Friday, January 14, 2011

Freedom?????

As my daughter, Sarah gets older and draws closer and closer to the age when she will get married and someday become sexually active (hopefully not until AFTER she is married), I find myself thinking about the 1960's and the sexual revolution.

The 1950's saw a huge change in the American mentality - people were tired of going without after two world wars and the Great Depression -they wanted to live a little bit. We also began to see the roles women played shift, more and more women were becoming increasingly unhappy with the idea of only staying at home and raising their children while their husbands went to work and had an identity outside of the home - we see how strongly this colored our country when the Feminist Movement began to grow in numbers. From this time until present, roles for women have changed drastically. We also saw the Hippies come forward and adopt an attitude of make love not war and free love. Even now in the 2010's we see people engaging in unprotected sex at alarming rates. While I will not tell you how to live your life, I do have to ask some questions.

Prior to this World War I we saw the Victorian era - it stifled women and birth control was almost completely unheard of at this time. When a woman felt she no longer wanted children, she simply moved into another room and her husband had to tend his needs. While many women began seeking doctor's who diagnosed them as suffering from hysteria and often used methods that may seem a little unorthodox to some to "cure" them. It brought to light a problem.

So now instead of women believing that making love with their husband's is something to be born instead of enjoyed, we see the reverse opposite. We see movie stars and television shows encouraging women to go out and enjoy sex, just as men had for ages. But here is my question.

Is it really a sexual freedom when you not only worry about unwanted pregnancy, but Venereal Diseases, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, AIDS, PID (which can turn into Cervical Cancer if undetected) and the awkwardness of meeting someone who now knows what we look like naked? Is this really a fair trade?

With unplanned pregnancies come the stress of making a decision about how to handle this new development. Now thanks to the Supreme Court (said sarcastically) women now get to enjoy the idea of aborting their children. Here's the thing about abortion - yes you are doped up when it happens, but at the end of it, it leaves you with a bigger whole in you than most people realize. Women seek out counseling even now to figure out how to forgive themselves for making this choice. Choosing to terminate a child is a heavy burden. One too heavy for any person to make - whether with your spouse or partner or alone. It leaves you the ability to play God and somehow when we make this decision it leaves us haunted and burdened with the could've's and should've. But the ProChoice movement doesn't want us to know about that. They want us to believe you walk in and walk out and it's easy. They don't bother to tell you that it leaves you feeling like you've ripped out half of your heart and body to terminate the life inside of you.

With unplanned pregnancies come tough choices - adoption while a wonderful choice, also leaves most adoptive mothers yearning. Thankfully, over time we now have open adoptions so this does not have to be the case.

Then there are the STD's, VD's, AIDS, and other complications that occur with having sex. First, there is PID which is given to women by men - who usually don't have any idea they are infected. A woman often doesn't realize she has it until it's had time to take hold and can more often than not turn into cervical cancer. Never mind that it doesn't have many health ramifications for men, but for women it is deadly.

AIDS has grown at an alarming rate. Thankfully, we have made some medical breakthroughs allowing those infected with the ability to still live long and somewhat healthy lives. And yet, in the end, AIDS still leads to people's demise often sooner rather than later. And yet we still choose to have unprotected sex with multiple partners?

Emotionally - you give a part of yourself to a person when you choose to have sex with them. But people try not to talk about that. You entrust your body and emotional well-being with someone who you may know extremely well (like a spouse or fiance) or who is nothing more than a fling. How do you know if the person you are having sex with has your best interests at heart? And yet, women and men do this everyday. They play Russian Roulette with their heart and soul by engaging in sexual activity with virtual strangers by entrusting them to protect them. As a result, we see many young men and women who come from single parent families and often with an absentee father. Men and women left with yearning and questions that leave them scarred and damaged.

On that vein we have young girls growing up without fathers. Studies have proven that young girls who grow up without their fathers or an active and positive role model choose to have sex at much younger ages. And the sooner a teen is allowed to start dating the sooner they tend to become sexually active. If the brain doesn't reach full maturity until the age of 25 how can a young girl or boy know that having sex is the right choice for them? More often than not, a young girl is pressured - not just by the boy but also by her friends who have become sexually active already. I remember a young woman I know talking about being at a party where two girls were telling one of her friends that she should have sex with a young man she hadn't been dating for very long. Fortunately, the young woman telling the story had her friend's best interest at heart more than the other two girls did. She encouraged her friend to hold off until she was certain he was the one she wanted to marry - and she also told her friends that the only reason the other two girls were encouraging her to be sexually active is because they had already begun having sex and they wanted her to be like them. This is true. I remember being in high school and from 9th grade until 12th grade, I had girls who made fun of me for choosing to wait for my husband. Interestingly, enough those same girls would later tell me they wished they had made a different choice and admired my choice to wait and would not make the same choice if given the chance.

Is it really freedom if it leaves you feeling regret? How can something that is supposed to be a good thing carry so many ramifications? How can we have fallen for so many lies? When did we become a nation that had to do what everyone else was doing? In a twist of irony, a country that supposedly wants young people to be their own person - and yet what they mean is they want you to be your own person and be just like them.

I remember my sophmore year of college in chapel at Southern Nazarene University when Dr. Roger Hahn preached a series based on Peter's teaching and his call to be what Dr. Hahn called "residential aliens". He encouraged us to be in the world, but not of the world. While those decisions are not always popular, I still find that sermon stuck in my brain to this day. When I feel myself tempted to cave in and join the ranks of the worldly, I remember the call to be a "residential alien".

So for those who have made choices to have sex already, let me leave you with this thought. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that those who believe in him will not die, but have eternal life." Jesus goes on to tell us he didn't come to condemn the world, but to save it. We all make mistakes or poor choices, the truth is, all is not lost. The wonderful thing about God's grace is that you don't have to be perfect to receive it.

Find freedom in truth - God's truth. It will indeed set you free.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

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