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Sexual Awareness Has Always Existed

Before the 1960s and its sexual revolution that tossed out traditional morality, it was generally believed that the ideal sexual relationship was a special romantic bond between a husband and a wife. Today, according to television commercials touting male enhancement drugs, it seems that everyone is concerned with sexual performance as if it were a competitive sport.

The sexual revolution was supposed to free us from shame and outdated ideas about human sexuality, and everyone was going to enjoy a kind of sexual Disneyland where we'd go from one thrill to another. But it's time to face the facts: Decades later, the sexual revolution thrill ride has derailed.

The sexual revolution didn't free women to experience more meaningful relationships; it freed men and women to separate sex from commitment. They could now go from partner to partner without personal responsibility or emotional attachment. Any single mom knows how difficult it is to raise a child without a partner. But there's also the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. An estimated 45 million people in the United States are infected with genital herpes—a number that's growing by a million new cases a year.

It's estimated that this year 25 percent—one in four—of sexually active teens will contract a sexually transmitted disease. These numbers are too large for most of us to wrap our minds around—unless you're one of those suffering from an STD. How much heartache have you endured because of broken relationships? Have you given up on that deep longing for a committed, lifetime, romantic relationship because meaningless sexual encounters have left you feeling hopeless or bitter?

If you want to get off the sexual merry-go-round, you must take control of your life and set new standards for yourself. If you want to change your life and discover how to have a committed, lifelong, loving marriage, you must first get off the sexual merry-go-round and become committed to renewed virginity —completely avoiding any kind of sex outside of marriage.

Are you to join a monastery and dedicate your life to a dreary state of abstinence? Think about this: Many of us spend 12 years going to school, and often an additional four to eight years learning a career. What if you dedicated just a fraction of your time preparing for marriage? Most people get married with more knowledge of how to take care of a pet than of how to have a successful marriage!

Successful lifelong marriages don't happen by accident. And a successful marriage not only affects your and your spouse's happiness, but the happiness of your children. The primary cause of poverty in the Western world is single women trying to raise children without the benefit of dad.

You can stay on the sexual merry-go-round if you wish. And maybe you'll avoid getting AIDS or gonorrhea. Maybe you won't get pregnant. But the unseen emotional scars are just as devastating. Too much heartache, too many casual encounters, too many morning-after anxieties, and a person can feel almost emotionally incapable of experiencing a meaningful relationship.

The only safe sex is between a husband and wife committed to each other in a lifelong relationship. In today's society that may sound trite, but remember that you can't solve your problems with the same old solutions or you'll simply arrive at the same old problems. If you want to experience a lifelong, loving relationship, then you're going to have to do some things differently in your life. Get off the sexual merry-go-round.

If you're struggling with the guilt of abortion, heartache from living a wrong sexual lifestyle or the shame of having an STD, your life can change. Renewed virginity isn't just a quaint, unrealistic catchphrase. Sex isn't intended as just a means of procreation. It's meant to be part of the loving, unique relationship between a husband and wife.

We live in a world saturated with sex. But are we missing an unrealized dimension when it comes to sex and marriage? Sociologists have used various labels to define the mood or mentality of the world we live in. For example, some say that an "age of anxiety" followed World War II. That era was followed by an "age of melancholy." More recently we hear terms such as the "computer age" or the "information age."

If we define an era by what people have most on their minds, the most accurate description of our time is the age of sex. None of us can remember a time when sex has been more openly flaunted with so many people obviously obsessed with the subject. Sexual awareness has always existed. It is natural in the human mind. But today it is incessantly stimulated by sex-saturated news and entertainment media. Sexual content is not only blatantly displayed, but objects that have no sexuality are labeled as sexy-from cars to computers and beverages to body lotions.

Is this the way we should treat sexuality? We're in a kind of sexual wilderness, lacking right directions and guidelines. Sadly, this situation has cost societies dearly in many major ways-in financial losses, health crises, marriage and family breakdowns and a lack of sexual fulfillment and happiness. Few understand the purpose of sex. They are told that sex is an evolutionary accident. Therefore they assume that anything goes as long as it occurs between consenting adults. But that approach is naive. It is an unsubstantiated assumption that avoids candidly addressing the question of where sex and marriage came from.

Some men in ancient Greece seem to have viewed marriage with distaste and submitted to it primarily to have a housekeeper and produce progeny. The idea of having deep love for one's wife seems to have appeared foreign to many Greek men. Demosthenes, the Greek orator of the fourth century B.C., illustrated his opinion of the low social status of wives this way: "Mistresses we keep for pleasure, concubines for daily attendance upon our persons and wives to bear us legitimate children and be our housekeepers."

Marriage and sex in the Roman Empire bore many similarities to Greece. Money and power were often motives for marriage. "Roman love as it emerged in the second and first centuries B.C. involved a variety of possible unions, all of them outside of marriage. The only illegal one was adultery, but up-to-date Romans favored it above all others, regarding it much as modern man regards cheating on his income-tax return." The degeneration of sex and family life contributed significantly to the decline and eventual collapse of the empire.

