Every Body Talks

Once upon a time I was “just friends” with a boy. But when we were together we would hold hands and were rather affectionate—as if we were dating. This is where it might have been handy if someone had brought my attention to the age-old-adage: “Actions speak louder than words.”

We’ve all heard it a million times. And if you’re like me, you might roll your eyes at the person saying it and murmur “yeah, yeah, yeah.” Yet, somehow, every time I hear it, it makes me stop and think about what I’m doing.

Because the truth is, actions do speak louder than words. Actions require our physical presence, and therefore involve our entire person when performed.

If I had thought about this while I was hanging out with my “friend,” hopefully I’d have realized I was saying something with my actions. I don’t flirt, hold hands, or cuddle with people I don’t want to date. That would be giving the wrong impression. But my entire person, present to this “friend,” was performing an action that expressed to him: “I want to be more than friends,” but what was conveyed in words was: “I want to be just friends.”

Which one did I actually mean?

I learned a lesson. I should have been more careful about what I said with my body. My actions spoke truth: I wanted to give and receive affection from another person. But gave the wrong impression to the wrong person, because I didn’t think it was a big deal. In the end, we both got hurt.

Our bodies speak a language that can be understood by other people. It can say some important things, and when it says these things, it can bring joy or pain. If this can happen simply by giving someone the wrong impression by holding hands, why should this be any different with any other action we perform?

Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t apply “actions speak louder than words” to one of the biggest, and most important actions we can perform.

Sex.

Our culture says having sex is good. This is true; sex is good. But the problem is that our culture doesn’t actually understand what the body is saying when it enters into sexual intimacy with another person. Our culture doesn’t properly speak the language of sex.

Just as holding hands is an action that speaks something to someone, so does giving our body to another person in sexual intercourse say something.

Sex is a gift of persons. Not body parts. Persons. Remember, actions involve the entire person. Sexual intercourse is an action that expresses something with your entire person.

So what exactly, does sex express?

Sex expresses two things. Our bodies in sex say “I love you, and I want to give my whole self to you. In loving you and giving myself to you I am also open to creating new life with you.”

That’s a big statement.

We are often told to remove the part about creating life from sex, but the fact is, that is what sex can do. That’s part of the power of sex. Your body is expressing its ability to create new life in addition to giving itself to another person.

Do you want to say that to just anyone? Is it truly possible to have sex with someone and hide what your body is saying from that other person?

Wouldn’t you want your body to say what it means, and mean what it says?

Waiting to have sex is difficult. I won’t tell you it’s not. But knowing and understanding what our bodies are saying when we enter into sexual intimacy with another person helps us understand the deeper meaning of why it is such a big deal, and why we should wait for our spouse.

My hope is that in understanding why it is important to wait, you will be empowered to do so. Your actions have a deep and powerful meaning; they speak a language of their own.

I’m praying for you.

________________________________________

ashAshley Ackerman is first and foremost a daughter of God, and after that she works as a speaker, blogger, administrative assistant, and nanny. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she earned her master’s degree in Theology. You can read more of Ashley’s blog posts by visiting ackergirl.blogspot.com.

 

22 Comments

  1. Thank you for the blog I really enjoyed it! I like to think about the actions speaking louder than words a lot and it is no coincidence that I saw your blog! Although I do have one question about the actions speaking louder than words and kind of how that relates to purity for me. I feel I can truly struggle with purity and a lot of times I feel it can happen when I go to the gym and work out or play basketball or whatever. However, I made the decision that I would only wear long sleeve shirts when i go to the gym at any time because I don’t want anyone to see me like that, I used to wear sleeveless shirts and I feel that gave the wrong impression, the actions were speaking louder than my words, that I wanted attention when I didn’t, but when I think about I feel like I really did want that attention. I did want people to look and I hate thinking about that. I feel that when I would dress like that I would be more lustful (for others and myself), judgmental, and I would also compare myself to others. When I finally realized that I thought wow if I think that then other people must have the same thoughts about they way I dress and present myself and that really made me think. That is why I felt the need to always wear a long sleeve shirt, I feel I need to do that to help prevent me from sinning and others from sinning as well, and not only sinning but so I can be pure. So I was just wondering if maybe you a thought on this Ashley, because at times I feel like what I am doing is a little ridiculous or over the top and other times I feel that I am doing the right thing, I just feel confused by the whole thing. And last thought I have is about swimming, it is getting warmer out and I enjoy swimming but I feel like I can’t go swimming for just lots of reasons especially the shirt thing and what I would do with that. I just really feel confused about all of this and what to do and how I present myself, how I show that my actions mean more to my words, my thoughts. But again thank you very much for the post, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be thinking even more about my actions.

