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GettingCarriedAway Greg wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Catholic boy in my teen stages. I have obeyed all the rules my whole life until recently.

I went to a party, got carried away, (xxxx)ed a girl, and also made out with her. A week later I felt really guilty about it and went to Confession. I still feel a bit guilty and just want to feel innocent again but I'm scared God will punish me for my actions.

  • Can someone please help me with this problem?

Thank you.

Greg

  { How do I get rid of this guilty, teen feeling from a mistake I made in making out with another girl? }

Paul replied:

Greg,

You are blessed to know these things are morally wrong and sinful. If you:

  • made a good and honest sacramental Confession
  • resolved not to do it again, and
  • did your penance

you have been made right with God. The guilt of your sin has been erased. Perhaps you would feel better if you apologized to the girl too, if an appropriate situation enables you to and, if you feel called, pray also for her future spouse and yours, that you all may remain pure in body, heart, and mind to be a unique and special spousal gift one day.

Peace,

Paul

Eric replied:

Greg,

I get the impression that you might have an image of God as someone who is waiting for an excuse to zap you for messing up, as if living the Christian life was all about following rules and regulations and if we do so, we'll be saved, and if we don't, God will get angry and punish us or roast us in Hell.

In point of fact, God loves us more than we could ever imagine and wants us to be happy. St. Irenaeus of Lyon in the 2nd century said,

The glory of God is man fully alive.

  • Do you want to be fully alive?

So does God. He is on your side and he goes to bat for you. In order to be fully alive, to function the way we were designed to function, there is a way of life God has given us. It's like an instruction book, in that it tells us the right way to live our lives, to get the most out of it. The way of life is not for God's benefit. It's for yours and mine.

I don't find it helpful to speak of rules and regulations in the spiritual life, as if God is arbitrarily deciding for us what we can and cannot do and imposing His Will on our freedom. This comes from a corrupt philosophy. This is why I speak of the way of life.

Yes, there are definitely actions that are wrong, and actions that are right. Don't get me wrong. But God tells us these actions are wrong and right because He knows what their natural and supernatural effects and consequences are.

  1. We do not speak of a rule or regulation to eat and drink. We know if we do not eat or drink, we will die. It is a natural consequence of not eating or drinking.
  2. We do not speak of a rule or regulation to not eat our own excrement. We know if we do so we will get ill.

These two things do not operate in the realm of rules and regulations. Consequently, when God instructs us to guard our chastity, among which he includes not (xxxx)ing someone who is not our wife, He does so out of love because He knows there are negative consequences to this. So we call it wrong, or a sin, a word that comes etymologically from a word that means to sunder or split apart. It splits us apart from the Good, it splits us apart from God (two words that are also etymologically related). It cuts us off from the source of life.

Now Jesus is our Divine Physician. Because sin sunders us from the source of life, when we sin, we need Someone to restore that relationship, that connection, or, in theological terms, that communion. Jesus is the One who does this for us, who heals that division or sunder, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the means He normally uses for this. So you did the right thing in bringing this sin to Confession so it could be healed. God has forgiven you and restored you to fellowship with Him. There is no reason to feel guilty or unforgiven; your guilt is gone. Let it go. Psalm 103:12 says,

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

He has removed your transgressions! You are clean.

That being said, there will be some residual consequences you have to deal with. Some of these are natural; you will probably retain memories of what you did that keep you attached to committing the sin or increase your desire to repeat it. The scene may play over and over in your mind making it even harder for you to avoid sin in the future. In a sense you have lost your natural innocence — here I mean psychological innocence, not theological innocence — and will never get it back. Just as you can't unsee certain things, or reverse losing your virginity, you can't go back to the way you were before, and this may affect you negatively — which is why God instructed us not to do it in the first place. God readily forgives, but nature does not. Note that this is not a punishment as if God is saying, I'm angry with you so I'm going to smite you in my anger, rather it's just a natural consequence of what you did, just as much as if you got into an accident because you drove drunk and landed in the hospital with an injury.

You said:
. . . I'm scared God will punish me for my actions.

There is a verse I want you to meditate on: 1 John 4:18, Perfect love casts out fear.

  • Do you love God?

The more you love God, and cultivate love for God, the less servile fear (as it is termed) you will have for Him. That means the less fear as if you were a slave fearing the retribution of his master. There is a good fear of God, for it is written,

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10, cf. Sirach 1:18)

This is filial fear or the respect we as sons owe God as our Father, but I don't want you to get caught up in that right now because I sense you have an unhealthy fear of God. He loves you and wants the best for you. The glory of God is Adam fully alive.

You say you feel guilty and want to feel innocent. Don't focus so much on feelings; they often do not correspond to reality. Objectively — that is, in reality — you are pleasing in the eyes of God, having gone to Confession. Never doubt that. Your feelings may be a natural result of what I spoke of before, the natural consequences of what you did, and if so, it's an opportunity to learn to manage them. This is a life skill. You will encounter much worse in life — you need to know this as a teen — so it's time to wrestle with it now, with the grace of God and the help of prayer. There is no magic bullet.

You are young. Mostly innocent (from a human standpoint); less innocent than you once were, unfortunately, but use that experience as a lesson to motivate you to greater chastity. Take my advice: Preserve your innocence in chastity. Chastity, according to the Catechism [or teaching guide] of the Catholic Church, is defined as the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. In other words, chastity is right sex, or good sex. It does not mean abstinence from sexual intercourse [though obviously for the unmarried, such as yourself, this does apply], but learning to control our powerful passions and emotions.

As a teen, your hormones and passions are raging. You've got to learn to tame them and master them, or they will master you. If you do not live out chastity faithfully, you could end up a very unhappy person in the future.

Please do not hesitate to follow up or ask any other questions you may have! You sound like a good guy, Greg — be faithful.

Eric

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