What the Church Really Teaches About Sex & Marriage


CNA_Pope Francis

Dear Mary Beth,

Just a thought. Any way you could do a write up post on Catholic Match regarding the huge numbers of non 7 of 7’s? I just saw a few “I work in the parish and love the Church” people who reject 2-4 teachings of the Church.

Mr. Seven of Seven

Dear Mr. Seven,

Ah yes, the eternal 7/7 debate. For those of you not familiar with this aspect of CatholicMatch, this is a reference to the seven questions of Catholic doctrine that are posted on every member’s profile, along with the member’s answers. If a member agrees with all seven, he or she is referred to as a 7/7. Someone who agrees with only five of them is called a 5/7, someone who agrees with four of them would be a 4/7, etc. There are a lot of 5/7’s here. And I’ll give you a hint: the two matters on which they dissent rarely include Transubstantiation, Holy Orders or the Immaculate Conception. No, the disagreement usually revolves around much more immediate concerns for dating Catholics, namely the Church’s teaching on pre-marital sex and contraception.

I have a profile on CatholicMatch, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about me that I am a 7/7. Heck, I’ve spent my entire adult life speaking and writing on the beauty of those two points of doctrine that so many people have dismissed.

So, I’m always kind of surprised when I hear from a 5/7 man who is interested in getting to know me, given how important 6 and 7 are to me—particularly in the context of a dating relationship. I guess they would have no way of knowing that. After all, if they knew who I am and what I’ve been doing for the past 20 something years, that would mean they would have heard me speak or read one of my books and they would be fully convinced and converted 7/7’s, right? Right?

There are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of debates on the various CatholicMatch forums between the 7/7’s and the 5/7’s. Basically the 7/7’s are telling the 5/7’s they aren’t really Catholic, and the 5/7’s are telling the 7/7’s that they’re judgmental for dismissing them just because they reject these antiquated teachings that no one could possibly take seriously anymore. Or something like that.

I’ve never felt the need to write about them in the past because I figured all of those forum discussions pretty much had the issue covered. But then you, Mr. Seven, wrote your note and got me thinking. I haven’t participated in any of those debates. What would I have to say to those 5/7’s?

Quite simply, 5/7’s, I think you’re missing out on something very beautiful. I’m not surprised that you’re missing it. I’m frankly surprised there aren’t even more of you. There aren’t a lot of places where you’ll hear about it. The larger world has done a really good job of conveying the message that those teachings are antiquated and irrelevant, and the Church has for the most part done a very poor job of explaining them. Looking at the Church’s teaching from the perspective of modern American culture, they do seem ridiculously outdated and prudish.

My turnaround on these issues happened after I started studying what the Church really teaches about sex and marriage. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what I learned—I could write a whole book about that. (As a matter of fact, I did. It’s called Real Love, and you can read it if you want to learn more.) I just want to tell you that what I discovered is that the Church’s teaching aren’t random rules, they aren’t antiquated and they aren’t about oppressing or repressing anybody. They are about helping us to live love—and life—to the fullest. I found the teachings to be beautiful and deep and profound in a way that I never expected.

Before you dismiss those teachings out of hand, I’d like to challenge you to learn more about them—about why we believe what we do, and why we so stubbornly cling to it even in the face of such enormous cultural opposition. Read the Catechism. Read my book Real Love. Go back and read previous CatholicMatch blog entries, by myself and others, on the topic. Read other books by Catholic authors—there are a lot out there. Heck, read the Church’s documents for yourself. Blessed John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio would be a good place to start.

Look, if you’re here on CatholicMatch, I assume that means you are at least somewhat serious about your faith. So give your Church the benefit of the doubt. Learn the “why” behind the “thou shalt nots.”

Who knows—it might just change your life.

