I’ve been reading, studying, reflecting and observing thoughts on sex outside vs. within marriage. This is a HUGE controversial topic even among Christians, so I want to share some of my thoughts on this subject.
I believe that many of the issues we face in our relationships today stem from how we handle them from the start. We may see someone we “like” and we get curious and strike up a conversation with them. We may like their car, their clothes, their personality, the fact that they are educated and/or earn tons of money, they are well-known or some other outstanding feature. But do we spend the time in getting to know the REAL person before we move any further with the relationship?
- Do we know how they handle setbacks or disappointments?
- Are they responsible?
- How are they under stress?
- Do they love children?
- Are they kind to people whom they don’t need to be kind to?
- If they manage people, do their direct reports cringe when they speak to them?
- Are they up to their eyeballs in debt (without a good reason)?
- Are they STILL married (or are they separated)?
Sometimes we bypass a lot of these important points so we can get to the “good part”: SEX. Isn’t that the purpose for hooking up with someone else, anyway? Right? Well, yes and no.
Those of us who are Christians believe that God created us on purpose, with purpose, and for a purpose. We are not randomly roaming the earth to see what we can get our hands on and what we can do to occupy our time and attention until we die. There is a reason for our existence. There is also a purpose (or several purposes) for marriage.
- Definitely one purpose for marriage is being fruitful and multiplying and replenishing the earth (aka having children).
- Another purpose for marriage is to demonstrate the unselfish love that God has for us, as shown by the biblical analogy of Christ and His bride, the Church that He will return to take with Him to heaven (spotless, without wrinkle or any other tarnish). As couples live out this real-life example, they learn to love unconditionally, to forgive each other every day and to be merciful, patient and kind in various scenarios and settings. One person may feel like walking away from it all because of daily challenges and stressors, but like our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are to remain loving, consistent and faithful regardless of the circumstances.
- Then there is the purpose of social responsibility, where the man is leading and teaching a family to become more beneficial to society. Education, the value of hard work, and the daily walk of commitment to loving one woman and raising their children into productive adults keep the wheels of society turning for generations to come.
If we race past the cautionary moments (see the examples listed earlier) or ignore the purposes that marriage serves, how will we be able to keep a marriage going? Unmarried sex does not guarantee that a relationship will last. I will hasten to say neither does married sex. What keeps relationships together is the foundation on which everything is built.
If a relationship is built on surface things (such as prestige, power & “toys”) then it cannot last. Even if both people manage to get married, life happens and over time the relationship will crack under pressure and eventually crumble. Life happening can include the loss of loved ones, or birthing children with disabilities, or the loss of a lucrative position at a global corporation, or just plain ol’ LIFE! Some of these situations will knock even the most solid person off his/her feet.
So what is the tie to sex and all of this? The context of sex in a relationship is what matters here. If sex is the only thing that ties two people together, then the relationship is doomed from the start. If a lasting relationship is what is desired, then getting to know the other person in various contexts is what is needed and should be pursued FIRST. Many of my friends are stating “friends first”, and I totally agree. Get to know the person first without the pressure of sex or romance. Who is this other individual? Let’s get to know them first.
God gave us the gift of self-control, but many of us will not acknowledge it or use it. We can control how we approach sex. Because sex drives are SUPER-strong, it’s best to know how to handle it before it goes beyond our control. Spending a lot of time alone with someone we are just getting to know is certainly not a great idea. We can have discussions but let’s be wise about where we meet, what time of day, etc. so we are only having discussions and spending time to get to know the person – and nothing else. It really is possible, even in 2012, to get to know someone without getting naked. In fact, sex clouds our objectivity about a person, so we may tend to rationalize red flags and forge ahead with a doomed relationship anyway because of the bond we created through sex.
Being accountable to others who have our best interest in mind is another fantastic way to keep things in the right perspective. When we know that the person will ask us the hard questions, we will want to be able to tell them the truth as they ask. Having a discerning person (one who can see ahead) as a mentor is a definite plus. They can help us remain aware of potential issues that can take us off-course.
Having strong self-esteem means I won’t need to indulge in sexual intercourse so I will feel loved. And testing the waters ahead of time to see if we are sexually compatible also means that we do not trust the God who made us (and who knows us intimately). He knows how to meet every need that we have, so why would He not know what He is doing when He provides us with a spouse for life?
Relationships that are founded on building a strong foundation first will be able to withstand the tests of time. This strong foundation is especially important when sex cannot happen between partners (e.g. illness, childbearing, times of prayer that both parties agreed to, or travel).
There is so much more that can be said on this subject but I think I will end here for now.
I will post again soon.