Fonticulus Fides

Friday, July 27, 2007

So...what's been going on?

Okay, since I spoke with you last...

My husband's cousin moved in with us for the until October.

My brother-in-law got married. They eloped on July 3 because he got a job in Kentucky and they wanted to sign a lease as husband and wife. They're having a wedding in late August.

My brother-in-law, his new wife, his daughter and step-daughter all moved to Kentucky...with his ex-wife and her new husband. It's a long story. But the gist of it is, the ex's new husband got a job and said he couldn't take it unless both of his step-daughter's parents moved together because they have joint custody. So they all shopped my brother-in-law's resume around and he got a very good job and they all moved together.

Several relatives have confided in us that they are having severe marriage problems, so we have been in prayer for them and attempted to do a Novena as a family, with middling results.

Lola, my youngest, started singing the final hymn at Mass at the top of her lungs, but since she can't read, she'd just sing, "Bye, Father...Bye, Father...Bye, Father" over and over again. Now I whisper the line in her ear right before we sing it (as much as I can, anyway). She thinks she needs to be in the choir now. Sister Mary, our liturgist and choir director, thinks it's hilarious.

Lola also got three stitches just above and perpendicular to her right eyebrow when she and one of our cast-iron radiators had a falling out. We thanked God it wasn't worse -- a few inches closer to the radiator when she tripped, and she would have had a serious head injury. She was very brave, and by the next day was so darn proud of herself, she attempted to stop Mass to tell Father all about it. (He was a good sport, thankfully!)

I met a really interesting young man whom I interviewed for the Catholic paper. His parents had a fascinating way of training their kids to perform works of mercy. I'll post it soon, I promise.

I also met a lot of other interesting people through the paper.

School ended for my kids -- Zooey was promoted to 3rd grade. Edyn will be in Kindergarten and will love it (although she's dreading it at the moment).

All the kids had swimming lessons and did well.

My husband has been hired by the Academy of Rock, a local after-school program for middle-schoolers. He'll be teaching various instruments (guitar, bass and keyboards) as well as electronic music (for rap and hip-hop) and possibly a class in recording. The pay is lousy, but it's work he can be proud of. He's also thinking about becoming a substitute teacher to round out our income a little bit.

Then there is the usual stuff, like car repairs, a leaky toilet, painting the girls' bedroom, and so on.

So, how are you?


“Nobody does that any more.”

When my husband and I were dating and later engaged, we were attending an evangelical church and volunteering as youth workers. We’d each had to sign a paper stating that we’d uphold strict morals, which included no drinking, no tobacco, no “recreational” drugs and no sex before marriage.

As we fell in love and marriage was imminent, it became more and more difficult for us to refrain from sex. On more than one occasion, we got very, very close, but our commitment to God and to the belief that sex outside of marriage kept us from making what we believed would be a serious mistake.

Twice this week, we’ve been told “Nobody does that any more” – meaning, I guess, that all couples have sex before marriage nowadays.

It wasn’t like I was a virgin when my husband and I were dating. I’d been raised by atheists. My parents expected me to have sex before marriage. They didn’t offer any advice or any help in getting birth control or anything like that, but they certainly expected me to have sex as a teenager. I managed to hold out until I was 18 and in college – longer than any of my siblings – but I had no reason for waiting until marriage. It never occurred to me to wait until marriage – I just waited until I thought I was ready.

I had a handful of sexual partners over the years – not too many, as I was a “serial monogamous” and I had several longish relationships. But there was a lot of heartache and pain in those years.

When I became a Christian at age 24, nearly 25, my first thought was that I had no intention of giving up sex for Jesus. I honestly didn’t think that I could uphold that kind of lifestyle – let alone find a guy who would understand that concept. It was 1989, after all.

I guess the Lord kind of took care of that for me, because nobody asked me out on a date for years after I became a Christian. I didn’t even know how to find single Christian guys my age who might want to date me. At my church, guys my age were either married or engaged for the most part, and the younger men wouldn’t want a woman with so much experience, if you know what I mean.

