You can often tell how good something is simple by considering whether or not you would buy a cheaper generic version. Grocery stores all across the nation have entire product lines of generic products. You can buy generic Coke (why bother?), generic dish soap, generic trash bags, and yes, even generic Oreos.
I don’t ever buy generic Oreos.
The problem isn’t the price, it’s the quality. The generic “oreo" could never possibly compare to the taste of the original chocolate cookie and how could they possibly ever hope to match the creamy goodness of that frosting center? Oh, they try, but there’s no way to cheaply replicate the essence of what Oreos are.
The gift of our human sexuality is the exact same way.
I chose to preserve the gift of my human sexuality for my wife, who turned out to be Alison. Making the choice once is the easy part, it’s the daily management of the decision that can present the problem. I dated a few people before meeting Alison, so I was able to experience a spectrum of relationships.
During my high school days and my first year of college I watched (not literally) peers and classmates experiment sexually. It would vary from a one time occurrence to a regular activity. I noticed time and again that they were never satisfied. Something seemed to be missing. Not to mention the complete devastation when their partner moved on.
You just can’t be an observer today, though. My most vivid illustration of this reality happened during my senior year of high school. I was walking down the hall between classes and a classmate, whom I had never spoken a word to in my life, asked about my relationship. After gauging how the relationship was going, he asked quite plainly, “So are you banging her?” Classy.
So what’s the big deal with pre-marital and extramarital sexual encounters? Our culture seems to think it’s fine. People seem to enjoy these temporary relationships. A recent episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine had the charming line “The best way to forget your ex is meaningless sex.”
Here’s the big deal. Sexual encounters outside of the marital bond are the generic Oreos. They’re cheap. They’re fake. They’re made with inferior ingredients. Sure, they have the outward appearance of Oreos. But they’re pretending to be something that they’re not. They’re rooted in imitation.
Our human sexuality is a very powerful and very personal gift. It’s integrated into our whole persons, especially into our psychology. The essence of our sexuality is bonding. Through total sacrifice and gift of self, sex is designed to permanently bind two people together in life giving love. So when we color outside the lines and share this deeply personal gift, we break off a piece of ourselves that we can’t get back.
Every time someone has sex outside of marriage, they give something away. When they finally do settle down with their spouse, they’re not whole. They’re broken and there’s no way to permanently fix it. We can heal and we can be forgiven, but the scar tissue remains. The past cannot be erased.
There are smaller ways that we give away our love to people who are not our spouse that doesn’t have to rise to the level of sexual relations outside of marriage Lustful thoughts, flirtatious relationships, all of these “innocent” acts damage our marital bonds. Thankfully we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the Sacrament, our sins our forgiven, we’re strengthened to do better, and our marital relationship is healed.
Many people today believe that the Church’s teachings on human sexuality are dated. Since the sexual revolution, we have experienced a radical change in societal sexual norms. There has always been pornography, pre-marital sex, extramarital affairs and sex-trafficking, but not nearly to the level of pervasiveness that we’re experiencing today. Anyone with access to the internet is .0004 seconds away from 1.6M+ Google results for pornography. The war on human traffickers is fought daily, but is lost because we still supply a demand. Birth rates outside of marriage are astronomically high. Marriage rates are dismal and divorce rates, ouch.
The results are in. The Church was right. The use of sexuality outside of marriage is an epic fail.
Pre-marital and extramarital sex are cheap imitations that can never hope to compare with the mind-blowing, Christ-reflecting, life-giving, complete surrender of marital sex. It’s only within the context of marriage that our sexuality can truly be freed to be all that it was created to be. Set yourself aside for the best. Don’t buy generic Oreos.