Why is “making out” unjust?!

Last week, I was giving a talk to children in our religious education program.  I was trying to explain genuflection, and why a bodily act of adoration in the presence of God was not only appropriate but also a requirement of justice.  The reasoning is very simple.  God is God.  We are not.  In justice, we adore Him.  Why?  “Justice”, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is “The cardinal moral virtue which consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and to neighbor.”  

Fair enough.  Justice requires that we will to give God His due.  But why are bodily gestures important?  Because human beings are integrated creatures – composed of body and soul.  The separation of these two is only effectively accomplished by the pains of death.  If we attempt to effect a bodily succession from the union, we will undergo an internal battle with personal carnage to match the ravages of the Civil War. 

The things that we do with our bodies should correspond with the disposition of our hearts.  Think about it: if I am meeting up with a friend and they reach toward me with an outstretched hand, smiling, I know I am being invited to shake their hand.  If I turn and walk away without saying a word, my body language has been sufficiently insulting to damage the relationship.  As someone professing friendship, my body language has been a lie.  It has not been in correspondence with the disposition of my heart. 

The same is true of the most intimate of friendships – those tending towards spousal union.

Let’s think about this in context.  What is the disposition in the heart of a person whose body is “making out”?  Well, interaction which causes or intensifies sexual arousal has a defined goal.  That goal is a completed act of sexual intercourse.  Anything short of that is simply incomplete and frustrating.  Now – before anyone starts suggesting that this article says a dating couple should never touch each other, please note that the key word is “arousal”.  It is possible to kiss someone or touch someone in a loving, chaste manner that does not lead to arousal.  (If you have to ask how far you can go, you are going too far.)  

So, if you cannot lawfully complete an act of intercourse, “making out” is unjust.  (Here, I use the term “lawfully” to refer to the laws of God.  A lawful act of sexual intercourse is within the bonds of marriage, between a man and a woman, with nothing done willfully which would thwart the procreative potential of the act, namely no contraception or sterilization.)  Why is it unjust?  Well, what did the Beatles say in “Day Tripper”?  “She’s a big teaser – she took me half the way there.”  If you buy a ticket, you expect to be taken to your destination.  If the conductor throws you off of the train half way through the journey – or perhaps even a few hundred yards before reaching the platform – you have been treated unjustly.

No one has a right to use another human being for the sake of pleasure.  To do so is unjust.  Women can be especially guilty of this when they desire to “make out” but, technically, remain a “virgin”.  Such a course of action is not chaste.  To exact the maximum pleasure out of a physical encounter with a man only to cut it off cold turkey before completion is really like waving a glass of ice water in front of a person dying of thirst.  It’s just mean.  And obviously, we can only be that mean through a lack of charity.   In other words, we are not treating the one we claim to love in a loving manner.  What we are doing with our body does not correspond to what we claim the disposition of our heart truly is.  Using a person we are with because he does things that cause pleasure… well, that is treating a human being like a piece of chocolate cake. This defies the virtue of justice which calls me to have a constant and firm will to give my neighbor (in this case, my beloved) what he is due.



  1. If boundaries are established at the start, then no one is left “incomplete.” If it is understood how far each participant is willing to go…then no one is left frustrated. It should be a private decision within the couple. To hold hands in romantic silence or allow for a little make out session? Either is acceptable, as long as both parties understand that nothing will be “happening.”

  2. First of all, I am assuming this comment has been written by a female since the issue of frustration in a “make out session” is pretty much disregarded.
    Experientially this is simply false – on two counts.
    First – the understanding does not dictate the response to arousal. Even the most mortified people (by “mortified” here I mean those who are living an ascetical life whereby they work in conjunction with God’s grace to subject their passions to the rule of reason… this is normally undertaken by prayer, fasting, and various forms of self-denial) can find themselves taken by surprise when it comes to the ferocity of the passions. And second – the threshold for that response can vary. The same action, undertaken on two different days, can evoke completely different responses based on a whole host of factors: How much sleep have I had? Am I feeling emotionally vulnerable? What music or other forms of media have I been exposed to today? What have I eaten? What time of day is it? Have I had alcohol or any other mind-altering substance? The list goes on and on….
    The unmarried who engage in make out sessions are not likely to be the most mortified people (or they simply wouldn’t go there – they would know how fierce and unpredictable the passions can be and they would not want to place themselves in an occasion of grave sin) – therefore, those who do engage in non-marital make out sessions are unlikely to have trained their wills through prayer, beseeching God’s grace, and self-denial for the rejection of increasing pleasure and arousal that comes along with the action they are engaging in.
    Physically, for women, since they are not the initiators of the act (I am not saying that women do not seduce men – I am saying that women are not the PHYSICAL initiators) they simply are not aroused as quickly or, as a consequence, frustrated as easily as men. As a consequence, I think women can be horribly insensitive to men’s needs and end up seeking their own selfish satisfaction through incomplete “make out sessions” that make them feel special and loved and secure – without having to “go all the way”.
    I think we see very clear anecdotal evidence of this fact in the magnitude of the “date rape” problem.
    A girl thinks it is just fine to go to a party, dress provocatively, drink, do some dirty dancing and head off to a bedroom with a cute guy for a “make out session” – that she is somehow entitled to play him like this and then proceed to shut him down the moment she feels satisfied with whatever it is she wanted from him before she has to do anything she doesn’t feel like doing. But she is not at all appreciating the man by doing that. It would almost require a miracle for him to stop at that point – and if he did, you’d better believe he would experience frustration. The girl who is pulling the plug at that point – most likely not. She is more likely to be relieved because she never had the intention of completing the act. It is total, complete, grave use of another human being with no regard for his needs – utterly selfish pleasure. That undertaken with full knowledge and consent is mortally sinful – in other words, this kind of action is the antithesis of true love.
    Unmarried couples who use each other through “make out sessions” are not loving each other. Their selfishness will become apparent in multiple facets of the relationship. Each time someone places personal pleasure over what is right or good for the person they supposedly “love”, they are making a selfish choice. If both parties agree to use each other for pleasure, it is even MORE likely that the relationship will fail, because both parties are so selfish they will not have the strength of character to make vows like “for better or worse”, “for richer or poorer” or “in sickness and in health”. Well – they might make them on the day, when their partner is healthy, has money and they feel so “in love” – but when those continued mutual selfish decisions add up, if there is no repentance they will get sick of each other and become the next statistic in the ever increasing mountain of divorce statistics.

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