Pause: Cohabitation is regarded by most young people today as a good way to prepare for marriage. What do you think? How do you think parents should respond when their young adult tells them that he/she has moved in with his/her girlfriend/boyfriend?
Extramarital sex. Extramarital sex, or sex outside of marriage, is wrong because it is a violation of the marriage covenant. It is a grave sin against the sixth commandment which says: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Within marriage, couples can also be un- chaste without becoming involved with a third per- son. They could have loveless sex or use sex as a weapon to either punish or get what they want. Wil- liam Kraft writes: “Chaste people, married or unmar- ried, are respectful and loving people. They abstain from exploitative, manipulative, and deceptive be- havior. They do not regard sexuality as something to use or as simply a source of pleasure. Rather, they see and celebrate in chastity the mystery—the spirit—of sex” (ibid p. 58).
Lust. The Catechism states that “lust is disordered desire for…sexual pleasure” (C 2351). In his book Catholic Christianity, Peter Kreeft writes: “Lust does not mean sexual pleasure as such, nor the de- light in it, nor the desire for it in its right context. Contrary to what the world thinks, the Church teaches that sexual pleasure is good, not evil. For God created sex and its pleasure… No spontaneous thoughts and feelings can be sins until they are willed or consented to by the will. Thoughts and feelings of sexual arousal are not lust: “lust is willing the thoughts and feelings just for the pleasure, with- out the purposes of the marriage union” (pp 246-247).
Masturbation (C 2352). Masturbation involves the intentional stimulation of the genital organs for pur- poses of solitary pleasure. Concerning this activity, William Kraft writes: “Masturbation is particularly seductive because it is an easy and accessible way to reduce tension and to explore genital feelings and fantasies without interpersonal vulnerability, respon- sibility, and accountability. It seems we have a li- cense to masturbate almost whenever we feel like it. We need not worry about other people or social con- sequences; it can be kept to oneself” (ibid p. 104).
The Church teaches that masturbation is morally wrong because God intended sexual activity to be relational and within the context of marriage. Fur- thermore, masturbation separates sex from its unitive and procreative dimensions. But the Catechism also
wisely teaches that certain factors can lessen or even erase one’s guilt or moral blameworthiness in the case of masturbation. These include immaturity, anxiety, force of an acquired habit, and other social or psychological factors like compulsion (C 2352).
Pornography. The Catechism states that “porno- graphy consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties” (C 2354). Today, pornography which is now more accessible through the internet, also includes the “sexploit- ation” of children. It is a multi-billion dollar industry in which huge numbers of adults, especially men, as well as teenagers, are addicted to it.
Writing on this issue in their Pastoral Letter Love is for Life, the Irish bishops state: “Never in porno- graphic material, and all too rarely in modern adver- tising, are women represented as persons to whom men might look for intelligent conversation or inter- esting ideas or equal companionship. For the por- nographer, and all too often for the advertiser, women are assumed to be of interest to males only as desirable sexual bodies, to be seized and pos- sessed for male sexual pleasure. Pornography is morally wrong because it places sex in a context of lovelessness, of exploitation, of taking without giv- ing, of pleasure without commitment” (p. 35).
Homosexuality (C 2357-2359, USC p. 407). Homo- sexuality is the term used to refer to men and women who have an exclusive, enduring and predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex.
In its three paragraphs on homosexuality, the Cate- chism makes the following five points:
The genesis of same-sex attraction remains largely unexplained.
Persons with same-sex attraction do not choose their condition or sexual orientation.
Persons with same-sex attraction must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Any form of unjust discrimination towards persons with same-sex attraction is morally wrong and should be condemned.
Sexual relations between homosexual persons is morally wrong. Why? Catholic newspaper colum- nist and author, Amy Wellborn, writes: “To put it rather bluntly, the parts (i.e., our genital parts) were made to fit and fit for a purpose…namely, the creation of a family in the physical and spiri- tual sense. The purpose of genital sex is to create