The Commitment Challenge #3

Sex and Committed Relationships

In a recent discussion at a youth conference, it was put to us by some of the participants that pre-marital sex was acceptable as long as it was a ‘committed’ relationship. Casual sex was seen to be inappropriate and perhaps dangerous, but if the couple were in a committed dating situation, then sex was okay. It sounds very reasonable and moderate, even mature; there is a certain sense of respect for sex and a desire not to trivialize it totally, as it often is in the wider culture.

In fact there was universal agreement amongst these young adults that sex was something precious and should be set aside for only ‘special’ relationships. Perhaps we should be grateful that they could at least see the tragedy of the casual sex culture. But truly, all we could see is how they had been duped by yet another of the culture’s subtle lies about sex.

Here’s our issue: we agree entirely that sex should only be for committed relationships. The problem is that what most (young) people see as a ‘committed’ relationship has nothing to do with commitment. They define a committed relationship simply by it’s duration. Ask one, it’s two years; ask another and it’s a year; another it’s a few months. There’s a major flaw in this thinking: time together does not necessarily imply or require any commitment.

A relationship commitment is a conscious decision – a choice to make a future with this person, to care about their welfare and to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the relationship. The commitment of marriage is a very public declaration of this decision of life-long dedication by a couple. Marital sex appropriately expresses and renews this commitment. In contrast, sex without commitment expresses anything from simple, short-term affection to raw, self-centred lust.

Discern the Right Path


About the Author:

Francine & Byron Pirola
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.

One Comment

  1. Francine Pirola January 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    According to our poll at a youth group (see article above), a committed relationship is marked by its duration. Some said 12months, others 6 or 3 months. But time doesn’t necessarily match commitment – some couples live together for years but separate when one gets an interstate job… clearly time didn’t make them more committed.

    I’m curious… what do you think defines a ‘committed relationship’?

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