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 | By The Most Rev. Bishop Kenneth Povish

Why true love waits

Vital statistics appear regularly in the Lansing State Journal covering Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. A typical report recently listed 47 marriages and 58 divorces during the same time period. Statistics from Rome show that American marriage tribunals handle more annulment cases than all the rest of the world combined. These are only two indications of the sad state of Matrimony in our country, where the Catholic divorce rate is now almost as high as that of unbelievers.

The breakdown in the permanence of marriage began in the 1960s with the so-called “sexual revolution,” the turmoil that accompanied the Vietnam war, campus unrest, and the rise of a television culture without moral restraints. The computer age has contributed pornography to this mix, and “sex education” in the public schools has given a slant on the use of sex that has resulted in promiscuity being glamorized for teenagers.

The use of sexual intercourse for recreation is directly contrary to the morality of the Gospel; and Catholics, even some priests as recent events have shown, have fallen for this. Christian morality calls for abstinence outside of marriage and calls the use of sex outside of marriage either fornication or adultery. Christian morality extols the use of sex within marriage as a true act of love and as a sacramental bond that binds a married couple together.

Under the strong influence of groups such as the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion and Reproduction Rights Action League (NARAL), and the ACLU, “safe sex” is the aim of sex education in the schools; and abstinence is laughed at. As long as “safe sex” is the aim, broken hearts and broken homes are going to be the rule, not fidelity and commitment of married partners to each other as one woman and one man for life.

Young people of marriageable age who hope for a committed, happy and faithful marriage can take heart, however. At first quietly, but now with some favorable notice, abstinence clubs are springing up from the grass roots. The initiative was taken by public high school students themselves, is spreading to college-age and adult groups, and those eligible for marriage should look at the example the teens have started.

So far the best-known nationwide abstinence group is True Love Waits (TLW), a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention. They have already 1.2 million youths across the country who have publicly signed a pledge indicating that they will be chaste and reserve sex for their future mates. Among the ministries that have blended TLW into their own programs are Youth for Christ, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Crisis Pregnancy Center network, and the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministries, affiliated with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. One study by the Centers for Disease Control found more than half of the country’s high-school students saying they practice sexual abstinence.

Teenagers have started something positive for faithful, committed marriage. The twenty- and thirty-somethings can take a tip from the teens for their own future. With the help of God’s grace they can wait with their true love and let the Sacrament of Matrimony make that love lasting.