When I was a young man growing up in the church, I heard a lot about love, sex and marriage. Unfortunately the message I got from the church wasn’t a whole lot different from what I got from secular movies and other media. Basically, marriage was presented as a “happily ever after” situation in which my “soulmate” and I would naturally and easily meet each other’s needs.
I didn’t hear a whole lot about marriage being a serious responsibility and a huge challenge. I didn’t hear a lot about it requiring strong and ever-growing character. I didn’t hear a lot about the fact that a woman’s needs would be drastically different from my own.
Perhaps if I’d grown up in a home where a good, healthy marriage was modeled by the parents, it wouldn’t have mattered so much that I got misleading messages from secular society, or that the church didn’t do enough to counter them. But my home environment was severely dysfunctional and broken, and it failed to teach me much of what I needed to learn about life.
My childhood was several decades ago, when a home environment like mine was more the exception than the rule. But such situations have become vastly more common since then. This means that more and more people are growing up unprepared.
Now more than ever, society presents sex to young people as something to be sought above practically anything else in life. Hardly a hint is given that it involves any real responsibility whatsoever, or that any limits ought to be placed on it. Societal taboos, no matter how legitimate or necessary, are treated as mere obstacles to be overcome.
“Love” has become a shallow, almost meaningless word. When a person says they “love” someone, it commonly means something like, “having this person around works pretty well for me.” There is little sense that “love” involves acting in the other person’s best interest, much less sacrificing anything to do so.
Marriage has been cheapened until it’s considered little more than a social contract. Many people, raised as Christians, may still have “head knowledge” that it’s supposed to be something sacred, precious and unique (not to mention permanent); but many of them enter into it lightly and overoptimistically, not at all prepared to live up to what it will require of them. As a result, many “Christian” marriages end in divorce that shouldn’t have had to.
Men, in particular, are not taught how to live up to the high standards for love, sex and marriage that they are called to. They are typically not even taught that there are high standards — the ones, given by our Creator, that are far higher than anything we would have ever come up with on our own.
The secular world tells us that a “real man” is one who can easily find sex partners, or who dares to challenge sexual boundaries. But our Creator tells us that a real man is one who is faithful to one woman — even before he knows who she will be.
A lot could be said about what a faithful man will do. A lot could also be said about what he will not do.
He will not harm the self-respect of any woman by using her casually.
He will not treat women as mere objects — and he will not treat children or other men that way either.
He will not leave any woman feeling like she needs to have a healthy pregnancy terminated.
He will not spread sexually transmitted diseases.
He will not contribute to the proliferation of pornography, prostitution or sex trafficking.
Why does our society work so hard at discouraging men from living that way? Why does it heap so much contempt and cynicism on faithful men? Why does it seem to do everything it can to keep any given boy from growing up to be that kind of a man?
Part of the answer seems to be that too many men don’t want to be held to such standards themselves; that would keep them from doing whatever they feel like. So they pretend that the standards are unnecessary, nonexistent or even harmful.
But the world doesn’t need men who ignore God’s standards. It doesn’t need men whose primary, or sole, goal regarding sex (and marriage) is to get what they want.
The world needs men who will act in the interest of responsibility rather than in self-interest. It needs men who will master their sexuality rather than being mastered by it. It needs men who will work to make their marriages healthy, rather than abandoning them in pursuit of something “better.”
Secular society says “Do what feels good.” The Creator says “Do what’s right.”
Which one are we going to listen to?
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.