It's been said that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Scripture is clear on this…
What does it mean to be chaste in marriage?
Question: What does it mean for married couples to be chaste?
– Robert Bonsignore, Brooklyn, New York
Answer: Chastity for a married person requires complete faithfulness of body and mind toward the spouse. Any sexual or romantic encounters with anyone other than one’s spouse are obviously forbidden. But there are other matters that would violate marital chastity, such as sexually fantasizing about anyone outside the marriage, engaging in flirtatious conversations, inappropriate touching with others, looking at pornography and so forth. The virtue of chastity enables and requires one to be exclusively devoted to one’s spouse.
Within the marriage, chastity requires that the couple engage in sexual intimacy that is open to procreation, that is respectful of the bodily integrity of the spouse and avoids words or actions that might humiliate or objectify them. Couples are expected to be generous in terms of the frequency of the marital act but also sensitive to the fact that one’s spouse is not always able to comply with every request for intimacy. Surely the goal in marital chastity is for the husband and wife to grow in love and to see their fruit bear love in conceiving children.
The Lord’s name in vain
Question: Is saying “Oh my God!” when reacting to a situation or story taking the name of the Lord in vain?
— Name withheld, Wakefield, Kansas
Answer: While the phrase “Oh my God” could be a prayer, it is not usually meant this way. More commonly it uses the divine name as a mere expression of surprise or exasperation. This is not a reverent or prayerful use of God’s name in most circumstances. The word “vain” means empty. Therefore, the phrase you cite would usually seem to qualify as using God’s name in vain.
However, in assigning culpability (blameworthiness), it is good to remember that some have developed a bad habit of using this expression. As such, they usually commit the sin in weakness rather than malice, not intending to show disrespect to God. Still one ought to avoid such vain or empty uses. One way to help break a bad habit that may have developed is for the one who says, “Oh my God!” to correct themselves aloud by saying, “Oh, I mean to say, ‘May the name of the Lord be praised!” This makes reparation and also helps break the habit.
It should further be recalled that the Second Commandment, “You shall not use the name of the Lord in vain,” has for its first meaning that we should never use God’s name to swear falsely or curse others. Irreverence of God’s name through casual use, such as you cite, is an extended meaning of the commandment. Thus we see that violations of the Second Commandment do admit of some degree of seriousness. It is far more serious a sin to use God’s name to swear falsely than to inadvertently use it to express surprise.
How does God exist?
Question: I understand that God is not a contingent being, but why does God exist?
— Name withheld, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Answer: God exists because it is his nature to do so. God is ipsum esse (“existence itself”) and actus purus essendi (“the pure act of being”). In Scripture, Moses asked God’s name and thereby inquired of his essence. God answered Moses, declaring his name, “I Am Who Am” (Ex 3:14). God, as you note, is not a contingent being. That is, God does not depend on anyone or anything for his existence. We contingent beings do depend on our parents and others for our existence. Further it is not necessary that we exist. But God is a necessary being, and everything else depends on his existence.