Being a convert to the Catholic faith has been an amazing and daunting journey. At first it was just the obvious differences in Catholicism that I had to deal with, the Marian doctrines, the Pope, the Sacraments. As I learned more about them, it was easy to embrace and accept them as a part of my new faith.
Now, six years later, married and a mother to two beautiful girls, the subtle differences between what I used to believe and Catholicism are becoming obvious. Parenting, finances and marriage, these are all topics viewed slightly differently between the faiths.
Sex In Marriage
For now, let’s focus on just marriage, and more specifically, the marital act. The contraceptive mentality of our society has crept deeply into the Christian churches. Couples are taught that the only way affection can be shown is through sex, and if you’re abstaining, your marriage is in trouble! Wives are objectified and the marital act has lost its meaning of being a sacrament.
“He won’t go out for burgers when he has steak at home,” is what good little girls are told about sex in marriage. Dress up nicely enough, look pretty enough, and do plenty of ‘fun’ things in the bedroom, so he will never stray.
It must have been that his wife was not willing enough that he fell into a porn addiction. Society uses the excuse that “men have needs and if those needs aren’t being met, he will go elsewhere.” First of all, that degrades the man into an animal who acts merely on instinct and impulses, instead of treating him as a human with self-control and a conscience. Additionally, it excuses the man from the sin of adultery, blaming the wife for his unfaithfulness. Society puts an immense pressure on the part of the wife; stating it is her responsibility to prevent her husband from being unfaithful.
How is the poor postpartum mother to feel who physically cannot perform the act? Not only does she have a newborn vying for her attention, but she has the additional worry that her husband may be unfaithful because she is unable to perform her duty. Sex has been so engraved into our mindsets as an essential commodity that if we dare to go without it for a day we’ll grow a third arm.
But as Jenny Uebbing said, “Saying no to porn is his job, not yours. You don’t have to compete for his attention, and it’s certainly not your “fault”.”
I am not saying that a wife should not put on makeup and wear pretty lingerie to show her husband her affection, but rather that she should not do these things out of fear of losing him. A true bond in marriage based on mature love does not contain fear or doubt.
But I see so often that wives carry around an unspoken anxiety of not being good enough, and many men propagate that self-doubt by lusting after other women. Where is the trust that should be in a marriage? Are we basing our relationships off of immature love that only looks inward, focused on one’s own emotions and feelings?
Mature vs Immature Love
In “Men, Women and the Mystery of Love”, author Edward Sri states that immature love causes anxiety because it is based on unstable feelings. On the other hand, mature love creates confidence and serenity.
Immature love is selfish and based on how we feel at the moment, or how great our physical relationship is; mature love has an outward view, it focuses on wanting the best for your spouse. You and your spouse do not merely focus on each other, but your love is directed towards a greater goal, of striving to grow in holiness, strengthening your union and raising children.
The Catholic view of the marital act is one of love and respect. The Church teaches very fervently that one should not use each other as an object, that sex is not a ‘right’ to be had whenever you want it and however you want it, but it is to be a glimpse into the beatific vision.
Wives and husbands are to come together in the marital act reverently and prayerfully, not filled with lust.
The advice that good little girls are taught before marriage is tainted with the world’s view of sex. That it is merely a physical act based on pleasure. The Church teaches us quite the opposite, that true love does not always feel pleasurable but is based on sacrifice, a total commitment and an outward focus.
My conversion to the Catholic faith is a continuous journey and as I progress through the stages of my life, I discover how beautifully God has instructed His Church to guide us along our life.
Have you fallen prey to how society views sex in marriage?