Why my generation is missing the point on sex….

Recently, this guy I know confessed to me and a couple of people we were with that his girlfriend of a long time was cheating on him for his friend. He was passionately sharing how upset and betrayed he felt. He said he was so upset that he drove over to the next town and had sex with this girl who liked him…

This story is far to real for my generation but it makes no sense….. So his very meaningful relationship with your girlfriend was ended by a betraying act of sex, so you participate in a very meaningless act of sex? How does that make sense?

Sex has been deeply watered down by my generation, unfortunately. 90% of people are having sex before the age of 19 and yet the only people who are really in love by age 19 are Cory and Topanga, or Romeo and Juliet, or Zack and Kelly. This mindset has left half of my generation with STD’s by the time they’re my age (24). And, anyone who doesn’t think that sex is scarring has never talked to anyone who has been sexually abused, or cheated on, or someone who is recovering from sex trafficking.

A lot of what I have been seeing this week around me has been dealing with the issue of homosexuality. My state (Minnesota) is in a very deep legislative battle trying to permanently ban Gay marriage from the state. And, the left leaning Christian organization Sojourners recently banned an ad that was clearly affirming homosexuality. And, many progressive Christians I know were deeply upset or confused by this.

So if Sex is allowed to be promiscuous, and, we find it to be a good thing to have things like friends with benefits, then how can we get upset when someone cheats on us? It’s not like sex requires some type of emotional, psychological, spiritual and sacred devotion that person. And, if sex is not sacred and important, then how can we invest so much energy fighting for or against gay marriage? And, if sex is so empty why would homosexual claim that gay marriage is a human rights issue? Or, if sex is so empty, then why would anyone fight for the sanctity of marriage by excluding homosexuals from this? Why would we fight for or against gay people becoming clergy in our Churches?

I believe that if we are going to participate  in any discussions of sexuality and its role in Government, we must begin by noting the sacred element that it holds. And, if we are able to hold the sacredness of it in all of its humanity, then we can begin self-awareness to our own actions and decisions. We will be able to consider others perspectives with compassion and grace because we can come from a truly real place of love and hope for that person.

Any time we are talking about sex, we are entering truly sacred territory and we best learn to be loving and compassionate people because when we stomp on others sacred grounds we are either asking for warfare, or, we are being barbaric and annihilating others in the process.

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35 thoughts on “Why my generation is missing the point on sex….

  1. Darrell says:

    This is really good man. Thanks for sharing. I have felt the same way for a long time.

    • mfries05 says:

      Darrell,
      How can we enter this topic non-violently?

    • mfries05 says:

      As an Anabaptist Darrell, I believe that my allegiance must go to God first before I enter into politics. I don’t think its the Church’s job to play moral officers. So to answer your question, I don’t think its the Church’s job but we can be part of the conversation as a voice, but, not the voice.

      What do you think?

  2. I’m pretty darn progressive but our culture’s hot lust for anything sexual is so destructive. It’s normal now to have 6+ partners in a lifetime, and for couples to to be dating for a week before they have sex (I know a guy who will lose interest if they don’t have sex by the 3rd date). I will say I understand your logic but the people opposing homosexual relationships are likely not the ones who have sex for revenge or as a coping mechanism for loss, etc. Nonetheless our lines are very blurry as getting labeled a slut is very damning thing, yet it’s semi okay to get drunk and sleep with someone.

  3. Angie jungwirth says:

    Have you read “Moral Revolution”?

  4. Kurt says:

    Mike, you rightly point to the fact that sex has become misplaced in our consciousness and actions. We need to perhaps start there and then have the deeper dialogues about legislation.

    • lwnewstart says:

      Frankly, I think we need to have “deeper dialogues” about sexuality… in the church. I think the church has accepted the cultural definition of sexual expression as what happens below the belt and above the thighs. I think we don’t speak about sexuality with any depth at all, especially in the church. By accepting the cultural definition, it becomes an argument about when it is acceptable behavior. I suspect our sexuality is more fundamental than that, and it is meant as a positive influence in our lives. But we never really discuss it. Honestly, as an older, single man, I am looking for someone to talk to about the positive expressions of my masculinity. I really think it is more complex and valuable than we give it credit for.

