Posted by Tony Listi on January 17, 2014
We need a Love Only approach to sex ed, not abstinence-only. If you are not married to a person, then love demands you abstain from any sexual activity with that person, regardless of any urges or feelings you have.
If you have not publicly committed to give your entire life exclusively to the other person in lifelong loving marriage, then what makes you think you have any right whatsoever to derive any intimate physical or emotional pleasure from them/their body? What makes anyone think they have any right to use someone else/someone else’s body merely as a sex toy for their own individual pleasure, ego, and/or self-esteem? Even if a person consents to be used in such a way, it is still a harmful and unloving violation of their human dignity and thus wrong. Consent does not change the inherently harmful and unloving nature of sexual use. A person is still a person with dignity and should not have their dignity violated even if that person himself or herself consents to have their dignity violated.
It is the lifelong commitment to the other person in marriage that allows and empowers sexual acts with that person to be acts of self-giving love rather than acts of selfish use. Because of our dignity as human persons, without marriage, there would be no truly legitimate, moral, and loving reason for sexual acts; such acts could be nothing other than selfish, harmful, and thus immoral without marriage. Without marriage, sexual acts always treat the human person as a sex object or sex toy (intended or not), and that is not loving or right. Only within the context of lifelong marriage can sexual acts recognize and reverence the person and his or her full dignity. It is the marital commitment (and fidelity to it) that ensures that the person is not abandoned and thus thrown away like trash when they no longer sexually satisfy (at all or as much as another person) and when love demands sacrifices. Sexual love by its very nature demands and entails lifelong commitment and sacrifice.
Of course, it should be noted that while lifelong marriage is necessary for loving sexual acts, it is not in itself sufficient for love or loving sexual acts. Just because a commitment is lifelong and exclusive does not necessarily make it loving. To be loving, the marriage must be a lifelong and exclusive commitment to the good of the other person in all aspects of their personhood, not merely a lifelong and exclusive commitment to live together and be monogamous.
Critics of abstinence-only education are only partially right. Without this Love Only perspective, abstinence is indeed largely arbitrary repression, which is indeed harmful and in many cases inadequate long-term for remaining abstinent. Arbitrary repression does not quell sexual urges but merely holds them in tension, and if the sexual tension builds up over time, the person will likely succumb to acting out their sexual urges in an unloving way or context (e.g. premarital sex, rape, homosexual behavior, etc.). So strong are sexual urges sometimes that even the fear of potential STDs and pregnancy may be forgotten and unable to prevent a surrender and lapse into unloving sexual behavior. Besides, technology will likely continue to mitigate or remove fears of sexual disease and unwanted pregnancy. But technology will never make unloving sexual acts loving; technology will never mitigate or remove the emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage of unloving sexual acts (least not without inflicting greater damage on the person).
But abstinence grounded in love and chastity is not arbitrary repression but rather fully recognizing the dignity of the other person and choosing to love and respect them and their dignity, choosing not to treat them as a mere sex object or sex toy that satisfies a physical or emotional urge or desire. And when we are truly loving and chaste in our abstinence, we can quell the sexual urges, release or sublimate the sexual tension in a chaste loving non-sexual way, and not be frustrated. If we truly love the person, frustration should give way to joy and peace.
It may not be easy to practice loving and chaste abstinence in our hyper-sexual, hyper-stimulated, selfish, and pornographic culture, but it’s a lot easier than arbitrary and brute repression. And the deep joys and peace of love are always worth the demanding difficulty and cost (however, I should add, ideally, we should love for the sake of love and for the sake of the person, not even merely for such profound peace and joy, however transcendent and sublime).
Posted in American Culture, Education, Government and Politics, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Sex, Written by Me | Tagged: abstinence, abstinence only, birth control, condom, contraception, contraceptives, love, protection, sex ed, sex education, sexual education, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, use | 2 Comments »
Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008
It’s not news to anybody these days — not if they watch any television or glance at the covers of the magazines lining the checkout counters at the grocery stores — that we live in a sex-saturated society where supposedly the majority of young people are “doing it,” more often than not without “benefit of marriage.” The “Playboy philosophy” is trumpeted by a thousand voices that glamorize casual sex, while most of the shrinking mainline churches present pitifully watered-down messages about morality that confuse rather than clarify. Academic institutions, particularly the women’s studies programs, promote the idea that marriage is optional and young people are advised to “just do it!” The secular mantra, heard from middle school on up, is that sex will make you popular and happy; it’s great recreation that is free and fun.
