The Lowdown on Dating as a Catholic in a Modern World

First off, what is the: Purpose of Dating?

I. Mult. Choice exam:

a. Fun

b. Self-esteem booster

c. S-E-X

d. Everyone else is doing it

e. To see if marriage is right for the two of you/discern marriage

Ding, ding…yes the correct answer is E!

 Ok so what is this Dating Deal…?

FIRST:

You need to be a WHOLE person (you should NOT be someone’s other half)

II. Importance of being a ‘whole’ & holy person before even seeking a spouse

i. If I said I know you so well & your personality, etc. I know just what would make you happy….would you want me to tell you? God knows you perfectly, better than you know you. Work at your relationship with Him. He IS love, He alone can truly teach you how to love and be capable of being in a relationship.

ii. Pray, fast, & journal!

iii. Get a mentor!!

iv. Receive Sacraments & go to Adoration more often.

v. Read about different saints’ lives.

vi. Ask for and listen to advice from parents or other wise elders.

vii. Don’t ask “how much can I get away with?” but “how much more can I offer up?”

viii. Avoid TV shows, movies, magazines, music, clothing, etc. that influences you against your desire to be chaste (chastity isn’t just about sex).

ix. Surround yourself with virtuous friends both guys & gals.

1. Join good clubs on campus if studying, good young adult groups who can support you in your faith and values

Ok NEXT:

Who are we open to dating? Set Standards AHEAD of TIME:

III. What is your ultimate goal in life? Get to Heaven! (You said that right? Good.) So we want someone who will help us get to Heaven. E.G. DATE WITH BLINDERS, narrow your field of vision to only that which is in your path to getting closer to God & Heaven.

i. “Why tie one hand behind your back when pursuing ultimate goal, eternal life?” – Fr. Morrow

b. Standards:

i. Catholic, devoted to God and His Church

1. No missionary dating. We don’t date to change a person.

ii. Has healthy relationships with his/her guy and gal friends

iii. He/she seeks purity of heart in his/her actions

iv. He/she is charitable: kind to others

v. Has good habits:

1. Involved in Church work

2. Does not have bad habits such as any forms of addiction

vi. What do parents, priests, teachers, etc. think of this individual?

vii. Is he/she a hard-worker or gives up on school or work easily?

c. Remember: YOU WILL CHANGE AND BE MORE LIKE THAT PERSON…IS THIS FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE?

d. You don’t fall in love just by chance, you allow yourself to come to love someone. If that someone you’re spending lots of time with is not good for you, stop spending time with them! You will get over him/her.

e. Do not look for ‘romantic’ love, or love at first sight, which is based on feelings only

NOW:

Steps in Dating

f. Friends first

i. Go out as friends in groups ideally at first

g. “Friendship Dating”

1. Can gradually have dates but no affection until exclusively dating

2. Get most important info here: i.e. Catholic, devout? practicing? Good habits? Know non-negotiables ahead of time (more later)

3. 1-3 months should be about enough to know whether want to discern marriage “courtship” by then

h. “Exclusive dating”

i. Officially discerning marriage, not ideal to be longer than a couple of years

ii. Don’t start exclusive dating unless willing to “fall in love”

 FOUND someone good, now what?

How to Date?

IV. Chastity is ESSENTIAL, but why?

a. to a happy, holy, healthy, peaceful, meaningful, lasting relationship!!!!

b. NOT too much to ask. God’s Laws are so we can be holy, happy & healthy. We can see how unchastity makes us unholy, unhappy…

i. “First sexual sin is sin and separates us from God. Second, since God loves us and wants our happiness, disobedience to His plan for us will necessarily bring us unhappiness. Worldly statistics confirm this heavenly logic: every one of the sins that adulterate sexual love brings with it a catalogue of miseries. Look for instance at divorce, which is the suicide of the ‘one flesh’ created by marriage. Divorce means the destruction of society’s most indispensable foundation, the family, and it will inevitably stamp the same destructive marks on society at large as it already has on its immediate victims, millions of children: a hard, cynical spirit, the death of security, of trust, of faith in persons and promises and in the adventure of self-giving love. Third, sexual sin has obvious and radical health effects: the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, now affecting over half of all sexually active people, the fear of AIDS, and the rising infertility rate. But the most notable physical effect of the Sexual Revolution is death. The human victims in just one generation of the abortion holocaust in most Western nations already vastly outnumber the victims of all the wars in their history. It is high time to turn our attention to God’s alternative.” (Kreeft, pg. 243)

c. 4 Loves

i. Storge (affection), Phileo (friendship), Eros (romance), Agape (unconditional love)

ii. “Engaging in any sexual activity, before the marriage commitment will often dull the appetite for the less exciting, more fundamental loves: agape, friendship, & affection. The development of these ‘quieter’ loves may well be stunted.” – Fr. Morrow

d. Chastity as Defined by Aristotle

i. Habitual moderation of the sexual appetite in accord with right reason – Aristotle

ii. Even married couples practice chastity so good luck if you give up before marriage!

