Author Topic: Does a potential spouse have a right to know sɛҳuąƖ history before marriage?  (Read 3149 times)

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For example virginity, how many partners, whether one was abused or not, etc?

Pamphleteer Fr. Daniel Lord, SJ said that the answer is NO, assuming that the sin had been confessed and it was not being committed anymore. 

I myself have a sinful past and I wouldn't want a potential spouse to know about it.

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  • Hard to imagine a potential spouse who would agree with...  "Nah, tell them nothing! Let them guess!"


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  • For example virginity, how many partners, whether one was abused or not, etc?

    Pamphleteer Fr. Daniel Lord, SJ said that the answer is NO, assuming that the sin had been confessed and it was not being committed anymore.

    I myself have a sinful past and I wouldn't want a potential spouse to know about it.
    I agree with Fr. Lord. When we confess our sins to the priest we are forgiven and those sins are buried and we rise to a new life in Christ.
    Presumably, you do not, at the moment, have a specific person in mind for your spouse. 
    I too had a sinful past; once I repented of those sɛҳuąƖ sins and made the resolution to sin no more I, providentially, met my spouse, who was deeply committed to a sincere life in Christ and my spouse’s stipulation when we talked of possible marriage was that our marriage would be founded firmly on Jesus Christ. My spouse also had a past and had repented. When you repent you leave your sins behind and there is no reason dredge them up.
    Of course, much will depend on both of you and how forgiving and understanding each of you is. Also, there could be repercussions from past sins or past abuse, but as spouses we are there to support and pray for each and to grow in love.
    Do not be anxious about this. Trust God and pray for a good spouse to come your way soon. Give Archangel Raphael a call. He is the one for finding a good spouse and sorting out early marriage problems. Read The Book of Tobit.
    Prayer to St. Raphael for the Wise Choice of a Marriage Partner
    O Glorious St. Raphael, Patron and Lover of the Young, I call upon thee  and plead with thee for thy help. In all confidence I open my heart to thee, to beg thy guidance and assistance in the important task of planning my future. Obtain for me through thy intercession the light of God’s grace, so that I may decide wisely concerning the person who is to be my partner through life. O Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand to find each other. May all our movements be guided by thy light and transfigured by thy joy. As thou didst lead the young Tobias to Sara and opened up for him a new life of happiness with her in holy marriage, lead me to such a one whom in thine angelic wisdom thou dost judge best suited to be united with me in marriage.

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  • Yes and no.  Sins once confessed are forgiven but at the same time sin has consequences that can affect relationships ... just as Baptism remits the actual sin but not the consequences of sin.

    There are many longer-term consequences of sɛҳuąƖ sin and I believe that spouses have a right to know.  In getting married, the spouse should have exclusive lifelong access to this kind of intimacy and that includes pre-marriage.  So the spouse is being unjustly denied something to which he or she should have had a right.

    Those with pasts try to lean on absolution forgiving sins.  Yes, that’s true.  But you forget about the temporal effects of sin.  So, for instance, a virgin has every right to know whether a prospective spouse used to sleep with 10 different people a week.  That would affect the person’s attitudes towards them, could make them more likely to be unfaithful, and there could even be STDs involved.

    You should have thought about these consequences before fornicating.  Nice try though.

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  • I myself have a sinful past and I wouldn't want a potential spouse to know about it.

    You should have thought about that before fornicating.  So a virgin would have every right to have expectations to marry the same.  Just because you confess and are forgiven a sin of theft doesn’t mean that there isn’t an injustice there that has to be made up for by restitution.  Now, the party from who you stole could forgive the debt but they don’t have to.  In having fornicated you are depriving the prospective spouse of something they have a right to ... exclusive lifelong intimacy.  So if you were to date a virgin, that person must be told that you’re not one so they can decide whether to forgive that debt.  If a prospective spouse asks you, you have to give an honest answer and not lie.  Lying could be grounds for annulment.  If you lied and claimed you were a virgin, that’s misrepresentation that could have altered the person’s decision to marry you.


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  • For example virginity, how many partners, whether one was abused or not, etc?

    Pamphleteer Fr. Daniel Lord, SJ said that the answer is NO, assuming that the sin had been confessed and it was not being committed anymore.