    By Dillon | 2 years ago Reply
    • Dillon,

      The body is created by God and it is created good. It is good that you are aware of the possibility that the way that you dress could potentially lead another to sin – however, there is such a thing as over doing it. When your concerns over the way that you dress are restricting your freedom – like you won’t go swimming for fear of the potential of leading someone to sin – then you are bordering on scrupulosity. We experience the world with our bodies and the Lord intends for us to enjoy life with our bodies. If you were walking around shirtless in front of girls on a regular basis – and your intention is to show off your pecs – then you are being immodest. However, if you are swimming or you are wearing a short sleeve shirt and you happen to be in good shape, there is no sin in that.

      By Everett | 2 years ago Reply
    • Dillon,

      I really don’t think I could say it any better than Everett’s comment. I hope that his insight was helpful to you! You are in my prayers.

      In Christ,
      Ashley

      By Ashley | 2 years ago Reply
  2. That makes a lot of sense thank you very much Everett! I definitely see how what I am doing/thinking could be obsessive or over the top, especially the swimming part. It has just been something I have really been thinking about. But truly I am thankful for you answering, you have really given me a lot to think about in how I present myself along with my mentality and I am very grateful for that. I feel like you said I need to focus on my mentality and my intentions and not other’s because ultimately I cannot control what they do or do not think and nor should I. Also I’m just thinking more specifically about immodesty and humility. Thank you yet again Everett, I appreciate all that you shared with me.

    By Dillon | 2 years ago Reply
  3. Wow! Exactly what I needed to hear at this very moment. Thank you! God bless your ministry abundantly!

    By Laura | 2 years ago Reply
  4. This has been in my mind lately. I’m “just friends” with a boy and for the past few months we’ve gotten closer. He started hugging me more in the last month and he would often hold my hand when we’re alone. Both of us have no intention of becoming more than friends. At first I told him that it’s weird that he holds my hand. He said it’s not because we’re close. Slowly I got comfortable with it and it became normal. I love hugs. My mom always hugged me but I live away from home now so I only get to hug her once every few months when I go home. Therefore it’s no surprise that I actually liked it when my friend hugged me. But then it turned into cuddling. The week before I went home it was almost like a routine. We’d play quiz up or watch a show together then we would cuddle. I never felt at ease. On one hand I enjoyed it but on the other hand I was conflicted. I want to be pure. I don’t want to be the kind of person who is willing to cuddle with someone who isn’t my husband or boyfriend. I know that this needs to stop. I’m at home right now and I’m away from him for a week so it’s helping me think straight. I never expected that I’d be in a situation like this. I always thought that saying “no” would be easy for me, but right now it’s not because truthfully I have a crush on him. I’m in a dilemma where I want him to like me back but at the same time I don’t because I know that dating him would be a bad idea since we don’t have the same faith background (he’s muslim and I’m Catholic). When I get back I’m going to tell him that we need to stop. I’m scared of losing him as a friend, but I want to try to be the woman that God is calling me to be. It’s not easy. Hopefully he’ll understand. If not now, maybe sometime in the future. Do you have any advice on how I should approach this?

    By Maica | 2 years ago Reply
    • Maica, listen to the message that Holy Spirit is giving you and heed the warning. Your own conscience is telling you along with this article by Ashley that saying NO to your friend is saying the truth. Trust me, you will never regret but will have abundant joy as a pure daughter of God later on if you say NO

      PS: (I have a similar experience with a muslim girl. By grace of God, I was taken away from all harm at the right time. I am praying for you. At the end, to me, it is all spiritual warfare and the devil comes in various forms, sometimes as an angel of light (beautiful/handsome) 2 Cor 11:14. But you know that there is something wrong somewhere and ask for the grace to say YES to the Lord here and NO to your friend.)

      By Jerry | 2 years ago Reply
    • Hi Maica,

      I think the best thing to do is be honest with him about the situation. That’s going to be a hard confrontation, and it probably won’t be a fun experience, but my very best advice is to talk to your friend about how the actions you are both taking make you feel, and then explain why you aren’t ok with it.
      If he really is a good friend he will listen and consider your opinion.
      You are worth a commitment.

