6.13.2013

Sex, part 2: Why Wait?

I pretty much hate having teenage boys. 

I hate the looks they give. I hate the smells they make. I hate the skeezy little 'stache that creeps up, slow and sparse, on their upper lip. But most of all, I hate the autonomy they have.

I hate that my baby boys have grown beyond arms reach and can now wander freely in this little corner of the world. I hate that they get to choose what they're going to do and say, and that I don't get to hover over them, correcting them and coddling them and giving them the WTF-are-you-thinking-?!-eyebrow every so often to keep them in line. Hate it.

Ugh! They're independent. They are young men, responsible for their own actions. That is so scary it makes me want to barf. 

And, perhaps it's because I got knocked up at 17, but, of all the choices my kids are faced with and all the opportunities in front of them, I feel especially preoccupied with their choices regarding sex. Naturally, they love this. I mean, what teenager doesn't want their Mom constantly reminding them that it's gross and creepy to engage in sexual activity in public parks, behind strip malls, or in the recessed corner of the movie theatre?! What high schooler would hate it if their Mom sang, "Please do not have sex todaaaaay!" every time they walked out the door?! Surely not mine

...Yeah. The eye rolling gets pretty intense around here...

But I want my kids to be armed with the truth (and maybe with condoms, but mostly with the truth), and the truth is that they should wait to have sex.

There are obvious reasons why:

1. You could accidentally create another human being (like I did, oops).  
2. You could cause yourself or someone else emotional harm by sharing intimate behavior in an irresponsibly casual way.  
3. Most compelling, you could contract a horrible, painful, itchy, burning, smelly STD, and your penis could fall right off.

But I believe there's another really good reason to put sex on hold. 

It's that when you wait to have sex, you are creating an important connection between the very powerful urges to do things that feel really good and the ability to control those urges. Otherwise known as self-control. This practice of self-denial and delayed gratification makes you a healthier, more poised, and better moderated person (who definitely still has a penis, phew!). Ultimately, self- control is a character trait ~or *ahem*, fruit of the spirit, for the Christian folk~ that will help you be a better long-term partner in your 'til-death-do-we-part relationship. 

Listen. I don't want to kill anyone's romantic ideas about marriage, I really don't - but it's not like you get married and then you're unfailingly super stoked to have sex with the same person three times a week for the rest of your God given life. I mean, married sex can be amazing - the longer I've been married, the better it gets (19 years, Suckas!!). But it really shouldn't shock anyone to hear that married, monogamous people still have sexual thoughts, desires, and impulses which do not include their spouses. Porn happens. Crushes happen. (Seriously, everybody has crushes. Even Christianbodies have crushes.) The problem is that, in a culture that demands instant gratification and consumes sex like a drug, a quick brush with porn or a simple crush on a coworker can quickly spiral into something devastating. 

To top it off, we've done a really bad job of teaching about sex in the Church. Our approach has been to shame girls for having it, and shame boys for wanting it. And when the smart kids ask, "Why wait?", we shrug our shoulders like a hillbilly and say, "Because the Bible says." Then we give the girls a purity ring and we give the boys nothing and we cross our fingers and hope they'll cross their legs. So dumb.

We've made virginity the goal, when it is purity that we should be aiming for; They're not the same thing. Sexual purity is a life long spiritual practice that doesn't begin or end with a single sex act, just as it doesn't begin or end on a wedding night. So when we are asked, "Why wait?", we should have an answer that empowers and prepares people to choose wisely for a lifetime. We should be teaching people something they can carry with them beyond their first roll in the hay. 

Why wait? Um. Because you need to learn some freaking self-control. That's why.

No kidding, the person who is a slave to their sexual desires will have a difficult row to hoe. ←Heh. See what I did there? ;) But the man or woman who has a sense of mastery over their own sexual appetite will be far less likely to fall into the easy traps of addiction and infidelity that plague marriages today. I don't mean to imply that postponing sex guarantees fidelity – it certainly doesn't. And I don't think this is a fail safe for a long and happy marriage, but I think delaying sex is a pretty solid beginning.

So I tell my kids, much to their horrified chagrin;

"I know it's hard to be near the person you're aching to touch and kiss and do... um... other... like naked things with. I know! I get it. We all get it. But the person you're with right now? That person is not the last person you will have those feelings toward, and you need to know what it feels like to not act on those feelings, because a day will come when you will have to exercise self-control for the sake of the relationship you've given your life to - and, trust me, you will want to know how to do that. Do not relinquish that power without a fight. So, really, consider the wait. There's value in waiting. (But if you don't wait? Condom. Please. Because babies. And emotional wounds. And your penis will rot off...)

Waiting is an act of maturity and discipline that can help refine your humanity, and that of your mate. And while I still don't think sex before marriage is the biggest deal of all the deals ever, I do think waiting is a good start toward a long and healthy life with the person you've chosen to love. Plus, statistically, married people have WAY more sex than single people. So exercise self-control while you're waiting to get married, then use that well honed skill to help you stay married and – BOOM – buckets of sex for a lifetime! ...That's bad math, but still.

So, Why wait? 

Wait because self-control is a virtue necessary to living a life of purity, and waiting is just good practice. 

That's it. That's all.

....        ....        ....

Here's a link to part 1, if you missed it: Sex. 

Thoughts?