 

Do you have questions for Mary Beth? Send your questions to askmarybeth@catholicmatch.com






25 Comments

  1. Joseph-677992 September 15, 2013 Reply

    That was a great question Mr. 7/7. I also am a 7/7, and it is easy to sweep these two teachings under the rug. The last thing a good eligable lady wants to hear from a single guy is any bedroom talk, especially givin that our modern culture considers this a non issue. I try to defend this position in my work place, but it is amazing how many people think we are the radicals.

    And thank you Mary Beth for the great answer! I will read the information you suggested. I also heard that Blessed John Paul II “Theology of the Body” is a great read as well.

  2. Maria-954158 September 15, 2013 Reply

    Preach it! :)

  3. Joan-529855 September 15, 2013 Reply

    TEACH IT and PREACH IT!! Only 40% of men in my age group, in my geographic area, are 7/7.

  4. Patrick-341178 September 15, 2013 Reply

    It would really be interesting if they added another question: “Do you support the church’s teaching on celibacy?” Abstaining from sex is one thing – practicing complete celibacy is another. I have seen forums where some 7 for 7′s seem to think the pre-marital sex question is too east as compared to complete celibacy.

    You would then have another interesting subgroup of 7 for 8′s vs. 8 for 8′s…..

    • Tom-995241 December 13, 2013 Reply

      Do tell, that is an interesting question Patrick, I must say.

  5. Mike-174335 September 15, 2013 Reply

    What’s the big deal? If someone isn’t completely what you’re looking for, just move on. It isn’t worth trying to change someone’s mind on such important matters – you’ll both be unhappy in the long run. There are 7billion people out there, half of whom are of the opposite sex.

  6. Josep-857420 September 17, 2013 Reply

    Well, Mary Beth, the problem with our world today is to pick and choose what we like, and discard the card. It’s a sign that no one wants to commit to anything anymore. After all, that’s at least why a good number of us are on this forum. Agree with you. God bless you.

  7. Josep-857420 September 17, 2013 Reply

    Well, Mary Beth, the problem with our world today is we tend to pick and choose what we like, and discard the rest. It’s a sign that no one wants to commit to anything anymore. After all, that’s at least why a good number of us are on this forum. Agree with you. God bless you.

  8. Michael-829315 September 17, 2013 Reply

    Well, I’m one of the ‘out of the ordinary’ 5/7′s. I accept the Church’s teachings on sex, marriage and such. My concern is how do I present myself regarding not accepting the other of the Church’s teachings without appearing as non-Catholic or scaring others away. There is no indicator for ‘not sure’ because the teachings that I was not able to answer ‘yes’ to, I am also at this time not exactly sure if my answer is ‘no.’ This is not me being indecisive. It is my question of the church’s teachings in light of The Bible. What do I do?

  9. Tom-925515 September 17, 2013 Reply

    I am a 6/7 and my personal feeling that consenting adults have informed conscious concent correct even per the churches teaching? On the other I was not dating women of child bearing,bu.t I was I might have to rethink this whole idea.My main objection its great to follow the churches teachings,but we are human and have basic feeiings and needs trying to circumvent basic nature is very difficult and dangerous and one of the reason the church has been subject to recent criticism and legal and moral attack which absolutely kills me.I might add that my fiance and I disagree on this one point its are only real point of contention,but we are working on it I see her point and she sees mine.I hate rush into marriage because of the prematial sex issue I tired that once did not work 2 cents from an old man.

  10. Jose-196790 September 17, 2013 Reply

    As a 7/7 I agree of course :) and what fortified my 6 and 7 was theology of the body, by JP OUr

    Give it a try !

  11. CatherineRose-996317 September 17, 2013 Reply

    Please do not assume that if someone is a 5/7, that is has been without thoughtful prayer, reading and contemplation.
    And, being a 5/7 doesn’t mean we won’t respect someone else’s beliefs.
    I believe some pre-judging happens here, though I understand why. And, as always, more talk is a good way to clear that path. So thank you for opening this forum.

