| Sex Before Marriage is a Sin
Received opinion in the cave of my youth programmed me to be blind to moral truth. I grew up in the grip of West-coast cultural relativism. In contradiction to the dogma of my youth, I now believe that sex before marriage is a sin. By sin, I mean, contrary to your long-term happiness--contrary to the increasing of the kingdom of heaven within you, if you prefer an image from Christian myth.
You are all judging me in one of two ways. Either sophomore year saved my soul (I saw the light of Jesus in Annapolis and turned from my wicked ways). Or I have grown feeble in my old age of 28 (like Kephalus in the opening of the Republic, Eros has abandoned my withered soul). How could a virile young non-Christian have come to believe this absurd proposition?
I am addressing all virile young non-Christians among you. Premarital sex is the step in the direction of a life that gets worse, not better. Yet many of you will choose this path, unaware of how this will curse the fullness of your future happiness. I hope that each of you will openly face the contradiction of two desires: (1) your healthy desire for sex in the prime of your vigor, pitted against (2) your desire for long-term happiness--for a life that gets better, not worse. I want you to consciously face this contradiction-- proceeding henceforth with your eyes open.
The books that we read attest to the long tradition of marriage, but also, a long tradition of cheating, prostitution, and bastard children. Human nature is driven towards two contradictory goals in the realm of sexual fulfillment: (1) stable loving family, and (2) reckless abandon. I will postulate that children produced by stable families have a better chance of living happy lives, than those, like me, who come from homes broken by dirty secrets or outright scandals.
What sort of men and women will have the best chance at a healthy marriage? Picture for a moment the following scenario. A woman resists all temptations, saving herself for her one true love. She finally falls in love with a man.
This man has spent the better part of his youth sowing his wild oats. He did not know it was wrong. He finds that sex has become rather less fulfilling than it once was. It hurt when he broke up with his first few girlfriends, but as time went on it became easier and easier for him to just move on. His life is becoming less and less fulfilling. Finally, he decides to settle down and get married, seeking a more meaningful human experience. He marries the beautiful young virgin.
Think for a moment on how life will be for this couple?
For the virgin, marriage is a new freedom. For the first time in her life she completely shares herself with her one and only man. For the man, marriage is a new slavery. For the first time in his life, he is limited to only one woman. She becomes passionately attached to him and is willing to make sacrifices for the sake of their mutual long-term happiness. He is resentful of his new tethers. His soul is not habituated to sacrificing immediate desire gratification for the sake of his greater long term happiness.
The manís life gets worse as he gets older. Sex became less and less meaningful in his promiscuous days. His marriage quickly becomes a slavery. Furthermore, he has to live with the conscience of having ruined the happiness of his beautiful wife, and for having brought the curse of an oppressive home upon the heads of his children.
This is a tragedy. He did not know better when he was young. He may have heard outdated dogma preached from the pedestal, or from stuffy and boring Christian peers, but what reason did he have to take this musty old dogma seriously? Sexual taboos made sense for the people of Moses 3000 years ago. They did not have technology to conquer pregnancy and disease.
But technology has not conquered our souls. The deepest fibers of our being are still conditioned to know that sex with relative strangers is a destructive force to the human race. Sex without the love and commitment that it takes to raise children together, is a violation of something deep and sacred. If you listen to the whisper of your conscience, and if you think for a moment about the pain of a broken heart, you will know that what I say is true.