“It’s just sex”
This week Michelle and I flipped on the TV, scanned through the DVR recordings, and decided on “Lie to Me.” Before pressing play I read the description of the episode, and part of that description said “Cal (the dad) struggles with Emily’s (his daughter) desire to date.” That part didn’t sound too compelling, but now that I have a daughter I figured it would be a little interesting to see how it went.
The whole dating thing wasn’t the major storyline, so it was about twenty minutes into the show before it popped up. Cal came home from work early, and as he entered the house he found a boy’s shirt laying on the table downstairs. He walked over to the stairs, heard Emily’s voice, and called for her. She came rushing down the stairs, embarrassment coming out of her disguised as anger. Cal gave her the shirt and she ran it up to the boy in her bedroom. Without going into the rest of how everything was handled, there was one other moment that stood out. As Cal was talking to Emily and her boyfriend, she blurted out, “what’s the big deal, it’s just sex!”
A couple powerful messages came across through this episode. First, and more obviously, having a thirteen or fourteen year old girl say “it’s just sex” communicates a view of sex that minimizes it to something like playing tennis together. More subtly, but perhaps more powerfully, the fact that the episode description said the father was struggling with his daughter’s desire to date says that dating and sex are inseparable. Sex is not something to be considered, it is an essential if a person wants to date at all.
This message isn’t one that’s difficult to find. Our culture continues to move toward the message that sex means nothing. It is purely a physical act that has little or nothing to do with love and intimacy. If this is the case then we need to carry that line of thinking to its logical end. Affairs should no longer be looked at as inappropriate. In a case like Elin and Tiger Woods it should be Elin who is really at fault because of being so traditional and closed-minded about sex.
Beyond sex, this way of thinking belies a deeper cultural phenomenon of reducing the value of all things so that there is little in our world that means anything anymore. Marriage becomes a conditional commitment based on feeling rather than mutual vows of fidelity and love. Excessive eating and drinking take place on a weekly if not daily basis to an extent that used to be reserved for only the most grand celebrations.
Reducing the value of deep and meaningful things reduces the depth and fulfillment of our lives. Returning to the example we started with, reducing sex to an unattached physical act sharply reduces our ability to experience it as something that brings us together with another person in ways that can’t be explained by words. There is deep fulfillment and intimacy that can be had but is forfeited in the name of instant gratification and the right to do anything. Thus, by doing what people think is best for themselves, they hurt themselves and lead themselves toward less fulfilling lives.
Here’s hoping my kids never tell me “it’s just sex.”