  5. brandonbey says:

    I agree that sex is a topic that needs more care and consideration but I want to challenge a few of the points you made in your post:

    Are the feelings of betrayal that different when dealing with things other than sexual infidelity, do they need to be categorized separately?
    If you think so, why?

    Are the Issues of sexual abuse and rape (both horrific, awful and disgusting things) really just about sex? Or does it have more to do with power and dominance? And the resulting trauma about being dehumanized? Or would you say that it really is a spiritual issue that comes as the result of sexual violation?

    Love to hear what you think.
    Grace and Peace.

    • mfries05 says:

      Such great thoughts Brandon,

      All of these answers can really be found in a book like the Healing Path or Wounded Hearts by Dan Allender.

      Both the issues of betrayal and powerlessness are found in sexual abuse and rape. The dehumanizing nature creates such overwhelming shame and creates an inability to trust. Sexual abuse and rape are deeply spiritual things because if the Bible is actually true that sex is for the unification of those who are in the behavior of it, then the souls become one. So the abused person is left with a deeply violated and dehumanized spirit. Also, what sexual abuse does is, is that it creates a psychological belief that all things that were meant to be pleasurable and good are not deemed shameful and violating. This is why many sexually abused people are not capable of experiencing true goodness because that good feels wrong.

      Betrayal on the other hands destroys beauty and trust. The act of this creates great ambivalence on the person betrayed.

      Thanks for the questions:
      What do you think of these as answers?

      • brandonbey says:

        Thanks Mike for your responses, the answers were good, but there is one you missed: Do you think betrayal and being cheated on (infidelity) need to be in separate categories and why?

        Now, as it seems it wasn’t clear… I wasn’t after facts, I was after what your views were (and you covered them for the most part).

        I am curious though still, do you see the harm of same sex marriage legislation as one that is mostly spiritual or something else? Or am I wrong in assuming you see harm in it at all? If you could discuss these a little further, because in your post, it seemed that you made some assumption that the reader felt it was wrong (either for reasons of their own, or some reasons that you share).

        Thanks.

  6. Kedar says:

    Mike,

    I’m a recent follower of yours on twitter–thanks for this post. I don’t consider myself a formal Christian (I lean more towards Unitarianism), I am somebody who believes the same things you do about this issue. Although I have friends who take sex far too lightly, I would never condemn them for what they do–I maybe only try and love the more because as you said, no matter what gender, casual sex can definitely be scarring for some people.

    And from what I can gather you’re a Christian, right? If so, thank you for not being abrasive on this issue. A few Non-Denominational churches I attended were very pushy on their views of waiting to have sex until marriage. But for those Christians out there who haven’t waited or have made decisions they regret, they can develop burdensome guilt that stays with them for a lifetime. We are humans and humans make mistakes.

    So again, thank you.

    • mfries05 says:

      Kedar,
      thank you so much for your kind and generous response.

      I am a Christian. I grew up in one of the those very condemning churches myself. I have friends who condemn others for it as well, I get your frustration and your pain. I also know that I have friends who have had sex outside of marriage and some feel guilty and ashamed, and, others are just apathetic. Being in relationship with these people, I know that I can’t maintain it if I want to keep their friendship. I also know that God is a God of love and peace, and, the result of sin was shame, but, God never wanted that, and, I know that God doesn’t want that for us. So condemning others does the very thing that God never wanted. I also know from my own struggles through my life with sexual sin, that if I feel guilty, then its sends the message that I probably shouldn’t be doing it. The key for me has been whether or not I have been able to forgive myself, because, I know very well, for myself, the only way to hide the shameful behavior that feels good, is to do it again, and, it creates a deeper pain, habit and shame within it.