      In Christ,
      Ashley

      By Ashley | 2 years ago Reply
      • Thank you Ashley and Jerry for your encouragement. I just talked to my friend and he was very understanding. He apologized and told me that he respected and admired my decision. God is so good!

        By Maica | 2 years ago Reply
  5. It’s insane, I had the exact same situation. I had to talk to him about it, but because he comes from a culture were holding hands or kissing on the cheek is completely normal between friends, even guy/girl friends, it was really hard for him to understand. He respected my decision, but he was saddened by it. I’m not a physically affectionate person to begin with, so its hard for me to know how to give the people in my life proper affection. I had to explain basically what you did though. That even though he does not see it as being too intimate, those signs of affection were very sacred to me and they were something I want to save for my future boyfriend/husband. We’re still really good friends, but its hard to remind him when he slips back into how he acts back at home.

    By Elisabeth Wilkes | 2 years ago Reply
  6. I’ve never seen a post for those of us who are older. It’s hard, after having tried to be married (that’s the reality of things when your “marriage” was declared null, to be celibate again. It’s hard to be mindful of your value and expressing your value and your love with your body in truth. One of the reasons I see, over and over again when people write about theology of the body, about expressing our love with our bodies…is the sharing of our fecundity. Well, I’m 49 now, and going through menopause. The long and joyful period of fertile time in my life is drawing to a close. I rejoice for the nine children God gave and the six He willed that I should raise… Pray with me that someone can write and speak about living love rightly during this phase of life, in these circumstances. The perspective on it is different. I, too, hope for a husband someday, if it is God’s will, but my situation is completely distinct from the 20 year old’s…

    God bless you.

    By Katherine | 2 years ago Reply
    • I’m 49 as well going through menopause. I have been living a chaste life now for 4 years since my divorce and annulment. I don’t have any children though. Daily mass has helped me tremendously to stay faithful to this call as a single lay person. You bring up an interesting point though. It is too late for me to have children so I think to myself, “why would I get married at this point in my life?” I can relate so much to what you said Katherine. Sounds like we are in the same boat. For me, I have just chosen to remain single and chaste and I am just trying to trust in God and just want His will for my life, whatever that may be. I will keep you in prayer.

      By Lee | 2 years ago Reply
    • While the situation may be different for you now than it was a few decades ago, the sanctity of marriage is the same, as is God’s call to us to lead a pure life in all that we do. The point of marriage is not just to procreate. If there was no purpose for marriage other than to procreate, why do couples stay together once their child bearing years are over? What about all those couples who are unable to have children? And how about for those who have lost a spouse? (Maybe persons who fit these descriptions can provide the support and answers you seek?)
      Likewise, the point of marriage is just about having a live-in sexual partner. Marriage is a sacrament. See here for a more in-depth description of the Sacrament of Marriage. It really is a good read!
      http://www.beginningcatholic.com/catholic-marriage.html

      No matter what we do, actions speak louder than words. We must be true to ourselves and to God through our actions to our friends, family, spouse (if applicable), strangers. Our body language is an extension of what is in our heart, our mind. I think oftentimes we say things with our mouth but our actions give away our true intentions.
      The fact is, you are no longer married, thus you are on the same boat as all the 20-somethings. It is a new beginning for you when it comes to dating and marriage, so the same rules apply as for the never-been-married folks. Your experiences of marriage and family just make it harder to be back at square one. I think Lee has a good plan of action. God loves you and still has a plan for the both of you! ((hugs))

      By PMT | 2 years ago Reply
    • I think you can try to just focus on loving Jesus first and getting to know Him because then in by seeking and asking him to lead your love life at your stage, Jesus will answer you personally and give you revelations! He knows you way more than you know yourself (psalm 139) and knows all your needs and how to respond to them perfectly. Your relationship with Jesus is really the most important thing in this life and in the next. Spend time with him every day. God bless you!

      By Karina | 2 years ago Reply
  7. I really needed to hear this today — thank-you.

    By Sarah | 2 years ago Reply
  8. i love this blog post. a great reminder that i needed to hear. anyway, i just love this site. its like a daily thing for me to come here and read blogs, etc. its changing my life and I thank God for it and I thank God for those who are a part of this project.

    By janique | 2 years ago Reply
  9. This was a beautiful post that was able to blend the often cerebral aspects of catholic theology of the body/natural law philosophy in a really accessible way, particularly with the basic premise of “actions speak”. Thank you very much for your work.