    I myself have a sinful past and I wouldn't want a potential spouse to know about it.
    Would you rather your spouse found out about it some other way?  See my signature.  I think it prudent to be open and honest with a potential spouse.
    "For there is not any thing secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hidden, that shall not be known and come abroad."- Luke 8:17

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  • I agree with the comments above, which say they do have a right to know.   "sin has consequences that can affect relationships "

    "a virgin has every right to know whether a prospective spouse used to sleep with 10 different people a week.  That would affect the person’s attitudes towards them, could make them more likely to be unfaithful, and there could even be STDs involved."


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  • " whether one was abused or not,"

    This can also have huge ramifications, so yes, a potential spouse would have a right to know this as well. 



    Offline Matthew

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  • You should have thought about that before fornicating.  So a virgin would have every right to have expectations to marry the same.  Just because you confess and are forgiven a sin of theft doesn’t mean that there isn’t an injustice there that has to be made up for by restitution.  Now, the party from who you stole could forgive the debt but they don’t have to.  In having fornicated you are depriving the prospective spouse of something they have a right to ... exclusive lifelong intimacy.  So if you were to date a virgin, that person must be told that you’re not one so they can decide whether to forgive that debt.  If a prospective spouse asks you, you have to give an honest answer and not lie.  Lying could be grounds for annulment.  If you lied and claimed you were a virgin, that’s misrepresentation that could have altered the person’s decision to marry you.

    This.

    It's borderline misrepresentation, which is grounds for an annulment. If your spouse kept themselves pure for marriage, they certainly deserve to marry a virgin. Now they might CHOOSE to waive that right for various reasons (their own looks, slim pickins' in the spouse department, difficulty finding a spouse), but it must be THEIR CHOICE. "Virginity or no" is NOT a minor issue, but one that affects the rest of your life. There are statistics that show the greater # of partners, the smaller chance of a successful marriage.

    I don't know if this applies to men as well (let's face it, men and women are different), but scientific data shows that for females (at least) the ability to pair-bond is seriously degraded with EACH added "partner".

    But even if the virgin spouse was feeling lovey-dovey and accepted it at first, when the CONSEQUENCES reared their ugly head years down the road, that spouse might change his mind about accepting your "past". Talk about resentment which could destroy a marriage.

    I believe once you accept something like that, you can't change your mind later and use it as grounds for an annulment. HOWEVER, the consequences will still be there. In other words, you could easily end up with a BAD MARRIAGE even if you don't end up with a NON-MARRIAGE. Wouldn't that be even worse?

    Lastly, there's a world of difference between "dredging up old sins" and going into names, details -- and a quick "FYI, I'm not a virgin" or "I used to sleep around", or "I have been intimate with several people".

    YES your future spouse has a right to know.
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  • Absolutely if one is not a virgin that should be told before the wedding.  Also if someone has viewed pornography intentionally even ONE time it should be disclosed.  Why?  Because pornography use by men has the similar effect against pair-bonding that pre-marital sex has on women.  We have been told by our priests that one use of porn can destroy a man's natural attraction for real women for life.  Every woman has a right to know if her potential spouse is a habitual self-abuser.  That will ruin a marriage.  Sex addiction (I don't really believe it's an addiction but I use that term because it's well understood) is not to be dismissed or tolerated.

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  • Matthew is right on one point in particular; It is different for men.

    If it is a woman asking then, you should probably tell them. Not so sure about their being a "right". 

    If it is a man, then just don't tell . 