      Thank you for such gracious and open questions, and, being willing to share part of your story,
      Mike

  7. Brittney says:

    Wow, I’m surprised at your honesty and yet I appreciate as well. That was a lot to swallow but I may or may not have understood your point so feel free to correct me, but you’re saying that since this generation doesn’t hold sex in such high regard or in such a sacred way as Christ meant for it to be then people should not be criticizing homosexuals or how they want to live or the rights they want to have, etc.
    But what I’m wondering is, how do you know what people actually believe or are thinking?
    The very people, Christian or not, who are fighting against homosexual rights, may actually view sex in a respectful way and perhaps have approached it the way that God meant for us to approach in their personal lives.
    So until we really know people’s motives then we really can’t place a generalization.
    Our generation is really lost, but I have faith that with God you can do all things and you can stand up for what you know is right, and the Bible is what’s right.
    It’s up to believers to set the example. It’s possible.

    • mfries05 says:

      Great thoughts Britney,
      You’re right, I do not know their thoughts. However, we do become the product of our choices and the statistics don’t lie that we are participating in sex outside of marriage and even committed relationships on rapid increase. I have committed my share of sexual sins, I believe we all have.

      My point with fighting for or against Gay marriage is this: If we cheapen sex to something that is promiscuous, empty and without second thought, then it is no longer sacred to us. And, if it is no longer sacred to us, then why fight for homosexuals to get married, because sex means nothing and their attraction to the same sex means nothing. Or, why fight against it because sex means nothing, marriage is a choice between two people who love each other and are committed to that union. If it is cheapened by our empty acts, then our words are empty because they’re not followed the actions.

      Does this make sense?
      What do you think?

  8. Phylis says:

    I feel like people give too much credit to the Christian right and conservative Christians who fight for real marriage and preserving sexuality. What I mean to say, is that statistically, sex outside of marriage is happening more often than Christians would like to say it is.

    This gives way to Christians trying to project an image that they themselves fall short of and protect these ideals simply because it’s what’s “right” and furthermore to sort of protect the image of Christ’s message (in their minds) that marriage has a purpose for sex and it’s not to just have fun with.

    To that end, I also believe the same people spreading their message that homosexuality is wrong or promiscuity is wrong are participating secretly in this more often than we know of. (Look at Bristol Palin, Ted Haggard, etc). Until of course somehow it does come out.

    That’s what actually makes this worst, that although they themselves may do these things behind closed doors; they are out there saying that it’s wrong for others to do it (who are open about their sexuality). And many of these people who are hypocritical are the loudest ones against issues such as gay marriage where (perhaps) the couple may be more devoted to one another than the one preserving their idea of marriage.

    I do agree that we are over-sexualized to the point of promiscuity, revenge, and meaninglessness in our sexual relationships. But I think it’s more than what our generation has seen on TV. It goes back to the 60s & 70s when there was free love and to the 50s when this nation was so conservative; no one talked about it.

    This is ingrained in America’s history from the time when slave owners secretly had relations with their slaves to the baby booming generation. This “sexual history” has formed where we have come today. All of that has helped in forming this country into a place where anything goes.

    • mfries05 says:

      Such a great response Phylis,
      In his book A New Kind Of Christianity Mclaren discusses that homosexuals do Christians a great favor by practicing their sexuality publicly which allows us to do ours the same way. I think that this brings forth healing. Whether you are for it or against it, that shameful closet activity is not healthy for ourselves and often leads us condemning others for the very things we ourselves do. Thank you for this.

      • Phylis says:

        Thanks! I’ve been meaning to read that. I think we’re definitely getting there as far as being more publicly. But there’s still a long way to go and we definitely need healing from this and less condemnation. That’s the biggest issue, that on one hand we shouldn’t be afraid to live our lives, but at the same time we shouldn’t be condemned for whatever lifestyle we choose to live.

  9. a.beeler says:

    Although, fortification is a sin also homosexuality is a sin! They must not be dealt with lightly they must be dealt with the same! Jesus looks at all sin as the same.. You have sex before you get married? Well it is no different then having a same sex relationship with someone. Sin is sin in God’s eyes!! You pointed out some great points. (:

    • mfries05 says:

      Great points. I think this is one of the perils of growing up in such a polarized culture, we make the people who are the minority (homosexuals) the enemy. When we make one persons actions worse than the others, we practice self-righteousness.

  10. Erik says:

    This is a great piece, you make many good points. Sex is becoming more of an act between friens than something to share with the one person you are going to spend the rest of your life with.

