.

Until we had gone over these principles together (my wife and I, our daughter and the boy) and made sure there was complete agreement, we didn’t allow a dating relationship to begin.

We found that this was a great help not only to our daughters but also to the young men who wanted to date them.

Indeed, American culture seems determined to mock and ridicule chastity as much as possible.

I told him I'm not ready for sex because I'd like to stay a virgin until I'm married. The thing is, he sometimes says things that I'm unsure about…

Abstinence before marriage, and fidelity within marriage — refraining from sex with someone other than your husband or wife — is just one of those basic rules that keeps you inside the Christian community. Practicing premarital chastity is also important because it safeguards and protects marital sex — that is, it protects us, so that if and when we do get married, we are able to experience sex as God intended it to be. Think about the TV shows or movies you've seen, in which people have premarital sex. It is almost always portrayed as being — because, almost by definition, it is part of a relationship that is itself not wholly stable.

Even when you've been dating someone for a year, the lack of permanence that characterizes your relationship seems to add a certain frisson to everything you do with that person, from going on a Saturday hike to smooching on the sofa. It becomes a ritual in itself; it becomes a routine.

In fact, the opposite is true: The dramas of married sex are smaller and more intimate, and in fact it is the stability of marriage that allows sex to be what it is.

So practicing premarital chastity is important, in part, because having premarital sex — that is, giving ourselves over to sexual sin — teaches us false, destructive lessons about what sex is. (And, since the advent of Internet porn, we have seen more and more that it is not just a "guy's problem." Today, more women than ever are logging on and searching porn sites.) What is wrong with pornography?

We made our expectations clear, gave them specific guidance and principles (not just rules), and told them we’d be asking them if they were living up to these standards.

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