Monday, May 07, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

Today's UPI column tackles the content of teen sex talks for evangelicals.

10 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

Thanks for your wise treatment of the subject Julie. I am beginning premarital counseling with a new young couple in a few weeks. I think that I will work your article into one of our sessions.

Blessings, Bob

carrie said...

A body trained to flip the switch "off" subdues the neural pathways to the brain that enable it to experience pleasure. If pleasure is associated with sin, the brain has already done a number on the body so that when the brain "changes its mind," the body may not be so fast to cooperate. The desire to be holy may be experienced as directly conflicting with the new freedom to be sexual. In fact, the very warm-ups necessary for women to become open to orgasm have been bypassed, and all at once, a girl is expected to know how to feel fully sexual, all the way to intercourse.

Do you have some data relating to this you could point me towards? I'd like to look at the science further, if possible, to see if there is a direct correlation that's been studied.

I think it's a fine line that needs to be walked as a young unmarried Christian. During the two years our future son-in-law has been livng here, we've gone from trying to help them stay chaste to making sure they still are physically attracted to each other. (They assure us they are.) It certainly can be a danger that too much "platonic" in the relationship can turn the whole thing into brotherly/ sisterly love that never grows into anything else. I guess I see the situation as different in their case, however, because they are young adults (now 22) who are committed to getting married, not 16 yr olds who may be ready physically but not emotionally.

I understand what you are saying, but I still don't know the best answers for the 14-18 year olds dealing with relationships and temptations. How to keep healthy sexuality alive while waiting for marriage, or at least waiting for commitment in a relationship.

Lots to think about, as usual, Julie! Thanks for the article.

Katrina365 said...

This is something I've been pondering as my girls approach their teen years. A healthy view of sexuality is hard to come by in our culture -- both inside and outside of the church. I don't know what the answer is, but your article is good food for thought.

julieunplugged said...

Carrie, I can point you to a website that was part of my information. But also, I discovered some of these findings through reading books. I'll see if I can send you something in email.

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks for posting this. As you know I have a great interest in this subject and have posted a few thoughts of my own over the years.

You wrote, "There is a continuum of sexual difficulties for women in marriages today. Apathy toward sex, orgasmic dysfunction, sexual dissatisfaction for many women trace back to the schizophrenic teaching that makes sexuality the antithesis to being a "good girl" while dating, yet the supreme expression of intimacy when married."...

I can't help wondering if the problem might potentially get worse considering people are getting married later than ever which means Christians are expected to remain abstinent longer than ever. I also have empathy for men as well because the female sexual dysfunction you speak of and it's cause is often projected onto the male partners. It's not that I don't think men can be better lovers but as your comments seem to imply, the message many women receive from the Christian subculture is riddled with a lot of fear, guilt, and false idealism. I say false idealism because according to the statistics I have seen 75% of American youth have sex by age 20 and that number increases with each year thereafter and when you consider females now get married around 25 and males 27 than the vast majority of Americans are in fact engaging in sex "before" marriage. I say all this not to promote or even propose sex outside marriage but to point out that there seems from my vantage point to be a huge disconnect between what people are actually doing and the expectations and goals of the Christian church... which... suggests there are a significant number of Christian men and women out there who must be harboring a lot of guilt, shame, and confusion regarding their sexuality...and...I speak not from an abstract vantage point but that was much of my own experience for many years...and...it is my hope that more Christian will began to dialogue about this problem instead of promoting more of the same unrealistic advise that I suspect very few of them lived up to before they were married...

Steve said...

Julie:

Good stuff, but I am with Carrie. More data before you haul off on this I think might be wise. You took on the role of dysfunctional sudo-Christian sex therapist there, and this is a hugely important topic. I am not sure I disagree with much of anything you said, you gotta have some backup before you make big claims.

I still think you are cool, by the way!

julieunplugged said...

Steve, LOL! Pseudo-sex therapist...

I think I asked some questions that need to be asked. Spend enough time with women and talk about sex and you might find yourself asking similar ones. :) The thing is - I'm not saying to go have sex before marriage. I'm worried that the way we say "don't have sex before marriage" is potentially damaging.

Bill, I think you are right about the length of time young people are asked to wait to have sex. It seems that teens can wait more easily than post-college twenty-somethings. I was reading some reviews of a book called Real Sex on Amazon and one of them was by a 28 year old who wrote similar concerns to yours here.

This book argues that community life is particularly important if a person that age is to remain pure. I remember when Jon and I were dating, we both lived in missionary community houses. He was 26 already and I was 22. One of my housemates even sat us down to talk to us about our relationship and how to keep it on the right side of that line. Also since neither of us had an apartment to go to, it made it easier to not have sex. So I liked that idea.

I don't have answers, just questions.

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

Regarding the comments from the book about the relationship between community life and keeping "pure" before marriage...I haven't read the book but I have heard similar suggestions before. Just seems from my vantage point that the author intentionally or not is implying those who have sex before marriage are "impure" which gets us back to a negative perspective of one's sexuality which associates sexuality with a lot of potential guilt and shame. I too don't claim to have the answers but I do feel strongly we need to move away from associating sexuality with a lot of guilt/shame and implying that those who remain abstinent until marriage are pure, holier than the rest, and everyone else is somehow second class citizen's and impure. No wonder so many men and women are confused and dysfunctional when it comes to their own sexuality....

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

A quick postscript on community and it's relationship to dating and sex before marriage... I am all for building community life but I have become increasingly disallusioned about this "ideal" because we do not live in a society that reinforces or provides an infra-structure for community living...in fact...our society creates so many barriers on numerous fronts to community life that one has to literally, almost, sacrifice one's soul to live out this kind of existence...which...means that for most folks, particularly Christians, this might not be a "realistic" alternative to remaining "pure" until marriage. I don't mean to sound so negative here but this is how I see it...

Rebecca said...

Very interesting and some points I hadn't thought of before about mind/body disconnect.

I also think that you have outlined some very real problems for the evangelical/conservative Christian community.

Having said all that though, I have to admit that I see little evidence that marriage is significantly *better* for those outside that community. And, in particular, I doubt that any particular attitude/syndrome having to do with evangelical christians (premaritial hands-off)can explain a society wide phonomena (marital sexual dis-satisfaction.)

But then, as always, my 'sample' is going to be different then yours!;-)