While its disappointing that so many people are living together, I don't know if the answer is to tell them live apart for 6 months, and then we will marry you. While I understand marriage is a serious thing that needs contemplation. We may at this point be placing to big of a burden, and could risk turning people away from the Church for good.
I have a family member (who is not Catholic but is marrying a Catholic) who is getting married in the Church, and yes they are living together. They know they aren't suppose to be, but I am hopeful that once they are married and that big life style issue is out of the way, that it will draw both of them to the Church. I know the non Catholic was really impressed with Pre Cana...
Purity is a difficult thing, and while it is possible asking people who have already been there in their relationship, to suddenly stop may be easier said then done. There's a Scripture verse that says "better to marry than to burn." And for some of these people it may apply. I think there should be some level of happiness that these people actually DO want to make their relationship right by marrying.
The point is in this circumstances, it may lead people back into the Sacraments. Isn't that what we want?
Lets put it this way. Trying to avoid pre-marital sex when you are in a close relationship is an extremely daunting task. Its like trying to keep to a strict diet when you happen to be standing in front of the giant buffet salons on a luxury liner and I'd say the majority of us are going to slip and either have sex or at least commit the same degree of mortal sin by putting ourselves in occasion of serious sin when we even kiss, hug or dance to close for goodness sake. I don't know about the good old days since stats were not kept on many social issues until relatively modern times. Even going back to the mid 50's I think the only real virgin I ever knew was my mother!
Now I realize that sex outside of marriage is condemned and when we do fail and fall into it, we need to go and confess it just as we do for all the other sins from jealousy, gluttony to theft and gossiping. I think your minister was just being realistic about the way things are going and unfortunately these drives and urges since day one are not going to vanish off the face of the earth just because our Lord Jesus, St. Paul or even Mohamed said they did not like it at all.
I have had a couple of years to come to grips with this information and to do my own "research" and have found that CM is a very good data sampling that supports these statistics, especially from the numbers of members that answer "no" under premarital sex (way more men than women check "no" in this category).
Now, I know where I stand in this category (check my profile if you are interested) and I know where my exhusband stands (he is currently unmarried, living with his "sex slave"), but I am concerned where this leaves my four twenty-something year old children.
What is the Catholic church doing to reduce the percentages? Well, the marriage and family life minister said he is setting up households for the couples to live, seperately, so that they are no longer living together. Not a bad idea, but I think that is just treating the symptoms and not getting to the root of the problem.
I would like to hear suggestions from CM members, whether you checked yes or no for the premarital sex question or not, as to whether or not the Church should "do" anything in regards to the high percentages of members engaging in sex before marriage. AND if the church should "do" something, what should it be? Keep in mind that statistics show couples who cohabitate/engage in premarital sex have a higher divorce rate than couples that don't.
The fact that 85% of Catholics do not live by the Church's teachings on premarital sex should tell us something. That teaching has been decisively rejected by the vast majority of the Faithful. In short, it is no longer part of the Sensus Fidei. Is this because they are evil or deluded? No. They are normal and just responding to the Natural Law. Catholics make a big deal about the Natural Law when it suits them, but when lovers respond to their love in the most natural way possible, the Church makes them feel guilty, and some fanatics condemn them.
It is completely normal for people to express themselves sexually from puberty on up. (This isn't to say there are not serious and potentially difficult consequences to doing what is normal so early!) In countries where they have not been browbeaten by Christians, this is the norm. But, we Catholics live in guilt from age 11 onward, because even if we're not doing it, we're thinking about it, and wishing we were doing it. It is a shame that Catholics and other Puritanical Christians should be so ashamed about sex.
Sensible religions understand this and deal with it by encouraging people to marry young. This helps the partners, and the children which may ensue, reap the benefits of the married state and the true, Christian family. But, Catholics have a schizoid approach to love and sex. They say that one should only have sex in marriage, but they discourage marriage, make no effort to help young people (or old for that matter) get married, and drive apart young lovers as payment for seeking the religious blessings of marriage. In my opinion, this is stupid.
I understand the Church's teachings on sex and, basically, agree with them. It is the Church's job to show us the high road. It is a lot easier when you cross 35 to obey the rules. But, it is not consistent with human nature or with a healthy life to say sex can only be within marriage and then have half the population unmarried. If the Church wants to seriously decrease the epidemic of unwed cohabitation, she should encourage people to marry at 16-18. Then you are only holding off nature for a few years; hard enough as it is. It is ridiculous to expect healthy and sane people to abstain from sex from puberty to middle age. Just Nuts. And I do not believe for a minute that it makes them more holy. It just makes them neurotic. Or it causes them to rebel and reject the entire faith and all the good that it could do them and their children.