After many months of not dating anybody, I got fixed up with Pete, a non-Christian man. We had a nice first date, and I found myself feeling really weird about being physically close to him. I did kiss him good-night, but that was it. He called a few days later just as my friends and I were starting a game of charades (yes, charades and yes, I know how lame that is but it’s one of the few forms of fun we were allowed). I invited him over, but I could tell he was taken aback by the idea of a bunch of young adults playing charades without any beer at all to make it go down easier.

On our second date, Pete asked me point blank if I would ever sleep with him before marriage. I said I wouldn’t – wanting to be true to the Christian concept of proper sexual activity. I had become committed to celibacy before marriage a little bit at a time, without even knowing it, until I was faced with the choice and made it once and for all.

That was it for him. He was nice about it and he apologized, but he said he needed to know he was compatible with a woman sexually or he couldn’t possibly marry her.

I hear that a lot from people. But is it really necessary? I mean, we don’t make our boyfriends/girlfriends have children and prove their parenting ability before marriage. Do we really need to prove sexual compatibility before marriage?

I knew my husband-to-be would be a good father because of the way he interacted with kids and youth at church and because of the way he interacted with his family. This was important to me, having grown up with a very uninvolved father. And though I had to base my judgment on these simple observations, I have not been disappointed. He is everything I thought he was going to be as a father.

In the same way, I had no doubt my husband would be a good lover because of the way he kissed me and held me and touched my hair or whatever. I knew he would be selfless and considerate specifically because he was willing to set aside his own desire for sexual fulfillment until we were married and it was right. More importantly, that self-denial taught me that he would be absolutely faithful to our marriage in the face of the greatest temptation. I know, because I know how tempted we were when we were engaged.

He would say to me, “I love you so much, and I believe in marriage so much, I’m not going to sleep with anybody outside of our marriage, including you!”

I don’t consider that self-denial that we shared during those passionate months of longing before our wedding to be a burden. I know them to be a gift, one of the greatest gifts my husband ever gave me.

I want my kids to have that same gift, and to give that same gift to their future spouses someday. But will it even be possible if society at large says, “Nobody does that any more?”

I have heard that the church my husband and I met and married in no longer instructs couples to refrain from sex before marriage. They don’t consider it a sin any more. I know a lot of Catholic parishes are the same, basically winking at premarital sex and encouraging couples to marry sooner, rather than later, to “correct” the situation.

I’m not a naïve person. I had premarital sex and found it wanting. I chose celibacy before marriage after that and I know how hard it is to resist temptation. But that’s why I found it to be a glorious gift.

Hardly anybody refrained from premarital sex when I was in high school and college and certainly in the early 1990s when my husband and I were dating, but so what? It’s still possible. Only, we have to tell our children that it’s possible and even desirable to wait until marriage. If everybody says, “Nobody does that any more,” but their dad and I, will they even believe us?

I don’t have an answer. I hear myself thinking, “What’s the point? Give up and focus on teaching them to have the safest sex possible” sometimes – just like secular society, I guess. But I don’t want to give up on my children without a fight.

They’re still little – almost 8, just turned 5, 3-and-a-half. But I worry about it now because I know now is the time to teach them the self-discipline they will need. Now is the time to teach them the value of self-sacrifice, even sacrificing what everybody around them says is good. Now is the time to train them to judge their actions not by what everybody else is doing, but by what God says is good and holy.

Is it hypocritical for me to want my kids to abstain from premarital sex when I indulged in it myself? No, not at all. When I was having premarital sex, I had no moral compass. I had no way of knowing it wasn’t good or healthy, either for my physical body, my partner or my relationships. It was a mistake for me to do it, and I hope they will learn from my mistakes and avoid falling into the same misfortunes.

I just want better for my kids, that’s all.


P.S. For the record, I don't feel that people who do have premarital sex are automatically condemned to hell or anything. When I learn of it, I am saddened and sincerely wish that the couple had been given some reason to refrain, but I certainly understand the immense pressure to accept premarital sex as normal and natural. And I know that most people don't realize the merit in giving up what is "normal and natural" for a particular reason (to serve God, to prove fidelity to your future spouse, etc).