Is foreplay against Catholic teaching? Can I touch my girlfriend since her orgasm is not tied to fertility?
Catholic teaching is set within a larger context, i.e., the invitation to form ourselves as the loving and generous persons God, and we, deeply desire ourselves to be. These “is it against the church?” questions always make me want to challenge the minimalist assumptions behind the question. Such questions are analogous to the ubiquitous classroom query, “Will this be on the test?”
God doesn’t ask us to do the minimum. God asks us to do the more. We are to be more loving, more generous, more self sacrificing, more habitually virtuous as a result of our relationship with Christ. Reaching for the more makes us happy and healthy and holy and free.
The question should really be how do young people who are not married best express their feelings for one another? For physical sexual activity to be more than mutual masturbation, there has to be a commitment to meanings beyond the present moment and the discrete couple.
St. Augustine left us with the most succinct and challenging teaching: “Ama Deum et fac quod vis” (Love God and do what you will). If we really love God, all we choose and do will evidence the reality of our awareness of our relationship with God.
Is stimulating your girlfriend a real expressions of your and her love for God and one another, or is it just “getting your rocks off”? Is stimulating one another to orgasm really the most human and most transcendent use of sexual faculties, or is it selling out to the Playboy philosophy of Hugh Hefner where we just exist to serve one another’s selfish desires?
One of the saddest moments in contemporary movies is when the boy in American Pie awakes and clutches the rubber dinosaur after a night of sex with the band geek girl and joyfully exclaims, “I’ve been used!” Much more challenging is the whipped cream bikini scene from Varsity Blues, where the quarterback refuses the cheerleader’s throwing herself at him. The revelatory conversation between the two should be on every high school religion class curriculum.
Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, fisherman and author. He is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and serves as a Chaplain at the college. His book, A Faith That Frees: Catholic Matters for the 21st Century, (Orbis Books 2007) examines the relationships between the practices of faith and the cultural currents and changes so rapidly occurring in our ever more technologized and globalized world.