There have always been a few extremely holy souls who could transmute the sexual impulse to spiritual love. And there have always been a few twisted souls who had no interested in it. But, these are not the norms. The 85% are the norms. If the Church wants to deal with reality, it needs to deal with the 85% in a way that respects nature. What the Church does instead is create tortured and neurotic parishioners who deny their very natures to live up to a Semitic code of conduct which violates natural law. Better to work with nature...sanctify sex, and do so when sex becomes important, which is about age 15, instead of chastising people and pretending that they are sinful just because they want to do the most natural thing in the world.
So, in summary, I think the Catholic Church's attitudes toward sex are Schizoid. That is, they are self contradictory and damaging to the human psyche. If we are to hold to the goal of sex only in marriage, then marriage should be very early. If we are to postpone marriage until we have a degree, a house, and a retirement account, then we have to allow for unwed sex. That is the reality, and 85% of the Faithful are telling us this.
But is the Church listening? No. When was the last time your parish had a dance for teenagers and tried to pair them up for marriage? Does you parish have a dating club for unwed singles of any age? Do priests talk up the idea of getting out of your single selfishness and committing to another? Do you try to find dates for your kids and friends from within the parish? And how about us parents? When was the last time you encouraged your kids to find someone to love who loved them back, instead of tying them to your apron stings and infatilizing them? When was the last time you encouraged the physical love that happened spontaneously for them as the spark, but then fanned the flames with the religion, teaching them how to advance eros to agape, that is from getting to giving? As opposed to making them feel guilty and driving them apart?
No, the Catholic Church is right about many things, most things, but it is downright sick about sex. Somehow the truth got lost in the philosophy. I think maybe it happened when the first generation thought that the Second Coming was going to happen in their lifetimes. Boy were they wrong! And that includes Saint Peter and all the others. If Christ were coming any day, why have sex and kids? Makes sense. Just stay celibate for another year and then we'll all beam up, Scotty, into heaven, praying as we go. :-) But, we now know the Apostles were wrong, and Christ didn't come in their lifetime or for nearly 2000 years now, and we've had to go on living, reproducing, and loving. The Church hasn't yet dealt with that first error. And, it likely won't as long as we have a celibate clergy, which I now realize is a totally unnatural thing in itself. I used to champion it, but now I see that it is sick. All it has done is give us a gay priesthood. And, let's not forget the unhappy, angry, miserable sisters who taught us when we were young; nuns deprived of the type of love that every human ought to have. I feel so sorry for them! Saint Paul came closest when he said it is better to marry than to burn in desire. How many years do we expect our young folk to burn? For how long will we expect our priests to burn in return for the privilege of confecting the Eucharist? As if having sex somehow makes a man unworthy!
So, in answer to your question: the Church should either facilitate early marriage or get used to the idea of premarital sex. You can't have it with none of the above. That is not who human beings are. We are sexual creatures. And that is normal and healthy. We just need to use the faculty wisely...not disuse it.
Quote by Gerald: "But, it is not consistent with human nature or with a healthy life to say sex can only be within marriage and then have half the population unmarried."
Well, I'm a "7-for-7" on the faith questions, so I pretty much disagree with everything you said, Gerald. I'm saving myself until marriage, and I'm 25, so I must be insane. I did nonetheless find your opinion very intriguing and I'm glad you shared it.
A lot of this discussion has already been hashed and re-hashed, so there's not much to add, but I will say this: sex needs boundaries. That, to me, was the whole point of marriage. Sex is an incredibly emotional experience for both genders, it is both physically and emotionally gratifying, it produces children, and it's ultimately an expression of love. (I've always maintained that sex is more than just a biological act to meet a biological need.) However, it can affect and change people's lives in many ways. I always thought of marriage as a way to manage the emotions and repercussions of sex in a responsible, mature way, that brings order to society and balance to people's lives (especially children's), hence why it is an institution ordained by God. Of course, if you think human beings are basically animals, then what's the point of marriage at all? Why commit to a single person or apply reason to anything if we're all just driven by our appetites?
As for your statements on the Church's "failings," a lot of that is more of a cultural thing than a religious one. The culture, especially in the United States, has made it seem okay to abandon reason and discipline and just do "what feels natural." The state of living has also changed for many people. In the time of Christ and before him, they (i.e. the societal leaders) actually did wed men and women at 14 or 15 (wasn't Mary 14 when she married Joseph?), because at that time life expectancy was around 30 to 40. In our society today there are tons of "rites of passage." You go to grade school for X amount of years, high school for Y amount of years, college for Z amount of years, get a job at age V, married at M, kids at W, etc. It's obviously a very different time.
Still, I don't think we should just accept what the culture tells us and change because well, that's the culture and we might as well just do it. I mean, if we do, what's the point of being Catholic? Of following God or Jesus's teachings? Of believing in anything? This type of pseudo-Zen, "morality is relative" thinking is what causes a lot of problems in the first place. I think the Church is handling a lot of these issues very well considering. We can't expect things to be easy (LIFE WHY U NO EASY), but I like that the Church sticks with her convictions and does its best to remain consistent on the important issues.