(Mary Beth Bonacci is a popular speaker and founder of Real Love Productions.)
It’s accepted as a given, in this society, that unmarried people have fabulous, wild, uninhibited sex, while married couples are bored with sex, bored with each other, and just bored in general.
Well, we now have new evidence that that’s not true.
I heard some very interesting statistics this morning. They were about adult sexual dysfunction. (Don’t worry we won’t go into too much detail here. This is a family-friendly website.) The topic itself surprised me a little. Anyone who listens to the messages popular culture spews at us would doubt that anyone ever suffers from sexual problems. Sex is central to our lives. It’s supposed to be the best, most fun activity anyone could ever indulge in.
Perhaps not. Evidence to the contrary is beginning to appear. First, a prominent ballplayer started showing up on TV commercialssaying he takes Viagra. Then Oprah started featuring women who aren’t interested in physical relations. And now, I hear these new statistics.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the study. But the numbers are interesting nonetheless. Apparently, a full 43% of women and 34% of men surveyed report experiencing significant sexual problems. Personally, I suspect those numbers may be on the low side. It’s one thing to experience such. It’s quite another to admit to them. But, either way, it adds up to whole lot of people who aren’t enjoying sex.
Here’s the kicker. Do you know who’s having most of these problems? Unmarried people. That’s right. Unmarried respondents were 50% more likely to report suffering from sexual problems and/or sexual anxiety than were their married counterparts.
Now that’s news.
This study mirrors the studies I’ve seen that measure sexual satisfaction. Every few years, someone does a survey to determine who the most sexually satisfied people in America are. And every time, the results are the same. The most sexually satisfied people in America are highly religious married people who saved sex for marriage.
Hmm. Do you see a pattern here?
Why are more unmarried people reporting sexual performance problems? Why are they more anxious sexually? Whatever happened to all of that wild, wonderful sex they were supposed to be having?
Apparently, fornication isn’t as wild and wonderful as one might think.
The reason is simple. The Catholic Church has been repeating it for years. (Decades. Centuries. Millennia.) Sex means something. It says something. It’s about permanence. It’s about self-donation. It’s about marriage. And when we take it out of the context of marriage, it doesn’t work so well.
Society used to know that the pregnancy part doesn’t work so well outside of marriage. So we tried to extract out the pregnancy part. (Sometimes figuratively. Sometimes literally.) That worked marginally well. But then other physical maladies began to appear. So we tried to improve condom “technology,” only to find out that condoms aren’t doing any good at all.
But it never occurred to us that the pleasure might be tied to marriage, as well.
Yes, God created sex to feel good. But, in His ultimate wisdom, He tied the pleasure of sex to the meaning of sex. What makes sex feel so good isn’t just the stimulation of nerve endings. It’s the context in which that stimulation is happening. The overwhelming lose-yourself-in-the-moment experience happens when a man and a woman are secure in the knowledge that they are safe, that they have nothing to fear, that they are with someone who truly loves them and who will truly look out for what is best for them, forever. They know that they are creating a bond. And they know that it’s okay to create that bond, because the bond will stand. That safety, that abandonment, that total self-donation, is part of the sacredness of sexual union.
Of course unmarried people are more anxious. What does this mean? Will he still be around tomorrow or next week? Is this forever or not? What if she gets pregnant? They’re making themselves extremely vulnerable. And they’re in a relationship which offers no protection from that vulnerability. The two are becoming one. But there is no guarantee that they will remain one. And in the meantime, all kinds of other consequences could present themselves consequences which would be faced alone.
I’d be anxious, too.
The moral of the story? Don’t fear the wedding cake. If the marriage is right, and the commitment is real, that cake should signify the beginning, not the end, of great, satisfying sexual activity.
That’s the way God planned it.