    Offline Mithrandylan

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  • I think people are using the word 'right' in a more colloquial sense. In the strict sense of the word-- as something to which one is entitled by virtue of the natural or supernatural law-- I find it very difficult to assert that someone is entitled to know the sɛҳuąƖ history of a non-spouse.  I think what people are more saying is that whether or not a spouse is a virgin or a chronic masturbator is going to factor into their evaluation of the spouse's fitness, and hence, is something they would like to know and have reason to know.  And yet, I think in most cases it would not really be a right to know.
    .
    Rights and duties correspond, so if one person has a proper right to a certain piece of information it means another has a proper duty to provide it.  Is it the case that fornicators and the like, especially when they are repentant, are duty bound to disclose their past to others?  At what point?  Is it first date kind of stuff? Engagement kind of stuff?  At what point has the fornicator morally sinned in failing to disclose?  This seems like Scarlet letter type stuff. 
    .
    Here's where it could become a right.  Suppose a virgin suitor says they would never marry a non-virgin. At that point, their consent to marry enters into the picture, and the non-virgin suitor would seem to indeed have a proper duty to disclose, probably out of charity and to prevent them from consenting to something that they would not otherwise consent to.
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    All that said, it seems that in general, prudence suggests disclosing for a few reasons, even if there is no proper duty/right to give or receive the disclosure. There is a good chance such information will be revealed later anyways: social media being what it is, people's histories being shamelessly advertised, etc., suggest that a non-virgin spouse will eventually be found out.  Better to disclose it at some point in the courtship than for it to come out later, and possibly risk the other spouse feeling betrayed.  For men disclosing pornography use to their girlfriend's, same idea. Especially if the use has been 'addictive', because it is unlikely, in a digital world, that such a secret will be able to be maintained forever.  None of this constitutes a duty/right, I do not think, but something can be the best thing to do without there actually being a duty to do it.
    .
    It being a question of prudence (i.e., good moral/situational judgment), there will be cases where it is prudent to not disclose, too.
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  • If one says to a potential spouse that they would never want to marry a non-virgin, the other doesn't have to disclose anything if they don't want to.  They can just walk away.  No harm, no foul.  You can always wait until you find the perfect spouse.  Maybe they will never show up.  But at least you didn't marry a non-virgin.

    Offline SimpleMan

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  • In at least broad brushstrokes, then yes, I'd say the spouses need to know one another's past sɛҳuąƖ history.  Even if, just for the sake of argument, one does not have a "right", still, it's a "better to know" scenario.  And someone having "slipped" once or twice is a whole different critter from having been a whore or a whoremonger.  (I use those terms in the broad sense, not necessarily indicating sex-for-money.)  And the way things are getting nowadays, seems everybody under 30 wants to be the gender and the identity other than what they were born with --- as though people should just be born with an interchangeable set of Lego parts for pudenda virila vel muliebre! --- any gαy exploits, other than perhaps a single drunken incident or two (women nowadays are getting pretty adventurous in that regard, perhaps because many of them hate men so much?), should be disclosed as well.  I'd want to know in either instance.

    But let me pose this question --- would substantial error about the sɛҳuąƖ past of a spouse have been grounds for annulment before Vatican II?  I know, nowadays, you can often get an "annulment" just for your jib having been cut differently than what your partner had in mind, but "back in the day"?  If it would have been, can someone supply a source?

    And in the interests of full disclosure, Deo gratias, I was a male virgin on my wedding night --- I'd been no simon-pure saint, I'd done things I shouldn't have done (and which have long since been burnt up in the confessional), yes, they involved real-life women, but in the strict technical sense, I was a virgin.  I shall not speak one way or the other about my wife, we are divorced (she lives in mortal sin with an illicit consort) but in the Eyes of God we are husband and wife, and she is the mother of my son.  (Considering the circumstances, we actually get along quite amicably.)

    Offline Mithrandylan

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  • But let me pose this question --- would substantial error about the sɛҳuąƖ past of a spouse have been grounds for annulment before Vatican II?  I know, nowadays, you can often get an "annulment" just for your jib having been cut differently than what your partner had in mind, but "back in the day"?  If it would have been, can someone supply a source?
    .
    Only in a case of conditional consent. Conditional consent is when the vow given is 'I will to marry you as long as...'.
    .
    Conditional consent is notoriously difficult to prove.  In most cases of it being claimed, no annulment is given for that reason.  I think that failure to disclose a sɛҳuąƖ past could theoretically annul a marriage if the other person clearly manifested their consent on that past being a certain way. It would be possible, though rare.
    .
    However, here is something to think about-- not touching the validity of the marriage so much as the rectitude and wisdom of such behavior.  The Catholic view of virginity is one that associates with virtue (chastity, in particular).  The reason that virginity is desirable is, in large part, due to it being a precondition to perfect chastity.  But a non-virgin can be just short of perfectly chaste, supposing the right repentance and reform.  If a man refuses her, still, on the grounds of her non-virginity, it seems superstitious rather than Catholic. 
    .
    There is of course the psychological aspect of things, but that is just psychological. Not to say it doesn't matter, only to say it is not as important as the virtue of chastity. 
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