  12. Joe M. September 17, 2013 Reply

    7/7 or 8/8 according to Patrick. I find it funny that Catholics or so called, think its ok to follow only some of the church’s teachings. It’s not like the church just said ok here are the rules we want you to follow because that’s what we want. These are there rules God gave us if you want to get into heaven, passed down through the church over the generations. There is right and there is wrong and no in-between. If you don’t follow God’s rules that he asked you to follow, in order to prove to him that you love him, you won’t get into heaven. Now I realize we all make mistakes and that’s what confession is for. But to say you don’t believe in God’s own rules is saying you don’t want to go to heaven. If you don’t believe in one then why believe in any?

  13. Michelle-1007402 September 17, 2013 Reply

    I’m a new member, and this place has been an eye-opener for me! I guess being 60 years old and a relatively new widow may have something to do with that! LOL!

    This thought popped into my head the other day, most likely the Holy Spirit, because I’d never think of it…

    CATHOLIC MATCH PLUS, where everyone is a 7/7 and nobody is married! :D

  14. Bryan-914566 September 17, 2013 Reply

    For me being a 7/7 seems a non issue. I feel the reason I haven’t meet anyone on this site is due to the fact that I am not out to make all the money there is but, rather IWork for a non profit at a very low amount of pay inorder to help the Developmentaly Dissabelled and who wants to be with a broke humanitarian?

    • Richard-711426 September 17, 2013 Reply

      Know how you feel pal, have felt the same way! All the best to you….

  15. Richard-711426 September 17, 2013 Reply

    I’m not going to throw any rocks about 6/7 or 7/7 and I’ve seen 1/7. The issues that one has with the Churches teachings is strictly between God and themselves that is why He gave us free will to choose. We all have issues with something that doesn’t quite work for us, “and you know it”! It would be a hypocritical not to acknowledge this. On a personal note, I’ve been attacked on CM by another member for only having 6/7. Ladies if you don’t like what you see, do me a favor and move on! “Don’t try to remove the splinter from your brothers eye, until you remove the beam from your own eye”. Lastly, many of the ladies on here aren’t just satisfied with finding a good and decent man. True there has to be physical attraction and some stability financially, but these unrealistic expectations are shocking. Many are looking for Donald Trump wealthy and George Cluny handsome as an example. Its a disheartening scenario for the regular guy!

    • Thomas-669718 October 1, 2013 Reply

      I know…I’m 27 and never had a girlfriend. I started on this site 2 years ago and have never received a response from anyone. I’m just a regular guy and it’s nearly impossible to meet anyone normal where I live.

      • Judy-1024919 December 14, 2013 Reply

        Just a suggestion. You might take off the hat and getting a good shave/haircut. I agree, this may not be YOU, but you first have to attract someone. Once they get to know how nice you are, you may be able to “let your hair down”.
        A picture is worth……..and this one suggests you are more into sports than her.
        Just sayin……

  16. Tom-925515 September 17, 2013 Reply

    I didn’t realize that woman wanted Donald or George and I am both and still had a hard time finding someone on this site !!! Took 6 months I guess I am just to old lol!!””Truthfully I did find a wonderful person but it was a lot of work and compromise.

  17. Joe-976667 September 18, 2013 Reply

    I think that the term “accept” is extremely ambiguous on those 7 questions, and if you, like I have, ask various people what it means to “accept” a teaching, you’re going to get various answers.

    I think the site should change “accept” to “follow religiously,” or “try to follow,” or “have always followed,” or “agree with,” or “believe in the truth of” or anything more concrete than “accept” which is extremely ambiguous.

