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“Ask a Priest: What If I Was Afraid to Admit I’m Chaste With My Fiancé?”
Q: Recently I had a friend over for drinks and she began talking about her ex-boyfriend and the type of contraception she was using. She then asked me what contraception I was using with my fiancé. If I told her the truth and said we are abstaining from sex before we are married, this private and very personal information would be shared with many people and would be the talk of the town. So, I chose to lie and told her we weren’t using any protection when we have sex, thus leading her to believe we have sex before marriage. I feel guilty ever since for effectively denying my Catholic faith and values, and I am not sure what to do about it. If the details of my private life became known, it would have a major impact on my life. But I also feel awful for not sticking up for my faith and God’s commandments. Can you please advise what I should do if this situation arises again? And whether I need to go to confession over this? – D.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It’s great to hear that you and your fiancé are striving to save sex for marriage. It is a fine way to set a solid foundation for a happy marriage.
The first observation is that you shouldn’t feel as though you have to reveal personal details about your relationship with everyone.
It’s one thing to speak about your commitment to chaste living with someone who would appreciate it or who would be edified by it (for instance, a teenager who looks up to you).
It’s another thing to speak about it with someone who will mock you and spread it around town. Remember Jesus’ words, “Do not … throw your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6).
On the other hand, Our Lord also said that “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).
The world needs the witness of those willing to stand up for the Gospel.
Let’s face it: You will likely face similar questions in the future. “What kind of contraception do you and your husband use?” “Do you plan to get a tubal after the second baby is born?” And so on.
It would be helpful for you and your fiancé to have a heart-to-heart talk about how you plan to witness to your faith, and what kind of strategy you will follow when the indiscreet questions arise. Handled well, the questions could be an opportunity to evangelize others.
Another issue, sorry to say, is that, in effect, you slandered your fiancé.
By implying that the two of you were having sex, you gave the impression that he is fornicating (with you) and thus sinning gravely. If word of that gets around, it could damage his reputation (and yours) with people who perceive you to be an upright, God-fearing couple.
For that reason, it would be good to go to confession as soon as possible.
Now, let’s go back to the broader situation.
If your friends and others would ridicule you for being chaste, you might want to start cultivating a new circle of friends. You could do that by getting involved in parish projects and Bible studies or theology-of-the-body studies or by attending Catholic events (lectures, fundraisers, etc.).
For now, resolve to either speak the truth about your support of chastity, or, if you don’t want to throw the pearls before swine, let the question go without a reply.
If pressed, you could simply say the truth. If your friend mocks you, and others mock you, that might lead to a kind of housecleaning of your social network. The anti-chastity folks might drift out of your life – which might not be a bad thing.
Whatever you do, think of the long term. Chastity isn’t a widely embraced value in the world. You and your fiancé will need to find a way to live your chastity joyfully in this valley of tears.
But don’t lose hope. There are others out there who will benefit from your example.
Intensify your prayers for you and your fiancé. Our Lord and Our Lady will be there to help you both.
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