So, How Far Can We Go?

[ 5 ] March 7, AD 2012 |

So, how does a Catholic date in the modern world? Granted, pop culture gives us a picture of what we should avoid, but that does not answer the question.  When is kissing appropriate in a relationship?  Is kissing for more than six seconds sinful?  How can dating truly bring us closer to God?  How do I know that this is the person I should marry?  The book, How Far Can We Go, seeks not to answer all of your questions on dating, but to give you a solid Catholic understanding of relationships  so that you can answer your own questions through prayer and an informed conscience.

The authors do an excellent job discussing the guidelines of physical intimacy understanding that “the road between a handshake and the gift of sex is vast and unknown”.  Rather than give a concrete line of how far couples can go physically before marriage, they present a system of how intimacy should work.  As a lover of all things mathematical, I greatly enjoyed how they used graphs to illustrate the ways one should grow in physical intimacy.

The basis of the graph model is to show how intimacy should grow between people as their relationship change from friends, to dating, and finally to marriage.  Physical intimacy is important in any dating relationship, but the amount of intimacy should depend upon where a person is in their relationship.  A high school dating relationship will look much different from a dating relationship of adults in their late 20s.

As you can see, the path to marriage requires both commitment and intimacy from both people.  Having one without the other will lead to trouble as seen in different graphs in the book.  However, a very good approach to intimacy in a relationship that leads to marriage is seen below.

The intimacy in a relationship starts slow as the couple gets to know each other.  Intimacy then increases as the couple’s increase their commitment to each other.  The authors make it clear that intimacy is not simply physical.  Emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual intimacy are also important to a relationship. Full intimacy is then only achieved as the two people get married.

Besides discussing intimacy, the authors tackle the difficult aspects of Church teaching in an honest but appealing way.  I loved the analogy they made between the Church’s stance on sex and hockey fans’ love of the sport.  Those who love hockey do not like tripping, slashing, goaltender interference, and the other penalties in the game since hockey is a more enjoyable game without the penalties.  Similarly, the those who love sex, such as the Church, are not fans of masturbation, contraception, promiscuity, and the other perversions of sex.  “Hockey is best when it is played the way it is intended.  The same is true for sex.”

They also list how the different perversions of sex cheapen it and leave one feeling unfulfilled.  I thought that these difficult subjects were presented in a clear and concise manner faithful to the Church. Instead of making the person feel that the Church is all about saying no in regards to sex, the authors paint a positive view of sex.  They repeatedly state that the Church treasures sex so much that it sets up these rules for people to live fulfilled lives and experience sex in its most fulfilling and proper place, marriage.

These were just a few great analogies from the book on sex and dating.  I encourage you to read the book to hear equally good discussions on discernment of marriage, the marriage vocation, and a rudimentary look at NFP.

I thought this book was an excellent guide for Catholics who are at the age of dating relationships.  This book helps the reader form his conscience according to Church teachings and apply these principles to a dating relationship.  The authors challenge the reader not to ask, How far can I go, but “How am I being called to give of myself in relationships?”  Through this book, one will see God’s beautiful plan for human sexuality and how He set up boundaries to protect and safeguard this wonderful gift.

If you are interested in purchasing the book, please go to http://paulistpress.com/bookView.cgi?isbn=978-0-8091-4726-7.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Bob-W.-e1319488641975.png[/author_image] [author_info]Bob Waruszewski is a 22-year-old cradle Catholic from Pittsburgh, PA. He recently graduated from St. Vincent College with a bachelor’s degree in both mathematics and economics. Currently he works for a natural gas company in the Pittsburgh area and helps organize Young Adult Ministry events on the side. In his free time he enjoys sports, hiking, reading and chess. His favorite Saint is St. Joseph.[/author_info] [/author]

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Category: Books, Columnists, Relationships

About the Author ()

Bob Waruszewski is a cradle Catholic from Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from St. Vincent College with a bachelor’s degree in both mathematics and economics. Currently he works for a natural gas distribution company in the Steel City and is enjoying life as a married man. In his free time he enjoys playing sports and hiking. When in need of help,he frequently asks St. Joseph for assistance.
  • http://ephremhiphop.tumblr.com Brother Mark

    Thanks for the review.
    As a consecrated religious I do little reflecting on this stuff.
    Years back, when I did youth ministry, and whenever the question “How far is too far?” came up, I would turn it around.
    Instead of asking that, I would tell them to ask: “How far am I willing to go to ensure the eternal salvation of the one that I am dating?”

  • reintro

    I think this post is wrong. The graph gives the idea, that once I achieve a certain step, I am entitled to do more, and that’s just as bad as drawing a line, it becomes about following rules.

    There is no line because what matters is your intention. Even when you are married you have to be careful how you love your spouse, it’s not about well, I passed that bit on the chart, now we can have free rein.

    While dating, if your intention is to get turned on/be sexual, then you shouldn’t even hug, so to speak.
    Whereas if you can kiss the other person to express something, without ulterior motives, then thats fine.
    It seems really hard to do though.
    But whats important is that you understand that distinction, because then you can fall a million times but you have a basis on which you go back to after you confess, so you’re not in denial and pretending its all ok.

  • http://thecornerwithaview.blogspot.com Julie Robison

    Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing this!

  • Brett Salkeld

    Reintro,
    I think that if you read the chapter with the graphs you wouldn’t get the impression that passing a certain point on the chart entitled you to anything. The real idea is to be able to use them to think about your relationship and ask important questions about your intimacy in all areas of the relationship so that the physical never outstrips the other intimacies and reflects what is true.
    And you’re exactly right: that kind of thing does carry over into a marriage!

  • http://virtuouspla.net/ Stacy

    Very good advice, Mr. Salkeld. Thank you!