As I drive into the middle of nowhere, I tune my radio to pick up the only station I can. It’s a boisterous pop station in range of the “Spring Break Capitol of the World” – Panama City Beach. That might explain its pension for playing the same songs over and over again – in this case “Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King. A girl leaving a trail of sexually-charged hatred in her wake; guys thirsty for the sexual gratification of this woman people keep competing for. So many people on both sides, charting a course for heartbreak. Or maybe not, maybe it’s just a game.
As I sit on a bench on campus, I’m trying desperately to get my paper written by the deadline. I need to be outside, despite the fact that the day is coming to a close and I’m nestled deep into my MacBook and music. From a few yards away, I overhear two guys talking over the sound of the music blaring from my headphones. They seem innocuous enough, until they start talking about their sexual encounters from the other night. About how one of them found a girl at a party and they went home, both of them a little drunk, and had sex. It doesn’t sound like the first time this has happened; perhaps the result of deep-rooted heartache. Or maybe not, maybe it’s just a game.
As I watch Netflix, as I read books, as I listen to my favorite pop artist sing song after song about wild, sudden, and unplanned sex, I understand now. My idea about sex has gone from the gold-standard to just being weird. Really weird. In real life, it’s virginity, not sex, that’s treated like a disease that can only be cured by social skills and shots of whisky. And sex… it’s a drive… a craving… a physical need to be fulfilled by playing the game.
It is no secret that I’m a Christian, and I will not deny that’s where I got my understanding of the rules of sex.
One man. One woman. Wedlock.
These draconian standards seem oppressive, even abusive, to a world that can’t understand why something that feels so good can be so sinful. It makes people like me, who try to live up to those standards, seem like an anti-social freak.
Loosen up. Live a little. Let go.
I’m not going to recite the reasons not to have sex like an abstinence class, because that really demeans the intelligence of the audience. I’m not laying on a guilt trip either, I’m advocating a change in how we look at sex. That’s all. Let’s just assume we have the technology to completely eliminate unexpected pregnancy and STDs, because honestly we do. We should never live in fear of sex. A little responsibility can make everything okay pretty much 100% of the time. With consensual, responsible sex, you will be okay physically.
Please understand this, in this society of rape culture, where 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are victims of attempted or completed rape, I want you to know that you are not responsible for the criminal actions of the other person or people involved. It was not what you were wearing. It was not what you were doing. It was them, completely. This kind of violence is happening far too much and goes unpunished far too often. Please, please, find a support system if you are a victim.
But to me, there’s far more to sex than the act of physically pleasing each other. No matter how many partners you’ve had., there’s a mental and spiritual component that sticks with you for life. The act of giving yourself up to someone in the most intimate manner leaves imprints and residue that can’t be washed away with a quick shower. That connection is the root of the three reasons I advocate waiting. Sure, the Bible says so, but why. Why the estranged idea of delaying such a strong and significant act.
Sex is the biggest relationship trial.
Go ahead, take your biggest spear, and poke the largest hole in this point you can make.
People are waiting a lot longer to get married than they used to. 27 for women and 29 for men, in fact. It’s common for people to get their bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctorate degree before they get married. Men don’t want to be tied down to commitment, and women want to get established in their career field.
Everyone’s path is different. I get that.
It still doesn’t mean you should have sex. The real test of a relationship is if you can sacrifice that deep-rooted longing until you can truly commit to a lifetime relationship. It’s not easy, I understand that. A lot of the same elements of sacrifice required for a marriage manifest themselves here at the pre-marriage stage, and this is the biggest one. You’re proving to God, or at the very least each other, that you have the relationship’s best interests in mind, and that you can be entrusted with such a gift. Sex feels good. Guilt-free sex feels better.
Sex leaves a trail of relationship debris.
“Did you have sex with her?”
“I found this in your browser history.”
“I know where you’ve been going after work.”
These are the missile explosions that decimate a marriage. And while the destruction is much smaller prior to that lifetime commitment, even a grenade can be deadly. Each mistake is just trouble ahead for a person who will one day want a true relationship that leads to a real connection.
We’re people with incredibly short memories that repeat the same mistakes over and over again. The counterintuitive notion of dodging instant gratification in order to save yourself for something greater can seem delirious if one can’t think long-term. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal right now, and it may not be, but it will be a big deal later.
Sex is an artistic manifestation of the beauty of a marriage.
Just bear with me.
No, when you get married, when finally you make it to the promised land and put those rings on each other’s fingers, it probably won’t be a wonderland of sexual euphoria at first. There will be awkwardness and weirdness. The grandness of the honeymoon you’ve hyped yourself up for will probably seem underwhelming and overrated when you get back home. But that’s a good thing, because it gives that part of the relationship something to work towards.
I see art in everything, and I believe that sex in marriage is no exception. This time not art for public contemplation, but instead a gift just for each other. A blank canvas, given at marriage and expanded into a museum over the course of a lifetime. Flashes of color, moments of brilliance, a physical manifestation of all of the joy a true relationship has to offer. An exploration of beauty, each moment a treasure to be savored, remembered.
It is just another way that two people in love can show that love to each other, and that is far, far more important than a half-dazed stand. Look, I’m not saying you’re wrong if you think sex outside of marriage is perfectly fine. All I’m saying is that I think you’re missing out on all of this. All is not lost, though, if sex outside of marriage is something you’ve already done. You’ll get no judgement from me or any other Christian worth their salt. Just the choice to wait, from this moment until marriage, goes a long way towards relationship restoration. That choice can help enshrine understanding in your future significant other, and can help develop empathy if he or she has had similar experiences. And as always, an open conduit for communication and trust can solve more relationship problems than you can imagine.
I suppose this is at least tangentially related to today’s Daily Post prompt, in that I’m sure this topic causes a lot of grudges.