- What are other "rites" in the area?
A great example of another Catholic Rite in the area is St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. They are located nearby at 1305 South Lander Street, Seattle. You can learn more about them here: http://stjohnchrysostom.org/
- How does the Catholic Church perceive premarital sex?
The Catholic Church sees sex outside of the bonds of marriage as a sin. In a nutshell, sex is for two reasons: babies and bonding. If the coulple isn't open to both babies and bonding in the correct way, that couple is distancing themselves from God.
But - don't fret - there is a class for all of this. Our RCIA class on Sex will be on 2/19/13. For now, I'd like to quote a thread from www.catholicforum.com that I found very helpful. You can find the original thread here: http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/showthread.php?27596-Is-Pre-Marital-Sex-Really-Wrong
Here are some reasons why pre-marital sex is a mortal sin:
1) Human law provides the *minimum* standard for humans to live by. In other words, what is the most that humans can get away with without destroying themselves? God's law is exactly the opposite. God holds us to the *highest* standard possible. In other words, what behavior would be needed in order to achieve an absolute perfect society? We don't change God's law to suit us because we fall short. We don't even change God's law because it's *impossible* for humans to achieve. Instead, we adapt because we should always be striving for the ideal. With that stated, what kind of behavior do you think God would expect of unmarried couples?
2) Moral behavior also requires that we have the highest respect for human life possible. As such, we should *never* do harm, short of self-defense. Pre-marital sex, no matter how careful, *always* has a risk of pregnancy. This could lead the mother to another mortal sin through abortion. The couple is also putting a potential human life's entire future at risk by not being prepared to accept the responsibility to raise it or be prepared to do so in advance. It might have to grow up in a single parent or unstable household, finances would not have been prepared, and so on. The fact that a couple could potentially put an innocent life at risk is the *highest* form of selfishness and is completely irresponsible.
3) Despite years of scientific study and philosophical debate, *no one* knows precisely when the soul enters the human body and human life begins. As such, Catholics are required to take the safest route and assume the most conservative answer, which is that life begins at the moment of conception. Birth control can cause the failure of a fertilized egg to implant, thus causing an abortion. Someone could be the unknowing partner to unintentional murder. Some might also choose to use the morning after pill, which does essentially the same thing, but on purpose.
4) Pre-marital sex *always* presents the possibility of sexually transmitted disease. It would be a grave sin to infect someone with a dangerous disease, and some diseases, like HIV, can be transmitted even through condoms. People might not even know they have them. HPV has no symptoms, and yet can cause cervical cancer. How many times have people believed themselves to be in a monogamous relationship, only to discover that their partner is cheating? Over 50% of the population has been cheated on at some point. How many had suspicions beforehand?
5) Promiscuity leads to more promiscuity. By sleeping around, it decreases the special bond that one has when they are exclusive with a single partner. They want to explore the lustful side of sexuality more, unimpeded by feelings. It increases the possibility of cheating during marriage, and has helped to contribute to our skyrocketing divorce rate. Why get married when I can just sleep with someone and move on? People get obsessed with the initial sexual attraction, and never move on to the more intimate phases of relationships. When the fireworks stop, they simply dump their lover, find someone new, and recapture the feeling again. You always hear in the movies about "fear of commitment". Well, a LOT of this is due to the fact that people think they have a good thing going. Why would they want to limit their sexual fun by committing permanently to someone?
6) During pre-marital sex, one is treating the partner like an object of pleasure, rather than an object of love. (This can occur EVEN INSIDE OF A MARRIAGE, by the way...) Rather than using sex for its wondrous purpose, which is a special unity that offers the possibility for the creation of life, we detach from that purpose, and use it solely for pleasure. To be sure, sex is pleasurable and provides fun and great intimacy for couples, but it is meant to be a unique bond that strengthens the family unit, rather than fracturing it through promiscuity. By giving into lust, a couple is *exploiting* each other for selfish purposes, even if the bond of love is there. The minute that sex becomes *just* about fun, the couple begins to test those boundaries to see how much *fun* one can have. These boundaries are difficult to resist, and one can find themselves in trouble very fast. Even inside a marriage, when you are not open to life, you are taking one of the most *special* gifts of God, which is actually being allowed to participate in the process of creation, and rejecting it as if it is worthless.
7) Pre-marital sex also undermines the entire definition of marriage, which is a contract between a single man and woman who love each other to come before God sacramentally and pledge their life to the raising of children. This was to ensure that a family unit would stay strong and guarantee that they would provide their all for their offspring. Without this contract, it makes the problems of child-rearing FAR more difficult, unstable, and uncertain. While many families without two parents certainly do succeed, marriage provides a legal and religious pledge that the roles of mother and father will be undertaken as a team for life. Once you start playing with the definition of marriage, you open a whole new can of worms. Anyone can marry anyone for the purposes of "fully expressing their love through sex". Again, there is no unitive act here or thought for children. It is not a contract with the family first, but a contract regarding the selfish pleasure interests of the two parties involved first. If children come along, well, then we'll figure out what to do then...
So, why is pre-marital sex bad? It could lead to abortion, it could lead to the creation of a child with a family completely unprepared to raise it, it can transmit disease, it is selfish, it weakens the family, it provides a mentality for divorce and lack of commitment, it is exploitative, it undermines the definition of marriage, and is the misuse of a hugely unique gift from God. Does that help?