We had just gotten engaged two days before and were at daily Mass together. I told Daniël we should ask the priest for a blessing, because he was the first priest we had come in contact with since we got engaged.
So after Mass we saw the priest, introduced ourselves, and asked him if he would give us this blessing. This conversation ensued:
Priest: First of all, you guys know the rules right?
Daniël: The rules?
Priest: Yeah, the rules. The rules about you being engaged.
Me: What rules?
Daniël: Father, please explain further…
Priest: Just because you’re engaged doesn’t mean you’re married. You don’t get to do the things married people get to do.
Me (Sensing where he is trying to go): Are you talking about sex? Are you talking about how we’re not supposed to have sex until we’re married?
Me: Well…….yeah. Obviously.
This was an awkward encounter for me. He gave us a very nice blessing after our discussion, but I was sad at the fact that he didn’t take a moment to rejoice with us before telling us in a very strange way that just because we are engaged does not mean we can break the “rules.” I find no fault with this priest, as many couples do not choose the same road that Daniël and I have chosen and for some this teaching is not obvious, and I must give him the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to shepherd us in the best way he knew how. After all, he probably sees plenty of couples living other lifestyles, and has to be courageous about calling them to be chaste.
But as I thought about my feelings about with the encounter, I thought about how the world thinks along this vein, too…we have loved one another for nearly two years now . . . gosh, we must be desperate to have sex with each other. This is not the case at all. Abstaining from sex until marriage has never been about following a “rule,” dreadfully waiting to be released from its confines. Nor are we in some massive hurry to get married so we can bring that into our relationship. Why? Because our relationship is incredibly wonderful and fulfilling as is . . . our relationship has consisted solely of getting to know the heart of the other, which has always made me comfortable, happy, and confident throughout our entire dating process. I have never for a moment wondered if I am being used for my body, and I have never questioned what Daniël’s love for me is based on. I am grateful. We decided together to follow the laws of God because we know that God decreed these for the good of our human hearts.
The world tells us all day long about how sex is an integral part of any relationship, while most often forgetting to tell us that there are many avenues by which you can show your love to someone other than physically. It tells young people that if you do not know your partner physically and intimately, something is weird, something is wrong. Our culture says that healthy dating relationships are based on a good sex life, and nothing about sacrifice and deep, true, genuine, giving to the other. Just read the headlines on a few magazines for younger people . . . every other cover story seems to be about dating in regards to sex. I see no headlines or cover stories about sacrifice.
I have never had to give of my body to Daniël in order to make our relationship “normal,” nor am I in such a desperate hurry to give of my body to him that as soon as he puts an engagement ring on my hand I decide it’s the same as being in the sacrament of marriage. It’s not. And we know that. The gift of sex is meant for the sacrament of marriage in order to be bonded to your spouse in the most beautiful way, and no, being engaged to someone is not the sacrament of marriage. And that is perfectly okay with me, because when the day does come that we enter into this sacrament, it will be as it was designed to be. It will be within the correct context, the most beautiful context, the safest and most sure context of all—within a grace-filled sacrament in which we have made a covenant with God to love each other no. matter. what.
In the meantime, we will continue to love one another for the next many months of this engagement—supporting one another spiritually and emotionally, joyfully encouraging one another to grow to be the people God created us to be, and having a blast all along the way.
Emily Wilson planned her whole life to become a sports reporter but ended up as a Catholic musician and speaker at the hand of God. She lives out of her suitcase and travels across the world speaking and singing with people of all ages. The heart of her ministry is offering encouragement to teen girls in their search for their true identity. “The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.” -St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. You can visit her website and listen to her music at www.emwilsonmusic.com.