Part 4 of a 5 part series on sex mis-education
Doesn’t Sexual Experience Make You More Mature?
Another misconception. Some people think that having sex only in marriage restricts growth and creates sexual inhibitions. Quite the opposite is true. Research shows1 that happily married couples gain the most satisfaction from sex due to the comfortable intimacy and security of a committed relationship.
A wide range of sexual partners prohibits depth in a relationship. It does not allow a person to “explore the farthest reaches of love and the self”, because it is primarily focused on the external experience. People are complex creatures with many layers; that’s what makes a relationship exciting. Getting to know someone deeply and growing together takes time.
Having one partner does not prohibit sexual exploration, it simply puts it within the context of a larger understanding of love. Love is bigger than sex. Feeling understood, cared for, respected and safe is the beginning point of trust, which in turn is the foundation for exploration and growth.
Monogamy Requires Maturity
Lifelong monogamy requires maturity and constant growth because it demands self-reflection and honesty. It is a deeper adventure in loving. A mature person can wait for, and invest in one person, in such a way as to sustain and replenish love over a long time. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach calls this vertical renewal. It is precisely the context that stretches every faculty and promotes the greatest personal growth.
It is very convenient for someone to run to another partner instead of facing the deeper issues that lasting intimacy demands. “It is easy to associate multiple sexual partners with personal change,” writes human potential philosopher George Leonard. But he goes on to say, “it is far more likely to be associated with the avoidance of change.”
Moreover, physical intimacy within marriage places the focus on the whole person. It maintains the fundamental integrity of mind and body unity. It keeps the outer expression in harmony with the deepest heart and conscience.
Physical Union is Deeper Than Pleasure
The body has its own symbolic language: a fist means hostility; a smile signifies good will. If a smile conceals malice, it is a deception, or a misuse of the language of the body. When physical union is merely for pleasure, or only expresses warm feelings, this is a false message. Such deceit is incompatible with maturity and authenticity in a relationship.
Married couples have security, and time to develop trust and unity within their relationship. For those who are religious, marriage infuses greater meaning in relationships and life. Marriage and creating a family is a lifelong journey. When blessed by a faith tradition it is empowering, and a faith community can be supportive in difficult times.
Sexual coupling represents the total union of hearts, minds and lives. The shallowness of multiple sexual partners for the sake of “experience”, cuts a person off from the deeper development of physical, emotional and spiritual unity. Physical pleasure is temporary but lasting happiness and joy come from a union that represents wholeness.
Who is Inhibited?
Finally, the issue of inhibitions is ironic. Those who engage in non-marital sex routinely speak of performance anxiety and guilt. Feelings of being cheap, and fear of being compared to previous partners is common. Other concerns of pregnancy, disease and other issues can only negatively impact sexual responses.
On the other hand, surveys show that women who were virgin brides have the greatest sexual satisfaction.2 Further, religious wives report the greater number of orgasms—a clear sign of lack of neurotic inhibitions. This is natural given the great significance of emotional and psychological factors in sexual experience.