Is Company-Keeping Lawful?
Lawful and Prudent?
in the above title is one about which there is much confusion
today, not only in the minds of young people themselves, but in
the minds of many of their parents, teachers and interested elders.
The confusion arises from the fact that solid ethical principles
no longer enter into the thinking of thousands of people. Much
of modern education scoffs at the very idea that the human mind
can come to any convincing conclusions about ethics, morality
or religion. It is to be expected, therefore, that many will be
induced to follow their instincts and their inclinations, especially
in a matter so strongly and universally appealing to naked and
tainted instincts as company-keeping.
there are sound moral principles to be applied to the lawfulness
of company-keeping, and all who have retained respect for their
reason and some basic Christian faith must want to know what they
are and then to get together in applying them to their own lives
and teaching them in the areas reached by their influence. The
subject should be of special concern to parents, teachers, youth
leaders and, of course, to all, young and old, who are in a position
to be attracted to any form of company-keeping.
in this treatise we mean steady, concentrated, exclusive association
between two people of different sexes. Such steady and exclusive
association between man and woman is accepted by all the world
to mean that the man is "courting" the woman, and that she is
permitting herself to be courted. Thus, if a boy takes a girl
out once or twice or oftener a week over a period of time, and
it is therefore clear to all who know them that he is concentrating
on her, these two are keeping company, whether they are willing
to call it that or not. If a lad in the ninth grade is sweet on
a little girl in the same grade and takes her to a show or some
other evening event at least once a week, they are keeping company
whether their elders laugh it off as innocent puppy love or not.
two factors that must be considered in setting down moral principles
with regard to company-keeping. The first is that its purpose,
as evident universally in the direction toward which company-keeping
leads, is possible future marriage. This does not mean that when
one starts keeping steady company with someone, he or she is thereby
at once committed to marriage with that person. A period of steady
company-keeping may in time bring about the discovery that marriage
to the particular companion involved is out of the question. Even
in that case it will have fulfilled its ethical purpose as a testing
or trying out period for marriage. But the idea of possible marriage
can never be excluded from steady company-keeping.
factor on which the moral principles governing company-keeping
are based is even more important. It is the fact that company-keeping
between a man and a woman or a boy and a girl involves a certain
amount of unavoidable danger or inclination to sin. From the very
nature of human beings this danger can be perceived. In all normal
men and women God has implanted a strong instinct toward marriage
and the things of marriage, i.e., the pleasures connected with
marriage. The purpose of this instinct is to lead them, in favourable
and right circumstances, toward and into marriage, where these
inclinations can be virtuously satisfied and through them God's
purposes of continuing the human race fulfilled. However the inclinations
themselves have no power to recognize this wonderful plan that
is so clear to the reason. They make themselves felt with increasing
fervor, the longer company-keeping goes on. In that fact lies
the danger of company-keeping, and experience proves that it is
no merely theoretical danger. In short, the danger is that the
inclinations of company-keepers may induce them to do things that
their reason and faith tell them are lawful only in marriage.
danger may be legitimately encountered, while it is rendered less
imminent by judicious spiritual and practical means, only so long
as the true purpose of company-keeping is kept in mind and so
long as its goal of marriage is within lawful and reasonable reach.
When marriage is impossible or unlawful or out of the question
entirely, there is no moral justification for facing the intrinsic
danger of steady company-keeping, and no balancing protection
against inclinations to unlawful thoughts, desires or deeds.
It is on
the basis of these undeniable principles and facts that the following
statements about the morality of company-keeping can be made.
Each one of them, it is true, stigmatizes as evil, practices that
are very common in Society today. The stigma cannot be escaped
by those who act contrary to the natural law that God has made
clear to the mind of man. And we know that there are many people
in the world who will want to avoid the stigma, both for themselves
and their children. Let it be noted that we are considering the
subject not only from the viewpoint of the natural law, but also
from that of the requirements for true Christian marriage.
