Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SEX - Part IV

Posted by Pamela Urfer

Getting back to the original question asked in Lisa Miller’s Newsweek article – How can college-aged men and women best resist peer pressure to have sex, or, at least, resist the kind of sex they don’t want? As Donna Freitas says, Students “want the right to demand more from their peers when it comes to sex and relationships – more joy, more satisfaction, more commitment – and less sex.”

Perhaps we could think of this choice as one between “high level” and “low level” sex. I’m not talking here about the quality level of the sex act. There are plenty of books for advice on that. I’m talking about the emotional, relational, and spiritual level of sex. It may be hard for some to imagine a “spiritual” component to pre-marital sex, but many who are sexually active on campus are searching for precisely that. They want to know how to conduct an affair that is respectful, responsible and constructive for the persons involved. They want to know how to practice kindness, consideration and truthfulness in a relationship, and how to refrain from using the other to satisfy their own selfish needs.

For a moment, let’s imagine the unimaginable: two college or grad students, perhaps even Christian students, begin a serious affair, moving in together. If they were older, out of school, they might have planned a wedding. But they both know this is not the right time to marry. In an earlier, more “Biblical”, age this couple would have been married off by their families as soon as they reached sexual maturity – at fourteen for girls and perhaps sixteen for boys – a natural remedy for their burgeoning sexual urges and desires. Surely this is what Saint Paul meant by advising “it is better to marry than to burn.”

But this is America, and education trumps nature. Careers , and enhanced earning power, await and must be prepared for. This is the path we as a culture have chosen and the young must suffer for it. God is not the only, nor, perhaps, the most important, person expected to have a say in such matters. The young people have not finished their studies, and neither family would countenance marriage at this point. Their families counsel restraint – perhaps for years. Easy for them to say. But the young people must acquiesce. After all, it’s the families who are paying the bills.

Couples who choose pre-marital co-habitation cannot be considered “spouses,” with the (perhaps illusory) permanence that entails. But they should aim, at the very least, at being “friends,” people who act towards each other in a trustworthy, caring and reliable manner, like non-sexual friends. They shouldn’t have to think of the one with whom they are having sex as a rival, enemy, liar, user, or traitor. Although these relationships are not, at the moment, permanent, neither one of the couple should have to wake up in the morning wondering if their partner has left in the night.

In scripture, God has given us much good advice in conducting relationships, from “A gentle answer turns away wrath” to “Do not let the sun go down on your anger,” to “Love is patient and kind, it is not jealous or conceited or proud. Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable. It does not keep a record of wrongs.” If we could all achieve relationships like this, life would be happier all around.

What these young people should be learning are the skills needed to argue constructively, avoid pushing each other’s buttons, and treat each other with respect and kindness. If the arrangement fails to become permanent, as lots of marriages do, at least the skills learned here may help create a stronger tie with partners who come later. And it might even lead to marriage itself. Mine did – going on forty-four years now.

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