Some Christians have such an easy life – the ones who have learnt how to have their cake and eat it. Their watered down version of what their holy book expects of them makes it smooth sailing for them and they become quite skilled at rationalizing their behaviour. I am referring to the ones who have ignored, adapted, or redefined certain teachings in their holy book so that they could live a “normal”, guilt-free life, and engage in all those carnal pleasures that are supposed to be strictly forbidden. I refer, in particular, to premarital sex.
Many Christians have always had sex before marriage and continue to do so regularly and unreservedly, and make no effort to overcome this ubiquitous human desire. They console themselves and resolve their cognitive dissonance by repeating over and over how human and imperfect they are, and how loving, merciful, and forgiving God is. Meanwhile, there is a significant group of young people who are trying their utmost to remain on the straight and narrow—those who actually take their beliefs seriously. Some of them cope better than others because they are fortunate enough to have strong family and social ties; but there are others who are finding the narrow road very frustrating and unbearable, and the only advice they receive from those who themselves indulge freely, is to pray and get closer to God, and study his word.
For some reason, females seem to have more of a tough time coping than the guys, and perhaps one of the reasons for that could be the popular notion that a woman’s virginity and chastity is precious, something to be revered and preserved, and handed to a man on a platter as a gift on their wedding night. Those of us who’ve been there and are frank enough, know that this is not much of a gift to look forward to, particularly if the woman has already reached her 30’s and has spent most of her life suppressing and resisting her natural sexual urges. This is more of a recipe for major marital stress and a good case for a sex therapist. How does one spend years running away from sex, being uncomfortable with and afraid of physical intimacy, then just wake from their bed, get married and expect all to be well and good? Many of the religiously chaste women that I have met all struggled with many issues which were clearly tied to their philosophy of sexual abstinence. The worst thing about it is that they were usually unaware of their issues and the potential difficulties they would cause within the context of an intimate relationship. Such women are often naïve and usually know very little about how men think and operate. They lack natural affection and almost instinctively flinch if they are touched, or if you happen to get too close. Although they are able to do a good job at “playing hard to get”, they are easily swept off their feet by a few nice words and flattering compliments and are overwhelmed by the avalanche of emotions that they are faced with. There are probably a few “virtuous” women reading this right now and thinking, “I am not like that”. That’s probably because you, dear reader, are one of those who have bent the rules and made it OK to masturbate, to kiss and make out, to have oral sex, dry sex, anal sex, and all the other things that are just short of penetration which some Christians engage in, while still proudly declaring themselves to be virgins. Hypocrite! Hypocrite!
The need for love and physical intimacy is nothing unusual and is supposed to be at the top of every young person’s agenda. That is the stage in life which they are at. It is the attempt to suppress those needs that creates conflict, stress and unhappiness for many young people. What a conundrum! What was the Creator thinking when he designed man in such a way that puberty and sexual curiosity and desire should start as early as 11 and 12 years of age. Yet, one is supposed to ignore and subdue one’s raging hormones and abstain from sexual activity (and even masturbation for some denominations) until one is ready to get married. What if one wishes to pursue an education and establish a career before getting married? What are the coping mechanisms available to such a person in the mean time? Is marriage a part of life’s natural progression? What if one has no interest in marriage? Will that person be doomed to a life of celibacy? If one cannot have sex before marriage, is sex, then, the main reason for marriage?
Clearly, there is wisdom in advising one to be emotionally and psychologically prepared before having sex. The additional baggage and responsibilities that come with sex are not for the immature; although, hardly anyone is ever fully prepared to handle sex-related drama, regardless of what age one begins. But the idea that one should not have sex until marriage or that one should rush to get married at a young age just to avoid fornication is daft, impractical, and cruel. Perhaps the majority of Christians have already figured that out, hence their rebellion against one of the bible’s strictest laws. Marriage cannot make anyone happy. People who are successful at marriage are people who have invested a lot of time in personal development. There is nothing automatic or natural about sex or being able to live happily together with another human being. They both require a set of skills which must be learned, and the only way to learn them is not by listening to sermons or reading books, but through experience.
What we should be teaching our young people, instead of the futile abstinence-only approach, is the importance of loving themselves so that they are not as desperate for love and attention as many women seem to be. Instead, religion does the opposite. It teaches that we are worthless human beings in need of salvation and that God loves us even if we are not worthy of his love, and even though we constantly disappoint him. We need to educate the youth about the importance of getting to know themselves and developing themselves so that they can better recognize a potential partner who they will be compatible with and live more peaceably with. And the only way to do that is through intimate relationships. There are many things one will never know about oneself unless he enters into an intimate relationship. We should teach young people that sex and love are not the same and that all relationships are not necessarily geared toward marriage. Relationships are opportunities for self-development, to learn the necessary skills, to develop emotional intelligence, and to learn more about the opposite sex. Let us teach them how to have safe and responsible sex instead of perpetuating the ridiculous idea that people decrease in value every time they have sex with someone else. Sex is a shared experience. It is not an experience where a woman gives and a man takes. But who
will teach our youth those valuable skills when we as adults are just as pathetic and clueless?