Steady company-keeping is lawful only when a valid marriage is
possible to both persons involved.
clearly excludes many individuals from the moral right to steady
All validly married persons, whether they are living with their
lawful spouses or not (so long as the spouse is living) are prohibited
by the natural law from keeping steady company with anyone other
than their partner in marriage.
many examples of the breaking of this natural law, each one involving
serious sin for the violator.
employer who regularly takes a certain woman employee out for
a social evening, has long tête-à-têtes with
her, lets her know how much he thinks of her and "needs" her,
is keeping company contrary to God's law. This is true even though
he were to avoid for a long time making affectionate physical
advances or leading her into outright sins.
man whose business requires that he travel, and who has a "girl
friend" in one of the cities to which he often goes, who has dates
with her whenever he goes to that city, is doing something seriously
wrong by this company-keeping.
doctor or lawyer who uses his professional relationship to a certain
client as a justification for keeping company with her by regularly
taking her out to dinner, shows, social evenings, and above all,
by regular hours spent alone in her company for the sake of her
friendship, is deceiving himself and doing seriously wrong.
woman who permits a male friend to call on her regularly when
she is alone at home, lets him spend hours in her company, welcomes
his attentions and displays of affection, is guilty of infidelity
even before any actual adulterous actions take place.
woman whose husband is absent with the armed forces, who takes
up steady dating with a certain man while he is gone, is sinning
against the fidelity she owes to her husband.
is forbidden for married persons themselves to keep company with
anyone, it is equally forbidden and seriously sinful for single
persons to enter into company-keeping with someone who is married.
Steady company-keeping is unlawful for divorced but validly married
is exactly the same as the first one listed, because validly married
persons are still bound to their partners for life even after
they have obtained a divorce. It needs to be set down separately
because too many Christians have adopted the pagan idea that a
civil divorce makes them free to marry again, or at least to keep
steady company with a new friend. It comes back to the fundamental
truth that company-keeping is lawful only to those who can be
validly married to each other.
The all but
universal argument of divorced persons for entering into new company-keeping
alliances is that "they have a right to some happiness in life."
Having failed to find happiness in a first marriage through their
own fault, or the fault of their partner, or the faults of both,
and seeing dozens of divorced persons around them acting as if
they were perfectly free to plan for another attempt at marriage,
they feel that they are being cheated out of something if anyone
tells them that Christian principles demand that they give up
all thought of a second marriage or the company-keeping that might
lead to it, so long as their partner is alive.
however, is very clear, and it must be restated again and again.
By inexorable logic it establishes the following conclusions:
who has entered a valid, sacramental, consummated marriage is
married for life. He or she will never have freedom to marry as
long as the partner to that first valid Christian marriage is
living. Christ made this clear in one of His simplest statements:
"He that putteth away his wife and marrieth another is guilty
of adultery; and he that marrieth her that is put away is guilty
is no freedom to marry for divorced Christians, there is no justifying
reason available to them for steady company-keeping. Rather, there
are clear reasons making such company-keeping seriously wrong.
First of all, it means entering the danger spoken of above, and
the added danger of an invalid marriage, without a proportionate
reason. Secondly, it means endangering the soul of the other person
involved in the company-keeping, and also depriving that person
of opportunities for a good marriage. Thirdly, it means giving
scandal by adding one more example to the too many already given,
of how Christians can be faithless to the teachings of Christ
in regard to the indissolubility of marriage.
is wrong for married and divorced Christians themselves to enter
into steady company-keeping, it is equally wrong for single persons
to accept their invitations to steady company-keeping. Moreover,
it lays an obligation on single persons to find out, almost as
soon as they start going out with someone, whether that person
is married and divorced or not. The freedom with which divorced
persons circulate in society today, and the frequency with which
they offer their steady companionship to others without saying
anything about the fact that they have been married, imposes a
duty of special caution upon the single.
