I was recently talking with someone who is newly married. When he was speaking, he shared how beautiful it was to fully give of himself on his wedding night in a way he had never experienced before.
We throw around this phrase of “fully giving of ourselves,” but what does it mean? While there’s many facets, one in particular struck me when listening to this person, and others, share their story.
In different conversations with people, I’ve noticed over and over again people noting that when having sex outside of marriage, there’s a constant worry in the back of your head that maybe a pregancy would come out of that act. In that way you can never fully enjoy the beauty of the moment because it is not in the context in which it could be enjoyed freely. You are physically intimate with someone, but you’re still holding something back; the openness to both of your fertility.
We are made for this ability to freely give of ourselves to the other, and sex in marriage is meant to be one of the highest experiences of that gift.
This got me thinking about how often contraceptives are used. It dawned on me that since we are made to give love in total freedom, with no concern about the outcome of the act of sex, many people must turn to birth control to have that same sense of “freedom” to give of themselves. The sexual act is meant to be freeing and a total gift of self, but how can that be if there’s a worry of an unplanned pregnancy, or a sexually transmitted disease?
I’m starting to think this widespread turn to contraceptives is a calling out for that freedom, an expectation of that freedom, a yearning for it. It proves that this free gift is what we truly desire when engaging in sex.
However, the reality is: birth control and other contraceptives only bring the opposite. I want to focus on two huge reasons why contraception doesn’t bring true freedom to the sexual act, especially outside of marriage.
- According to his book If You Really Loved Me by Jason Evert, increased condom use is actually associated with increased birth rates among teens. Many cannot ignore the failure rate of contraceptives. In fact, the birth control pill has about a 9% failure rate, and condoms have about an 18% failure rate. If there’s still a chance they will fail, and if you are not open to life in the first place, it’s probably in the back of your mind when you’re “giving of yourself.”
- Not only is it possible for contraception to fail, but there are so many physical issues that can happen, such as contracting a STD. Again, Jason Evert looked at the facts and in the same book shares a study looking at the effectiveness of condom usage. Out of eight STD’s tested, they found that “condoms reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting two of them: HIV and gonorrhea in men,” but that the results were not 100% successful. Evert gives many other studies and facts about the reality that contraception does not guarantee safety from STD’s, but even one statistic shows that there is probably still be a fear in the back of our minds.
This is by far not a comprehensive list of issues, and thankfully many people have done much more research than me. But the point is, if we are participating in sex outside of marriage, and we have these facts in our heads, then we will never truly be able to experience that freedom to give of ourselves in the way we yearn for.
Yet, even if those studies all came back saying birth control and condoms were completely successful in avoiding pregnancy and STD’s, sex outside of marriage would still not be a complete gift of ourselves; it would not bring the freedom we are meant for. Sex is most freely experienced in marriage because it speaks the same language as the marriage vows. It speaks a language of permanence and stability. If we are engaging in it outside of the context of the life-long promise of marriage, there isn’t freedom in knowing that person will be around for the long-haul.
In the end, the only way to experience that freedom, that total gift of self that we all long for, is to wait. To wait for that one person who promises to love you for life. To wait for the person with whom you can actually experience freedom in love. To wait for the person who sees the beauty of your fertility and wants to bring life into this world with you.
Will you join me in waiting for this?