Abstinence: sometimes less really is more

Cartoon by Michelle Phillips

Cartoon by Michelle Phillips

There are plenty of fish in the sea, but that doesn’t mean you have to sleep with all of them.

Abstinence a term misunderstood. Portrayed disparagingly in films like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” abstinence can appear entertaining, making fun of those who decide to wait for sex until marriage.

Abstinence is commonly practiced in religion due to biblical passages interpreted to say that a man and woman will consummate upon marriage. Celibacy is also a common practice, so is a modified form of abstinence where one has engaged in sex but then chooses to wait for marriage. Regardless of the motivation, abstinence creates boundaries and respect between partners.

It is common for a woman who engages in sexual activity to be labeled “whore” or “slut.” For these reasons now more than ever, women go to abstinence or even celibacy to avoid rejection, harassment and to find a trustworthy partner who is interested in more than just physical gratification. Some say that a healthy relationship cannot exist without sex. This may be true, but if the foundation of relationships only consists of sex, then that is bleak, shallow and pitiful. It is not necessary to have sex with everyone we are interested in to find the one who will accept us for better or worse. Sex appeal is temporary, character endures.

Thankfully, more teens are considering other outlets. Surveys conducted by the National Center for Health during 2006-2010 concluded that most teens today are practicing abstinence. In the most recent study, 72 percent of boys and 73 percent of girls between the ages of 15-17 have never had sexual intercourse.

Today’s media outlets portray the nihilistic idea that once sex happens there is no need to stick around afterward. Shaming and embarrassing those who make the decision to abstain and find what they seek in a partner other than sexual prowess is not something to laugh at, but something that should be respected. Abstinence dispels lewdness and simple physical attraction, leaving behind a human being.

Human beings are more than just sex. Emotion character and moral define people more than sex ever could. Instead of hiding behind sex to compensate for interaction between people, abstinence can bring forth character and respect for not just others but also oneself. Our future selves will thank us when we hold off on sleeping with Mr. Right Now and wait for Mr. Right.


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