Abstinence is unrealistic and old fashioned
From my inbox, an email from a high school student named Jeremy:
“Dear Matt, first I want to say I really like your blog. One of my teachers actually mentioned it in class once after you wrote something (she didn’t mention it in a good way lol) and I went and looked you up so I’ve been following you ever since. I know you get so much email so I don’t expect you to see this but in case you do I wanted to get your opinion about something. You write a lot about relationships and everything so I’m wondering if you think abstinence should be encouraged in school?
Reason I’m asking is because we are doing our sex ed lessons in health class now and the topic has come up. Yesterday my health teacher was talking about safe sex and someone mentioned abstinence and she said it wasn’t realistic. She said it was an out dated way of thinking and the people who push for it are out of touch because they were probably kids a long time ago. She said sometimes sex can be more casual and isn’t always a part of something serious. Then she asked how many people in the class are sexually active because she said it was important for people not to be ashamed. Almost all the guys in class raised their hands but I didn’t. They were all talking about how sex doesn’t have to be something for marriage or long term relationships. I always wanted to wait for marriage and I hope it’s not weird for me to say that. They said in class that we should be more accepting of sexual expression that doesn’t conform to older ideas. But I still always wanted to wait for marriage. But at this point I feel like an outcast or something.
I read something you wrote about dating once and it seemed like you were saying that people should wait for marriage [to have sex]. What do you thinkabout what my teacher said? Am I weird for not really wanting to go out and hook up with girls and stuff and instead wait for marriage?”
Yes, it’s weird for you to want to wait until marriage. In spite of the hyper-sexualization of our culture; in spite of society’s decaying moral sensibility; in spite of all of the messages that bombard you every day through every available medium; in spite of the pressure from your classmates; in spite of the bullying from that fool of a “health teacher,” you STILL stand tall and resolve to save yourself for your future wife.
Man, that is weird. It’s also awesome, inspiring, courageous, and extraordinary. Not to mention, Jeremy, you’re doing the RIGHT thing. You’ve got more character than most adults in this country, and you should be commended for it.
Speaking of adults without character, please ignore everything your “health teacher” says on this subject. I have to put quotes around her title because it doesn’t sound like she’s doing much in the way of teaching, and whatever she’s blabbering about has very little to do with “health.” She seems to think there’s a “safe” way for emotionally immature juveniles to have casual sex. Maybe she’ll follow up this performance by advocating “safe drunk driving.”
Dude, I had to go outside and breathe a little before I even attempted to write back. There is so much I want to say about this woman and the nonsense she spews. In any other context, an adult would probably find themselves on a statewide registry if they went up to a bunch of kids and asked about their sex lives. But this was “educational,” so it’s cool. The most charitable possible interpretation I can muster is that she’s an overgrown gossipy teenager who thinks she’s at a slumber party. “OMG you guys! So who here has had sex??? Let’s play truth or dare!!!!” A less charitable translation of her actions would lead me to the conclusion that she was actively attempting to pressure and humiliate people like you. And not just you, Jeremy. You said every guy in the class raised their hands? Yeah, a lot of them were lying, because that’s just the sort of thing dudes lie about.
So, Mrs. Health Teacher has singlehandedly declared sexual morality dead, has she? With one scoff and wave of her wand she’s buried thousands of years of insight into the topic? Anyone who advocates such things must be “old” and “out dated”?
Hmmm. Well, this tattooed 27 year old former DJ happens to be on your side, man.
God forgive me, I’m not old fashioned at all. I don’t think you are, either. Truth only seems old fashioned nowadays because we’ve grown so accustomed to deceit and manipulation. But Truth is eternal, so it can never be old or new. It never ‘was’ or ‘will be.’ It just ‘is.’ It always ‘is.’ Truth never grows old, and if you believe in it and try to live by it, you will always be, in some ways — the only ways that matter — the youngest, freshest, most energetic rebel on the block.
So here’s the point, Jeremy:
Our culture tells a lot of lies about sex. Your teacher is one of the liars.
There’s plenty of ignorance on the subject. Plenty of confusion. But it’s the lies I hate. The lies that come from people who know better. The people who have made mistakes and now encourage others to make them, too.
You could ask any married person who slept with other people before meeting their spouse (I wouldn’t recommend actually asking this, I’m just trying to illustrate a point here): are you happy about it? Are you glad that you gave yourself to someone other than the person you now love eternally? If you could go back to those times, would you stop yourself?
Was it worth it?
Really, was it worth it?
