Monday, as always, is for letters from students. You would think my letters would all be about things like natural law. Directly, no. Indirectly ....
I am 18 years old, a sophomore in college, and engaged to be married. My fiancé and I have agreed to get married one semester before I finish my bachelor's degree (one year, eight months from now) but I have a feeling we won't be able to wait that long. I know St. Paul’s saying “It is better to marry than to burn,” but we know that we are still not ready for marriage. We feel that by the time our wedding date comes around, we will be ready spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. We both know it is not God's time yet, but we are very anxious to be together. We've already been together for one year 11 months, and we've been engaged for 10 months. We've prayed and we've fasted and we've asked for advice but every day that goes by seems to be more and more difficult to get through. I start to ask myself whether God really wants us to wait that long or if He rather us marry sooner so that we will not fall into temptation. How will we be sure when it is God's time? Do you have some advice for our situation?
Thanks for writing. Now brace yourself, because I some questions for you.
The first: If you're sure you aren't mature enough to marry, then what makes you think you're mature enough to get engaged? Turning it around: If you're sure that you’re mature enough to get engaged, then what makes you think you're not mature enough for marriage too?
The second: The usual reason people have difficulty avoiding sexual intercourse is that they've already crossed too many other lines. If you want to avoid having sex, you have to re-cross those lines in the other direction — you have to go back. This means a real change in behavior: Avoid everything that arouses you. Yes, that includes drawn-out kissing sessions; you have to stop thinking of sexual arousal as recreation.
The third: Being alone together is one of the most arousing things there is, so spend as little time as possible by yourselves (read that as zero). Instead, spend your couple-time with other people around; for example, restaurant yes, apartment no. If you back off from aloneness now, then it will be wonderful to be alone on your wedding night — but don't imagine that you can have bedroom privacy without the rest of the bedroom experience. Capiche?
One more thing. I’ve been assuming that when you write “We've already been together for one year 11 months,” you mean you’ve been dating for that long. But if you mean you’ve been living together for that long, you are not being realistic. The situation is intrinsically unchaste. Praying for chastity while living together is like jumping off a cliff yet begging God not to let you fall. Living together yet trying to abstain from intercourse is like igniting the engines yet telling the rocket “Don’t blast off.” You aren’t made that way, my dear. Nobody is. If you’re serious about purity, live apart.