Catholic Dating: The issue of chastity
Last week I wrote two posts on the subject of dating outside of the Catholic Faith. In an effort to keep those posts focussed, I had decided to address the specific scenario of a couple composed of two Christians, a Catholic and a Protestant.
However, as I was writing, there was one issue related to dating outside of the Catholic Faith that I particularly wanted to raise, but since it didn’t naturally fall within the parameters which I had set for those articles, I decided to omit it. In today’s brief post, therefore, I would like to return to this issue.
In the previous post, I presented three main areas for potential conflict between a Catholic and a Protestant:
1. The Wedding
2. Religious Practice
3. Children and family life
In addition to these three areas, when a Catholic dates a non-Christian (as opposed to a non-Catholic), there is another area of potential conflict which is particularly worth considering:
Is your potential spouse committed to chastity? Will this person do everything possible to help you remain chaste?
It is worth pointing out that potential contention over the subject of chastity is certainly not limited to the situation where a Catholic is dating a non-Christian. It is possible that conflict may arise when dating a Protestant or, as I highlighted in my previous post, even a fellow Catholic. There is no guarantee that someone who identifies as “Catholic” actually will believe or practise the entirety of the Catholic Faith.
With that said, I have a story which I would like to share with you. Over the course of my adult life, I have seen this same story play out time and again with depressing regularity. A Christian friend tells me she has started dating a non-Christian guy. She enthuses about how wonderful he is and she assures me he’s okay with her resolution to abstain from all sexual activity until marriage. However, a few weeks or months down the line, there are serious issues. It turns out that maybe he’s not quite as onboard as he first said. Maybe what she considered off-limits, he thought was still fair game? Sometimes this relationship ends in a breakup, but other times she relents and lowers her standards.
I don’t recount this story to be mean, or to suggest that non-Christians are either dishonest or lack self-control. I tell this story because this is pattern I have seen too many times not to take the opportunity to mention it.
Chastity is a hard virtue to cultivate! Speaking for myself, if I’m pursuing chastity, I don’t want to be dating someone who is just “okay” with it. I need someone who is enthusiastic about it and wants this virtue for me perhaps even more than I want it for myself. I would like someone who will not purposefully test my boundaries, who is going to be strong when I’m weak, so that when she is weak I can be strong.