It’s late at night, everyone is overtired and getting to that really silly, carefree, state of mind, and someone suggests the age old game of Truth or Dare. Remember those old school days? During the game, when asked a question, will you take a risk and accept a dare, or will you reveal the truth? The truth, which often bares the lies of who others perceive you to be? Waiting until the confines of marriage to be sexually active will challenge you to a similar game of risk. Are you daring enough to look at common lies and truths on how the majority of people view sex, through the contexts of education, cohabitation, and divorce? Many studies and facts show that waiting to have sex until marriage produces healthier people, families, and more emotionally and financially stable people in general. For instance, “Annual rates of depression among cohabitating couples are more than three times what they are among married couples” (Driscoll). When deciding whether or not to wait for sex, it’s not just a moral choice it’s a logical one as well. The truth found in examining these lies should be life changing!
The argument of when people should become sexually active starts at a young age in our school systems. It’s the ongoing war of what should be taught to our children – comprehensive sex education or abstinence education.
In comprehensive sex education, there is a strong emphasis on teaching teens to substitute intercourse with outercourse (outercourse- any sex play without vaginal intercourse including anal and oral sex) and use protection (by assuming the fact teens have already chosen to be sexually active). The argument for comprehensive education is everyone should be given the opportunity to decide how and when to be sexually active, as well as given the tools to do so. It teaches students how to use condoms, prevent STD’s and where to get inexpensive or free birth control without the parent’s knowledge.
It fails to address however, the fact that kids are kids. What teen do you know that on a consistent basis, is responsible to come home on time, or regularly clean their room? Are they trusted with the family car? Yes, adolescence is a time for learning how to manage those responsibilities, but if teens struggle on those levels, how do we expect them to properly use protection or not go too far in outercourse? If teens are consistently using protection than why is there so many teen pregnancies? It only takes forgetting a condom one time, to have irreversible consequences. “Teenagers are the least likely age group to practice contraception. Equally troubling is that the annual pregnancy rate among teenagers 14 and younger continue to rise” (Trad). If they can’t remember to pick up their dirty socks, do think teens will remember to use a condom in the heat of the moment when their emotions and hormones are raging?
Teaching abstinence from all forms of sexual activity is best because outercourse often leads to intercourse; it is part of the sex play in the natural order of things, which is not meant to be stopped. The National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) puts it this way,
“These suggestions [outercourse] represent blatant advocacy for “gateway” sexual activities that create arousal for the very intercourse they are purportedly designed to prevent. This approach ignores the natural momentum such intimacy produces and fails to teach students reasonable and safe boundaries within relationships.”
Adolescence is a time when teens should be taught how to have and maintain friendships and healthy relational boundaries without sexual tension. This will be beneficial to them their whole lives at home, but especially in the work force.
Picture the scenario of a child driving a car. Most kids want to drive long before the legal age and are confident they have the ability to do so. But everyone knows what disasters would happen if 13 year olds drove. There is a legal driving age for a valid reason. The child may not understand at first, but later they will see why it was so important to wait. Equate abstinence to children waiting until 16 to drive. It isn’t that they should never have sex; it’s just not the right time for it yet.
Abstinence education is based more on the values in waiting to have sex, (as alluded to in the car scenario) and looks at the emotional and physiological aspects of it. Even if protection is used, how does sex affect the person?
“Teens who become sexually active often express regret over their decision [to have sex] indicating that sex is more than a physical act that one can separate from the emotional or psychological dimension[s] . . . recent studies document the emotional effect of sex on teens . . . [Indicating] that emotional distress associated with teen dating experiences is minimized when sex is not part of the relationship.” (NAEA)
Teens are healthier and more stable when they are not sexually active. “Physiological problems have also been correlated with early and frequent sexual activity. Depression, drug abuse, and mothering difficulties have all been associated with early initiation of sexual behavior” (Trad). When sex is taken out of the equation it frees the teen emotionally to make better decisions in regards to their future education, employment, financial success and families. When teens abstain from sex until marriage or adulthood, they don’t have to deal with unexpected pregnancies and STD’s. No protection is fool proof and no teen consistently uses birth control- if they did we wouldn’t have 400,000 teen births annually in the United States that cost the public more than $7.6 billion dollars a year (Teen Motherhood). The only protection that is fool proof is abstinence.