There is a mountain of media out there promoting a phony philosophy about the joys of casual, risky sexual experimentation; one need look no further than the junk advice featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan to see just how pernicious it is. Even the “Dear Abby” column in many daily newspapers spreads the expectation of sexual activity even for the youngest of our teens. This assault will not be neutralized until a brigade of those who know better find their voices to convince today’s Sex in the City generation of young women that only discipline and restraint — it is having an attitude that says, “I won’t mess up my tomorrows by fooling around today” — will open the gateway to achieving their dreams and ambitions.
Well, the time for some straight talk about casual sex is long overdue. Every young person needs to know the following three truths:
Truth #1: Casual sex impairs the ability to establish a lasting emotion bond. When natural human emotional responses are repeatedly denied, the person is hardened and the capacity to bond is weakened. Dr. Donald Joy published groundbreaking research in the early 80s and has updated it periodically in the intervening years. He chronicles the ways that intimacy produces bonding. His research indicates that human beings respond to sexual intercourse by bonding, and they are driven to make that bond permanent and exclusive.
Dr. Joy reported on the work of a researcher at a hospital clinic in Detroit who worked with 1,000 couples for 10 years studying their marital problems and recording their sexual histories. He concluded that sexual intercourse is constructive only within marriage. His evidence is overwhelming that one or the other of the partners in casual sex (usually the girl or woman) experiences immediate emotional pain even in the absence of acknowledged injury. The experience of casual sexual intimacy produces memories that can contaminate future relationships and create lingering problems later on, when the person eventually marries. When the married couples in his research had problems, he said, “The pain in the marriages was rooted in their promiscuity.”
Truth #2: Casual sex leaves young people alone and lonely. Counselors tell us that sexually active girls are three times more likely to be depressed than their abstinent peers. Among the boys, sexually active ones are depressed twice as often. Sexually active teens are more likely than their abstinent counterparts to attempt suicide (girls 15 percent to five percent and boys six percent to one percent). But the most telling fact is that the majority of teenagers, 72 percent of the girls and 55 percent of the boys, acknowledge regret over early sexual activity and wish that they had waited longer to have sex. So much for the cultural mantra that “sex is no big deal!”
On another front, replacing marriage with casual sex is especially harmful to young women’s long-term well-being. The marriage rate in the United States has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 1970. In 1940, less than eight percent of all households consisted of people living alone; now more than a quarter do. The number of unmarried couples living together temporarily in the U.S. is 10 times as large today as in 1970.
Truth #3: The so-called “sexual revolution” has produced dramatic increases in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sadly, 65 percent of STDs appear in young people under age 25, and fully 20 percent of all AIDS cases are among college-aged young people. In the U.S., over 15 million new cases of STDs appear annually, a number that is triple what it was six years ago. Having three or more sexual partners in a lifetime increases a woman’s odds of cervical cancer by 15 times.
The National Center for Health Statistics analyzed data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and found two startling facts. Among young women who used contraception at first intercourse, the probability of giving birth at each age is roughly half that of those who did not use contraception. Further, the probability of a sexually active female giving birth approximately doubles between 18-20 years of age whether the young woman uses contraception at first intercourse or not.
A young person’s choices about sex reveal his or her attitudes about others. Is sexual activity merely fun and games? No. Treating sex as something casual can never actually make it a casual matter. The Scriptures raise the age old question, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27, NKJV)
Sexual intercourse can be an intense and pleasurable experience, but it is more — much more. Sexual intimacy triggers the strongest and deepest, most exhilarating passions in life. Its purpose is to bond a man and a woman into “one flesh” in the deepest intimacy that human beings can share. Further, sex is designed to both create life and build a strong relationship to protect and provide for that life. Little wonder that the Creator fashioned the means of creating life in such a way that it is one of the most awesome forces in our lives and then linked it to marriage so as to signify to us, “Priceless. Handle with great care.”
It is impossible to ignore or dictate to nature. Young people need to choose carefully. Sex can never be free; choices always have consequences. We cannot expect young people to act responsibly when adults — whose thinking is sometimes clouded by their rationalization of their own hurtful and toxic sexual experimentation — are irresponsible by not providing the best possible information to encourage self-discipline and self-control, which are the surest keys to young peoples’ long-term well-being.
Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Feminism, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Sex | Tagged: casual sex, Feminism, free love, free sex, hook up, hook ups, hooking up, hypersexualized, morality, mores, Sex, sex in America, sex sells, sex-saturated, sexual morality, sexual mores, sexual revolution, STDs, traditional morality | Leave a Comment »