This is hard
doctrine, says the young divorcee or divorced man. They are all
in favour of the note to be found in the recently published Dartmouth
Bible, at the bottom of the page recording Christ's teaching about
divorce and re-marriage, to the effect that the modern world has
found this doctrine too difficult and has rejected it. In so doing
the modern world has rejected all of Christ, together with His
redeeming death and heaven. But any man or woman who still professes
to be a believing Catholic, who wants to save his soul, who fears
hell and wants to reach heaven, must be obedient to the teaching
of Christ on this matter of company-keeping after divorce. If
marriage after divorce is adulterous for Christians, company-keeping
in the same circumstances is entering an unnecessary danger of
sin, risking open rebellion to Christ, and a form of infidelity
to a living and lawful spouse.
mean the end of all happiness for the divorced Christian? By no
means. True happiness begins with a reasonable hope of reaching
heaven, no matter what price may have to be paid for it. Divorced
persons may keep their title to the happiness of heaven, so long
as they renounce another marriage and the things that could lead
to it while their partners are alive. There is no such thing as
a title to happiness on earth at the price of sin, and no such
thing as winning heaven without carrying a cross.
or separated persons who have doubts about the validity of their
first marriage may not enter upon steady company-keeping
a) until they have set about finding out from
the proper authorities whether their first marriage was valid
b) and until they have some authority (outside
themselves) for the opinion that their first marriage may be declared
invalid. Even then they must exercise reserve and restraint in
company-keeping, and readiness to give it up if the hope of a
declaration of nullity should prove false.
a principle in the moral law to the effect that one may not act
in a state of doubt as to whether one's action is lawful or unlawful.
To do so would be to accept responsibility for the possible evil
involved. Either the doubt must be resolved by recourse to authority,
or the doubter must be able to find a reason for acting in some
principle covering the matter of the doubt. In the case of one
who doubts whether his first marriage was valid, therefore, company-keeping
is lawful only when he has taken steps to resolve the doubt and
attained at least some solid probability that he will be free
are many different attitudes to be found among people in regard
to this matter, each one covered by a moral principle. Here are
the principal ones :
There are those who foolishly think that any marriage can be declared
invalid if they approach the right people and take certain action.
This is untrue. The Catholic Church presumes all marriages to
be valid unless solid, objective evidence for their invalidity
can be produced and sworn to by reliable witnesses. No divorced
person may take up company-keeping, therefore, on the principle
that "any marriage can be nullified by the Church."
There are those who think that their first marriage must have
been invalid because of purely personal reasons. For example,
if "the husband turned out to be a cad," or "if the wife started
to run around with other men soon after marriage," etc. Such reasons
have nothing to do, by themselves, with the validity or invalidity
of the marriage contract, and do not impart a right to new company-keeping
or a second marriage.
There are those who have a fairly good case for a declaration
of nullity, but one that ordinarily will require a long process,
possibly a number of years, before a final decision will be handed
down. This may be because of complications demanding much testimony,
many documents, etc. Persons involved in such cases are bound
to exercise reserve in company-keeping, realizing that it may
be a long time before they will be declared free to marry. They
must also exercise patience, knowing that, having failed in one
marriage, they are asking a great favour in seeking freedom for
There are those who have a certain case for a declaration of nullity,
and one that can be handled with some dispatch. Thus a Catholic
whose first marriage was before a judge instead of a priest, or
who attempted marriage with a validly married but divorced person,
can know that, with the proper documents, his case can be settled
quite soon. If one priest has not the time to handle it, he should
go to another. If he is truly repentant, he, too, will be patient
over any delay. His company-keeping is lawful, however, because
he is certainly not validly married.
There are those who can find out by one interview with a priest
that there is no chance for their being declared free to marry
because their first marriage was clearly valid, sacramental and
consummated. For these, steady company-keeping is unlawful.
Steady company-keeping is lawful only when marriage is considered
an acceptable prospect within a reasonable time.
principle is based on the danger that is connected with steady
company-keeping. If marriage is out of the question for years
or already decided finally against in regard to a certain boy
friend or girl friend, there is no sufficiently good reason for
remaining in the sphere of danger.
are two special kinds of cases to which this principle applies.
First, it applies to school children, either in the grades or
early high school years. Children or adolescents who would not
and could not entertain the idea of getting married for several
years and who have the added handicap of not yet knowing too much
about their own passions and inclinations, are entering an unnecessary
and strong occasion of sin by taking up steady company-keeping.
educators have the obligation of training those under them to
understand this principle early in life and to put it into practice.
