Marriage and Virginity: Two Forms of Love

Submitted by Deacon Jim Krupka

Pope Francis ends his section of On Love in the Family, saying, “Virginity and marriage are, and must be, different ways of loving.” A fundamental fact is we cannot live without love. But in our human existence, there are different forms of living love. One form is virginity. In Scriptures, as the writers anticipated the coming of the Kingdom, they emphasized that nothing should come above complete devotion to “the cause of the Gospel.” (1 Cor 7:32). St. Paul recommended that single life offering himself as a model. At the same time, he recognized that the call to single life is not for everyone. We should each honor our call for our state of life. The different states complement each other.
In today’s world, many are living out the example of St. Paul. Pope Francis celebrates the role and contribution of those remaining single. They stand out as great contributors to the Church, community, and society. This is Christian love. Virginity is a form of that love where we see the Gospel picture of Heaven. In our heavenly home, we will “neither marry or (be) given in marriage.” (Mt 22:30). St. Paul uses his own life to show that total devotion to the Gospel is more possible living the state of virginity. Most married women and men would acknowledge the truth of Paul’s words. Paul’s point is that limits to our human mind and energy make total focus on the Gospel more possible as single. Yet many married couples live their lives as models of “Christ’s union with the Church” or union of Christ’s human and divine natures. Their lives of unity also bring life to the Gospel.
Virginity symbolizes a love that does not need possession. This is a beautiful kind of love. But this kind of love is not just for those single. Those living chastely before marriage experience it. Married couples who include periods of abstinence in their lives as they practice Natural Family Planning do the same. Married couples experience this type of love during family stress, separation due to work, or physical changes from aging or serious sickness. Whether single or married, our call is to live Christ-like love. We each need to find our way to get there.