20 December, 2006

Sex--When and Why

Someone sent me an email about the premarital sex study, saying that it was blogworthy. Of course it is! Most of the blogs I've seen referencing it so far are using the study's findings to decry abstinance-only sexual education.

First off, I'm a big fan of abstinance. Now that I'm married. ::rimshot::

No, seriously, I do advocate teaching abstinance--primarily because of my religion, but also because I can't count the number of times I've heard tales of woe about women who could have used the free public education system to rise out of poverty but got knocked up by age 13 and became mothers instead. Birth control helps, but I'm not a big fan of having young girls who haven't finished developing physically cook their systems with synthetic hormones. And if you're a woman and you want to be sure to NOT get pregnant, the pill is the best way to go. Otherwise the heat of the moment often overtakes the best intentions to put the diaphragm in or roll the condom on.

Thing is, I haven't forgotten entirely what it was like to be a teenager and have your hormones in overdrive. I know how hard (ha!) abstinance is, and I'm not one bit surprised that a lot of people give up and give in before the wedding day. And I know a lot of people regret that decision down the road. When I was in my private Christian high school we discussed sex a lot. Most of the girls had steady boyfriends and most of the boys were looking to get as much play as they possibly could. From my point of view it seemed that all the girls wanted love and committment while the guys were more interested in which bases they rounded. [ObDisclaimer: My point of view only, folks.] I'll never forget one 17-year-old girl telling us that she believed two people could be 'spiritually married without a ceremony' and thereby sanctify their sexual activity. (Whatever gets you through the night, I guess.) She apparently got a 'spiritual divorce' because 3 years later she married another guy altogether.

I do wish that all sex-ed programs, whether they were abstinance-only, biology-only or comprehensive with an emphasis on birth control options, would spend a moment or two discussing the why of sex. That to me is the big missing ingredient. Because sex (of the kind I'm talking about) involves two people. If those two people have different whys for the sexual activity, that's where the heartbreak comes into play. And I think that's what most Christians are trying to get at when we advocate abstinance-only education. It's just easier to say "wait until you're married", and then you know that both partners are after the same thing.

To me the ideal sex is an extremely fun expression of love, intimacy and committment between two people. That's the only sex I've ever been interested in having. Anything else strikes me as the physical equivalent of eating generic potato chips. Yeah, they're good and you enjoy it while it's going on but afterward you're left feeling slightly greasy. Unfortunately I know a lot of people--not just girls-- who have gotten into having sex because they are looking for the love/intimacy/committment thing, while their partner was looking for the greasy potato chip fun. That's usually when it escalates into let's-make-a-baby territory. The partner who wants love and commitment figures that if the sex won't bind them to the other person then perhaps a baby will. I think the more time we spend talking about the why, the more we can demystify sex and put it in its proper place.

12 Comments:

At 2:30 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Malia said...

As usual, I agree wholeheartedly with your point of view on this!

Oh and the I'm a big fan of abstinance. Now that I'm married
LOL!! Priceless.

 
At 3:11 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

Kat,
I enjoyed this post. I want to clarify that I think talking about abstinence is fine, I just heartily disagree with the approach that doesn't teach the teens who will inevitably have sex how to apply a modicum of protection. I agree that more discussions of the whys and whens of sex and their associated motivations would be helpful for teens. I don't think that can really happen in a classroom environment that is focused on abstinence only, because the dialogue is so closed - Just Don't, and That's All You Need to Know. If adults and teens could have frank discussions with one another about the issues you raise, I think everybody would have a much healthier attitude about sex. I just don't see the current policy as advocating frank discussions about anything. Of course, it might raise more issues, such as whether the why and when should only be approvable in the presence of "love." What teenage doesn't have a screwy notion of that when it comes to their partners, anyway? :)

 
At 3:39 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger saraclark said...

I think you make an excellent post. While I got lots of physical information about sex, I really didn't get enough emotional education about sex. As I once explained to a younger cousin, who was trying to make some life decisions, "Sex complicates things in a relationship." It can completely change what you feel, what you want, etc. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. I was not prepared for the emotional changes that go with the physical act.

It's a big difference between some chips for a snack and getting the whole combo meal.

 
At 3:43 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

You know, I remember my mom at one time telling me (in the car in a grocery store parking lot) that, "Sex is best with someone you love." At the time, that was eyeroll-inducing, in part because there was no "because," no "why" discussion, following that up.

 
At 4:37 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob Robinson said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and all of your thoughts. Good puns and great analogy with the potato chips, Kat. :)

I personally oppose abstinence-only programs because of the "heat of the moment" factor, but I think including a discussion about abstinence and its advantages is important. I think the point about more emotional education is also a good one.