    There is one thing you say that makes little sense to me:

    “And, if sex is not sacred and important, then how can we invest so much energy fighting for or against gay marriage? And, if sex is so empty why would homosexual claim that gay marriage is a human rights issue?”

    You seem to think that the ‘gay marriage’ battle is all about sex, or even mainly about sex. Furthermore it seems you think that sex defines any marriage. That is about as far away from the truth as you can get. Sex is an important and intimate part of a committed relationship, but it certainly does not come before things like love, trust, honesty, and respect.

    The ‘gay marriage’ debate is about one group of people wanting the government to recognize a legal bond between them and any person they want, not just a member of the opposite sex. There are a lot of legal privileges that come along with the government recognizing a union. They can have sex regardless of what the government says so it really has nothing to do with the debate. That is why I am confused why you mentioned it here at all.

    Now, I personally think that gay marriage is wrong, but I also think we have no place making something law based solely on our religious beliefs. Our Lord has given us all the choice to follow him or not Legislating against gay marriage saves nobody and borders on support theocratic principals, which sets a dangerous precedent. It especially doesn’t stop homosexuals from having sex.

    • mfries05 says:

      Erik,
      thank you for your great response.

      You’re right, Gay marriage is about more than just sex. However, if our culture did not view sex sacredly, and, the predominant thought of history, at least American history is that having sex with a person of the same sex is wrong, then this wouldn’t be an issue. If everyone agreed that having sex with the same gender is right and okay, then this wouldn’t be a public ordeal. Does that make sense?

  11. Drew Daniels says:

    I think we also need to look at how sex is affected by systems of power. Advertising shows us half naked people everyday, tv and movies say we need sex, society says women are dirty sluts while men should be applauded, rape culture is prevalent throughout every major people group, the government tells us who, how, and when we have sex and has even recently try to change the meaning of rape in relation to abortion laws so that it would make it the victims fault. We also have a culture among christians that once you get married it’s all about sex, but often neglects the other wonderful responsibilities that come in marriage. Coming from a neo-luddite perspective I think the condom and other modern forms of birth control are extremely harmful to our views of sex because we have the convenience of having sex whenever with whomever we want without thoroughly considering the consequences. The word ‘fuck’ is even messed up, it could mean sex or it could mean violence (I’m going to fuck you up). It inherently connects violence and sex which is what’s happening all over the world in sex trafficking and rape (1,000+ a day in the Congo!).

    So now the U.S. is up in arms about gay marriage and ‘protecting the family’, I really enjoyed your perspective and I would take it a step farther (which I feel you would appreciate as a mennonite) that the government should have no say in marriage. I don’t understand why christians ever thought that the government would be a good discerning institution on the issues of marriage, but that’s downright ignorant. If I ever get married I will not go through the government to get a marriage license as they do not belong in the sacred parts of my life (or any of it for that matter).

    These are all the things off the top of my head without even delving into the pornography industry.

    • mfries05 says:

      Absolutely wonderful Drew.

      How do you think Pornography effects things, both systemically and existentially? (I wasn’t even going to enter this stuff, but, since you brought it up).

      • Drew Daniels says:

        Well I have been personally affected by someone with porn issues, my parents recently divorced and I would say porn and bad parenting led to some really messed up views on relationships that my father had. Porn (like disney and chick-flicks) creates unrealistic expectations for sex, I really appreciate this comic: http://www.snotm.com/2010/06/blog-post.html
        Porn is also extremely degrading to women, I’ve heard some feminists argue against this but honestly they’re incredibly ignorant as the majority of feminists I’ve read/know would agree it’s oppressive. Women are continually treated horribly in the industry while those outside have to live up to the ridiculous standards. I watched a documentary recently that I can’t find now, but more and more women are getting their labia surgically removed because it’s been deemed ugly and unclean. How crazy is it that we want women to mutilate themselves just to look like porn actors?!
        Also coming from the neo-luddite perspective the technology that proliferates porn is separating people from the real life consequences of supporting this industry and desensitizing their mind. Some people even struggle having sex without viewing pornography because they’ve become so dependent on it. This technology makes sex impersonal, purely physical, and the breeding ground for rape culture.