What about sexual choices in adulthood? Is it still best to wait for marriage to have sex? Look at it this way, there are three main reasons for people to be intimate sexually: for physical pleasure, emotional closeness, and to procreate.
In adulthood casual encounters, “hooking up” or one night stands, are a ways to quickly and conveniently fulfill those physical needs, without being tied down to a committed relationship. The consequences however are sobering, “those who engage in premarital sex have a high risk of contracting an STD. Each year there are 1.5 million new cases in the U.S. and more than 65 million people currently have an incurable STD” (Maher). Is it worth the risk?
Casual encounters may work for a short time, if STD’s are avoided, but what about long term? What happens when a person is ready to “settle down” and wants a committed relationship and marriage? They now play another game in their minds – the comparison game. Imagine what it would do for a person’s self-esteem in a relationship, if the only other person they had sex with were their spouse? If sex were kept only for marriage, would there be any wondering about measuring up, or keeping the other partner satisfied? What would happen if the spouse became the standard for beauty?
Casual encounters don’t meet a person’s emotional needs. Causal sex and fast food go hand in hand; they are both cheap and easy, but don’t sit well with the body long or short term. (Fryling) It leaves a person craving for the meat of a real relationship.
Craving touch and closeness with others, in world of epic family dysfunctions, is natural but it leads to the fallacy that sex creates intimacy.
“Is having sex really making love? Modern case studies . . . suggest not . . . to love a person productively implies to care for and feel responsible for his life, not only his physical powers” (Williams).
Sex does not create intimacy; it is meant to be a beautiful expression of it. True intimacy is built on commitment, trust, and love (not lust). “A prostitute may expose her body, but her relationships are hardly intimate” (Fryling). True intimacy and connection comes from knowing and loving a person for who they really are- not just for their bodies; a deep intimacy cannot come through casual and convenient sex, or open relationships.
Even so, the bridge of cohabitation is the compromise a lot of couples come to between a committed marriage and a one-night stand. It allows couples to test drive their relationship, while contemplating marriage. Cohabitation fulfills the immediate physical and emotional needs while at the same time appearing to be the economical and financially smart choice as well. Sounds like a perfect, all around, winner, until the facts are more closely examined. Dare to look at these facts, and the lies and truths behind them:
“1. Most couples believe that their cohabitation will be short term ending in marriage – Only 30% of cohabitating relationships end in marriage.
2. Test-driving the relationship allows for a better shot at marriage – But there is an 80% higher chance of the marriage relationship dissolving when people cohabitate first.
3. Partners assume they’ll have more harmony after marriage – but 35 out of 100 couples cohabitating experience physical assault, doubling that of married couples.
4. A jump-start on their finances – but studies show men who live with their girlfriends, more often than not, are under employed before and after marriage, and consequently women usually work full time to compensate for their boy friends or husbands after marriage.
If couples are serious enough to cohabitate than they should be serious enough to get married and not risk the 70% chance that their relationship will end in failure and heartache.
Divorce is also becoming more widespread, and it is now more socially acceptable to marry and divorce for different stages of life. Why is divorce so common? “1 out of 3 couples that marry have at least one divorce. Out of all Americans 18 years an older 25% have been divorced” (New Marriage). One of the major reasons for divorce is the foundation the marriage was built on. Cohabitation and divorce rates are directly linked as stated above. When and how sex is utilized drastically affects a relationship.
