The Q, regarding a person’s decision to save sex for marriage: “Many people say that your first time having sex is awkward, and every time you have sex for the first time with a new partner is awkward. Why would you want to have an awkward wedding night?” -Katie*
The A: We don’t. Nobody does, because nobody’s decision to save sex is rooted in his or her hope for an awkward wedding night. But that doesn’t mean the risk doesn’t cross our minds. Of course it does.
Last week, after my third sex essay printed in the Tampa Bay Times, I received an email from Dr. Lodovico Balducci — a faithful Times reader who has responded to each sex essay I’ve written for the paper since 2009.
He sent the letter to the editor that he submitted, which printed in part this week. With his permission, I’ve pasted the full version of his letter below. I’m grateful for it and hopeful you’ll find his points about agape and sex as insightful as I did:
A version of this post originally appeared on RelevantMagazine.com in 2012. I’m re-posting now, in advance of this weekend’s release of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey.
I knew there wouldn’t be a second date the moment the guy asked this question: “How do you feel about strip clubs?” Not for ‘em, I said. “What about porn?” Are you kidding?
In the conversation that followed, I rebutted his defenses of both. He, a Christian (nominally, at least), was a consumer of erotic media, convinced that using it can be good. He is the only Christian I’ve met who has defended pornography. But he is not the only Christian who defends other kinds of erotic media.
When bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey and the movie Magic Mike, about a male stripper, simultaneously swept the female half of the U.S., Christian women spoke up. Some criticized the book because it promotes lust and sexual violence. Some criticized Magic Mike because it promotes the objectification of men. Others criticized the critics.
Last week, a Huffington Post headline stung: “Dear Pope Francis: Saving the World Requires Contraception.” I clicked it anyway, to find an open letter to the Vicar of Christ.
It is written by John Seager, president of the Population Connection Action Fund, who — like lots of non- and nominal Catholics — is disturbed by the Catholic Church’s proscription of contraception. I — a proponent of all the Church’s teachings — at first was disturbed by what he wrote:
That contraception, for instance, provides people with healthy sex lives. That the pope has a responsibility to ensure that Catholics have the tools to reduce their “carbon output,” including contraception. That 90 percent of the unintended pregnancies in the Philippines “are the result of a lack of modern contraception.”
My heart pounded and ached, because Seager’s letter was a disappointing reminder of the widespread presumption that people can’t not have sex.
So to borrow a few of your own words, Seager, “Don’t get me wrong. You seem like a sincere, congenial man,” and I admire your impassioned desire to combat climate change. But while the pope’s defense of the Church’s teaching on contraception boggles your mind, what you wrote is starting to warm my heart.
Syndicated columnist Carolyn Hax responded in a recent column to the following letter, which she received from a 19-year-old woman who has never had sex before:
“I am a 19-year-old freshman in college. I have decided to lose my virginity soon, obviously in a safe way while using protection. Is it okay to not tell the guy I’m a virgin? It’s come up before and it seems to bother guys. I also hate the idea of someone knowing they were my first; I (irrationally, I know) feel like it gives them power over me. I sort of want to get this over with in a sort of one-night-stand kind of way.”
These are my thoughts on that:
The letter’s writer’s decision to lose her virginity is rooted in her resistance to divulging her virginity. She doesn’t want to be a virgin so that she won’t have to tell somebody she is. But that turns what she wrote into a catch 22. … How? Click here to read the rest of my thoughts in a post on Quiner’s Diner.