It is utterly unrealistic for parents to argue that the only way
to make sure that their children will some day be happily married
is to let them start keeping steady company when they are very
young, before there can be any thought of marriage. When marriage
becomes possible, the normal tendencies of human nature will take
care of the preliminary courtship necessary, if the children have
been brought up in normal association with the members of the
other sex. Let it be noted that we are not at all saying that
individual dates between the very young are wrong. Steady company-keeping,
with all the signs of being in love and courting and being courted,
is what is spoken of here.
School principals and teachers have the same obligation of using
their influence and authority to inculcate the above principle.
It is tragic that some of them promote "affairs" and "love-making"
and steady company-keeping among the very young, Catholic schools
sometimes fail in this, as well as non-Catholic.
Secondly, this principle applies to even mature persons who have
been keeping company with someone for a considerable time, but
have come to the certain decision that they will never marry the
one with whom they have been going steady. Whether this be because
the companion absolutely refuses to consider marriage, or because
the other is certain that marriage would be an irreparable mistake,
company-keeping should stop when marriage has become out of the
never to marry a certain person with whom one has been keeping
company must be final and sure before it demands that the company-keeping
be ended. It sometimes happens that a girl will make frequent
statements to her family and friends that she would never marry
a certain man who is rushing her; but she is not at all sure in
her own mind, and may, as many others have done in like circumstances,
marry him in the end anyway. So long as the possibility of a valid
marriage remains, the company-keeping has a justifying reason.
On the other
hand, however, it is not lawful to continue keeping company with
someone when marriage is out of the question entirely, just for
the sake of having a regular partner for dates, good times, etc.,
and for the satisfaction of ones' vanity. Too often men, and sometimes
even women, will carry on a sinful affair with someone whom they
would never marry, just in order to indulge in the pleasures of
marriage without the responsibilities of marriage. The habitual
sins of such a state make the eternal loss of one's soul progressively
more imminent. God will not be mocked by those who mock the institution
the case, someone will ask, in which a couple have found themselves
in love, have become engaged to each other, and yet find that
there is some real obstacle to their getting married for a long
time? For example, one of them may have dependent and sickly parents
who have no one else to take care of them. Or the boy may be without
income until he finishes two or three more years of schooling
and training for a medical degree or for some other profession
In such case
the company-keeping is not unlawful, together with the waiting
for marriage, on condition that both cooperate in the use of extraordinary
means to remain free from sin while waiting out the years. They
should both receive the sacraments often, and they must avoid
circumstances and intimacies that they know would tempt them gravely
to sin. It is a sad thing that sometimes a couple who, on the
one hand, are praying that God will soon remove an obstacle to
their marriage, will on the other hand, be regularly committing
sin with each other, thus nullifying every prayer they ever offer
too, a couple will put off marriage for foolish reasons. The man
wants to make a fortune before he gets married. Or the girl, too
attached to home, wants to wait until her mother dies. Or both
agree to wait till they can afford the finest of homes and every
possible convenience. The sins into which such as these may fall
while foolishly putting off marriage are doubly malicious in God's
eyes. They have no good reason for prolonging the dangers of company-keeping.
Finally, the question must be asked: Is it lawful for a man who
has a living but divorced wife, to keep steady company with a
girl, with the idea that he will marry her only if and when his
lawful wife dies? Is the same company-keeping lawful for the girl?
principles set down above the answer to this question should be
clear. Steady company-keeping, i.e. regular and frequent dates
between the two, would be wrong for two reasons; first, because
it would be entering into an unnecessary and grave occasion of
sin without a sufficient and proportionate reason; second, because
it would give scandal, both to the individual involved and to
all who learn of the steady company-keeping that the married man
is carrying on. It is such practices that continually lessen more
and more people's regard for the indissolubility of marriage.
this has been said, individuals may still have doubts about the
morality of company-keeping in which they are involved. When such
doubts arise, a confessor should at once be asked for a decision
Is Company-Keeping Prudent?
people, young or middle-aged or even old, find themselves attracted
to each other and inclined toward company-keeping, the first thing
they should ask of themselves is this question: Is this company-keeping
lawful? It is lawful, of course, 1) only if both persons are free
to marry, i.e., not bound to a living husband or wife to whom
they are still validly married, and 2) only if they have good
prospects and the general intention of marrying within a reasonable
is a second question that such persons should ask of themselves,
both at the beginning and during the course of a period of company-keeping.
