This series of posts is in direct response to this blog post
and the related discussion below. As
much fun as comment whack-a-mole is, it does get time-consuming and
exhausting. So I decided to organize my
thoughts and put them all in one place.
“If you have sex
before marriage, your marriage will be forever cheapened and your bond will be
See also: “If you
have sex before marriage, you will forever be comparing your spouse to previous
Really? Based on
what? How do you know?
Part of the problem with discussing this type of issue is
that people have generally walked one path or another, and they have no genuine
concept of what it’s like to walk the other path. Plus, for some reason, people feel the need
to degrade anyone who has chosen differently than they have. I think that must be where we’ve gotten all
these myths and lies about sex; I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a
deliberate attempt to slut-shame.
I don’t know anyone who compares their spouse / significant
other to previous partners. I don’t do
it, my husband doesn’t do it, none of my friends do it. What the pro-abstinence group fails to
understand is that each relationship is unique such that there’s really no such
thing as a comparison; it’s a non sequitur.
Now, that doesn’t stop SOME people from trying; except they’re not
really comparing – they’re purposely trying to make their current partner feel
bad about themselves. Again, the issue
is not the sex; the issue is the abusive person trying to emotionally bludgeon
“If you have sex
before marriage, you will forever struggle with infidelity.”
It boggles my mind that people seriously think that there’s
no difference between having sex with someone while single (i.e. not committed
to anyone), and cheating on your spouse (whom you have committed to).
I chalk this up to (again) people with no understanding of
interpersonal relationships spouting baseless universals. Here’s a clue: if you waited for sex until
your wedding night, you have no basis from which to tell the rest of us what we
are or will be experiencing.
“After the sexual
revolution, marriage as a whole went down the toilet. Therefore sexual permissiveness leads to bad
What kind of permissiveness?
The kind of permissiveness where you think it’s okay to break a vow of
fidelity you made to your spouse? Yep,
that’ll do it. But that’s not usually
the kind of permissiveness people are talking about.
So, a few other things were happening simultaneously around
that time. Recall that from about 1945
on, we would send large groups of PTSD-afflicted men home to their families and
act like nothing had happened. Mental
health support for returning soldiers was even more nonexistent than it is
now. So what happened? Abuse.
Lots and lots of abuse.(*) These
were very sick men and we released them on our most vulnerable people – women
(pre-feminism) and children. PatrickStewart discusses his particular experience with great wisdom. Suddenly there’s a lot fewer people teaching
their children about love and healthy relationships. Suddenly a lot more children grow up without
an example of what a healthy relationship is.
And we blame the decline in marriage on sexual permissiveness? One has nothing to do with the other.
(*) This is the closest thing I could find on my assertion,
and here is the post it came from. Notice
the spikes that kinda sorta coincide with when PTSD men would be coming back
from combat. I am actually having a really hard time finding support either way
for my assertion – I dunno, maybe I fail at Google? I would genuinely appreciate anything that you
could direct me toward, because I want to know if I am right or wrong. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to
say that if the rate of homicide peaked, the rate of domestic violence peaked,
because both result from mentally ill people.
“Married sex is the
This is mostly true.
Except when it’s not.
See also: “Sex
outside of marriage is inherently abusive.”
Marriage is not a magic wand, but you wouldn’t know it by
listening to the Cult of Virginity folks.
Again, see my earlier point about symmetry in relationships. Sex within marriage can be plenty demeaning
and abusive, as I experienced in my first marriage. All of the sex I had outside marriage (even
the casual sex) was far more healthy, both emotionally and spiritually than ANY
of the sex I had in my first marriage.
After I finally got divorced (and I thank God every day for the existence
of no-fault divorce), all the sex I had afterward brought me joy and healing
and made me ready to be a good wife to my second husband. Sex with my husband now is by far and away
the best sex ever, because of the love we share and because of the marriage we
have built. Everything I did before my husband just pales in comparison and fades into the background. Not sure how my experience before is "cheapening" my relationship with my husband if it occupies exactly zero space in my mind.
“If you have sex
before marriage the relationship will become all about the sex.”
Tell me, what’s to stop a relationship from becoming all
about the sex after marriage, hmm?
If I may submit for your consideration, couple A and couple
Couple A – Has sex
on the first date (or third, or twelfth – doesn’t matter). Lives together for about a year, goes through
some really formative experiences together, and decide to get married because
they are right for each other.
Couple B – Decides
to wait for sex until marriage. Spends
their days counting down to the wedding date, unable to think or talk about
anything except how they can’t wait to have sex with each other. Sure they talk about their compatibility, but
it’s all theoretical since their various assertions of “oh we’re so perfect
together!” are never really put to the test.
Plus they have a bad case of “saying what they think the other person
wants to hear” since they can’t stand the thought of starting all over in the
dating pool and waiting even LONGER to have sex.
Which one of these relationships is “all about sex”
again? That’s what I thought.
