Relationships

For the first time, I am dating and I am not sleeping with her. It is not easy.

Chastity is an act of love

For the first time I am dating and I am not sleeping with her.

It is not easy. It is blessed difficult. It is certainly different (as is Cynthia herself), in an utterly and overwhelmingly good and interesting and exciting way.

That’s counterintuitive, isn’t it?–the suggestion that chastity should be exciting. I’d better explain that.

Of course it is frustrating. That is normal, when you are both very attracted, and you have said to each other, “Thus far and no further. You may kiss me but you may not ravish me.”

But excitement is not the absence of frustration.

What happens, when you are kissing and you realize it may be time to cool it, is you stop, you look at each other, and you talk. You find something else to do. You get to know, not each other’s body, but each other.

If you don’t interest and pique each other, then it won’t be enough—later—if your bodies do. Eventually you’ll wake up and say, “I never knew you.”

So while Cynthia and I have avoided situations where we’d just end up having sex, we’ve learned to go browsing in bookstores. This is one way of getting to know a person. I have learned that Cynthia seems to know every edition of every book ever written about St. Therese. That fascinates me. (This is what you do when you’re not having sex: You talk about the literature on St. Therese.)

Thus you say: “I am attracted to you but I am also interested in you.” Every opportunity to find that out is good.

More to read: 10 Good Reasons to Save Sex Until Marriage

Having sex just interferes with the process of learning things like these, if for no other reason than it reduces the time you can devote to the learning. It interferes with your ability to get excited by this person you are dating. You think you love her when you really love the pleasure she gives you. You need to learn to know and to love her first. And that’s very exciting.

But one more thing.

Once, sitting in the park, and feeling enormous desire, Cynthia said that it would be easy to take me back to her house, but it would be too great a risk and was not to be done.

“Why?” I said. I wasn’t trying to push the issue, I just wanted to know her thinking.

She said: “Because I love you.”

She meant that loving is desiring the good of the Beloved, and one thing that means is not leading him into sin. It means leading him away from sin. It means praying with him, and for him. (And we have done a good deal of that, at Adoration and Mass together. Praying helps give you the grace to remain chaste. You can’t do it without grace. You can’t do it without Christ.)

Sex, as is love, is self-giving, not taking from the other for self-pleasure. You can only give when you are free to give, which is when you have promised your whole life; less than that is not love, but robbery. Chastity alone is an act of love.

More to read: How to spiritually prepare for your marriage