It is the question: Is this company-keeping prudent? Not all things
that are lawful are at the same time expedient and prudent. This
truth applies in a special manner to company-keeping.
is the virtue by which a person regulates all the actions of his
present in accord with his future happiness, both in heaven and
in this world. Prudence is the art of planning for the future:
it means doing nothing in the present that one will seriously
regret in the future. Every sin ever committed is a violation
of prudence; it means indulging a momentary unlawful desire, for
which indulgence a great penalty will have to be paid.
company-keeping ordinarily leads to marriage, a state of great
responsibility that can be ended only by death, it is obvious
that prudence must govern every man and woman who enter into it.
Imprudent company-keeping is that which one's common sense can
judge will lead to unhappiness in marriage or even unhappiness
must therefore supersede both the natural instinct toward marriage
implanted in all human beings, and the emotional love that may
be aroused toward a particular person of the other sex. God never
intended that human beings be ruled by their instincts alone.
Only brute animals are, according to God's plan, to be ruled by
instinct alone, and they are protected by their very instincts
from harming themselves by the pursuance of their desires. But
God gave human beings reason and intelligence, the power to foresee
their own future and to plan for it, and he expects them to use
that power in following or resisting the instincts that He did
implant in them. Thus a girl of twenty-five who rushes into marriage
with anyone who comes along just because she feels a strong urge
toward marriage is not only not acting with prudence; she is not
acting as an intelligent human being.
a girl who finds herself strongly attracted to a certain man,
or, as it is so often put, "madly in love," permit herself to
think that, no matter what kind of man he may be, she must marry
him. Such attractions die down and disappear with time, and sometimes
they turn into bitter disgust and hatred. But marriage lasts until
death and there is no escape from its duties and obligations till
death sets one free. Prudence, therefore, demands that physical
attraction be checked against the lifelong obligations of marriage
and the prospects of lasting happiness with the person to whom
one is attracted.
is not possible, in a short article like this, to analyze every
conceivable case of company-keeping from the viewpoint of prudence,
it is easy to set down many of the instances in which continued
company-keeping would be fatally imprudent. Both common sense
and experience come together to prove the truth of the following
Company-Keeping and Character.
It would be gravely imprudent for anyone to keep steady company
with a person who lacks the character necessary for fidelity to
the obligations of marriage.
may be defined as "A life dominated by right principles." One
of the essential purposes of company-keeping is to find out what
kind of principles dominate the life of one's partner. Mutual
agreement on right principles is absolutely necessary for a happy
marriage. As soon as it is learned that a boy friend or girl friend
is incorrigibly ruled by wrong principles, company-keeping with
such a one becomes imprudent. Here are some examples of imprudent
company-keeping as evidenced by the fact that a partner has been
found to be ruled by some seriously wrong principle.
is seriously imprudent with one who has been found to deny the
importance and necessity of the virtue of chastity.
A girl is invited out by a certain man. He shows that he likes
her very much and asks her to keep steady company with him. On
the third or fourth date he makes it clear that he expects her
to participate in sinful actions with him. In response to her
objections, he scoffs at the idea of chastity; he states that
he goes out with a girl "to have a good time," meaning a sinful
good time; he quotes all the stock defenses of impurity, that
"everybody does it," that "it's natural," that "you can't help
it if you love somebody," etc.
If a girl
continues to keep company with such a man, she will not only find
herself plunged into sin in the present, but committing herself
to a most unhappy future. If the company-keeping ends in marriage,
she will find herself married to an adulterer, because any man
who does not believe in chastity while he is single, will certainly
not believe in fidelity to a wife when he is married.
a difference, let it be noted, in regard to a man who believes
in the importance of chastity and yet on occasion is tempted against
it and even falls into sin. Such a man can be corrected and made
faithful to his own ideas by a good girl. But the man who expresses
in words and shows by his actions a disbelief in the necessity
of chastity should never be accepted as a steady friend by any
decent girl. Such men should be left to equally unprincipled and
abandoned girls and women.
is seriously imprudent with one who wishes to marry but not to
have children in marriage.
