Dear Amy:

I have found the love of my life! He is amazing and wonderful. We are only 21 years old and don't plan on marrying until we graduate from college - and then we have to find jobs and plan for a wedding. It will probably be three or more years until we marry.

The thing is, I'm Catholic and promised myself I wouldn't have sex until marriage, but I really want to share that experience with my boyfriend.

I feel so conflicted. I know my family would be so disappointed if I had sex before marriage. I know I should feel that God wants me to wait and that I should follow this rule without complaint. It is just hard because sex is so prevalent.

My boyfriend has been great and says he can wait, but sometimes we both have a weak moment and have come close.

I don't know what to do.

- Conflicted Catholic

Dear Confused:

You need to be true to your values. You could explore this further by talking to a member of the clergy, who could clarify your spiritual teachings.

You must also think about birth control. You can get pregnant without having intercourse, and if you do, your entire future will change shape. Educate yourself by visiting your campus health center. (Your church also has a point of view about birth control - so that is another tough choice for you to make.)

Sex is a bell you cannot un-ring. If you are unsure, then you should delay until you are. Please, do not have sex because of a "weak moment" and then rationalize - or perhaps regret - it later.

As you mature, you will need to embrace the idea that you can't always know what God has in mind for you; God's plan is most often revealed in retrospect, when you look back at your choices and their consequences.

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