We feel you. When you’re in class listening to a week full of information about abstinence, it’s totally understandable to ask, “Why?”
Why be abstinent? Are these “consequences” even real? Is it really capable of “freeing me” from risks? How do I even navigate it? I get it...you have questions. Believe me, I always did, too. Here’s the deal about abstinence—while it’s fairly easy to see how it prevents physical consequences (STD/STIs, unplanned pregnancy, etc.), it’s also important to consider all the other consequences you are saving yourself from. It’s beyond physical. Let’s explore all the ways, shall we?
More than just somebody
You yourself are more than just flesh and bone, right? As human beings we are social, emotional, intellectual beings with all kinds of different needs. There’s so much more to us than just our physical bodies and our bodily urges. While sexual activity is a physical act with physical effects, it also inevitably triggers a psychological, emotional, and chemical response as well. Allow me to explain, please.
When you find yourself in a consensual physical relationship with someone, chances are there is a premeditated reason for doing so. For some it may be for pleasure. For others it may be for desire, peer pressure, loneliness, curiosity, or a means to fill a void in their heart. Ultimately, it’s all about trying to meet a need.
The reality of our human condition is that we all want to be valued, seen, and appreciated for who we really are—in a word, we want to be loved. It’s not just something we want, it’s something we need.
Unfortunately, all too often, we find ourselves compromising what we really want by settling for shallow, temporary, unfulfilling ways to try and meet our heart needs. When we compromise in this way, we end up disappointed, or worse.
Of all the unfulfilling ways we might try to get our needs met, sex is one of the riskiest. Sexual activity carries deeply emotional and psychological repercussions for everyone involved. If one partner is not on the same page, in any way, the relationship can be misconstrued and feelings, self-esteem, and pride can be affected. If the relationship ends, you run the risk of increased chances of depression and unstable mental health.
I know what you’re thinking... “What about committed relationships where both partners are in healthy states of mind? What’s the problem with sex in that kind of relationship—after all, aren’t they on the same page?” That’s a great question, but I can’t really answer it without discussing marriage. Why? It all comes down to the issue of commitment.
Let me start by saying this: when talking about marriage, I am NOT referring to the kinds of marriages where unfaithfulness, manipulation, any form of abuse, or dishonesty reside; I am referring to HEALTHY ones. A healthy marriage is based off mutual loving service to each other. Service includes practices such as trust, respect, clear communication, understanding, compromise, LOVE, and the list goes on. Furthermore, marriage is intended as a lifelong commitment between two people—“til death do us part.” The implication here is that both partners will stay faithful to the other, and do whatever it takes to keep the marriage healthy and intact. The only thing that will separate them is death. What a powerful thought.
Now that we know what a healthy marriage should look like, it’s easy to see that outside of marriage, there is no real security in relationships. While marriage may not be something on your radar right now, it does not change the fact that, when entered into for the right reasons and nurtured properly, it is the absolute safest place for a sexual relationship.
Think about it. Wouldn’t you have more security knowing that the person you are in an intimate relationship with is faithful to you and you alone and has made a vow to love, honor, and cherish you forever?
Outside of that kind of commitment, you have no real way of assuring that your body, mind, or heart is secure in their care. This is beyond physical.
Whole person health
Your whole person—physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial—matters when making decisions regarding sexual activity. If your heart is empty, your mind and body will be confused. If your mind is vacant, your body and heart will be numbed. If your spirit is detached, your body and heart will be useless. They all work together to ensure sex in the right circumstance is safe, secure, and satisfying. Abstinence may be challenging because it requires self-control, among other things, but as a result you will experience clarity in your decision-making, an overall appreciation for relationships, and a proper understanding of your true worth, because you are SO worth the wait.
So, the next time you hear the word “abstinence” from your friendly OneLife educator, I hope you will have a little more understanding of how it can help you to prevent heartache in your life and can free you from worry! It’s beyond physical, friends!