Recent studies have revealed that over 85% of Americans approve of pre-marital sex (Research). This leaves a lonely 15% to heed the teachings of the Bible and wait for a wedding ring before jumping between the sheets. So when is the right time to become sexually active? Can we as a society pinpoint any one milestone, or will this determination need to be made on a case to case basis? In my opinion, marriage is that milestone for all of us. In this post I will argue that abstinence is the best route to a long lasting and fruitful marriage.
If you Google premarital sex, you’ll find a plethora of Christian websites dissuading readers from pre-marital sex on grounds of immorality and devil worship. My argument will be much less dramatic. I realize that having sex before you get married doesn’t make you a bad person; it doesn’t mean that you have AIDS and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to Hell. What it does mean is that you have given your greatest personal gift of yourself to someone other than your spouse. As a result, one’s eventual marriage will be weaker for the absence of this “first time” bond that helps form the mortar of a strong relationship. For the 92% of high schools seniors who said marriage was “extremely important” to them (Research), abstinence should be “extremely important” as well.
There is no doubt that the old horizontal mambo allows two people to grow closer, and therefore it’s an obvious way to proceed when a relationship is going well. However there may be more productive avenues to accomplish this goal of closeness when one thinks outside the bedroom. Building a foundation on something other than lust will allow any couple to see through the smoke screen of sex drive and endure its inevitable decay. Increasingly busy lives and decreased sex drive has led many couples to have sex less and less often as they age (NY Times). If sex was the foundation of one of these marriages, it is logical that the relationship would follow suit in such erosion. By putting sex on the shelf, it becomes possible to cultivate attractions based more on communication, quirks and other facets of a persona that resist the corrosive sands of time. By fostering intellectual closeness rather than physical closeness, pre-marital abstinence is the key to a long lasting relationship.
Many proponents of premarital sex warn that if you do not go for a “test drive” with your sexual partner you are bound to be disappointed when the day finally comes. While I realize that sex is an essential part of a healthy marriage, I find this statement ridiculous. What are these people afraid of? Unless your Mrs. Doubtfire ends up being Robin Williams, I don’t think there’s any cause for concern regarding the “performance value” of your spouse. Our species has lasted the millennia; we all have the capacity and aptitude to… well… you know.
Initially, since this debate has little to do with politics, it’s difficult to analyze this debate using any of the political theories discussed so far in Polsci 101. However, when considering the human mind and all of its diverse emotions and beliefs as a type of society, with each thought representing an individual, the task of framing up this dilemma becomes much simpler. A compulsive mind that rides each prevailing emotion could be compared to the Hobbesian state of nature. In this case, the strongest emotion gets to control the mind’s choice in that instant. As it relates to pre-marital sex, the hormonal extremes of a theoretical person would carry him/her to have sex as soon as physiologically possible. Just as humans have developed and grown out of Hobbes state of nature socially, so should they develop their individual mentality. Just as government has helped our species become more equal and balanced, so could a set of principles and convictions help to govern our own minds and help us become more responsible. Deciding to remain abstinent is just one of the many convictions required to reign in our volatile minds and protect us from the injuries of impulse. For an individual who adheres to the principle of abstinence, it is easier to protect against the mental and physical backlash of urges toward premarital sex.
Rousseau’s social contract theory upholds that people do not know their real will, and need a governing body to imbue their ideals and aspirations. To accomplish this, Rousseau proposes the use of religion as a vehicle for communicating and enforcing such values. As it applies to pre-marital sex, religions such as Christianity help dissuade citizens from having pre-marital sex and help them to accomplish their own real will, which is to save themselves from an unhealthy marriage based too heavily on sex.
Setting personal limitations such as abstinence enable individuals to govern their own minds more effectively, and in so doing allow them to attain greater satisfaction in life. In this case, does the hard work of abstinence pay off in the fruit of a truly successful relationship?