Monday, July 23, 2012

Sex Before Marriage: Is "Truth" Better Than Friction?

Author Christian Piatt has an article up @ The Huffington Post entitled Christian Parenting Ideas To Let Go Of. One of his ideas is: "Sex is dirty. Save it for marriage."  He writes the following:


"We Christians have such a screwed up relationship with sex and sexuality, it's a wonder we keep finding a way to reproduce at all! From Eve to Bathsheba and Delilah, we delight in painting the woman as the sexual temptress who leads men astray, as if we have no control over ourselves. And from this, any number efforts to oppress the rights and identities of women emerge. But guess what? We're still clueless when it comes to sex. We tell our kids about how scary, dirty, dangerous and evil even thinking about sex is, but then we tell them it's precious gift to save for the one person you love and plan to live with forever. This is a setup for sexual confusion, guilt and even sexual addiction or abuse later in life."

I appreciated this paragraph, because I was (for the most part in the past-tense!) clueless when it came to sex. As a Christian kid, I sat down and had "the talk," which of course made me all the more curious when I hit puberty, but I was told that this wonderful gift of sex was to be saved "for the one person you love and plan to live with forever."  This indeed was "a setup for sexual confusion, guilt and even sexual addiction." I could not tell you the amount of times I leafed through swimsuit catalogues or surfed pornography online, which caused immense guilt, even though I wasn't actually having sex.

I still have some confusion today when it comes to sex.  I think we make it something too magical. And how about "saving it for the one you love?"  Then comes the question, is there only one kind of love? In a recent blog post, my friend Jay Moore wrote the following:
"If we reject the idea of absolutes in a religious or social or cosmic context, then my implication is there are no absolutes in relationships, either. All relationships are unique. What worked well in the last relationship I had doesn’t work well in this one. What felt right and good in the last relationship doesn’t feel right and good in this one."
He also writes:
"Another principle I like is the use of contracts. Contracts between people are clearly spoken agreements about what one person wants from another and what the other is willing to do.  They begin with “Will you.......?” and are completed with the answer, “Yes, I will.” or “No, I won’t.” If I have spent some time “seeking first to understand,” then asking the question or answering it is done in a context of understanding and respect. “Will you listen to my story?” “Will you tell me your story?” “Will you tell me what you’re feeling? What you’re thinking? What you’re believing?” “Will you tell me what you want right now?”  What you want from me right now?” “Will you tell me what you like? What you don’t like?” The answer to these questions can either be “yes” or “no.” Be prepared for “no” which could mean “not yet,” “not sure” or “not ever.”
Finally, Moore writes:
"I like the references to love as a verb - loving, as in loving action. Feelings, thoughts and beliefs all take place inside me but my behaviour is what I do. It’s observable. It’s what the other sees and hears. So when it comes to ethical, intimate relationships I believe we can act in loving ways, applying ethical and respectful principles that make room for each person to decide to give or receive what they choose. Asking the question, “Do I love this person?”  “Am I in love with this person?” “Do I want to live with this person?” might be a rabbit hole you don’t want to go down right away. “Will I act with care, respect, and honesty - loving action - with this person?” can be a better question to answer."
Jay writes a lot of interesting things here, many helpful things. But there are other questions when it comes to how we express ourselves sexually. Such as, does the act of sex have to involve love at all times? Long ago I gave up the belief that sex outside of marriage was wrong. And for me, the belief that you should "wait to have sex with the person you will be with for the rest of your life" is silliness because who can truly know when they get married if they will still be in love with the same person 10 or 20 years down the line, or if one person will change so much they need their independence?

What do you think? Should sex be saved for marriage? For someone that you love? Or should you lighten up and have sexual experiences as long as both people are consenting? Feel free to leave a comment below.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also have a "contractual" type of view when it comes to the ethics of sex. I would add, though: just because something is "ethical" (aka not dirty, or hurtful) does not mean its always a great decision. Ultimately, we have choice... and choices aren't solidly black or white, good or bad. Life is a lot more complicated than that dogmatic way of thinking.

nualareilly said...

Very interesting and thought provoking post. I will have to go and read the one you have quoted here as well.
As a "fallen" Catholic who used her teen years as a platform for physically rebelling from parents and faith by experimenting sexually, I can honestly say that although my timing was terrible (I was a teenager) I wouldn't change the fact that I experienced sex before marriage. It taught me what I like, what I don't like and in a few happy cases, taught me that it's okay to ask for what I want and ask for something to stop or change that I don't want. I truly don't feel that I would be as open with my husband about it if I had not had these experiences and that is something most highly religious people don't get to experience.
But of course, this is just the view of one woman based on her own experiences.