I am so very sorry that I have not responded to this email. I had “misplaced” it and just came across it again today!! My sincere apologies. Actually, at the time you sent it to me I thought about it very much, which is probably why I was under the impression that I had answered you.
I thought this was a great question and very relevant to the nature of dating relationships these days! Staying over with each other when you visit in a long-distance relationship is totally “acceptable” by our society, so it is hard for young couples to really see what is wrong with it, especially if you are remaining chaste in your relationship. But, I have to agree with your boyfriend’s parents. And, naturally, I’ll explain why!
There has always been in our Christian tradition an understanding of the sin of “giving rise to scandal”. In this day and age when very little is actually considered “scandalous” by our society, it may be hard to relate to the meaning of this expression. The point of it is this: even if you are not sinning, if you are giving the impression to those around you that you are sinning, then you are contributing to their moral deterioration. Sin loves company!
If people look at your relationship and assume that you and your boyfriend are not being chaste, it gives them “permission” in their own hearts to not uphold a standard of chastity. I know you can tell them that you are being chaste. But people are inclined to believe what they want. When they see you sleeping over at your boyfriend’s they will naturally draw their own conclusions, regardless of what you say.
Not only does this encourage others to not live out chastity, but it tarnishes your good reputation. While you might not care about your reputation, your boyfriend’s parents obviously care about his and your reputations. That in itself, out of respect for his parents, would be good enough reason for you to comply . . . remember the Fourth Commandment: “Honour thy father and mother.” When children give rise to scandal, they are not bringing honour to their parents.
But I would suggest that you should care about your reputation, because your reputation is not just a matter of your own concern. I assume that you are a Christian. As a Christian you bear the name of Christ. Because of this, everything you do becomes a witness to the world around you. You would be amazed at how the example of one holy life can touch so many others, leading them to Christ.
We are all called to holiness. Do we live it perfectly? Most of us don’t! But the call to holiness is still there. And it is a goal that we all, as Christians, should set for ourselves. I encourage you to do your best to lead an exemplary, holy life as a Christian. You will not regret any price you pay for such a noble goal!
Does this all sound terribly old-fashioned? Perhaps it is! But virtues really don’t change; in spite of changing views in our culture, the virtues remain constant.
Obviously you value chastity . . . because you are trying to embrace chastity in your relationship. I applaud your convictions. Now, are you able to take them one step further? Can you live your life in a way to demonstrate the value of that virtue to everyone around you? When others see you and your boyfriend making obvious sacrifices so that they will clearly see that you are upholding a chaste relationship, you will be giving an exceptional witness to Christ and to your faith!
Now, in practical terms, how can you live this out? I know it’s hard. It’s expensive to rent a hotel room, on top of the expense of traveling in a long-distance relationship. So what are the other possible solutions?
Surely you have friends where you live and he, where he lives. Is there not anyone with whom you could stay when coming in for visits? I would suggest if you are finding it hard to find a place to stay, you should both check with your local parishes to see if there is a family who you could “board” with on the weekends when you are visiting.
This is a great opportunity, as well, to set up with a mentoring couple to give you advice and direction during this time of courtship in your life.
Another added benefit for you in this situation is that in making a change you will be demonstrating a great deal of respect for your boyfriend’s parents. This could go a long way to bless you if in the future you do get married. Family support is such a gift! And as you demonstrate respect for their wisdom, they in turn will grow in respect for both of you!
And if they, or anyone else, is questioning the chasteness of your relationship with your boyfriend, this kind of change will certainly speak volumes to them all.
All in all, I think you get my point with regards to not giving rise to scandal and honouring your parents. I hope that you will prayerfully reflect on these ideas and seek to do God’s will in this matter. I have prayed for you and your boyfriend and will continue to do so. I humbly ask that you keep me, my family and this ministry of promoting purity in your prayers.
I wish both you and your boyfriend a happy and holy Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Blessings in His Most Holy Name,