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.