I would like to take a stand about sexual relations: Society would be better off if everyone believed in chastity before marriage and complete fidelity after marriage. Shocking, isn’t it? Chances are that I have lost most readers even before completing my first paragraph. I know, “self restraint” seems to lose out to “you have a right to indulge in your desires.” However, for those who are willing to read a little more, hear me out.
To begin, imagine what our world would be like if everyone followed in chastity before marriage and complete fidelity after marriage. Here is a little list of some of the potential effects:
- There would almost no unwanted pregnancies.
- The number of teenage pregnancies would decrease significantly.
- There would be a significant decrease in the number of single parent homes, including all of the social, economic, and educational difficulties that arise because of that.
- There would be almost no deadbeat fathers who ignore kids and avoid paying child support.
- There would be no divorce that comes about by a cheating spouse, including the effects that this has on children.
- There would be no sexual abuse, neither of spouse nor of children. Imagine the scars that would not have to be healed!
- There would be no date rape, and people could feel safe in a relationship.
- The catalyst for a sexual relationship would not begin with a selfish focus on satisfying our own desires and our own personal conquests, but would instead begin with the feelings of another.
- There would be no market for prostitution, and there would be no market for sex slaves, the statistics of which, by the way, are shocking.
- There would be a gigantic shift in our attitudes about pornography and child pornography.
- There would be almost no abortions, including the emotional trauma that accompanies abortions.
- There would be almost no sexually transmitted diseases, and our concept of safe sex would be radically different.
- We could better combat insidious views from those who try to justify the mutilation of women’s genitalia. What a sad distorted view about sexuality.
- We could do more to stop the offensive objectification of women.
- There would be little discussion about what rights we have to do what we want to with our body.
I realize that most would say that my list is simply a product of fanciful fiction, stemming from my naive or prudish thinking about sex. Still, here are some reasons why I take the stand that we should live with chastity before marriage and total fidelity to spouse after marriage.
1. There is an imbalance in how sexuality is promoted for self gratification. Does anybody really want to have a sexual relationship with someone whose only motivation for sex is to appease their own self-centered, self-gratifying, self-absorbed, egotistical, and selfish appetites? Yet, that is how sexuality is talked about. Everything seems to be focused on self gratification. If so, that is a cheap brand of intimacy, and a sad commentary on relationship building. We can do better than that.
2. It is deceiving to say that there are no consequences to our sexual actions. It is easy to promote the idea that if two consenting adults decide to have sex, that is their prerogative and it doesn’t affect anybody else. And yet, that approach denies that actions have any consequences. In actuality, it is difficult to create a scenario where our behavior doesn’t, in some way, affect other people somehow, somewhere. It is deceiving to promote sex without consequences. We can do better than that.
3. An intimate relationship implies that I am willing to share who I am. I never hear people talk about this, but if a relationship implies the sharing of who we are, we need to know something about who we are. If we don’t know who we are, if we don’t know what our own values are, if we don’t know what we believe, how can we share who we are with another? We have to have an identity, and without that knowledge, there is no “me” to share with another. Without that, our ability to build a relationship is limited, and a sexual relationship will be shallow. If we are not grounded in who we are, we are not ready for a sexual relationship. This concept should be part of the discussion about sexuality.
4. An intimate relationship implies a risk. If we expect to build a relationship that is more than casual, it implies that we open up and reveal personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This is not a casual thing, true intimacy only grows with another person as we feel safe enough to share more of us. This is true emotionally and physically. When we tell another person about our private and personal thoughts or desires, we do so believing that this other person will respect the context (the the privacy) of those thoughts. It is incorrect to pretend that a relationship, sexual or otherwise, can grow without involving our emotions at a deep level. Relationship building comes at a cost, and this should be part of the discussion about sexuality. There is a gigantic upside to the benefits from taking the risk, but it is important to know that risk is part of the process.
5. An intimate relationship implies long-term commitment. Eroticism and arousal have their place in a sexual relationship, but they are only a small piece of intimacy. A true, long lasting relationship requires that we commit to building that relationship over the long haul. If the only stimulation of our sexual relationship is eroticism and arousal, then we are simply focusing on the most base form of human desires. I have been married for over 35 years, and there are some pretty spectacular emotions that come from years and years of sharing life together. In many ways there is no substitute for the feelings that have developed over time. If our only focus on sex is the here and the now, we miss the greater point of what can be developed over time.
6. An intimate relationship requires that partners accept and share the whole person. What I mean by this is that when you love another person, you love the whole person. If however, your relationship is limited to just part of that person, the relationship is incomplete. For example, if I am only attracted to a woman because of her long dark hair, what happens when she cuts her hair? If I am only attracted to a woman because of her eyes, what happens when someone else has prettier eyes? It sounds petty, I know, but too often people try to build relationships on a tiny part. My experience is that whenever people fragment on a part, instead of a whole, the tendency is to start comparing your partner with others. When we compare a part of someone to others, that someone always loses. This is because, for example, someone else is going to have prettier hair, more shapely hips, nicer lips, more patient demeanor, a funnier laugh, better cooking skills, or any other “part” of the whole. True intimate relationships, however, require that we love the whole person. Again, this aspect of our sexuality seems absent in our world of immediate self-gratification.
I am not anti-sexuality, quite the opposite, I hope that everyone has the opportunity to build a long-lasting sexual relationship with a partner that he or she loves. But in terms of taking a stand, I believe that our best opportunity for building this truly intimate relationship is by adhering to chastity before marriage and complete fidelity after marriage. All I can really ask for is that in the discussion of sexuality that this side of the story be given a little credence, as opposed to being brushed aside as some old-fashioned, out-of-date, and out-of-touch attitude about sex. Remember the old song by Eric Carmen, All by myself, “When I was young, I never needed anyone, and making love was just for fun, those days are gone.” Indeed, making love is much more that “just for fun.”