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Dear Father Angelo,

I would like to know about the references in the Scriptures and the Magisterium of the Church on premarital relations.

A friend of mine told me that there aren’t any.  Is it true?

I thank you in advance for your reply.

The Priest’s answer

Dear Ennio,

a friend of yours told you that there aren’t any Scriptures or Magisterium’s documents which prohibit premarital intercourse.

1. I could say that he is really misinformed, in fact, there are documents.

    The Sacred Scriptures forbid fornication.  Saint Paul says that “the fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Gal 5, 21), and so they commit a mortal sin.

    Fornicators are those who engage in sexual relationships,  although they are not married.

    2. The Gospel is sober about unchaste sins.  But chastity, also within oneself, that the Lord ask for is so great that He asserted: “You  have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Mt 5, 27-28).

    So, adultery is a mortal sin.

    3. The documents of the Magisterium of the Church on this topic are so many you cannot count them.

    I am going to mention to you one in particular that has discussed expressly about three sexual disorders:  masturbation, homosexuality and premarital sex.

      The document is from The Sacred Congregation for the doctrine of the faith entitled “Persona Humana” of Decembre 29, 1975.

      Let me point out to you what it says about premarital relations:

      Today there are many who vindicate the right to sexual union before marriage, at least in those cases where a firm intention to marry and an affection which is already in some way conjugal in the psychology of the subjects require this completion, which they judge to be connatural.  This is especially the case when the celebration of the marriage is impeded by circumstances or when this intimate relationship seems necessary in order for love to be preserved.

      This opinion is contrary to Christian doctrine, which states that every genital act must be within the framework of marriage.

      However firm the intention of those who practice such premature sexual relations may be, the fact remains that these relations cannot ensure, in sincerity and fidelity, the interpersonal relationship between a man and a woman, nor especially can they protect this relationship from whims and caprices.  Now it is a stable union that Jesus willed, and He restored its original requirement, beginning with the sexual difference.  <<Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female and that He said: This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body?  They are no longer two, therefore, but one body.  So then, what God has united, man must not divide.>> (cf. Mt 19, 4-6).

      St. Paul will be even more explicit when he shows that if unmarried people or widows cannot live chastely they have no other alternative than the stable union of marriage: <<…it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.>> (1 Cor 7, 9). Through marriage, in fact, the love of married people is taken up into that love which Christ irrevocably has for the Church (cf. E.f 5, 25-32), while dissolute sexual union defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit which the Christian has become.  Sexual union therefore is only legitimate if a definitive community of life has been established between the man and the woman.

      This is what the Church has always understood and taught, and she finds a profound agreement with her doctrine in men’s reflection and in the lessons of history.  Experience teaches us that love must find its safeguard in the stability of marriage, if sexual intercourse is truly to respond to the requirements of its own finality and to those of human dignity.

      These requirements call for a conjugal contract sanctioned and guaranteed by society – a contract which establishes a state of life of capital importance both for the exclusive union of the man and the woman and for the good of their family and of the human community.  Most often, in fact, premarital relations exclude the possibility of children.  What is represented to be conjugal love is not able, as it absolutely should be, to develop into paternal and maternal love.  Or, if it does happen to do so, this will be to the detriment of the children, who will be deprived of the stable environment in which they ought to develop in order to find in it the way and the means of their insertion into society as a whole.  

      The consent given by people who wish to be united in marriage must therefore be manifested externally and in a manner which makes it valid in the eyes of society.   As far as the faithful are concerned, their consent to the setting up of a community of conjugal life must be expressed according to the laws of the Church.  It is a consent which makes their marriage a Sacrament of Christ.” (PH 7).

      4. Just a few days ago I answered to one of our readers telling her that premarital relations are not true love because of two reasons :

      The first: because you give yourself to someone who does not belong to you in a definitive manner.  He/she belongs to us in the desire for one another, but not in reality.

        Each one of the partners knows very well that it is so , because each one of them knows to be free, they internally feel it.  Each one of the partners is aware that the other is free to abandon the relationship whenever they want .

        5. The second reason: it is not true love because we do not give ourselves  completely.  Indeed, it is exactly to deny oneself to the other that contraception is used.  What contraception is, in fact, if it is not the refusal to self-giving oneself to the other totally, the refusal to donate the other our own ability to become father and mother?

        It is a refusal, among other things, that is achieved by implementing the procreative abilities.

        Someone has justly said that “lust is a skin deep lie, a selfishness that disguises itself as a gift”.

        6. Pope John Paul II in the Familiaris Consortio said: “The total physical self-giving would be a lie it it were not the sign and the fruit of a total personal self-giving, in which the whole person, including the temporal dimension, is present: if the person were to withhold something or reserve the possibility of deciding otherwise in the future, by this very fact he or she would not be giving totally” (FC 11).

        I am very certain that you will be able to reflect on the motivations brought by the Magisterium of the Church, which is dedicated to defend true love from its counterfeits.

        I salute you, I remind the Lord of you and I bless you.

        Father Angelo