Stuff About Love and Sex
by Rusty Wright
Psst! Hey, kids! Want to read some really cool
stuff about love and sex that you might never hear from your parents?
Read on! (But skip the next paragraph.)
Hey, parents! Want to learn how to talk to your kids about sex in a way
they will understand and relate to? Read on.1
A fulfilling love life. How can I have one? How can I get the most out
of sex?” University students worldwide ask these questions. As
I’ve spoken on their campuses, I’ve tried to offer some practical
principles because I believe both pleasure and emotional fulfillment
are important facets of sex. These principles relate to teens, too. Teens
of all ages.
Sex is often on our minds. According to two psychologists at the universities
of Vermont and South Carolina, 95 percent of people think about sex at
least once each day.2 You might wonder, “You mean that five percent
of the people don’t?”
Why does sex exist?
One of the main purposes of sex is pleasure. Consider what one wise man
named Solomon wrote. He said:
Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love
(Proverbs 5:15-19 NASB).
Solomon’s ancient love sonnet, the “Song of Solomon,” is
one of the best sex manuals ever written and traces the beauty of a sexual
relationship in marriage. It gets pretty hot and juicy, so be careful
where you are when you read it. (Would it surprise you to know that it‘s
in the Bible?)
Another purpose of sex is to develop oneness or unity. “For this
reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to
his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NASB).
A third purpose for sex is procreation. That, of course, is how we all
How to Have a Most Fulfilling Love Life
One way not to have a fulfilling love life is to concentrate solely on
sexual technique. There is certainly nothing wrong with learning sexual
technique—especially the basics—but technique by itself is
not the answer.
The qualities that contribute to a successful sex life are the same ones
that contribute to a successful interpersonal relationship. Qualities
like love, commitment and communication.
Consider love. As popular speaker and author Josh McDowell points out,
those romantic words, “I love you,” can be interpreted several
different ways. One meaning is “I love you if — if
you go out with me…if you are lighthearted…if you sleep with
meaning is “I love you because—because you are attractive…strong…intelligent.” Both
types of love must be earned.
The best kind of love is unconditional. It says, “I love you, period.
I love you even if someone better looking comes along, even if you change,
even if you have zoo breath in the morning. I place your needs above
One young engaged couple had popularity, intelligence, good looks and
athletic success that seemed to portend a bright future. Then the young
woman suffered a skiing accident that left her paralyzed for life. Her
fiancé deserted her.
Portrayed in the popular film, The Other Side of the Mountain, this true
story was certainly complex. But was his love for her “love, period”?
Or was it love “if” or love “because”? Unconditional
love (or “less-conditional” because none of us is perfect)
is an essential building block for a lasting relationship.
Unconditional love with caring and acceptance can help a sexual relationship
in a marriage. Sex, viewed in this manner, becomes not a self-centered
performance but a significant expression of mutual love.
Commitment is also important for a strong relationship and fulfilling
sex. Without mutual commitment, neither partner will be able to have
the maximum confidence that the relationship is secure.
Good communication is essential. If a problem arises, couples need to
talk it out and forgive rather than stew in their juices. As one sociology
professor expressed it, “Sexual foreplay involves the ’round-the-clock
After I’d spoken in a human sexuality class at Arizona State University,
one student said, “You’re talking about sex within marriage.
What about premarital sex?” He was right. I was saying that sexual
intercourse is designed to work best in a happy marriage, and I was recommending
waiting until marriage before experiencing sex.
This view is, of course, very controversial. You may agree with me. Or
you may think I am from another planet, and I respect your right to feel
that way. Here’s why I waited.
According to the perspective I represent, the biblical God clearly says
to wait (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Some people think
that God wants to make them miserable. Actually, he loves us and wants
the best for us. There are practical reasons for waiting.
Premarital sex can detract from a strong relationship and a fulfilling
love life. Too often, it‘s merely a self-gratifying experience.
After intercourse, one partner might be saying, “I love you” while
the other is thinking, “I love it.”
Premarital sex often lacks total, permanent commitment. This can create
insecurity. For instance, while the couple is unmarried, the nagging
thought can persist, “If she/he’s slept with me, who else
have they slept with?” After they marry, one might think, “If
they were willing to break a standard with me before we married, will
they with another after we marry?” Doubt can chip away at their
Premarital sex can also inhibit communication. Each might wonder, “How
do I compare with my lover’s other partners? Does she/he tell them
how I perform in bed?” Each may become less open; communication
can deteriorate and so can the relationship.
Premarital sex can lessen people’s chances to experience maximum
oneness and pleasure. “I
really like what you said about waiting,” said a recently married
young woman after a lecture at Sydney University in Australia. “My
fiancé and I had to make the decision, and we decided to wait.” (Each
had been sexually active in other previous relationships.) “With
all the other tensions, decisions and stress of engagement, sex would
have been just another worry. Waiting till our marriage before we had
sex was the best decision we ever made.”
The Vital Dimension
Powerful emotional factors can make it difficult for teens to wait or
to stop. A longing to be close to someone or a yearning to express love
can generate intense desires for physical intimacy. Many singles today
want to wait but lack inner strength or self esteem. They may fear losing
love if they postpone sex.
