You always get the other kind.
Just when you think he is your pal,You look for him and find him fooling ’round some other gal.
Then you rave, you even crave to see him laying in his grave.
–Eddie Green (1918)
Her figure testified to the Creator’s delight in using proportion, symmetry and curves to produce a daughter of Eve who would captivate the sons of Adam. Her pink T-shirt, however, bespoke of our Ancient Foe’s crafty deception that would corrupt and destroy the beauty intended. In white lettering placed where it couldn’t be missed, the T-shirt declared: “Relax, It’s Just Sex.”
Will we ever regain our sanity after the last 40 years of such madness?
No doubt she knew everything about the mechanics of sex, which are dished out so relentlessly in sex-ed classes K through 12 these days. But from the message she flaunted, she obviously knew little to nothing about the magic, the mystery, or the meaning of a man “knowing” a woman, to use the Biblical term that implies so much. How can we ever manage to teach our children what is real and true when such corrupt fallacies about sex reverberate throughout our culture? Sex is no big deal? Tell that to anyone whose marriage was destroyed by infidelity or whose broken heart seethes with bitterness and anger, as the songwriter says.
I ran into this just the other day at the hair salon. Women around me talked about how terrible men are. Perhaps sensing that I wasn’t joining in the conversation, one directed a question toward me: “A woman would have to be crazy to trust a man, wouldn’t she?” Put on the spot, I said, “Well, not all men are terrible; my husband is very trustworthy.” Stony silence greeted my remark; it was like I had betrayed the Sisterhood. It was like I was delusional or in denial, though one woman seemed embarrassed to have revealed her private pain.
Obviously, there is nothing new about selfishness, betrayal, or mistreatment such behaviors have been staples from both men and women. Just as there are a multitude of unhealthy ways to eat (I know from personal experience), there are also countless ways to mess up a marriage. But that doesn’t make either poor nutrition or dysfunctional relationships normative. Why should we teach young women that all men are not to be trusted, to expect that sooner or later divorce will follow the wedding?
Mature voices have always warned that marriages will inevitably go through rough patches. My marriage has needed healing on more than one occasion . . . as has that of most couples since the Garden of Eden. But that doesn’t make the cynics’ claim true: that bitter irreconcilable relationships inevitably result in all marriages. Clearly the need for redemption is universal . . . but so is the possibility.
Sex, properly understood, can play a very significant role in that needed redemption. Nothing exceeds the potential of loving marital relations in this regard. (That by itself, even without its potential for procreation, would be enough to put the lie to the pernicious idea that sex is no big deal.) Counselors make much of the human need for hugs. We all need, as researcher Eric Berne put it, “strokes” . . . both physical and emotional. He argued graphically that “without stroking, our spinal cord will shrivel up.” Berne’s analysis of research on foundlings showed that, with infants, touch can mean literally the difference between life and death. Certainly, either emotional or physical distance can destroy marriage.
The emotions involved in sexual intercourse are so powerful that they defy our ability to fully analyze or explain them. “Making love” is magical. What so many young people do not reckon with is that the intense physical feelings produced by sex are matched “ounce-for-ounce” by the emotions stirred. The power of the emotions unleashed by sex is such that the experience of “making love” remains something of a mystery to those who try to grasp it rationally. The poets tell us that it can even be a mystical experience. Little wonder then that sexual intercourse is considered the consummation of the marriage relationship.
Sex is the ultimate intimacy, and it can be the ultimate baring of the soul. It is a vital part of bonding two hearts together. When you add that sex is the means to participate in the creation of life, it is of monumental significance.
These are not novel ideas, not new truths. They have been with us for millennium upon millennium.
Sex was never meant to be just an itch to be scratched, a way to enjoy some pleasant sensations-like eating a Thanksgiving dinner . . . or a hot fudge sundae. So how could we have ever bought the insidious lie that sexual intercourse can be indulged in casually with just anyone?
A good man, a good woman, is hard to find. And our culture’s epidemic of promiscuous sex isn’t going to make it any easier. The more someone plays the relax-it’s-just-sex game, the less capable he or she becomes of finding a good husband or wife with whom to share the deep emotional intimacy that is an essential ingredient of the sexual experience. Without that intimacy, bonding is incompleteand when a rough patch comes along, the relationship will not be worth the self-sacrifice needed to set it right, to grow and mature through apology and forgiveness.
It will – in this day and age – simply be “not worth the hassle.”
Dr. Crouse is senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute. She has written How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: The Sex Pyramid, which helps parents and other experts address these sensitive issues with children on a “deeper than the mere birds-and-bees” approach.