Friday, June 20, 2008

The marital act

My earliest memory of discussion premarital sex is with a lab partner in seventh grade. Somehow the subject had come up, she asked me if I believed in premarital sex. I said I did. She was very surprised, asked me if I thought I would have sex before I was married. I said I would. I was honest in my answers, but don't remember taking the subject very seriously. I think I looked at it kind of like going to church: I went some weeks, but not every week, and other people did the same. Some people didn't go at all, and that was OK, too. Some people waited until marriage to have sex, and some didn't, whatever worked for them.

One of the few other times I remember hearing the subject talked about was with a couple of guys in my twelfth grade English class. One asked the other if he was waiting for marriage, which the other guy was. The first guy was very surprised. Somehow this interaction made me think the wait-until-marriage attitude was more common than I thought. But it still seemed like a religious ritual that was meaningful to some people, but not useful for others.

During my sophomore year of college, I attend several programs that were part of "Sexual Health Week". One of them was a presentation on how body language contributed to relationships. The presenter talked about hugging, told a story about his son getting really excited about something and kissing his dad (the presenter) on the cheek, discussed the chest-bumps sports players give each other after a good game. I don't really remember how he presented things, but I remember it was making a lot of sense to me. Near the end of the presentation, he drew a graph, a line from the origin up and to the right, with an 'X' at the end. I do not recall what the axis were supposed to represent. He didn't explain the 'X', it was kind of done on the side, but it was obvious that it represented marriage and sex.

My jaw did not actually drop, but that's pretty much how I felt. That there could actually be a logical, completely areligious reason to limit sex to marriage was a shock to me. It didn't convince me to renounce my intimate activities, but it certainly made me more open to the Catholic arguments along these lines. (I'm fairly certain the presenter was Catholic.) Fascination with Catholic sexual teachings, and practice of fertility awareness, remain important aspects of my life today.

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