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]