I'm probably going to find some disagreement here, but my position on sex education is similar to my position on abortion. I am pro choice, but only reluctantly. I don't think it is my business to tell someone they can't have one. That is a decision I leave to them, and I'm sure it must be painful if made. Personally, I would want my wife (or girlfriend in the past) to have the baby (and give it up for adoption, if necessary) rather than having an abortion if the question arose. (We'd have 7 kids, 10 cats and 20 dogs if my wife had her say, so suffice it to say that this is a moot issue for me these days.) :)

For the same reasons some of you mentioned, I don't think a minor is emotionally equipped to choose to have an abortion, so I support requirements for parental consent for minors. I think that if you cannot vote or purchase alcohol, you do not need to be deciding about an abortion.

I would also support respectful education and encouragement for adoption (not guilt and pressure) to those who are considering an abortion.

Off my soapbox now. Sorry for the subject shift. :)

 
At 4:42 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob Robinson said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and all of your thoughts. Good puns and great analogy with the potato chips, Kat. :)

I personally oppose abstinence-only programs because of the "heat of the moment" factor, but I think including a discussion about abstinence and its advantages is important. I think the point about more emotional education is also a good one.

I'm probably going to find some disagreement here, but my position on sex education is similar to my position on abortion. I am pro choice, but only reluctantly. I don't think it is my business to tell someone they can't have one. That is a decision I leave to them, and I'm sure it must be painful if made. Personally, I would want my wife (or girlfriend in the past) to have the baby (and give it up for adoption, if necessary) rather than having an abortion if the question arose. (We'd have 7 kids, 10 cats and 20 dogs if my wife had her say, so suffice it to say that this is a moot issue for me these days.) :)

For the same reasons some of you mentioned, I don't think a minor is emotionally equipped to choose to have an abortion, so I support requirements for parental consent for minors. I think that if you cannot vote or purchase alcohol, you do not need to be deciding about an abortion.

I would also support respectful education and encouragement for adoption (not guilt and pressure) to those who are considering an abortion.

Off my soapbox now. Sorry for the subject shift. :)

 
At 7:29 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Jeffraham Prestonian said...

OMFG, I agree with a winger-tarian! ;)

Seriously, sex w/o love ain't that much more fun than addressing such needs, solo.

I've been told by some men that this makes me queer, but I gave all that up years ago. ;)
.

 
At 9:07 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Exador said...

Since you've opened this line of questioning, I'll cross examine:

You waited until marriage, right?
If not, AT LEAST, you and the bicycle-rider waited until marriage, right?


As for me, I don't believe in buying a car without taking it for a test ride.

Possible explanation:
My "sex talk" went thusly:

Dad: You're not going out tonight.
Me: WHAT! It's Friday night!
Dad: Too bad.
Me: I'm going out!
Dad: I'll make a deal with you. You don't go out tonight, and I won't tell your mother about the box of rubbers I found in your room.
Me: What's on cable?

 
At 7:55 AM, December 21, 2006, Blogger Jeffrey said...

nice post kat.

I posted a question a few days ago regarding when marriage actually occurs. Similar to your highschool friend, I do think that marriage is a spiritual union in a life-long commitment to each other...whether or not the wedding ceremony has occurred. Do I think that tightly rolled balls of teenage hormones can make such a commitment? Probably not. So I don't know what that means.

Again, great post. Merry Christmas

 
At 9:34 AM, December 21, 2006, Blogger Nick said...

Good post. Of course, just about anything with the word "SEX" in the title will automatically draw a reader's attention!!

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

 
At 9:47 AM, December 21, 2006, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

Absolutely. Perfect.
This absolutely speaks for me - I remain silent on this because, as I have posted before, I did the "right" thing for all the "wrong" reasons.

The only other comment neccessary on this whole thing is the news media's ridiculous reaction to this "study". I add the scare quotes because it's like the study in the late 80's that came to the conclusion that men and women were [gasp!] different. The news media's faux surprise at the findings of this study is he most hilarious aspect of all of this.

 
At 12:51 PM, December 21, 2006, Blogger Sonia said...

I've been talking to my now 13 year old DD for the past couple of years about sex. It might not be very "pc"...but i've told her all teen boys want is sex...and almost all teen girls want love. The two don't mix during highschool. Neither girls nor boys are emotionally mature enough to handle the significance of sex. BUT...if my daughter choses to have sex...I want her to know all about the different methods of b.c. I believe in teaching kids about abstinence...but I find it a bit irresponsible to NOT teach about birth control.

 

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