A man is strongly attracted to a certain girl. He takes her out
regularly over a period of time. He finds out, in the course of
their frequent dates, that she has a horror of ever having to
bear a child, or of having more than one or two children. Perhaps
she indicates this only by her attitude toward children, showing
distaste for being around them. Perhaps she openly states her
belief that one can marry and exclude children from marriage,
or at least exclude having more than one or two.
is found out about a girl, (and every man keeping company should
create occasions for finding out his girl's ideas about children
in marriage) a man would be tragically imprudent in continuing
the company-keeping. By so doing he would be placing himself in
the way of a very sinful and unhappy married life. He should know
that he would be expected to practice birth-control in such a
marriage. This would chain him in a habit of sin that could lead
him into hell, and at the same time it would create innumerable
occasions of strife between him and his wife. The right principles
about the place of children in marriage are absolutely necessary
for the foundation of a happy home.
is seriously imprudent with one who has any serious and deeply
rooted defect of moral character.
To keep company with one who has been found to be an alcoholic,
with a long record of futile attempts at overcoming the habit
of drunkenness, would be the utmost folly, no matter how many
favourable assets the person might possess. Marriage is almost
never a permanent cure for drunkenness; in most cases the bad
habit returns with double force after marriage, even though the
most solemn promises to avoid it were made and kept for a little
is true of other moral defects, such as the habit of stealing,
or evidence of unreasonable and uncontrollable jealousy, or of
inability to control a violent temper, or any other moral defect
that has not been faced and at least partially conquered. It must
be remembered that the close and constant association of marriage
makes even slight defects of character a test and a cross. Such
crosses can be borne by normally good people. But unconquered
grave defects of character will in due time make married life
all but intolerable.
Company-Keeping and Religion.
A very urgent
and practical question today is this: "Is it prudent for a Catholic
to keep steady company with a person of a different religion or
of no religion?" There is solid ground for the truth that to do
so is more than imprudent, because, except in certain circumstances,
there is the element of disobedience in such company-keeping.
The Church forbids her children to marry those who do not believe
as they believe; she grants dispensations for such marriages only
with some reluctance and when there are good reasons for so doing.
If the Church does not wish her members to marry non-Catholics,
it can be deduced that she does not want them to keep steady company
with such as these, which is the ordinary way of preparing for
nothing arbitrary or unreasonably dictatorial in this prescription.
It is based on principles that are rooted in faith, proved by
wide experience, and evident to the common sense and practical
reason of anyone who can think clearly about the matter. The principles
involved are these:
general both the spiritual success and the earthly happiness of
married life depend in large measure on unity of religious beliefs
between husband and wife.
and most important purposes of marriage are spiritual. It is a
state in which a husband and wife are to help each other to love
and serve God and to win the happiness of heaven; and also to
help each other to raise their children according to a single
spiritual plan laid down by God. Clearly, if they do not agree
on how God should be loved and served, they cannot help each other
in this matter; indeed, they are more apt to prove to be hindrances
to each other in the service of God. Clearly, too, if they do
not agree on the plan that God laid down for the rearing of children,
they not only cannot cooperate in rearing the children, but one
will be trying to lead the children one way while the other, at
least by example if not by words, will be leading the child in
an opposite direction. These are the basic reasons why so many
mixed marriages end in compromises of faith on the part of the
Catholic partner, and in confusion and loss of faith on the part
of the children.
earthly happiness that God wants married people to enjoy is interfered
with and often ruined by difference of religious belief between
husband and wife. Marriage is meant to be a union, not only of
bodies and possessions, but also of mind and heart and will. Anything
that prevents such a complete union is a source of friction, of
separation, of conflict, of unhappiness. There is something important
lacking in every marriage in which husband and wife cannot pray
together, cannot attend church and receive the sacraments together,
cannot plan together for happiness with God in heaven. Tolerance
of each other's different beliefs is always a poor substitute
for the unity that makes for happiness.
reasons all serious-minded Catholics desire to marry only Catholics
like themselves. For these reasons they accept the authority and
agree with the wisdom of their Church in warning them against
keeping company with a person not of their faith. For these reasons,
if they happen to be attracted to one who is not a Catholic, or
to keep company with such a person because there are few Catholics
in the area where they live, they are determined in their hearts
either to win that person over to their faith, or not to permit
the company-keeping to lead to marriage.
is impossible for a Catholic to find happiness in marriage to
a person who not only does not accept his religion as true, but
who even ridicules it, rejects some of its basic moral principles,
and gives evidence that he (or she) will resist having the children
raised as Catholics.
principle several different types of persons may be listed with
whom it would be fatally imprudent for a Catholic man or woman
to continue to keep company and thus to be impelled toward marriage.
