Girls, especially those from good Christian homes, often confuse compassion and charity with the love of marital partners. We need to make clear the difference. Girls listen up: Coming across a fellow who needs help to be a decent person but who appeals to lust, is NOT going to make a good life partner. He is not marriage material…period. Why? Because he is not someone who will join you in lifting each other up to God. This joining in love is what is necessary for raising children and for staying married.

If a fellow says he “needs” you, and if he comes on strong physically, a fog seems to obscure the vision of young women. We want to be needed. It’s built into us. But being needed is not marital love.

I was raised to be kind and “loving” and a Good Samaritan so I understand how these issues get confusing. We need to teach our girls that there are different kinds of love. If you’ve rescued someone in desperate need by offering some kind of care, you “take them to the Inn.” You offer comfort. But you don’t marry them or allow them to tempt you to sin!

Marital love is not charity, although it is charitable. Compassion and charity are the love we offer in service to the needy. We pray for others who are troubled; we guide the needy to social service providers, we offer a meal…We are called to do the works of mercy. But if, in any way, the recipient of charity tries to manipulate that compassion, it’s time to bow out. Get away.

True marital love is not true lust. Lust is when our hormones take over. And lust is what destroys souls because it lives outside of commitment. It’s a mold that grows in darkness. In the healthy light of Christ our Savior, temptations to lustful self-serving pleasures wither away.

Love between spouses is first of all a commitment and a concern for the other person—body and soul. Both partners should offer this love not in a 50/50 equation…but a 100/100 equation! Both give completely, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

My wonderful husband, Jurgen, used to rush to the store for medicine at 11 pm if I had a headache. He also coaxed me to laugh and pray when everything seemed deadly serious. But he can’t always be the one giving care. Love is a partnership…mutual concern for the other. Now it’s his turn when he is sick and requiring my help.

Difficulties and hardships will always come up in relationships. That’s why each of us needs a partner who will be the one we can count on when the going is rough.

It’s hard to be a teenager today--to resist the many temptations and the confusing arena of love, sex and marriage.  But we have good tools. With self-control, prayer and regular Confession things don’t have to be so hard. These three things are the tools that help clear away the fog so that we can become truly loving people.

Sometimes we forget that our bodies are really tabernacles for Jesus. We want them to be pure, beautiful and clean to honor our Savior. But they do get dirtied by sin. Fortunately, we have the opportunity, through the wonderful sacrament of Confession, to wipe our tabernacles clean again.

"…be self-controlled and chaste….For the grace of God has appeared, saving all, and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hop-- the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ." --Titus 2:5, 11 - 13

Copyright 2012 Judith Costello