After Joseph proposed, I loved imaging what our life together would look like after the wedding.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved planning the wedding day with Joseph, but it was our marriage that I was excited for. I was ready to say ‘goodnight’ and not ‘goodbye’. I wondered what our toothbrushes would look like sitting on the same sink. But what I really couldn’t wait for was falling asleep next to Joseph for the first time. I couldn’t wait until the morning after our wedding so that I could wake up beside Joseph for the first time. Now, almost a year and half after that wedding day, that’s still the favorite part of my nights and mornings – falling asleep next to Joseph and waking up beside him the next day.
I’m not going to pretend that we were perfect during our dating relationship or even our engagement. There were plenty of times where I begrudgingly got off the couch at Joseph’s apartment or watched him get up off the floor of my parent’s house and start out on the long drive back home. It would have been so much easier to snuggle back up with Joseph and fall asleep instead of making the drive home in the dark.
Maybe you’ve been in our shoes, too. You’re over at your boyfriend’s house for a date night when you look at the clock and see that it’s getting late. Perhaps you’ve made a long drive to spend time with your girlfriend and you realize it’s later than you thought. It’s in moments like these when you have to make a decision – in the words of The Clash, “Do I stay or do I go?”
Before you make the decision to spend the night with the man or woman that you love (yep, even if nothing is going to happen), think about these three points from Father Mike Schmitz that he shared recently in a video with Ascension Presents:
1. The near occasion of sin
Occasions of sin are circumstances which either because of their special nature or because of our human tendencies to frailty incite or entice one to sin. “Lying down in the same bed overnight with the person you’re in love with opens up a lot of doors for some very serious things to happen,” Father Mike said. Even if nothing has ever happened between you and your partner when you’ve been lying down, or you’ve spent the night in the same bed before, sleeping in the same bed opens both you and the person you love up to the occasion of sin. “Nothing may not have happened yet physically, but there’s something that does happen inside,” Father Mike said. “Your mind can go a whole lot of places.”
Even if you go to bed with no intention of doing anything more than sleeping, you may find yourself in a stick situation a few hours later. “You may wake up in the middle of the night and think ‘Oh hey! There’s a person who I love right next to me. I bet he or she may want an expression of affection in this moment. It’s so dangerous.” As hard as it is to say no to the convenience of sleeping over, it’s important to remember that intentionally entering into a near occasion of sin is an actual sin in and of itself.
2. The sin of scandal
Scandal is so much more than shocking people though. “Scandal is living in such a way that when people see your life, what they thought once was bad is now seen as good. Or, what they thought was good they now think of as bad.” Father Mike explained. You’re living your life as a witness to Christ and the Christian faith. But if your your family or a roommate see you sleeping over in the same bed as the man or woman you love – even if you’re not doing anything more than sleeping – you can cause scandal and change the way they think about Christianity and Catholicism.
It’s easy to see this reason for not sleeping over together as a bit of a burden. But in the Gospels, Christ doesn’t mince words when he talks about how harmful it is to cause scandal. In Matthew, he warns his apostles that “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” As Christians, our lives are called to be a witness to the authentic love God calls us to share with one another.
3. There’s something intimate about sleeping in a bed with someone you love
Is there anything intrinsically wrong about falling asleep in the same bed with a member of the opposite sex? “No,” Father Mike answered. He went on to explain, “The power could go out in the middle of January or February, and you could be in danger of dying if you didn’t huddle together for warmth. So there’s nothing intrinsically wrong about that. But situation is not intrinsically wrong – it’s situationally wrong. Circumstances can affect the gravity but they also can affect the morality of an action.” While cuddling up together for warmth in sub-zero temperatures is a valid reason for sharing a bed, we probably don’t find ourselves in that situation too often. For most of us, we can fix the chilly temperature by bumping the heat up on our thermostat.
If you’re tempted to spend the night with each other in the same bed because of your affection for each other, imagine how much more affectionate that action would be if you were to save that moment for your future spouse. There were many times when I was dating that I went to bed by myself, frustrated, instead of cuddling up with Joseph and waking up the next morning beside him. But the moments that I’ve gotten to experience waking up next to him as his wife far outweigh the sacrifice we made as a couple when we were dating and engaged.
A word on condemnation
If you have spent the night with your boyfriend or girlfriend, this message can come across as harsh. After all, it’s not like you were making love – you were just cuddling up in bed together. “You could have been doing worse,” Father Mike agreed. But he goes a step further and challenges couples today to not stay in their comfort zone.
“That doesn’t mean that what you were doing was good,” he continued. Father Mike then went on to clarify the difference between accusation and conviction. “Satan accuses and says ‘See you’re wrong. You don’t belong with the Lord, you don’t belong in the Church’. That’s wrong. . . the Holy Spirit convicting says ‘This is what you did – let me lead you to holiness, let me lead you to confession, let me lead you to reconciliation. You don’t have to stay in the dark, you can come into the light.”
You’re worthy of an experience of authentic love. You’re a child of God that God has created and sees as good – and that inherent goodness doesn’t change even if we’ve made mistakes.