Doctor: “There is a powerful biological drive, at times almost impossible to resist. Species are driven by these urges in order to survive”
Kes: ‘But isn’t that why we have minds? To look beyond biological urges, to consider the consequences?’
Star Trek Voyager, Season 2, Episode 4 (first aired September 18th 1995)
Sex. It’s everywhere; movies, internet, TV, adverts. It’s also pretty fundamental to the survival of any species since you can’t make more of your kind without it (though with technology anything is possible I guess). It’s probably why the desire to have sex can be very strong, especially when the hormones are in full flow. This, according to some Christians, is the sole reason people (and boys in particular) are having sex; they just go with the hormones. Added onto this is the notion that girls are tempting the boys with sex, and suddenly it’s all the girls fault. I don’t want to overplay it but social pressure to have sex is immense on teenagers nowadays. It’s considered weird to be in a relationship and not be having sex, and it’s weird if you’re not having non-committal sex if you have the chance. The rules aren’t exactly the same for men and women. If you’re a man and you sleep with loads of women, you’re perceived to be a stud and looked up to. If you’re a woman and you sleep with loads of guys, you’re perceived to be a slut and looked down on. The response of some Christians to this situation is to suggest that chastity until marriage is the only way to go, and that any girl who doesn’t is used and tainted. Very much gives the impression that sex within marriage is going to be amazing even if it’s your first time, and that a woman’s value is found in their virginity.
Are these really the only options we have to offer? Sleep around or be hidden away until marriage? Blackmail celibacy or make them feel like discarded trash? By absolutely no means. For starters, a persons worth is not measured by their virginity. Sex, whilst an important part of a relationship, is not the be-all-and-end-all. I’m not married and I’m not a virgin. Do you think I have nothing to offer my fiance? Trust, respect, love, friendship, commitment, loyalty; these are the basis of a relationship, these are things I can offer. This doesn’t mean I simply give away sex as a side. When I first had sex, it was something my girlfriend of the time and I talked about beforehand. We talked about what it meant and why we wanted to do it. It wasn’t a rush of hormones or her being a temptress, it was a honest open conversation between 2 people who loved and respected each other. Imagine that. If you’re expecting it to be mindblowing first time out then, unless you’re very talented and a natural, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Our first time was a little awkward and stop/start, and I have no doubt the first time with my fiance (who will be my wife then) will be the same. Men just aren’t going to be like James Bond right off the bat, and women aren’t going to be either. Like most things in life, you get better with time, practice and experience.
Julie Gianni, a character in the movie Vanilla Sky said “Don’t you know that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise whether you do or not!” If we just look at the mechanics there is a huge amount of intimacy required which may suggest the character is on to something. I’m not going to go into too much detail (I’m too shy for that) but think about how vulnerable a woman must make herself in order for man to enter her. Think about how a man has to be ready before he even gets to be allowed to do so. As John Eldredge poetically put it in his book Wild at Heart:
“The man comes to offer his strength and the woman invites the man into herself, an act that requires courage and vulnerability and selflessness for both of them. Notice first that if the man will not rise to the occasion, nothing will happen. He must move, his strength must swell before he can enter her. But neither will the love consumate unless the woman opens herself in stunning vulnerability. When both are living as they were meant to live, the man enters his woman and offer her his strength. He spills himself there, in her, for her; she draws him in, embraces and envelop him. When all is over he is spent; but ah, what a sweet death it is.”
Some may have issues with the suggestion in the quote above that sex is more about the man, that’s fine, but I think overall it shows the level of intimacy involved when 2 people have sex. That closeness is bound to have an impact on someone psychologically. Hollywood, the internet; all often give the impression that sex is a consequence-less act, and we like to think that we should have what pleasure we want and have no consequences, but life rarely works that way. Even if people want to underplay it, having sex is a big deal. People may also have issues with the religious undertone of “living as they were meant”, as well as the spiritual connotations of “making a promise even if you don’t” but as Bonnie Fuller wrote; You don’t have to be religious to be religious about thinking you deserve to wait for a man, who cherishes you and might want to spend a lifetime with you.
Teaching the value of sex is not a bad idea, I fully encourage discussions about the full meaning of having sex. Teaching that it’s for marriage only (if you believe that it is) is not a bad idea. Hooking the idea that if they have sex before marriage they are worthless onto it is blackmail and has devastating consequences. Teaching girls that if they had sex it was their fault for tempting the man is just nasty. Teaching that the man is simply a slave to their hormones is offensive. Dealing with having sex can be hard enough without having that heaped on them too, especially when it’s not even true. Saying no is hard, hormones and pressure are a potent combination, add in being in love and it’s even more powerful. We need to be alleviating pressure not adding to it. Surely a better way would be education about what sex means and involves and helping them develop a sense of worth that is based on just who they are, not what they do or don’t do. If you want to ground that worth in being a child of God, then absolutely go for it, but God won’t love them any less or value them any less if they do have sex outside marriage; and neither should you. I think you’ve also got to trust them to make the right decision and go about it in the right way.
I don’t regret not waiting until I was married. I made a clear decision with the girl I loved and we went into it fully knowing everything involved. Yes talking about it can be awkward and may get some sniggers or the stiff upper lip treatment, but it needs to be talked about and it needs to be done in a far better way than it is now. As Proverbs_8 on Twitter put it; “The saddest form of encouragement is the kind that uses shame”