OK, this is going to be a hard one to write, for several reasons. One is that I’m still sorting out a lot of my thoughts on the topic, particularly as it relates to many of my friends who don’t share my faith. Another reason is that I know I’m going to make some people mad, and there will be many both in and out of my faith that will disagree with me.
I’m OK with that.
I’m going to tell several stories and experiences which have shaped my life and opinions on sex and relationships. It’s kinda funny, because I don’t feel like I’m particularly qualified to be giving advice on this topic. I’ve never been all that great at relationships. I get really focused on my own baggage and sometimes forget that other people need me for things. So, I’m not sure why I get to write this, except for the fact that I’ve been married, now, for 27 years, to the same woman, and she hasn’t kicked me out, yet. I guess that means something, right?
I started thinking about the nature of sex and relationships more in the last few weeks because of this video clip (please watch it before reading on):
This guy nails a lot of the frustration men and women have been feeling in recent years as we struggle to deal with issues like sex, modesty, rape culture, respect, blame, and a whole lot of other things that circle around the way we live together.
As I watched it, I saw how important it is to respect one another, and to treat others, men and women, with that kindness.
I also thought of an editorial cartoon I saw many years ago, and I tried to google it, that I think spoke to the issue. There was a young kid, talking to a pharmacist, and the pharmacist says that he has something that, when used as intended, would guarantee him 100% safe sex. He was intrigued. What was this miracle drug?
A wedding ring.
I grew up and came of age in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In spite of all of the sexualization that was rampant even in those decades, I was a virgin when I married my wife. She was, too. Since that time, we’ve had our struggles, but we’ve remained faithful. She is the only woman I’ve ever been with, sexually. We’ve had to adapt to each other personally, physically, and emotionally, it’s true. That’s what marriage is. A few weeks ago, we celebrated our 27th anniversary. She makes me, and our family, complete.
And I thought about that video, with all it’s confusion and chaos and the need for “The Rules”, and I wondered (here’s the controversial part) how many of those nagging confusions would simply go away if people, men and women, would commit to each other, and make sex exclusive to that commitment.
Imagine if men were taught, and believed, that women were sacred and to be respected. That sex was something she gave him, and he gave her as a part of their promise to make a lasting life together. Imagine if women were taught that men were to be respected and not to be manipulated, teased, or used and discarded as toys. What if she were taught early in life that sex isn’t currency used to buy status or security, but a beautiful part of connected lives.
What if, as single men and women socialized with each other (especially as teens), then dated, they didn’t have to worry about the complications of a sexual relationship? What if there were no need to guess if your date was going to pressure you or not? What if men didn’t want to drop drugs into girl’s drinks? What if the immediate need to sleep with someone tonight was replaced with the deeper desire to wake up next to a partner for years to come, knowing that this partner had promised the same thing to you.
It seems so often that people want the convenience of casual sex and the meaning and mutual respect that comes from commitment. I'm not sure that you can have it both ways.
To me, when sex is reduced to a party game, it’s no wonder that we have so much confusion over “The Rules”.
Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his Dutch Oven blog.