    By Luis | 2 years ago Reply
  10. Wow, this post is pretty much EXACTLY the same as my “best friend not boyfriend” story.. Crazy. Shows how often this type of thing happens, and that it really shouldn’t be happening!
    Thanks for sharing!

    By Hunter | 2 years ago Reply
  11. I am so glad I saw this. As a fifteen year old in a large, public high school, purity is a constant struggle. I feel pressure everywhere I look to fit in with society and match my values to the values of others at my school. Although I live in a loving, Catholic home, I often feel lonely. Since I have made the decision to not be like everyone else, I have few friends. My closest friends are a few years older than me and don’t go to my school or are in none of my classes. I am able to bond with these friends through activities after school, but I have found few people who have the same values as me, not necessarily Catholic, to be with in my classes. This loneliness that I feel is at times unbearable. Everyday, I wonder if being different is worth it. I want to stick to my values no matter what, but I have three more years of being tempted. I was recently questioned about “how far I’ve gone” in my art class. When my peers found out about how innocent I am, it was almost embarrassing. I hate feeling this way about my purity and at this point, I am SURE that there is no boy in my school who has the same values as I do.

    Please pray for me.

    By Charlotte | 2 years ago Reply
    • Charlotte,

      Never be ashamed of your purity. There are so many other people your own age that go through the exact same thing. We aren’t alone, even though it sometimes feels that way. I respect you so much for your choice for purity. I have learned so much about how to love throughout high school and I hope to keep learning how to love more deeply. Cling to Christ; he is the perfect example of the love you and I are striving for. Following Him is not easy, but it will be so worth it. You are my sister in Christ, I love you, and I will pray that you and I can meet at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb when He shall wipe away every tear.

      God bless you.

      By Nicolas | 2 years ago Reply
  12. My boyfriend and I have been together nearly 15 months now. We met our first semester of college and started dating our second semester. This article is how it started with us. We’re both Catholic, but very huggy, snuggly people. I’d never dated anyone officially and was big on chastity, while he had been getting over a high school relationship that was quite physical. We were really close our first semester: always hanging out, attached at the hip, huggy…cuddly. People always thought we were dating, but we had our reasons not to (1: at first we both liked other people but decided not to pursue those, 2: I needed him to be on board with NFP before I could think about dating him). Once those reasons were resolved, and then since we had been so cuddly, and then once things got even /more/ physical between us, and then once I gave him my first kiss…then we decided to date, thinking, maybe we can only achieve this chastity thing together as a real couple (we certainly couldn’t take 10 steps back and be chaste friends, that’s too hard, of course!). Well, now we realize we started dating way too soon, and for the wrong reasons, but we’ve stayed together. For a year, things got more and less and more and less and more physical, leaving me extremely broken and in need of healing. More recently, though, things have been finally getting better. Something in his mindset changed, and he really is trying to be a better man for me. He recognizes that he’s not just changing for my sake, but becoming the best version of himself, becoming who he really is.
    Here’s my question. Our main problem that every issue seems to come back to is this: chastity/abstinence until marriage should be an equal sacrifice by both people in the relationship, right? Well, I’ve usually felt like, “I only desire to be sexual with my husband, so I have no desire for such things now, since you’re not my husband yet. It’s not that big a sacrifice to wait.” But he feels like, “Since you might be my wife someday, I already desire you sexually right now, and it’s a huge sacrifice to save those feelings for later.” What can I do to equally sacrifice for him? Should I be more in touch with my desires, so I can sacrifice them too? Trying that has seemed to help to some extent lately. I’m afraid I may have developed an aversion to sexual desire somewhere along the way, and our mistakes may have made it even worse (since sexual feelings became associated with fear, regret, guilt…). He feels he may have initially pushed me sexually because he wanted to feel /something/ from me, because I didn’t let those desires show one bit. But how do I balance not being lustful with being in touch with my sexual desires? Should I intellectually only desire sex with my husband but physically desire it with my possible-future-husband?
    (Sorry for the long comment. There are so many factors and questions in our relationship, it’s all very confusing. But I tried to pick one main question…ish!)

    By Michelle | 2 years ago Reply
  13. I`m a Venezuelan girl. I really love this page, but I HOPE THIS PAGE WOULD BE WRITEN IT IN SPANISH so can share it with my friends. Im already praying for this intention.

    By Odalis | 2 years ago Reply

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