Furthermore a big reason for divorce occurring is infidelity or cheating. Marriage doesn’t change people, if people are willing to fool around before marriage, they will after. As an extreme example, our cultural views on dating and breaking up set a precedent for divorce. “Furthermore, couples who have sex before marriage, especially couples who cohabit, are more likely to experience difficulties in their marriage” (Driscoll). Premarital sex habits affect martial sex habits.
Divorces create a lot of emotional turmoil in families proving marriages are inductive to more happy and emotionally stable children and ultimately adults.
“Overall, children raised by single parents are five times as likely to be poor, twice as likely to drop out of school, and two to three times more likely as adults to commit crimes leading to an incarceration. These children are also more likely to be victims of crime, especially child abuse. (Gallagher)”
Children need both parents in the home to help them become mature well-adjusted adults. Sexual decisions never affect one person; they always affect two or more.
Divorce also puts a huge financial strain on families and single parent homes. This causes the parents to work more, resulting in less involvement in their children’s lives leading to the children making poor choices and seeking emotional support elsewhere which leads back to teen pregnancies, and single parent homes – and so the sick cycle continues.
“The net effects of non-intact family structure on child development outcomes are negative and strong . . . associated factors such as low income, children growing up in such [father-absent] households are at greater risk for experiencing a variety of behavioral and educational problems . . . smoking, drinking, early and frequent sexual experience, a cynical attitude toward work, adolescent pregnancy, and, in the more extreme cases, drugs, suicide, vandalism, violence, and criminal acts.” (Gallagher)”
It all comes back to sex – teen pregnancy, sex education, hooking up, cohabitation, divorce, family stability, and emotional turmoil, can all in part, be traced back to the discussion of when and how to have sex.
Why does it all come back to one decision? Sex is fun; it shouldn’t be such a deep choice right? People want to experience it with multiple people multiple times. Everyone knows sex is pleasurable and desirable. No need to argue that, because if it weren’t enjoyable there would be no need for boundaries with it. Sex, like candy is good if it is balanced with boundaries. “The release from orgasm does much to calm people. It helps with sleep” (Alexander) Sex is also known to comfort people.
So if sex is good, is it than harmful resist those urges for a time? Isn’t it always a bad idea to resist natural urges, such as the urge to use the bathroom? We all know how that ends! Not so with sex.
“In sublimation the processes of sexual and aggressive energy are displaced by nonsexual and nondestructive goals. But guilt, unlike sublimation, can produce devastating results in human behavior. It is anger turned inward, producing depression, a lowered self-esteem, and fatigue. Further, chastity and virginity contribute very little to sexual problems. Unsatisfying relationships, guilt, hostility toward the opposite sex, and low self-esteem do. In short, there are no scars where there have been no wounds . . . the fun syndrome forces us to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. (Williams)”
Sex is a natural urge that actually benefits from being controlled and focused.
What of morality? Up until 50 years ago sex outside of heterosexual marriage was considered wrong. Ask any grandparent why and they would reply that it is because God said it was wrong! So what does God have to say about sex? Well, He has a lot to say about it! There are over 200 references to sex in the Bible.
The Bible (God’s instructions and love letters to man) states that He created sex for procreation, (Genesis 1:26-28), strictly for marriage, (Hebrews 13:4 and Exodus 20:14) and for pleasure (Song of Solomon). According to the “Song of Solomon” God created sex for our pleasure. He is far from a prude as most would think. The “Song of Solomon” is all about delighting and divulging in the physical expressions of love. If it were a movie it would be rated R.
The Bible also makes it clear God intended sex for marriage and anything outside of that covenant He commands as wrong (sin). “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”(1 Cor. 6:18) Could this possibly be talking about STD’s? A monogamous relationship started between two virgins eliminates STD’s.
God doesn’t give people the desire for sex with no outlet. “If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.” (1 Cor. 7:36) When tempted to have sex in a relationship, God says get married and have that sex! The desire for sex isn’t wrong- it’s what is done with it that matters.