e. “Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body & soul” CCC 2332

i. Body speaks a language. Sexual intercourse the bodies are saying “I’m giving myself totally to you” “I am committed to you for life”

f. You must be convinced mind & heart of chastity’s benefits, which are…

i. Safeguard relationship w God Who is our source of happiness & only way to salvation

ii. Upholding sacredness of sex

iii. Living up to your own human dignity as a person created in Image & Likeness of God – live by reason unlike animals

iv. Uphold value of other person as a whole not object (is a person’s value only sex?)

v. Developing most important loves first: self giving love (agape), friendship & affection. These actually hold a marriage together. You should want them as habits before marriage.

vi. You have to constantly remind yourself of this truth “only as this value takes possession of the mind & will does the will become calm and free itself from a characteristic sense of loss.” Then you will have the peace that chastity brings.

1. Chat often with someone who can hold you accountable to living chastely.

vii. Today’s Grim Statistics

1. Cohabiting couples percent of divorce is about 80%

2. The 15-24 year old bracket tends to get 9.5 million new STDs per YEAR

g. If physical & emotional elements (i.e. making out/passionate kissing, romantic love, ‘eros’, feeling in love) are so prominent in a dating relationship, you can hardly get to know the other & find out if you can be best friends first

h. Includes what you watch, how you guard your eyes, modesty, etc

i. Avoid TV shows, movies, magazines, music, clothing, etc. that influences you against your desire to be chaste (chastity isn’t just about sex).

V. How to Date: Respectfully and Taking Precautions

a. Intro to this section:

i. I’m not treating you like a child. I’m treating you like the fallen human being that you are. What’s that? Oh you’re a saint? Well then you would know that you are fallen and are always alert, watching out for and not nearing temptation, right?

ii. I’ve heard of priests tell me that they’ve not just come across one but several “good” Catholics who told them “but we were just praying the Rosary, Father, and then…” Don’t be arrogant!!

iii. I’ve lived this…it’s not only not impossible (nothing is impossible with God) but it is freeing!

b. That being said here are the “rules”:

i. Do not go out alone, and if this is not possible, go out to places that aren’t usually empty.

1. Includes not staying the night even if have roommate

a. not to mention temptation, this could give scandal Mt 18: 6,7 woe to he who causes scandal, leads astray

ii. Do not stay talking in the car. If the car is off, get out. Talk outside where there are people.

1. E.g. good Catholic girls, one engaged, spoke to her friends of difficulty of not going too far when making out in back of car…WHAT?! How’s that to keep you chaste???

iii. Be strict with physical signs of affection

1. TALK MORE, you need to get to know each other right?

2. Once kissing is introduced, remember guy/gal will even without knowing start pushing limits at each meeting

3. Defining sexual activity: passionate kissing or any other act which by nature or intent stimulates the desire for sex or causes sexual arousal. This is immoral. Sharing affection is generally fine & good & even desirable

4. Long-term kissing at best is a sin against prudence – Fr. Morrow

a. It is usually done because it’s enjoyable not for getting to know each other better/inter-personal discovery

5. “Less gentle & more urgent” in goodnight kiss or embrace is sign of beyond threshold of affection – Fr. Morrow

6. Don’t say “well I’m already physically excited just by being with the person or holding their hand”. Really, so then where’s the cutoff if it’s all arousing anyway? Use your head!

7. Don’t ask: how far is too far? Remember your mind is very good at excusing your actions! If you set pace ahead of time, it will help tremendously!!

iv. Go out to good places & have good activities

v. Pray together, go to Church when you can together

1. Watch how you change as a person…are you a better or worse person than before? Ask parents for an honest opinion.

2. Importance of building a good friendship – strengthen 3 loves (hint: eros is not one of them needing strengthening!)

VI. Closing Thoughts:

a. I know it’s hard, you want it a relationship to work, but it’s a million times better to be single than with the wrong person!!!!

b. Peter Kreeft says the single cause for most of today’s malaise is the weakening of marriage & families, so make sure you get it right from the START!

Sources:
·         Catholic Christianity: a complete catechism of Catholic beliefs based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church by Peter Kreeft (provides many insightful, yet down-to-earth explanations on the teachings of the Catholic Church)
·         Christian Courtship in an Oversexed World: A Guide for Catholics by Thomas G. Morrow (very complete overview of dating)
·         Catechism of the Catholic Church
 
Other resources:
·         www.Chastity.com – Check out their Q&A on Dating
·         Life on the Rock interview with the Everts (a couple tells of their experiences before living chastely & after)
·         Sex and the City Uncovered: Exposing the Emptiness and Healing the Hurt by Marian Jordan (a woman tells her story of how & why the Sex & the City life didn’t fulfill her)
·         Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook-Up World by Jennifer Roback Morse (for a more secular argument defending chastity)
·         Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student by Dr. Miriam Grossman (also more secular arguments, real statistics, & the truth about sexual health from a doctor’s perspective)
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