Is intimacy okay if we truly love each other? Wouldn't God understand?

Full Question

I would like to provide some information on myself to help describe my situation. i was born into a catholic family and sent to sunday school, however never went to church becuase my family did not participate. I have always believed in God but recently i feel as if i have become 100X closer to him. I think its because recently someone close to me almost overdosed on pills and made me realize how short life can be sometimes. I feel as though my relationship with God is very strong and i pray everynight and feel as if he communicates back just to help me know he is with me at all times. The problem i have is that I have been with a girl for 5-6 years now and we love eachother more than anything in the world. I'm now 18 and we have had sex for about 2 years now. The odd thing is i feel okay with it because of these factors. In todays society its nearly impossible to get married until both people are 18 (she is 17) and i plan to marry her as soon as we are both of proper age, i would gladly ask her today without hesitation. I know it is not lust it is all about love and nothing else. I feel as though God would understand the situation I am in, and for this record this girl means almost everything to me and is not like some normal high school relationship where kids think theyre in love. I just wanted to know what you guys feel and think about this, i hope you dont look down on me for asking such an odd question im really just looking for answers.

Answer

Thank you for your honesty in describing your current situation. 

No one, not even God, looks down on you for asking questions about morality and sexuality. In fact it would seem, the close relationship you speak of with God is directing you towards a deeper understanding of Him. He (God) calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength (CCC, 1). 

You declare that you love God and you love your girlfriend - these two loves should not oppose one another. Paraphrasing St. Aquinas, love is desiring the greatest good for the beloved (CCC,1766); we, as Christians, should understand the greatest good as the will of God. The question of love takes on a new and more serious meaning - do you desire the greatest good for your girlfriend? If so, the greatest good would not be sin, which separates us from God. 

Love demands truth. Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor (CCC, 1849). Language is meant to convey truth - no one wants to hear a lie. The body has a language as well and is also meant to convey truth. Fornication (sex between an unmarried man and unmarried woman) is a lie and sin against authentic love and God. Chastity is what is required to love truthfully. Chastity orders our sexual desires and behaviors towards the truth of authentic love; chastity requires self-mastery. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy (CCC,2339). 

Sometimes when we have repeatedly sinned over a long period of time, the "feeling" that it is wrong dwindles and I would guess this is why you feel having sex for the past two years is okay and further justify the actions with love. The problem with this is that despite your feelings, they do not make right what is wrong. Good intentions (such as mutual care/love) do not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered good or just (CCC, 1753). 

"It's an abuse of language to convey lies, and it can never be loving to do so. Two consenting adults who truly love one another and want to express that love through sexual intercourse are two adults who want to consent to marriage. Out of their love for one another, they won't speak the "language" of their bodies through intercourse until that language is an expression of their commitment they have already made in their wedding vows" (The Good News of Sex & Marriage, pg. 67). 

You stated that you "feel as though God would understand the situation". Thankfully, we do not have to assume God's thoughts on these matters. Jesus condemned fornication in Matthew 15: 19-20, St. Paul preaches that fornication is among the "works of the flesh" in Gal. 5:19-21, and fornication can lead to damnation in Eph. 5:5. St. Paul also states in Eph. 5:3-5 and Col 3:5 that immorality (Greek word for fornication) is contrary to the Christian discipleship. 

The fact that you see a problem is a beautiful grace from God. This grace has illuminated your conscience and will hopefully help you move away from sin and towards conversion. God desires you (and your girlfriend) to live in union with Him and his Commandments. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (Jn. 14:15). Our commitment to Christ is proved by works and not merely by words. By how you love yourself and others is how you prove love and commitment to Christ and his laws. Living the truth about our sexuality comes down to a question of faith. Do we believe the gospel or not? Do we believe Christ came to save us from our sins? 

Jesus calls us all to conversion, "to repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk. 1:15). A deeper relationship with God undoubtedly means a deeper conversion. The mercy of Christ is unfathomable and never ending. No sin is too big for his mercy. 

I suggest you speak with a Priest about this, make a good confession and receive the mercy of Christ. Taking up a new, pure relationship with your girlfriend will mean avoiding situations where you two are tempted to sin. Also, praying with your girlfriend for purity is a must in this battle over the flesh.