  18. Bryan S. September 20, 2013 Reply

    From a strictly personal stand, while I’m a 7/7 it hasn’t always been like that I went through the pain of having an abortion with my first wife. And it was the pain it caused that changed my view. While I will never be party to another I don’t feel I have any right to make that decision for someone else. Remember FREE WILL? We each have our own unique path to Our Lord and while I accept the Catholic Church as my ROCK. This is my decernment

  19. Michael-829315 September 24, 2013 Reply

    What makes it more difficult in my case is that my two ‘no’ responses have nothing to do with sex, but on what the church teaches and what the Bible says. I struggle with papal infallibility because there is only One who is infallible and that is Christ. I struggle with the immaculate conception because that is not found anywhere in the Bible, but was a later teaching of the church. From what I can tell, what the church teaches about sex in relationships agrees with the Bible, thus I have no issue with that. Same with sanctity of life. Thus, I struggle with some very personal spiritual issues.

    • PedroCarlos-998964 October 7, 2014 Reply

      Michael, those 2 dogmas have strong biblical roots and any Catholic should expect that about any dogma.
      The Immaculate conception is clear on Luke 1: 28 -
      «And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, FULL OF GRACE, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.»
      No one can be full of God’s Grace except if has no sin whatsoever, including Adam an Eve’s original sin.

      Papal infallibility can be traced to Matthew 16:19 -
      «And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven»;
      and
      Matthew 16:18
      «And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.»
      The Pope cannot be the Church’s founding rock, with the absolute power to bind or unbind, if it “fails”!
      But «Papal Infallibility» is not the same as to say the pope never sins or makes mistakes. «Papal Infallibility» can only be used whenever the Pope makes a declaration «Ex-Cathedra» in union with the Church’s Theology and Tradition.

      I would love that you would read this and would become a 7/7.
      Regards.

  20. Diego-959656 September 24, 2013 Reply

    Hi all, I am not in USA anymore, but even where I am I found a CatholicMatch girl with 7/7 and surprisingly, we went on dates and we are friends now.
    However, as Mary Beth wisely said, if you are minimally serious about your Faith (notice: uppercase) and you are in this site because of that, you should be accepting ALL the 7 teachings of our Church, period!
    Since Humanae Vitae (in the middle of the sexual revolution) to now, nothing changed and nothing will in this regard. Any little boy/ girl in a genuine Catholic family will absorb these concepts, because they are surrounded by many brothers and sisters, they see how much their parents love each other and no problem with “no sex until marriage”.
    If I have to de absolutely honest and direct with CatholicMatch, I would say: DO NOT CONFUSE YOUR SUBSCRIBERS ANYMORE!!!

    We are Catholics with all the consequences. I would take for granted that when a person comes to this site as Catholic, he/ she comes with all what Catholic means: I am FREE TO MARRY (single, widow/er, annulment completed (otherwise I am still married, can’t date: would be adultery)), chaste courtship, marriage for life, exclusive, OPEN TO LIFE and educate the children in our Faith.

    There are many questions the site asks I believe are not for catholics:
    1) Status: never mind the civil one!Options should be single, annulled or widow/er. Annulment “In Process” is deceptive: you are still married, there is no warranty that it will be granted and you may be playing with someone else’s time and intentions; please wait for the Tribunal decision before even signing up for this site!
    2) Free to marry? The assumed is YES!!!!! Why are you in this site if a priest will have to refuse to marry you by the Catholic Church? This question shouldn’t even be there in the first place!
    3) The 7 questions: we need to assume they are ALL YES or else this could degenerate (don’t be surprised!) to the point that a man will be looking for another man in the near future, because the “Gay and Lesbian” question was not there too…
    I had a very hard time “filtering” real Catholics from simply “only baptized catholics” (lowercase), to then have to deal with personality issues (including mine). Many people were “single” and really never married because they were many years in a “living together” relationship (I ask myself: how some of these women could have answered 7 of 7?). How do you deal with a style lived for so many years? How do you deal with the children born in this environment and accustomed to it?
    Please guys, ladies, give this a thought: if you don’t live like real Catholics, why do you need to use this site? DO NOT confuse yourselves and the persons who chose this wonderful place with sincere and pure purposes.

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