Yes, it matters. But of course!

I’m talking about sex…the having of it.

It’s not simply a topic, an expression, a choice. It’s this deep, layered, and somewhat mystifying act even if you don’t believe in God. And it’s this way regardless of any other thing you can think of that creates an “us/them” sort of separation: class, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference…you get the picture. No matter what you believe about anything, no matter who you are, sex matters.

The act of sex isn’t something you stumble into. There’s no “oops” in it, no “how did we get here?” Unless the sex you’ve had is the result of abuse, unless you’ve been drugged or are somehow otherwise unconscious (all subjects I will not enter into here), you’re making a very conscious choice. And with that very conscious choice, you’re entering into a world of emotions and consequences that cannot be undone, for better or for worse. When it’s your first time, you probably don’t know quite how all the mechanics of it work (unless your partner is experienced and can instruct you) but you’re still making a conscious decision. And that decision matters.

I’ll never forget being an undergrad at a small liberal arts college and having a seminarian talk to a group of us in a rec room about what happens when people have sex. I was probably there to shoot pool or just hang out with friends. There was no planned talk. I suppose the seminarian knew his audience, one he had a relationship with, and boldly walked where many (regretfully) fear to tread.

He discussed the implications of a man entering into a woman. and how once one man has entered into a woman consistently, the two fit each other physically. So for another man to enter into that same woman would be like putting on an incorrectly sized sock. The new man doesn’t belong. A physical connection forms with the first, an emotional connection that cannot be undone. The two have become one.*

Something in my head said, “This sex-ed is out of control.” And something else said, “Listen carefully.” and I did. It stuck, clearly. (At least 17 years have passed since that moment.) I came away knowing that even if all the details the seminarian shared weren’t 100% accurate, his main point was crystal clear. Sex matters–don’t take it lightly.

Are you taking it lightly?

It’s not a pair of shoes that have a 30-day return policy, one that says, “Use the shoes as much as you like and if within 30 days you decide they’re not for you, send them back and we’ll refund your money. No questions asked.” In that scenario, a bad fit may cause some soreness. You may need to see a podiatrist. But when you have a money-back guarantee on shoes, you probably won’t punish yourself by wearing a pair that don’t fit; therefore, the consequences (other than processing time) will be minimal.

And it’s not this thing you just do to let the person you love know that you’re committed to them. It’s not that simplistic.

Why do I care so much? In university contexts, the hook-up culture is growing and in our wider culture context, sex has become further and further detached from commitment…and that’s very likely partly due to our inability or unwillingness to admit that sex is more than a pleasure that I have the right to freely partake it. There are consequences, negative ones that we shouldn’t have to put ourselves and others through. Those consequences reveal the complex nature of sex. It’s deep, it’s layered and it’s somewhat mystifying. We’ve got to respect it.

Do I sound like a broken record yet?

***

Consequences Part 1. That’s our next topic in this 7-day series titled, “Sex–Respect It.”

*And by the way, I am very aware that sexual intercourse isn’t the only part of sex. There’s oral sex. There are sexual acts I don’t even want to speak of. Yes, sex is a large discussion. Regardless of which part you take part in, sex isn’t something to be toyed with.

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