        I’m sure someone has or at least could write an entire series of books on the negative effects of pornography.

        P.S. Something I forgot to add on my last post, I’ve even heard christians quote bible passages about women submitting to their husbands to legitimize marital rape. There’s only a small handful of other times in my life I was as infuriated.

  12. Neil says:

    First of all, thanks for following me on Twitter. I always love meeting interesting people! (especially when they also happen to be interesting bloggers :])

    I couldn’t agree more with your statement that we must speak with compassion when we are discussing issues of sexuality. It is certainly not a conversation to be approached lightly, and I appreciate your sensitivity to the subject!

    I also agree with you in your belief that many are “missing the point” when it comes to sex. However, I’m not sure that I agree with you on precisely what the actual “point” should be. If I have understood you correctly, the “point” is that sex is a sacred act. I do agree with this inasmuch as it implies that sex is not something to be approached frivolously. Yet if “sacred” is taken in a dogmatic or categorical sense — such that all sexual acts in all contexts carry with them the same moral or spiritual baggage — I think that we might run into many other problems. Perhaps worse ones.

    As a (Christian) moral pluralist, I am convinced that no moral question can be decided in the realm of universals. Every ethical problem has a particular context which will determine the parameters that characterize the nature of that particular problem. If this is true, it is very difficult to name certain ethical universals, for they would not in fact have any existence outside of particular instances of ethical questions.

    Thus, we cannot name all sexual acts “sacred” in any universally spiritual sense; not all people who engage in sexual acts are spiritual in the same way. Some do not wish to call themselves spiritual at all. For this reason, sexual acts will not have the same meaning for all people, and neither will it be necessary for all people to adhere to any particular set of social norms in order to find meaning in sex.

    If my partner and I agree that we want to have sex, though we may not be married, I believe that given the right context it could be just as meaningful for us as it may be for a newly married couple. I also believe that there could well be contexts in which more casual sexual encounters could contribute to fruitful relationships, though obviously people who engage in such encounters would not be searching for the same sorts of meaning searched for by monogamous couples.

    Of course, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    • mfries05 says:

      Great thoughts Neil,
      I believe (and some will probably believe that I am stealing this from a now hated but still famous) that everything is spiritual. Every act I do is spiritual. Everything I do with my life, every thought I think, every feeling I feel, everything I do, has an effect on spiritual self, which is, a very contemplative way of living.

      If you wanted to take it a step further, outside of contemplation, every action is also a call to be a part of God’s mission of trying to bless others because we are blessed, then it begs to question whether or sexual interactions with others (married or not) are there for our own pleasure or are we there for the other persons pleasure. While you could have both, if you fail on the second, then you’re not longer living selflessly inside the bedroom, and, selfless acts are very sacred and a great blessing, and, the other is quite demeaning and spiritually damaging.

      For me,
      Everything I do, all of who I am, is eternally spiritual and all things effect this.

      Thoughts?

      • Neil says:

        I appreciate your thoughtful response, and I find your view of other-oriented sex very moving!

        However, I would like to point out one part of your response that I think might highlight a divergence in our thinking. In your last lines, you say that “for you,” every act is spiritual (and was it Meister Eckhart, by chance, who was the “now hated by still famous” person in your parenthetical statement? If so, then I applaud you on your good taste in theologians! :]).

        Unless you want to argue that spirituality is somehow based upon a universal law, such that all people in all contexts are subject to it, it would be difficult to judge the moral quality of others’ actions by your own view of spirituality. (This is particularly true if your ethics draw upon the mysticism of Meister Eckhart :].) Because there are many ways of being spiritual, there are also many moral paths that can potentially lead to fulfilling spiritual lives.

      • mfries05 says:

        Hey Neil,
        The theologian/thinker was actually Rob Bell. Some of the thoughts I was drawing upon were from Meister Eckhart and some were from Thomas Merton.

        I do believe in a universal law. I think that Jesus did too. When he was called the new Adam, it was a statement for all of mankind. Not just Christians. It was a redemption for all things not just Christian things.

        Thoughts?