One who ridicules the Catholic religion as superstitious, who
expresses contempt for priests as "secret evildoers" or mere "money-seekers";
who makes fun of the Mass and the sacraments and other Catholic
rites and ceremonies.
One who does not believe in the indissolubility of marriage, stating
that "if it doesn't work out, divorce and marriage to somebody
else should be permitted."
One who insists that sinful birth-control is lawful and necessary
in marriage, and makes it clear that no matter what promises are
insincerely signed, this will be demanded after marriage.
One whose whole attitude and conversation make it clear that when
the time comes for raising children, obstacles will be placed
in the way of raising them as Catholics.
For any Catholic
to marry, with open eyes, one of these types of person, is to
make himself (or herself) guilty beforehand of all the sins that
will inevitably follow upon marriage. Too often Catholics forget
this fact; they have fallen deeply in love with one such, and
feel that they can let the problems take care of themselves so
long as they can marry the person whom they love. But God never
intends that love should sweep away reason and free will. If reason
makes it clear that sins will result from a certain marriage then
the free will is guilty in cause of all the sins by consenting
to the marriage. That is why the Canon Law of the Church states
that such marriages are forbidden by divine law.
Company-Keeping and Other Circumstances.
of the prudence of company-keeping in respect to accidental circumstances
outside the important topics listed above is more difficult to
solve. Character and religion are the two essentials to be looked
for in a partner for marriage; other things can be important to
some but not to others; they do not necessarily render marriage
imprudent in all cases. In these matters, therefore, only certain
presumptions can be set down. Every such presumption will yield
at times to specific conditions. Some of the circumstances that
prudence must consider in company-keeping are the following:
of age. Is it prudent for a girl of twenty to keep company
with a man who is twenty years older than she is? Or for a man
to keep company with a woman who is ten or more years older than
a general presumption that the closer to the same age a man and
woman are, the fewer will be the adjustments they will have to
make to each other over the years in marriage. There is also a
presumption that it is imprudent for a man to marry a woman who
is many years his senior — more so than for a woman to marry a
much older man.
there have been successful and happy marriages in which husband
and wife differed greatly in age. If two such persons possess
good character and sound religion, and willingness to face the
special adjustments that these age-differences will demand, their
company-keeping and eventual marriage should be neither frowned
upon nor forbidden.
of social position. Is it prudent for a rich girl to keep
company with a poor boy? Or vice versa?
a presumption here again that there will be some special difficulty
to be faced by one who is accustomed to luxury and plenty, in
marriage to one who has known nothing but poverty and struggle.
The difficulty will be almost insurmountable over the years, if
either one is lacking in solid religious principle and sound moral
character. But where there is such religion and character, such
a marriage could turn out very happily.
on the part of parents. Is it prudent for a young man or woman
to keep company with someone whom the parents seriously dislike,
even to the point of showing animosity and threatening to have
nothing to do with their own child if he or she marries this person?
of this kind must be solved on its own merits, preferably with
the help of a priest or spiritual advisor. Sometimes the parents
are completely at fault, because their dislike is based on some
unimportant accident such as nationality, looks, background, etc.
Sometimes the son or daughter is the one at fault, because the
objections of the parents are based on solid grounds pertaining
to character or religion. No general rule can therefore be laid
down other than this, that the physical attraction sometimes called
love should not be permitted to be the sole arbiter in the case.
Prudent counsel should be sought from trusted and experienced
may be reproduced freely.
A ‘sampler’ of approximately 20 assorted leaflets
may be obtained from:
Catholic Wisdom Publications
P. O. Box 4120, Makati City, Philippines