Far too frequently, people that are waiting until marriage
rush down the aisle far too quickly so that they can have sex, only to find
out, after the sexual tension is gone, that they are horribly wrong for each
“But Athena,” I hear, “your example couples don’t really
exist. The male in couple A wouldn’t
even ask for a second date because he doesn’t respect the female. That’s just how guys work. And couple B would never happen because
people who are waiting until marriage are very careful about who they marry and
wouldn’t make that mistake.”
Oh really? Would it
blow your mind to know that couple A is my husband and me? Lived together for 9 months, married for 5
years (so far). He loves my daughters
like his own and we just had a baby boy in May.
Couple A is also a couple in our group of friends. Lived together for 5 years, married for 2
years (so far).
everybody’s doing it doesn’t make it okay.”
Maybe not. But you
can’t go around claiming that sex outside of marriage will lead to the utmost
of disasters and the end of the world when almosteverybody is doing it and
civilization has yet to collapse. In
fact, most people seem to do just fine, with no ill effects.
you can claim that the sky is falling,
simply because no one is stopping you, but no one will take you seriously. And you have no one to blame but yourself and
This series of posts is in direct response to this blog post
and the related discussion below. (What? It takes me a while to get my thoughts in
order sometimes.) As much fun as comment
whack-a-mole is, it does get time-consuming and exhausting. So I decided to organize my thoughts and put
them all in one place. This will read
like a series of lies and my responses, based on observation and
experience. You know, like, facts. Not baseless assertions, not insults, not
Anyway, here we go -
“Sex is just an
See also: “Sex is the
deepest giving of yourself.”
See also: “Women are
hard-wired to bond deeply during sex.”
See also: “Men are
hard-wired to not commit and use women for sex.”
No. Well, yes. Sometimes.
Sex seems to mean whatever your relationship with the other
person means. It’s that type of “sex has
inherent value” thinking that leads to rape and sexual assault victims feeling
ashamed and “ruined” (see Elizabeth Smart).
So, yeah – people are absolutely correct when they say that
“everyone should decide for themselves.”
Because everyone’s situation is different. Two spouses who love each other will
experience the deepest giving of self during sex. Two virtual strangers who have a one-night
stand merely perform an animalistic act.
Here’s a clue: recognizing that context matters doesn’t mean
Regarding the disparity in wiring between men and women –
how can you say this and then turn around and say, “Oh, sex within marriage is
the deepest giving of self.” Do you not
see how this undermines the concept of sex being a bonding experience within
marriage? How can anyone possibly bond
with such a gross disparity supposedly “hardwired” in? Further, this nonsense all but excuses the
way some men treat women like objects: “It’s in their nature.”
“God’s law says that only sex within marriage is okay.”
Awesome. Let’s have that discussion. Totally separate from slut-shaming, putting
virginity on a pedestal, broad pronouncements about “universals” of experience
that don’t exist, and all that other crap.
Principles of interpersonal relationships appear to exist independently
of what laws God and the Church have in place.
That’s why it doesn’t follow that, for example, “People who have sex
before marriage and don’t regret it have inherently dysfunctional
relationships.” It doesn’t work that
way. And when you lie to people, it will
only work until they figure out they are being lied to. Then see if they ever trust you again.
“If you have sex
before marriage, you will regret it.”
Maybe. I’ve noticed
among reading many testimonials and meeting many individuals that if you have
sex because of other people you will probably regret it. “Because of other people” means a variety of
things, including being pressured into it, seeking love or acceptance, or
feeling like you “should” for whatever reason.
On the other hand, simply holding sex up on a pedestal sets
you up for disappointment, either in yourself because you didn’t wait as long
as you wanted (and now you’re “ruined”), or in sex itself when you finally get
married and realize that it’s not anything like the movies. It’s better than the movies in a lot of ways,
but you have to be open to appreciating sex for what it IS, not what you WANT
IT TO BE based on books, movies, or porn.
However, if you have sex because you want to, with
symmetrical feelings and expectations, those are the people with no regrets,
because they had sex for the right reasons.
This is why sex within marriage usually goes so well – if two people
love each other enough to get married, it’s pretty clear at that point that
their relationship is symmetrical with regard to emotion and commitment. On the other extreme end of the spectrum we
have the one-night stand, another event with two people with symmetrical
feelings and expectations (i.e. virtually none). This is why one-night stands also tend to go
you run into trouble is either a friends-with-benefits arrangement or a dating
relationship. There is an EXTREMELY high
risk of asymmetry, meaning one person has more feelings than the other
one. It’s when there’s a disparity in
feelings and expectations that the trouble begins. Issues are compounded by the fact that these
two individuals tend to be immature enough to not SAY anything to each other, or
ACT prudently on what they know to be true, so they suffer / assume in silence,
while the problem grows. “Well it wouldn’t
be an issue if they weren’t having sex!”
Baloney. Asymmetry in
relationships is ALWAYS a risk in relationships. Stories abound of unrequited love between
friends, or of couples who are dating or even engaged where one person is more
in love than the other, as well as the classic left-at-the-altar story where
someone’s heart gets broken and there is NO sex involved. Sex is not the issue; the disparity in