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Keeping it Casual: a Conversation, a Rant and a Thought

April 30, 2010

I always end up talking about sex with Dave more than I do with anyone else. I don’t think there’s any particular reason for it. Maybe it’s because we always drive back to campus from Joel’s at 2 a.m., sleep drunk from a night of NFL Blitz and Arrested Development. Just a guess.

I can never remember how the conversations start, and last night was no different. I think it started somewhere around him asking how I’m doing with my “In a Relationship” to “Single” transition. Oh, hello, open can or worms.

I was actually glad for the little chat, and this is what I’ve been thinking as a result of it:

I’ve never been in a “casual relationship”. I’ve been in four serious relationships, 3/4 of which were in high school, and were very, very stupid. Why? Why haven’t I learned to chill out and just enjoy being around someone, rather than expecting a full-time commitment from them when we’re not even 20? I think I’m beginning to find the answer, but I don’t like it. I’m thinking it’s a Christian thing.

My education thus far has been: Christian family, Christian pre-school, Christian elementary school, Christian middle school, Christian high school, nondenominational Christian church, and finally, a very much secular University. A bit sheltered I might be, but the transition has taught me a lot about people, both Jesus-people and not. What I have noticed is that, when it comes to relationships, Jesus-people tend to be much more serious than the not-Jesus. Throughout all the institutions I’ve been in, this has been a fairly consistent observation. My mom even told me I shouldn’t go to a Christian college, because everyone there just wants to get married as quickly as possible (she went to Tekoa Falls, a Christian College in Georgia that may or may not still be there). Now, I understand that everyone is different. Not all Christians get in serious relationships, and not all non-Christians stay out of them. I just can’t help but notice the consistency though. Don’t get me wrong, serious relationships can be good, especially if you’re going to marry someone. But the fact of the matter is, pretty much all the people you date aren’t your future spouse. In other words, pretty much all your relationships have no need to be serious.

So, what’s the point? Why do us Jesus-people keep doing this to ourselves? Dave brought up a good point on this: perhaps it’s because of our belief in abstinence. Don’t worry, I’m not about to say that we should run around having sex with everyone and everything to solve our relationship problems. But maybe we’re making a big deal out of something that shouldn’t be this difficult. From what I’ve seen and experienced, Christians in serious relationships go just as far physically, if not farther than non-Christians. Even if dating Christians choose not to have sex, we get as close to the line as possible, without crossing it. Really? Is that what abstinence is? It may just be me, but I don’t think that’s what God envisioned.

In all my time in Christian institutions, we spent a whole lot of time talking about sex, relationships, how far we can go, the opposite sex in general, porn, purity, etc, etc. Perhaps if we calmed down and behaved like normal people, we wouldn’t be driving ourselves into such floundering relationships. The more you talk abut something, the more you think about it. This might sound crazy, but I don’t think not having sex is as difficult as we make it for ourselves. I remember in eighth grade when I first “learned” that sex is the only thing guys think about. My girls’ Bible study leader told us that all they had to do was set their eyes on us, and they’d be undressing us with their minds. Do you know how much that freaked me out? I was messed up for awhile on that one. Call me stupid, call me naive, but nowadays I don’t think that’s entirely true. OK, so guys think about sex. Well guess what: I think about sex (spoiler alert: I’m a female). And for a long time I thought something was wrong with me because of that. Only boys think about sex. Girls just think about being princesses and being loved. We don’t have dirty, tainted minds like boys do. So obviously, I’m defective, right?

That might have been a rant. But what I’m getting at is, because we focus so much on sex and serious relationships, we dwell on these things. When we dwell on things, we act on them. We’ve devalued marriage by making it our only safe way to have sex. Yes, I want to wait for marriage to have sex, and I think that’s important. But we have equated sex with love, and they are two different things. “Mommy, where do babies come from?”…”Well, when a mommy and daddy love each other…”. No wonder we’re obsessed with getting married. We think there’s no such thing as love without it. There’s more to love than romance. Why couldn’t they teach me how to be in a fun, casual relationship? Why couldn’t they teach girls to be friends with boys? Yes, it was very important that we learn to be appropriate and not dress like sluts. I appreciate that lesson (even though eighth grade is terrifying enough without being afraid of being mentally disrobed at all times). At the same time, not being a slut is easy. Being content with friendship is much more difficult. We end up looking completely ridiculous to people who don’t know Jesus, and it’s not in the normal sort of way that Paul wrote about.

Everyone take a deep breath. Calm down. Getting married ASAP isn’t our first priority; Jesus is. Maybe if we think about that more, we’d find ourselves acting more like Him. You know, like we are called to.

Amy

p.s. I tried to find statistics on Christianity and relationships, but the Internet was not being helpful for once. You’ll just have to trust my deep fount of wisdom, and my bountiful wealth of experience.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2010 3:04 pm

    May GOD Bless!!! Mark

  2. Emily Josephine permalink
    April 30, 2010 3:23 pm

    definitely not just a Christian problem. its a human problem. just sayin.

    • Amy permalink
      April 30, 2010 3:56 pm

      I understand, for real. But we’re held to different standards that can’t be applied to all of humanity. It’s a human problem, and we’re responding to it in the humanest, if not worse than humanest, way possible, when we should be treating it completely differently.

  3. May 24, 2010 9:05 am

    First, Amy, this was an AMAZINGLY well-thought and well-written post. If this was on MySpace, I’d give it two full kudos! :)

    Second, I have to confirm everything you said. I’ve observed the same thing. Christians who choose to wait for marriage seem to RUSH into marriage as fast as they possibly can. And it makes sense. They have a natural, real, biological drive for sex and procreation. But they won’t allow themselves to experience that until after marriage. So, what does the subconscious do? Searches for the first suitable match and marry them as fast as humanly possible and socially acceptable.

    I met a guy one time who was barely 18. He thought about marriage constantly. And he chased away every girl he was interested in, because he immediately put so much pressure on the relationship.

    I was guilty of that to a point too, when I was younger. I wasn’t conscious of the reason why at the time — what you talked about here — but I was definitely anxious to meet my soul mate, get married, and have sex. Like you said, I also equated sex and marriage with love, and I’ve since learned Love is possible with or without sex, with or without marriage, with or without anything else.

    Love comes from the heart. Love is unconditional. Love only needs another soul to receive it.

    You don’t even need to date someone to give or receive love, although it’s more fun when you do sometimes. :)

    So thanks for sharing your thoughts. They were very refreshing, honest, and insightful. And you have a gift for writing.

    Namaste,
    David

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