Premarital Abstinence and Sexual Ethics

The Harvard College Anscombe Society believes that sex, when properly understood and experienced, is unifying and beautiful. We see abstinence as a sacrificial expression of love cemented in faithfulness to your future spouse. If experienced outside of marriage, we believe that sex loses its value, proving harmful to both the parties involved and to their relationship. We therefore embrace abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage.

Within marriage, sex serves as the ultimate physical expression of love and unity. Because in marriage spouses are united to one another on the mental, emotional, legal, and sometimes spiritual levels, it is good that they also be united on a physical level. The nature of sex is itself unitive–two become one flesh. Sex is thus the actualization of the marital union, concretizing the mutual gift of self between the partners. If experienced outside the context of marriage, therefore, it cannot actualize the union, for no union exists.

Outside of the context of marriage, then, sex ultimately reduces the participants to mere instruments serving an incomplete end–be it the desire for emotional intimacy, physical pleasure, or personal security. Even if two people love each other and plan to marry later on, sexual intimacy must articulate a unity and gift of one’s entire self that has yet to take place. To use sex for pleasure or emotional fulfillment alone not only fails to realize the essential purpose of sex, but degrades the inherent dignity of the human being to that of an object–a means to an end.

Abstinence is a belief that love is best expressed in a committed, life-long relationship where each partner may freely give and express themselves without the regret, disease, or lust that may linger from past relationships. Abstinence respects the whole person and avoids reducing people to sexual beings.

We believe that there is immense value in waiting for a single future spouse and guarding present emotions. We believe that rather than immediately gratifying sexual desire, it is much more valuable – and indeed beautiful – to be recipients and givers of deep, loyal, sacrificial love.


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