Is sex just a moral choice, or is it a logical one too? Could God have had reasons for His said “rules” when it comes to sex? It seems scientific findings are lining up with the reasons that the old-fashioned morality view presents. But regardless of morality, it is healthier for a person (and family) on the whole to wait until marriage to be sexually intimate.
It all does come down to a personal choice. In America it is our right. This paper isn’t long enough to address all the other issues related to sex (homosexuality, abuse and a host of others). But in regards to heterosexual, mutually, consenting sex; the choice is – to wait or not to wait? How will a person really know what’s best if they don’t try it? Well, it isn’t possible to try it both ways with sex. Either wait until marriage to have sex or don’t. Yes, people change and after doing the hooking up lifestyle (especially in their younger years) they may choose to stop looking at sex casually and start keeping sex to the confines of marriage; but they will still have things to work through from past choices. So what is the logical choice?
Every aspect of daily life is inundated with misconceptions and half-truths about sex. For centuries we have believed different lies, only to have them be proven wrong later. Could this be the case with how we view sex? In history the early scientists thought the world was flat! It was perceived you could fall off the edge of the world if you sailed too far in any one direction. When scientists started to prove the world was round, they were labeled as crazy. The lies believed about sex today, are a direct parallel to this situation of old. Free sex is thought to be ok, but scientists are proving it wrecks havoc on the family unit. We can laugh and call them crazy, because it’s easier to believe in what is familiar and fun. But the world of emotion, sex and intimacy, is not flat! It is so much more than that – if we open our eyes, we will “see” there is a better, more rounded view. This view will heighten the adventure of our relationships, not stifle or toss them over the flat edge of reason!
In the face of these truths, will you take a dare and consider waiting for sex until marriage? (No matter your stages of life or what you have done in the past?) Don’t compound the consequences of not waiting, because you’ve already had sex outside of marriage. Each day is a new day and a fresh start. Stop before you become a statistic.
Alexander, Brian. “Not Just Good, But Good for You” msnbc.msn.com 2009. Web. 4 May. 2010
Driscoll, Mark. “Religion Saves and Nine other Misconceptions”. Crossway Books Wheaton, Il. 2009. Print.
Fryling, Alice. “Why Wait for Sex? A Look at the Lies We Face” 1995 Leadership U. Online. 10 Feb. 2010
Gallagher, Maggie. “Unwed Motherhood Is a More Serious Problem than Teenage Pregnancy.” Opposing Viewpoints: America’s Youth. Ed. Roman Espejo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Corning Community College – SUNY. 26 March. 2010
Holy Bible. New International Version. 1984 International Bible Society. Print.
Lewis, Brad. “Ending the Test Drive” Focus on the Family 2002 Web. 10 Feb. 2010
Maher, Bridget, “Why Wait: The Benefits of Abstinence Until Marriage” Family Research Counsel. Online. 4/27/2010
National Abstinence Education Association. (NAEA)”Comprehensive Sex Education Is Inappropriate and Harmful.” At Issue: Do Abstinence Programs Work?. Ed. Christina Fisanick. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Online. Corning Community College – SUNY. 31 Mar. 2010
“New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released.” Barna Research Group. 31 Mar. 2008 Web. 22 Feb. 2010
“Teen motherhood: celebrity buzz belies it’s cost.(first things first)(Brief article).” Policy and Practice (Dec 2008) Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Corning Community College- SUNY 26 Mar. 2010
Trad, Paul V. “The Disturbing Consequences of Teen Pregnancy.” Contemporary Issues Companion: Teen Pregnancy. Ed. Myra H. Immell. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Corning Community College – SUNY. 26 Mar. 2010
Williams, Jimmy; and Solomon, Jerry; “Why Wait till Marriage? A critique of Contemporary Arguments for Premarital Sex.” 1994 Leadership U. Online. 27 Apr. 2010