Sex is everywhere. It permeates the movies and the television programs we watch, the music we hear, the magazines and books we read, the talk shows we listen to. Society, it seems, is obsessed with sex. Perhaps never has society had access to so much knowledge about sex but understood so little about it. Seldom have people suffered so much through sexual ignorance. Recently in the U.S. it was reported that the sexually transmissible diseases, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and AIDS, were the three most commonly reported infectious disorders.

And now even herpes is back with a vengeance. The British newspaper, The Independent, recently reported that "genital herpes, the incurable sexually transmitted disease that was lost from sight in the shadow of AIDS, is infecting record numbers of people in Britain." Experts estimate that "about one in ten women in London carry the virus," and in America "it is estimated that 500,000 people contract genital herpes each year." Nancy Herndon of the American Health Association commented that herpes is much more contagious than the HIV. Of course, sexual behavior is only one measure of a nation's moral standard, but it is a crucial one.

The sexual revolution has been with us for decades. Newsweek magazine documented the sweeping change that began as far back as 1967: "The old taboos are dying. A new, more permissive society is taking shape . . . And, behind this expanding permissiveness is . . . a society that has lost its consensus on such crucial issues as premarital sex, . . . marriage, birth control and sex education . . ."

After decades of the sexual revolution society has lost sight of right and wrong when it comes to sex. Statistics show that adulterous behavior is out of control. The Kinsey Institute estimates that, during their married lives, 37 percent of American males will prove sexually unfaithful to their wives and 29 percent of American wives will commit adultery.

Adultery is family-obliterating behavior that destroys the very heart of society, with devastating consequences for children. According to social critic William Kirkpatrick, divorce is "up 700 percent in this century, with most of the rise occurring in recent decades." He also notes that "the pain of parental divorce is more difficult for a child to overcome than the death of a parent." An astonishing three in five American children born in 1986 will live with a single parent by age 18.

Equally disturbing developments are the levels of premarital sexual activity and pregnancy in Western nations. How many American teens are engaging in sex? "Data on teenage sexual activity are inexact . . . But most experts in the field agree that somewhere over 60 percent of American teenagers have had sexual intercourse by the time they finish high school." In Britain, "one in five [teenagers] report having intercourse before their 16th birthday." Also, in a poll, "31 percent of female respondents said they had been [pressured] to have sex before they were ready."

What does this mean in terms of premarital pregnancy? In the United States estimates are that "nationally 11 percent of unmarried teenage girls become pregnant each year." To put it another way, "every 64 seconds . . . a baby is born to a teenage mother . . ." According to William J. Bennett, former U.S. secretary of education, illegitimate births increased in the U.S. 400 percent from 1960 to 1990. Based on current trends, U.S. News & World Report reports that "early in the next century, unless we change, 1 out of every 2 American children will be born out of wedlock."

Other sources also warn of the devastating effects of moral turpitude. The record of history is clear. English anthropologist J.D. Unwin extensively studied 86 societies through 5,000 years of history. After his death in 1936 the results of his research were published under the title "Hopousia: The Sexual and Economic Foundations of a New Society." Unwin studied cultures and empires from the standpoint of their sexual behavior. In particular he was interested in their prenuptial and post-nuptial behavior. He noticed a correlation between such behavior and what he termed a nation's "expansive energy." We might refer to this as the capability to remain productive and maintain a position of influence and leadership among other nations. He stated that "expansive energy has never been displayed by a society that inherited a modified monogamy or a form of polygamy . . ."

Unwin discovered that "in human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence." He concluded that "the evidence is that in the past a class has risen to a position of political dominance because of its great energy and that at the period of its rising, its sexual regulations have always been strict. It has retained its energy and dominated the society so long as its sexual regulations have demanded both pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence . . . I know of no exception to these rules."

Bluntly speaking, Unwin's point was that nations gain prominence when they keep their sexual drives in check both before and after marriage. They remain strong as long as societal and marital bonds are strong. When those barriers fall, a society's days are numbered. As Unwin put it, he knew of "no exception to these rules."

Can any permissive society successfully defy the record of history? Are any nations exempt from the same sins—and their consequences? American culture has dominated the last 50 years. Many nations have wanted to follow America's example of prosperity and progress. Tragically, too many of them follow the U.S. example of immorality as well.

The United States leads the world in many categories of sexual excess. In premarital pregnancies its pace is at "a figure that's almost twice that of other Western countries." But that difference does not necessarily reflect a higher standard of morality in the other countries. It reflects America's ambivalence about contraception and abortion. In other Western countries, "their rates of sexual activity and the age at which it begins match our [America's] own."

Some 160 years ago the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that "America is great because America is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." De Tocqueville saw strengths in the United States of the early 19th century. But what would he say about the America of today?

*Names have been changed.

Gary Petty. Getting off the Sexual Merry-Go-Round. Noel Hornor. God's Purpose for Sex and Marriage. Society's Slide Into Sexual Immorality. The Good News Magazine.

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