So you’ve decided you’re not going to have sex until you get married. You’ve heard the reasons and agree with God’s plan for your body and soul. Good call.

However, unless you live under a rock, you know that this is an easy decision to make and a much more challenging one to keep. Dating, and even hanging out or texting, with the opposite sex is fraught with practices that will challenge your commitment to chastity.

There’s a lot out there about how far is too far, and where the line is with purity, but I want to get specific for a minute, because when it comes to chastity the struggle is real and there are some habits that need to be avoided or broken if we want to succeed in our quest to love like Christ.

So here’s a truth-bomb for you: sharing a bed with a guy or girl who is not your spouse is a bad idea.

When I was in high school, my parents had strict rules for where I could socialize with boys. When they came over, they could hang out in the living room. With the lights on. And my parents were always home. The college I attended had similar rules- boys were not allowed in our rooms overnight (not that our tiny dorms had room for more than two people anyways). Then I graduated from college and was shocked to learn that for many, the co-ed sleepover was a habit started in high school or college.

“But it’s not actually having sex!” some are quick to point out. “I’m not even attracted to this person! It’s just what you do after a date or dance,” others are quick to explain.

These excuses remind me of Martha and her candy bars.

When she was four or five years old, my little sister Martha had a wicked sweet tooth. She could really work the system, too. She knew that she couldn’t just chow down on a snickers bar for breakfast. Instead, she’d go to her Easter basket (or Halloween bucket or Christmas stocking- it all depended on the season). She’d retrieve a candy bar out and set it next to her plate. When my mom told her she couldn’t have it for breakfast she’d reply, innocently, “I know. I just like to look at it.”

When Mom turned her back to pack our lunches, Martha would open the wrapper and hold it next to her nose, inhaling deeply. “Martha,” my mom would say, giving her a warning look. “I’m just smelling it!” she’d insist.

Then she’d get really bold and start sneaking licks of chocolate. “You’re not eating that chocolate, are you, Martha?” Mom would call out from the other side of the room. “No!” she’d reply. “Yes you ARE!” we would hiss at her. “No,” she’d say indignantly. “I’m just tasting it.”

Five minutes later, the chocolate was gone. It didn’t stand a chance.

Only Martha can tell me for sure, but I don’t think she ever intended to eat a Snickers bar for breakfast. Martha was a conscientious kid who was eager to follow the rules. But she also loved candy and setting it next to her cereal bowl to stare, smell and taste was just too much temptation. It’d be too much for a lot of us.

Cute story. But what does that have to do with boy/girl sleepovers?

1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “be sober and vigilant” because “your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” This isn’t to compare the guy or gal inviting you to spend the night to a roaring lion -— but it is a call to be vigilant and avoid not just sin, but situations (or occasions) that could lead us to sin.

As I mentioned, when I began dating in my twenties, I learned that these co-ed sleepovers weren’t a big deal and it wasn’t long before a guy turned down the sheets instead of walking me to the door at the end of the night. “Just stay,” he said. “I’m not going to try to have sex with you, you can trust me.”

Decision time. I was tired. I was lonely. Innocently spending the night together seemed like harmless and grown-up way to end a fun evening. Yet rolling around in the back of my mind were these reasons to walk away:

Occasion of Sin

It was an occasion of sin. Dinner, a movie, a walk in the park. These are all ways to get to know someone where crossing the lines into sexual sin probably won’t happen because it’d be awkward and illegal. We may experience sexual temptation while eating nachos at Chili’s, but we’re probably not going to act on it. However, climbing under the covers with someone in a darkened room is what Team Catholic would call an “occasion of sin.” We may be saying “no” to sin, but we’re not walking (or running) away from it. Sleeping with a guy or girl is a dramatic step closer to serious sin.

Scandalous

It could be a source of scandal. When preaching on sin, Christ told his disciples that “things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Luke 17:1-2). Whoah, indeed. When we’re dating (or “talking” or whatever we’re doing to get to know the opposite sex), we have the responsibility to help the other avoid sin. But we don’t exist in a bubble — our actions are seen by our friends and family too. Even if I spent the night and “nothing happened,” what would my friends and family think? What stories would this guy tell about me the next day? Who might follow my example and fall into serious sin as a result?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I wanted to respect my future husband. At that moment, it would be years before I met him. However, I wanted to be able to tell that man — whoever he was — that there was no one else. I wasn’t just saving sex for marriage; I wasn’t going to play house with anyone else, either. Now that I’m married, there’s no way I’d do anything to compromise my commitment to Jim. Protecting my commitment to my spouse was a habit formed long before I walked down the aisle.

If we’re serious about following Christ, we have to be serious about avoiding sin. When Martha left unwrapped chocolate next to her cereal bowl it inevitably became her breakfast. Sleepovers with your significant other (or first date or crush or random person you met at a party) are big steps toward serious sin.

The struggle for purity is real, but so is the satisfaction of knowing we’re learning to love like Christ. Be sober. Be alert. Don’t sleep over.

Photo by Loren Kerns, CC 2.0, Logo added

About the Author

Alison Blanchet

I love being Catholic, coffee and buying shoes on sale. I'm afraid of catching things that are thrown at me, heights, and food on a stick. My first pet was a fish named Swimmy, whom my mother found creepy and flushed down the toilet when I was at school. She told me he died of natural causes.