Response to: Is Premarital Sex Okay for Millennials?

Blogger Mike Friesen wrote a recent post entitled “Is Premarital Sex Okay For Millenials?”

I was taught growing up that premarital sex is bad. In fact, the environment that I was in would shame me if I was involved in any form of sexual idolatry. However, because of my love for the Bible and the beauty that God created in sexual oneness, I agree that it is absolutely best to wait for marriage.   Read the rest here.

As a proponent of healthy body theology (and by extension healthy sexuality), I wrestle with issues like this all the time.  I think one issue that clouds the discussion is the tendency for Christians to approach issues with very black-and-white theology, which I just don’t think is helpful anymore.

Rather than asking the question “Is premarital sex okay,” might not a better question be “How do single Christians express their sexuality in a healthy way?” Secondly, how does the Church guide and advise on such issues? I think it’s much more helpful overall to teach people to make responsible, adult decisions about how to experience life, whether it’s going to a bar or club to unwind with friends and meet new ones, participating in Christian communities, engaging in social justice issues, pursuing higher schooling, taking parenting classes, having sex as a single person, discerning a vocation, making wise money investments, etc.

Life is full of choices, not just about sex but about everything. There are so many things we 18- to 35-year-olds need guidance about, and without the church helping to shape youth into wise and discerning young adults, we are going to keep circling around, asking the wrong questions, and drawing unhelpful boundaries that do not allow for the “new thing springing up” and the very active movement of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.

I’m curious, for all the “waiters” out there, how do you/did you experience “waiting” for sex? Do you see more sexual repression or healthy waiting? For those of you who waited/are waiting, how did you/do you express your sexuality in a healthy way in the meantime? For those of you who didn’t wait, do you regret your choices now? Why or why not?  Leave your thoughts in the comment box below, or join Mike Friesen’s discussion.

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About Laura K. Cavanaugh

I'm a writer, spiritual director, and advocate of holistic body theology.

Posted on January 10, 2012, in Physicality, Sexuality and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wow, Laura, thank you for adding this to your blog and expanding the realm of people who will see this. I think this is amazing conversation that needs to be had in the church because it is so much apart of who we are as human beings.

    Where I am right now, with so many of the conversations I have had with people on sex, I believe what needs to be looked at more is the relationship behind the sex. It is not as much a matter of when for me with sex as much as it is about the health of the relationship and reasons behind having sex. If people are using sex to tame the urges one may have then I think there can be a lot of issues that arise… The lack of self-worth. The feeling emptiness (or validation of) because they are using a beautiful, unifying act between two people in a way to satisfy human instinct. I think, as a woman, I could also become heart broken because such a physical act is not just physical but emotional, in my opinion, so my heart would be tied to a person who really could just be there for the physical. If one is a part of a healthy relationship, where each partner supports one another, cares for who they are, shares intimate feelings and struggles, and truly trusts the other then I think it is the couple’s own decision on when sex is right. In all reality, I do feel that it is not the place to judge Christian couples, or people in general on their sexual choices. Rather, we (as a Christian community) need to teach on the ideas of respecting oneself to know what is best for each individual person. We (as a Christian community) need to teach people that the body is not a sinful thing, but something to be celebrated as a creation of God in the image of God, where we love ourselves. Each person is different in their walk of life and that directly relates to their sexuality. For me I am more of an emotional person, so I know that I cannot have sex to just tame an urge because it would not be meaningless to me and my heart would be on the line. At the same time, some may think I toe the line with what is ok in a relationship that is not sexual intercourse, I know where my boundaries are but others may think it is too far. But again, I think it is up to the individual’s in the relationship to decide that one. The book “Sex for Christians” (a little outdated in some areas now) definitely pushes the boundaries from a Christian counselor’s perspective on what may be sexually allowed within a relationship outside of marriage. It definitely made me think and I actually redefined my ideas from that and much more research on body theology. I think everything lies in tension because of the vast difference in life now, than Biblical times. Times are different it is hard to decipher what is “right” in regards to all of this, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit works within our hearts to help discern what is best, and that may be different for different people. We may not always make the right choices or may even make mistakes out of lust, but I believe in a God of grace and love who loves us no matter the mistakes we make along the way. Because even in those mistakes we find more of who we are and where our boundaries lie.

    On another tangent…no matter what your belief is on when sex is ok to have, I do believe it needs to be more of a topic of discussion and not something that is repressed or viewed as sinful. Don’t get me wrong, it can be sinful, BUT it is also a beautiful act between two people where they can find a deeper intimate connection. I have seen and interacted with many Christians who are sexually repressed, because they were taught it was sinful, and now struggle with pornography or severe objectification of the opposite sex. This can create self-hate for the struggle with pornography and in turn they do not talk about it or seek counsel, but keep it secret. It can also create negative tension between sexes for the objectification (and disrespect) of the other sex which can extend beyond to the entire gender, rather than solely the one who was objectifying.

    Discussion on sex and one’s sexuality is such a beautiful and needed thing within Christainity because it is when we talk about such topics we also gain further understanding from others in the faith, ourselves and from God.

    • Laura Cavanaugh

      Jena, Thank you so much for reading my blog and commenting so eloquently. I always appreciate and learn from your perspective, especially since you’ve been studying body theology longer than I have. I completely agree with you that the issue is more about equipping people to make wise decisions and be discerning Christians than about drawing a line in the sand, so to speak. I think the temptation to draw such a line is fear-based, born of a desire to keep people from falling into such traps as using sex to mask deeper issues they need to deal with. I love the way you put it, that one must first have a healthy the relationship between two healthy individuals before sex can be brought in and experienced in a healthy way. I think that’s true not just of dating relationships but of committed marriages, too.

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