Often sex brings emptiness rather than the wholeness people seek through
it. As one T.V. producer told me, “Frankly, I think the sexual
revolution has backfired in our faces. It‘s degrading to be treated
like a piece of meat.” The previous night her lover had justified
his decision to sleep around by telling her, “There’s plenty
of me for everyone.” What I suspect he meant was, “There’s
plenty of everyone for me.” She felt betrayed and alone.
I explained to her and to her T.V. audience that sexuality also involves
the spiritual. One wise spiritual teacher understood our loneliness and
longings for love. He recognized human emotional needs for esteem, acceptance
and wholeness and offered a plan to meet them. He promises unconditional
love to all who ask (John 3:16, 13:34-35, 17:20, 23, 26; 1 John 4:7-21,
5:14-15). Once we know we’re loved and accepted, we can have greater
security to be vulnerable in relationships and new inner strength to
make wise choices for safe living (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 5:18; Galatians
5:16-24; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
This teacher said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will
make you free” (John 8:32 NASB). Millions attest to the safety
and security he can provide in relationships. His name, of course, is
Jesus of Nazareth. I placed my faith in him personally my freshman year
in college. Though I had been a skeptic, he forgave all my flaws. He
said his own death and resurrection—once I accepted his pardon—erased
my guilt (Luke 24:44-47; Colossians 2:12-14). That was great news!
Marriage with Jesus involved can be like a triangle with God on the top
and the two spouses at the bottom corners. As each partner grows closer
to God, they also grow closer to each other. Life doesn’t become
perfect, but God’s friendship can bring a vital dimension to any
Parents and Kids
A nationwide survey of teens asked the question, “When it comes
to your decisions about sex, who is most influential?” Forty-nine
percent of teens responding said it was their parents. The next closest
response was “friends” (16 percent). Eleven percent said
the media influenced their decisions about sex the most. Only five percent
said it was their romantic partner.3 Lots of your peers think that it
is important to consider how their parents feel about sex.
Teens also feel that talking with their parents about sex can make important
sexual decisions easier. In a subsequent national survey, teens overwhelmingly
expressed that they could more easily postpone sexual activity and avoid
getting pregnant if they could only talk about these matters more openly
with their folks.4
But there’s a problem. Too many parents are unaware how important
their values about sex are to their teens. Parents often think that their
teenager’s friends are the strongest influence on their teen’s
decisions about sex. Yet teens don’t consider their friends as
being nearly as influential as parents think they are.5
And mom, you are really, really important!
A major report based on two University of Minnesota studies involving
national data found that teens having close relationships with their
mothers are more likely to delay first intercourse than teens lacking
close relationships with their mothers. The report authors note, “previous
studies have shown that mothers tend to have a greater influence than
fathers on teens’ sexual decision-making.”6
What can a parent do to help their teens develop positive, healthy sexual
attitudes and behavior? Here are some ideas:
Develop close, loving relationships with your kids from the time they
Model the types of behavior and attitudes you wish them to emulate.
Listen to them and treat them with respect.
Talk about sex, your own values and why you hold them.
Help your teens think through their life goals, including education and
how teenage sexual activity might affect their dreams.
Discuss what types of media are appropriate for your son or daughter
Making sexual decisions can be hard for teens today. Parents and teens
can help each other by becoming close friends and by communicating. It‘s
not always easy, but the rewards can be significant.
1 Parts of this article are adapted from Rusty
Sex: Unlocking the Secret to Love,” Every Student’s Choice,
1996, www.probe.org/docs/dynamicsex.html; and Rusty Wright, “Safe
Sex?,” Cross & Crescent LXXXI:4, Winter 1994-95, pp. 19-21,
2 Kathleen Kelleher, “Entertaining Fantasies? Don’t Worry,
Everyone’s Doing It,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1995.
She cites Harold Leitenberg of the University of Vermont and Kris Henning,
now at the University of South Carolina Medical School.
3 “Faithful Nation: What American Adults and Teens Think About
Faith, Morals, Religion, and Teen Pregnancy,” The National Campaign
to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, September 2001, p. 5; www.teenpregnancy.org/resources/data/pdf/keeping.pdf.
4 “With One Voice 2002: America’s Adults and Teens Sound
Off About Teen Pregnancy,” The National Campaign to Prevent
Teen Pregnancy, December 2002, p. 2, 26, 27; http://www.teenpregnancy.org/resources/data/pdf/WOV2002_fulltext.pdf.
5 Ibid., pp. 2, 22-23.
6 “Teens’ Closeness With Their Mothers Linked to Delay in
Initiation of Sexual Activity, Study Says,” Kaiser Daily Reproductive
Health Report, September 5, 2002, http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/print_report.cfm?DR_ID=13275&dr_cat=2.
The words quoted are those of the Kaiser Report summary of what the University
of Minnesota research authors communicated.
Rusty Wright is an
award-winning author, syndicated columnist and university lecturer with
Probe.org who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor
of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and
Oxford universities, respectively.
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