“Is it all right if I sleep with my girl-friend?”

This is a most important subject when the leaders of political parties do just that, if the media is to be believed. The problem is of course that such conduct has become respectable in the public life of the nation. Furthermore the comparative safety of condoms has meant that many young people think that there is no harm in the practice and indeed that it may be positively useful as a preparation for marriage in order to discover whether the couple are ‘sexually compatible’ and would in fact be happy in living together long term.

The difficulty of this whole argument is of course that trial marriage is not the same as being committed to a person for life. The relationship is different and therefore is it in no way prepares one for a truly stable committed relationship.

Further, sexual compatibility is really another way of asking whether one enjoys sex with the person concerned. What a far cry this is from the great Christian ideal where a couple come to marriage as virgins and learn together, teaching each other how to make love for good or for ill. Another point of concern is the problem of the possibility of a child being born out of wedlock either because the condom is ineffective or because of impatience. For the fact of the matter is that, even at a time when thousands of tiny babies are being killed by abortion, the number of children born out of wedlock continues to rise.

The fact is that the right and happier way is for the couple to save themselves for marriage and then to learn together how to love each other not only in bed but in the far more difficult world of daily life.

I have failed to point out of course that the person whom you are sleeping with today may not be the person you eventually marry in any case and that far too many of these liaisons are temporary and insecure because that is of their very nature.

St Paul pointed out that the first person you sleep with is of the greatest importance in your life. To become ‘one flesh’ with another person means far more than sex. It means that forever you are one with the other person.

John Pearce, Bury St Edmunds