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Dear father,

I am 19 years old and my boyfriend is almost 18 years old. We are both Christian and since we met, long before we got together, we were both in the same position: we didn’t want to have sex before marriage.

However, we are gradually changing our minds about abstinence before marriage.

The Catechism says that having sex is both a unifying and a procreative act and these two aspects cannot be separated.

But, for instance, if a man is sterile and the procreative aspect fails, he will “practice” the unifying act nevertheless. 

Because of our condition as students we cannot marry or have children, so why can’t we “practice” the unifying act?

I have a strong desire to give myself completely to him not as an act of pleasure but as an act of extreme love to him and the same is for him. It would be the complete union of body and soul.

I would like to know what you think, thank you very much.

Priest answer

Dear friend,

1. Coming straight to the point: yes, the unifying aspect is fine.

But, why do you want to unite through the procreative powers?

Why unite with the procreative powers frustrating them of their intrinsic significance?

2. This means that the unitive aspect is important, but you must unite in another way: that is not through the procreative powers.

3. We must be honest: in the love you feel for your boyfriend there is the erotic component.

And this component (if it hasn’t already happened) is about to take over and you will forget an important thing: the journey to sanctification, the determination to make your love to each other stronger and more genuine, the commitment to overcome temptations, the will not to hand yourself over to anyone other than your spouse.

4. These are the premises which the Lord wants to teach you as the foundation of your love so that it will last forever and be a source of growth in mutual union and above all towards him who is the supreme goal of human love.

5. Regarding the example you gave: ” if a man is sterile and the procreative aspect fails, he will “practice” the unifying act”.

Well, if a man is sterile in marriage, he nevertheless gives himself totally to his wife. As far as he is concerned, he refuses nothing.

Sterility does not depend on him, it is not a vice of his soul.

On the other hand, frustrating the procreative purpose means refusing to give oneself in totality and introduces a vulnus (a wound) in one’s love which precisely for this reason ceases to be authentic and falsifies it.

6. My thought: restore your love and make it fly upwards, towards the Lord.

But for this it is necessary that your love remain pure.

I bless you and remind you to the Lord.

Father Angelo