Dating includes the responsibility of sexual decision-making.
This decision-making starts when you decide whether
or not to hold someone's hand or to kiss them goodnight, so
you need to carefully consider your own beliefs, values and
future goals before you even start dating.
If you wait until you are on a date to think about
your values and the choices you should make, you most likely
will not be able to think clearly. If you feel secure in your
values and decisions before you date, it will be easier to
communicate these to your date.
The Bible says, "This is the will of God, your holiness:
that you refrain from immorality, that each of you know how
to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in
lustful passion...." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). The Catholic
Church teaches that marriage is the only relationship in which
sex can achieve the full meaning it is given by God: the committed,
faithful, exclusive and total gift of one's self to anotheropen
to love and new life.
With Church and family values as your foundation,
imagine sexual contact as a line of progression. This line
begins with hand-holding, progressing to hugging, kissing,
prolonged kissing, the high-risk area of heavy petting or
fondlingand ending with sexual intercourse.
You may think deciding to have sexual intercourse
with your boyfriend or girlfriend will make you feel like
one of the "everyone" who is "doing it." (Just remember that
a lot of those people are talking and not doing!) The decision
to have premarital sex exposes you to many dangers. The physical
risk of STD's, AIDS and unwanted pregnancy are well publicized.
Condoms help reduce the risks but do not eliminate them. Furthermore,
condoms can do nothing to prevent the emotional and psychological
risks one takes when deciding to have premarital sexual intercourse.
The only truly safe way to have sex is in a loving,
faithful, married relationship. A relationship without sexual
intercourse does not mean without sexual contact. Holding
each other and kissing are wonderful ways to express your
love for each other. A relationship without sexual intercourse
leaves time to focus on each other, your hopes and dreams.
It allows you to know each other better and focus on your
love and friendship.
Chastity is "saved sex." Choosing to postpone sex
until marriage may not be a decision teens or TV often talk
about, but it is definitely the safe and moral choice, one
deserving the highest consideration. When you choose chastity,
you will likely find many other teens who support and agree
with your values.
If you feel uncomfortable with choices you have
made in the past, remember that it is never too late to change
your mind and rethink your values. God forgives you for mistakes.
Forgive yourself. Seek support from family, Church and friends
and begin again!
Acknowledge your feelings and seek to understand
them. Think carefully about your feelings and the actions
based on them. Seek support and act responsibly. The decisions
you make now will affect the rest of your life.
Chris Parker (20) and Jim Olszewski,
Jr. (20), members of Hearts Aflame Youth Ministry for high
school seniors and college students at St. Bronislava Parish
in Plover, Wisconsin, read this edition of Youth Update. They
posed the questions you will find answered here. Youth Minister
Greg Bergenske invited Chris and Jim to assist.