To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
Real Love: The Ultimate Dating, Marriage & Sex Question Book by Mary Beth Bonacci (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996, 322 pp. $12.95)
IN HER second book, Real Love: The Ultimate Dating, Marriage & Sex Question Book, Mary Beth Bonacci answers questions on chastity, marriage, and the real meaning of sex. Her humorous style and easy-going manner combined with solid quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church make for an effective presentation.
The author can't say enough good about chastity. To her, it holds the answer to the real meaning of sexual relations. Chastity is not mere abstinence, though. Abstinence means a person will not engage in sex, putting the entire burden on him or her. Chastity is a philosophy for life, which holds that sex is a language best spoken in the bond and bed of marriage. Unlike abstinence, chastity is made possible through prayer and help from God.
The author distinguishes real love from “pizza love.” Pizza love demands instant gratification—as in I want my sex now, period. Whereas chastity looks at what is best for both people in their lives. She also points out that sex isn't love in of itself and makes it clear that having sex won't make someone fall in love.
The format of the book is a compilation of questions answered, and there are many questions concerning feelings of regret over sexual licentiousness. Chastity doesn't depend on virginity, she contends, assuring her readers that Christ forgives all who seek his forgiveness. Accept the forgiveness he offers and move on, she wisely advises. She goes on to say that once chastity is accepted, the virtue grows with practice. Bonacci also makes it clear that chastity does not minimize the natural language of sex that God gave us—it just puts that language in its proper setting.
Real Love covers most aspects of human sexuality, tackling such issues as homosexuality, abortion, infidelity, and living together before marriage. The author also explodes the so-called safe sex myth with facts and humor. For instance, when asked, “Why do you think that wearing a condom is a bad thing?,” she responds, “I don't think wearing a condom is a bad thing. Go ahead—wear a condom if you'd like. Wear two or three. Just don't engage in sex.” She also includes a sexual disease index that lists the symptoms of many sexually transmitted diseases.
As a speaker specializing in youth issues, Bonacci encounters a lot of thoughtful questions from teenagers. So much so that she devotes an entire chapter to teen specific issues. But the book is useful for anyone interested in a sound take on everything from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases to dealing with hardened and hurt hearts from spoiled relationships. Real Love reinforces the Church's view of sexuality and what it means to share the gift of sexuality in a loving marriage.
Raul Acosta is based in Colorado Springs, Colo.