today’s culture it often seems as though dating has become more of
a common past-time and less a search for a suitable marriage
partner. Because of this, along with the general decline of moral
standards in society, it is often the case that unmarried couples
become so physically involved with one another that they can no
longer clearly see what is appropriate and modest behavior before
God. This is unfortunate, because it is difficult to discern a
life-long marriage partner when the eyes of the couple are clouded
by uncontrolled sexual passions and desires.
dating couples who do desire to live in the grace of God, some of
the common questions asked are, “What are we allowed to do?” “Have we gone too far?”
“Have we sinned?”
are some general rules that unmarried couples should abide by in
order to foster the virtues of chastity, charity and self-control in
the relationship so that the couple can truly come to know one
another and God’s Will for them.
First of all, we must look
at the actions of the couple itself.
There are two very
different kinds of actions.
first is the action that is, by its very nature, so closely related
to the sexual desires that they serve no other purpose except to
stimulate and arouse the persons involved. Some examples of these
would be: prolonged and passionate kissing, impure embracing or
petting, and sexual intercourse.
actions are always gravely wrong between unmarried people, and
no “good intention” can ever make them right. If the action is
committed intentionally and with sufficient reflection, then it is a
there is no reflection, as can happen sometimes when an impure
action occurs without any forethought or intention at all, one does
not sin mortally. However, it does not change the fact that the act
itself was gravely wrong and one should be very careful not to let
it happen again.
second kind of action is anything that is in and of itself morally
good or neutral, which does not have as its sole purpose the
stimulation of the sexual passions. Some examples of these would be:
dancing with a boyfriend/girlfriend, holding hands, kissing,
affectionate or friendly embracing.
these acts are good or neutral in and of themselves and serve
another purpose entirely, they can still have the effect of causing
one to become aroused.
Is this then sinful?
For every person, the
answer can be different, according to his or her intent for doing
boy who has the intention of dancing with a girl in order to
become aroused, or in order to arouse her, has already sinned
against chastity and charity even though the dance itself might have
been morally neutral. His intent was impure.
example would be if that same boy found that while affectionately
embracing his girlfriend he became aroused, and he continued to
embrace her with the intent of further arousing himself or
arousing her, even though the embrace itself was nothing at all
boy who modestly kisses a girl and becomes aroused, but does not
intend the arousal has not sinned even venially. Nor does he sin if
he remains aroused, but does not will or desire the arousal.
as soon as he begins to enjoy the arousal or desire it, then it is
time to stop whatever action is causing the arousal, even if it is a
morally good or neutral action. To continue would be to commit sin.
Occasions of Sin
people are different, different things can be for them near
occasions of sin. By near occasion of sin we mean anything that
“sets the stage” TO sin. For example, a couple may know from
experience that every time they sit alone in the dark watching
movies, the situation between them almost always tends to “go too
far.” For the sake of their souls then, it would be prudent for
them to watch movies with the lights on, or with other friends in
if they continue doing what they know causes them to sin gravely?
Then that too would be sinful, since intentionally putting oneself
in an occasion of sin is a sign that one is willing to flirt with
disaster—one is willing to sin, if it “just happens.”
There are three basic
things to keep in mind while dating:
Never seek out anything
solely for the pleasure it brings to us. To do these would be a
violation of chastity because we lack control of our sexual desires
and appetites, and a violation of charity because we see the other
person as an object to our pleasure.
Never desire to sin or lead
another into sin; this includes near occasions of sin.
that your boyfriend or your girlfriend is neither a past-time nor a
sport—he or she is a child of God worthy of your love and respect.
It is a terrible situation when we ourselves fall into mortal sin,
but when we have the soul of another in our hands, we must be
equally careful not to lead them into sin.