Love One Another! 9/2008 → The main topic
I am a happily married woman, aged twenty-nine. When I met my husband, I was unshakably persuaded that God had placed him in my path.
It took me a long time to find my one and only love. Often I lost hope that I would ever be happy and have someone whom I could love with all my heart and who would love me in return. I began looking for my “other half” at an early age — when I was sixteen. I went to discos and parties and met all kinds of boys; but I always knew that this one or that one was not the one. The years went by and my dreams of having a happy family never came about. I decided to move to the big city, get an education, and find my Prince Charming. But my student years passed very quickly and the city brought no fulfillment of my dreams; nor — wonder of wonders! — did it bring any other improvement in my life. I grew distant from God, stopped praying, and went to Sunday Mass less and less often. I told myself it did me no good and the whole thing was phony anyway. After a while, pornographic films and pictures began to find their way into my hands. These began to interest me more and more. I never stopped to think if this was good or not. Everyone else was looking at these things, so why shouldn’t I? Such was my reasoning. The worst thing was that these scandalous films lent themselves to but one purpose — to self-abuse.
I remained addicted to this practice for twelve years. It began when, at the age of fifteen, I discovered the pleasure of arousing my own body. At first I did not know that this was sinful; but deep inside I felt it was not normal. Why else would I have to do “it” in private? The more I gave in to self-abuse, the more strongly I felt I was doing something wrong. Instead of pleasure, I felt sadness, increasing depression, inner conflict, and self-dissatisfaction. I could not understand why instead of feeling relaxed and fulfilled, I should feel drained and listless, and why I always wanted to cry. I know now that my heart was longing not for bodily pleasure but for real love — a love inspired by God and directed towards another, to whom, as a wife, I could entrust myself entirely, body and soul.
I sank deeper into the mire. The more I sought physical pleasure, the more distant I grew from God. Since, throughout all this time, I was not in love with any particular boy (and for this I thank God!), I managed to remain a virgin. Somehow I could not make myself go to bed with a boy whom I did not love; though there was no lack of propositions of “sex for sport” in the big city discos.
The turning point occurred when, at the age of twenty-seven, I met my husband. He reminded me of what was most important in life. I remember his words: “No matter how far I should go in life, even if I achieved everything in life and fulfilled all my dreams, if I did all of this by going against my conscience and God’s will, I should die without hope, in the full awareness that I had ruined my life.” His conduct, convictions, and faith awoke in me a desire to seek after the truth. Stranger still, he wanted to abstain from sex until we were married. This was a great shock to me. Here was a guy, twenty-seven years old, who had never slept with a woman. He was saving sex for marriage. I was amazed. Until then, all the men I had known had a completely different view of things.
I began to browse through Scripture, the Internet, and books in search of information on sexual abstinence. Sure, I thought, having sex with a man whom I did not love was wrong. But with a man I loved and planned to live with? Surely this could not be wrong? I could not see why I had to wait until we were married or why sex before marriage was wrong. After all, did we not love each other and intend to spend the rest of our lives together? Nowhere could I find the answer to my questions. I did not understand Holy Scripture, the Internet was full of rubbish, and I had no luck finding good books on the subject. Finally — and here God must have intervened — my boyfriend brought over a copy of Love One Another Magazine. With a pounding heart I began to read it. It was exactly what I was looking for! I had found the answers to the questions that were bothering me.
I ordered several back issues of the magazine and, with tears in my eyes, read through the successive issues whenever I had a moment to spare. Slowly I began to see everything — what was good, what was bad, and why. This knowledge was food for my soul. My heart underwent a process of purification. I began to form my conscience anew. I learned that for twelve years I had lived in a state of serious sin. I had committed the sin of self-abuse (not knowing how serious a sin it was) and I had committed sacrilege by abusing myself and then receiving Holy Communion. I felt a horror of my stupidity and being so easily deluded by the TV and youth magazines such as Bravo. I believed those articles when they told me that premarital sex and masturbation were wonderful learning experiences, “dry runs” preparing one for real sexual life with one’s future husband, partner, etc.
Reading Love One Another Magazine taught me why having sex before marriage destroys love along with the person, how it contributes to the higher likelihood of marital infidelity later in life, how it reinforces selfishness and the desire to satisfy one’s own needs, how it is closed to life, and prevents one from knowing one’s real self and maturing in authentic love.
Two months after reading that first copy of Love One Another, I went to confession, received Holy Communion, and joined the Movement of Pure Hearts. Since then I have prayed daily and begged the Merciful Jesus to help me to remain pure in thought, word, and deed. Every month I go regularly to confession that I might remain in a state of sanctifying grace, which helps me to stay close to God, to read Holy Scripture and other Catholic books and publications. I began to feel better. Peace and love began to take root in my heart. I stopped having guilt feelings and felt the presence of God and His palpable help within me. At times it was very difficult, but throughout all that time I trusted that with God’s grace I would succeed. I knew He was my strength and was working within me and that I had only to allow His power to enter me and all would be well. And so I persevered in purity.
After making our vow of purity, my future husband and I took pains to avoid the passionate kissing and caressing that is normally reserved for marriage. What happened? Did we last it out throughout the full ten months of our engagement? Yes we did! If you do not believe this is possible, then you are mistaken. True, there were some very difficult moments, but thanks to prayer and grace we found the strength to persevere. What’s more, I now recall those ten months of shared abstinence with great fondness. Perseverance in purity cleansed us of our bad habits and thoughts. It enabled us to get to know each other, not just our bodies. The period of shared abstinence taught us the virtue of patience, the art of self-denial, of being open to the other, and of expressing mutual affection through tender gestures, kind words, and willingness to help. Our love was deepened and strengthened by the love of God, who always desires that we place our neighbor’s good before our own. To the end of my life I shall be grateful to God for that period of growth.
Thanks to prayer and Jesus Christ I managed to rid myself of the sin of impurity and to enter into a happy marital union. Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the mass media that constantly tell us that masturbation and illicit sex are OK. These are only empty publicity slogans promoted by the contraceptive and pornography industries, whose only interest is to make a killing on us. Our health and happiness are of no importance to them. To all those who are struggling with the problem of purity, I say trust in God’s help, and persevere!