ArticlesQ & A

Catholic View on Sex before Marriage


I recently attended some lectures given at a secular university on the subject of preparation for a happy marriage. In one lecture it was stated that some sex experience before marriage is necessary for happiness in marriage, on the ground that by experiment one learns whether married life will be happy. Is there any truth in this? I am not a Catholic, though I read your column, and I feel that this sort of teaching can do an immense amount of harm. Do you agree?


This sort of teaching has frequently crept into marriage courses given to young people in secular colleges and universities today, and you are right about its being very damaging to all who take it even half seriously.

Both on religious and on practical grounds it can be proved that any sort of sex-experimentation before marriage is bound to result in unhappiness.

This should certainly be clear to every God-fearing, Christian boy and girl.

Impurity, the right name for “sex-experimentation” before marriage, is a violation of nature and a transgression of God’s law.

It is an inexorable law of nature and a demand of the justice of God that every sin must be atoned for, and most sins are atoned for not only in the next world, but also in this. “The wages of sin is death.” There are many forms of death by which such sins are atoned for, and one of them is the death of that true happiness, built on the love of God and obedience to His law, that is looked for in marriage.

This religious truth is forcefully confirmed by experience. We recall a statement made by the head of a modern marriage problem clinic, who professed no particularly strong religious convictions.

He said that his experience with the problems of married people forced on him the conclusion that not one in a thousand marriages that had been preceded by sex indulgence turned out to be really happy; none turned out to be as happy as marriage should be.

It stands to reason that this should be so; the law of chastity is so deeply engraved in the conscience that it cannot be violated without major repercussions on the whole personality, nor without spoiling the whole relationship of marriage.

Marriages do suffer, sometimes, from ignorance on the part of husband or wife.

Even before marriage, all ignorance about marriage should be removed by proper instruction. But sin is never a good or  prudent preparation for anything.

(From Questions Young People Ask Before Marriage, Fr. Donald Miller)

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