      • Mike Friesen says:

        Once again Nate, thank you for your wonderful thoughts. I think we can both agree, and, the Bible would affirm this, that a universal morality is both in place but its very gray. Romans 1 would affirm that these things are instilled in our hearts, but, Paul warns us about judging those who eat meat because they may just be further along in their journey than us.

        I think creating a universal morality is a bit immature and, for me, creates a Constantian model of the Church where we serve as the source of power and “truth” and we can wield the shield over others. I think, we can both agree, had done a lot of damage to the name of Christianity and more importantly, to the world in general.

        I still hold to a universal spirituality, though, you might disagree, which is fine. That God created things that harm the human soul, which is why I think sin is like a disease. The more we sin, the more diseased we are. However, there are cultural contexts which effect the we process life and that without a doubt can effect the way it reaches our soul. There are universal things that effect the soul, for me, sex is one of those because the Bible indicates the joining of one’s souls and spirits, and, that can have both curses and blessings upon our lives. I can see the damages of my own sexual sin in my life.

        What are your thoughts on this?

  13. Neil says:

    Mike,
    I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, so I’ll try to keep my reply as short as possible :).

    I think that there are a few problems that arise when we try to derive universals from any text. One that is relevant to our situation here is the fact that no author can foresee all the possible meanings of her text in all the contexts in which the text will be read. It’s possible that even our sacred texts could have negative implications in some circumstances that the author could not possibly have foreseen.

    It’s a bit difficult to see how that would play out in the Romans 5 passage that you referenced because it’s a bit abstract, but I definitely think that we can see the this phenomenon played out in the more biblical passages that deal directly with sexuality. Sticking with Romans, we could look at 1.26-27 for an example. Without giving all of my opinions on homosexuality, I can at least point out that no such term as “homosexual” existed in the first century Roman world. Paul’s terms were bound up in the then-common social structure of pederasty, in which older men would take young boys in a mentor relationship of sorts — a relationship that usually included sexual activity as well. Paul’s views were also heavily influenced by the Levitical texts that prohibit same-sex activity, all of which reflected taboos that served to preserve Israel’s ethnic identity during times of national crisis.

    Of these sources from which Paul took his views of same-sex activity, neither recognize the existence of what we now call “sexual orientation.” Clearly the situation is different today. We don’t know what Paul would have thought, had he been enculturated in our society.

    All this is simply to say that while we do and should venerate the texts of the biblical authors, we should be careful to attribute to them any sort of universal perspective. And as such, we have to take seriously the relativity of morality to social contexts.

    I can be a bit long-winded sometimes, sorry! Thanks so much for listening :). If you have the time, I would love to hear your thoughts!

    • Neil says:

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      I’m not sure I have much else to say on the matter, haha. But you have given me plenty to think about :). I’ll definitely be reading your blogs in the future!

  14. In a society that has been fiercely competitive and superiorly demonstrative it bombards everyone with underlying currents that really need to be recognized. We learn from many sources what we should want, how it should be done…and we are shoulded to the max (both inside religion as well as everywhere else) before we even get a chance to discover what our true heart is. We connect with movies, with stories, with anything and everything but what is truly within ourselves to find. When it departs from genuine giving and becomes a ‘mode’ or a ‘power struggle’ it ceases to be a true ‘circuit’ of union. So often it is so subtle we are the last to notice. I need not be that way. The hurry interferes. So can well meaning advice if it comes from one who doesn’t know it for themselves.
    As far as that friend running out for retaliative sex. Reacting is pretty common. Until y0u are aware that you are reacting you aren’t. Competition in life can be helpful to develop keen skills but doesn’t belong in Love. Quite often confidence is developed in competition but carries with it many of the competitive qualities that cannot let relationships bloom in to what they are.
    I am very much in the process myself. These are things that I have come to recognize thus far. How it proceeds from here, I’ll have to get back to you 🙂

  15. SjG says:

    You’re right; the story of the guy you know makes no sense, and yet it’s the way people think… Relationships are disposable. Using people for my pleasure is what it’s all about, even though it degrades me in the process. …Yet few admit it. It’s sad.

    I hope more people in their teens and 20s read this.

    (And I loved the reference to Cory & Topanga!)
    ~Stan

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