Making The Natural Unnatural – How Abstinence Can Hurt People
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Sex. Sex sex sex. Just the word makes a lot of people uncomfortable. There are a lot of possible reasons behind this, one of which I think is a lack of education on the topic in this country. Something at the very core of our being as animals has become taboo to speak about, even in an informative way that would prevent a lot of complications for people.
The topic of abstinence is even more interesting. While I know it is nearly impossible to broach this subject without some sort of religious debate, the fact of the matter is that most people who choose to wait until marriage to have sex, do it because they believe it is what their god wants. But, that is not what I am going to discuss here. Please keep the conversation civil.
Studies and more recent articles about personal experiences from those who have taken the pledge, are showing some very real dangers to depriving ourselves of our most innate, natural, biological desire. I would encourage you all to take the time to read this moving article from a woman who was abstinent until marriage, and the very negative emotional effects it had on her after she finally took the plunge.
It is noted throughout the article that her image of sex was always negative because it was so forbidden. Not to mention the fact that she made this pledge at the impossibly young age of 10, when she could not have possibly made a mature enough decision on the topic without being influenced by the adults who surrounded her. Her article illustrates how this was hurtful to both her as a woman, and to her marriage.
Recently, The University Of Washington published a study which followed the effects of men who had pledged to be abstinent until marriage. Not surprisingly, these men have a difficult time communicating about sex to their partner as well as adjusting to the idea that something they have been told is corrupt for their whole lives, has suddenly become beautiful and meaningful.
The article speaks of support groups for men struggling with the sexual desires we naturally all have:
“While the whole point of these support groups is to honor sex in marriage, these men have gotten so used to thinking about sex as something negative that they bring those concerns with them to the marriage bed. Once they’re married, these men struggle to manage those concerns in the absence of the supportive community they once benefited from.”
Now, let me say this – I do not think the entire problem is abstinence. I know that some people will be offended by my stance and/or this article, but studies and very real problems that develop in people because of being mislead down this path do not lie. But if abstinence itself is not the problem, what is?
Abstinence for the wrong reasons is a problem. Lack of sexual education leading to poor choices is a problem. The vilification of something natural and beautiful is a problem, because it makes people who have sexual desires (aka EVERYONE) feel dirty and guilty about something they cannot control. This. Is. A. Problem.
We need to be open and mature enough as a society to discuss these issues in a healthy, informative way so our youth can make the right decisions for themselves as individuals when they become adults. So that they are smart and safe, regardless of what they choose to do or not to do.
Another important note: What of people who do not get married? Because they choose to not enter into a legally binding lifelong contract and sign the piece of paper, does this mean they should never be able to have sex with a partner whom they love and care about? Where is the logic or reasoning in that? Food for thought as another aspect of this conversation.
Should you be abstinent? Sure! If that’s what you want! Should you have sex? Sure! If that’s what you want! But please, for the sake of your own happiness and emotional well-being, take the time to learn about yourself and develop into a mature enough person to make this decision based on what you want, not on what someone else tells you to do. It is your body, it is your mind, and it is your choice. Your body does not belong to your parents or your church or your temple or your mosque or your husband/wife.
Your body is yours, and so is the decision about what to do with it.
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