Do you wish you could say that your spouse is the only person who has experienced these intimate, sacred moments with you? Are you proud that there are other men or women in the world who have seen this side of you? Are you satisfied that what you give to your spouse is now secondhand?
If they tell you they feel happy or neutral about the fact that they gave themselves to someone other than their spouse, you’re dealing with someone in a very dysfunctional marriage. Any honest person in a healthy relationship would tell you they’d erase those moments from their lives if they could. They can’t, of course. Nobody can. We can’t live in the past and harp on our mistakes, but this all leads to an important point: the myth of “casual sex” persists, even though many of us — millions and millions — have seen it for what it is. Marriage as an institution is in rough shape, but people still do get married in this country. That means millions have had to look at their spouse and say — probably silently in their own heads, deep in their subconscious — “I have nothing new to give to you.”
It’s a tragedy, really. It’s a shame. You deal with it and you move on, but “casual sex” has taken its chunk and you’ll never get it back.
Yet few will speak against the predators and perverts in media, Hollywood, and Academia who promote this “casual sex” deception. There should be armies of people opposing it, but instead there is only a small, fringe group of cultural insurgents; the ones we point and laugh at and accuse of having a “boring” and “outdated” view of sexuality.
This is another lie. Casual sex proponents are the ones who have turned sex into something trivial, banal, utilitarian, pointless, joyless, one-dimensional, lifeless, lonely, and disappointing. How could the ones who hold it as sacred also be the ones who make it “boring”? No, it’s mainstream culture that’s made sex boring. It’s mainstream culture that is, in fact, afraid of sex. That’s why we spend so much energy shielding ourselves from every natural aspect of it, other than the physical sensation itself.
And the ones who believe it to be so much more than that are the ones who make it “boring”? THEY are the ones who are afraid of it? They embrace all of it, every part of it, and they are the ones who “hate sex”?
Ridiculous. Casual sex is a lie. It’s a lie that rests on lies and breeds lies and turns people into liars.
We’re told that we are sexually “liberated” if we throw ourselves at strangers and give ourselves over to people who couldn’t possibly care less about us. This is yet another lie. If modern attitudes about sex have “liberated” us, what, precisely, have we been freed from? Security? Commitment? Trust? What, we’ve broken the Shackles of Purity and Love and run gleefully into the Meadows of Pornography and Herpes? Because that’s all that our sexual liberation has wrought. A lot of confusion, a lot of porn, a lot of disease, a lot of emotionally desperate, psychologically battered, spiritually broken people wandering around, searching for another stranger who’s willing to go in for a few more rounds of sterile, shallow, pointless sex.
Let freedom ring, right?
Libertas, madam Health Teacher!
It’s quite interesting, though. Casual sex has liberated us, yet casual sex produces so many regrets. The landscape is rife with people who have felt the sting of our “hook-up culture.” But where are the people who regret abstinence and monogamy? Sure, some people, while married, think they regret having not “played the field.” Then they play it. And then they learn what regret really feels like.
Even the term “casual sex” is insane. It’s an oxymoron. Denim is casual. Restaurants can be casual. Casual: without serious intention, careless or offhand, informal. A high-five is casual. Sex can only be viewed in this same vein once we have dehumanized ourselves enough to see human sexuality as something no more significant than a pair of jean shorts.
Describing sex as “casual” is like describing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as a “nice little doodle.” That’s what I can’t stand — the people who diminish and cheapen sex are the ones who get to pass themselves off as “sexually enlightened.”
It doesn’t surprise me that your crackpot health teacher pulled out the “sexual expression” line. She teaches in our schools yet she doesn’t even understand the words she speaks. To “express” means to SAY something. It means you are indicating something of meaning. When you “express yourself” you are conveying a message about your thoughts, feelings, and character. So shouldn’t we, rather than encouraging sexual expression for the sake of it, encourage MEANINGFUL and POSITIVE sexual expression? In the context of commitment and loyalty, sex expresses something. It expresses: “I love you. I give myself to you.” But what does casual sex express? “Use me and I’ll use you.”
That’s an expression, alright. An awfully sad, pitiful expression. You’re right to have no interest in going down this road.
It sounds like you want to express a different message: self-respect and maturity; honesty and integrity; patience.
And, when the time comes, you’ll express love. Then, you’ll be able to say that you only ever expressed this sort of love to the one person who deserves it. And you’ll both be better for it.
So, in summation, your health teacher is full of it.
You’re on the right path. You’re a rebel. Keep going.
Thanks for writing,