Safe Sex Isn't Always Safe for the Soul

Women and men deserve a relationship based on self-sacrificial love, not one where sex is used as a bargaining chip.

A former colleague caught me off guard recently by asking, "Guess what I'm taking off work to do tomorrow?" Shrugging in response, I was stunned by her answer: "I'm taking my daughter to the doctor to get birth control pills."

My heartfelt reply of "Oh, I'm so sorry" bewildered her. She answered my apparent faux pas with an explanation of how proud she was of her daughter for confiding in her and taking responsibility for her impending sexual activity. She had expected me to share in her winsome reverie about this coming of age, as if it were comparable to seeing a child off for the first day of kindergarten.

My second sentence, "Does she know how this will affect her emotionally and physically?" drew more defensive fire. Birth control pills would regulate her cycle. This was a committed relationship between a 14-year-old (virgin) girl and a 16-year-old (previously sexually active) boy. She was even going to have the boy sign a paper stating he was currently free from sexually transmitted diseases. Sex is an enjoyable activity, after all, and this was going to be a very special occasion, one to mark their first anniversary of dating.

She looked at me as if I were in a culture warp, and I looked at her with sincere sorrow. I knew in a few days her daughter would experience sex with a boy who did not love her exclusively and permanently. She would divorce this activity from the commitment, protection, unique partnership, and self-sacrificial love that she deserves as a woman. At a tender age she would begin to manipulate her maturing body with synthetic hormones whose long-term consequences are not fully understood. She would set into a motion a tangled emotional relationship in which sex could be used as a bargaining chip.


And why? To please a young man who hasn't proven that he feels responsibility toward her, undying love for her, or even deference to her physical well-being. Her mother had warned her that her first "experience" probably would not even be enjoyable, but not to worry--she'd get used to it.

In my mind were images and voices of women who similarly had regarded sexual liberation as good, clean fun. Women who, now married with children, could not have their husbands touch them or hold them in certain ways because it reminded them of drunken orgies they'd participated in, in college or high school. Women who were infertile due to damage from sexually transmitted diseases. Women who had to undergo biopsies for pre-cancerous conditions due to too many sexual partners. Women who couldn't get men to commit to a permanent relationship. Women who gave away body and soul to men who devoured both like candy but refused to reciprocate with self-sacrificial love.

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