Do Colleges Need a Sex Week?

At this particular moment, I have a strong desire to thump my head against the wall a few times in exasperation and disbelief. What prompts this response? I read an article that Harvard University would be hosting its first ever (and dear God please, last ever) Sex Week.

Harvard University Memorial Hall

Harvard University
by Jacobolus via Wikimedia Commons

During the week, there will be speakers, seminars, and movies “that explore topics such as love, sex, sexuality, gender, gender identity, and relationships.” Moreover, a student organization will handing out free “safer sex supplies” and educational materials and providing peer counseling. In case that description doesn’t excite a co-ed, there will be daily drawings for “sex toys, t-shirts, books, lotions, and sunglasses.” I admit to being slightly perplexed by the sunglasses.

However, I am very perplexed that Harvard is now following Yale’s example of having a whole week featuring sex to largely unmarried students who do not need sex education so much as they need — oh, I don’t know — education. Having gone to college myself, I guarantee that no one was clueless about the birds and bees at that point; everyone knew how to get safer sex supplies; and the last thing we hormonally charged young adults needed was a whole week devoted to copulation. We were already devoting 52 weeks a year to the subject in our minds and, for some, bodies.

There continues to be an outspoken perspective in our world that great sexuality is having a specific set of information and tools to do it well. So why not a seminar and some handouts? Surely, that will make for a fabulous sex life!

Now I’m obviously not opposed to sexual knowledge, since I dispense some of it myself on this blog. And a tool or two (e.g., lubricant) can be a lovely addition to the marital bedroom. However, none of what Harvard Sex Week teaches will result in the best sexuality. The best sex comes from a loving, committed marital relationship that has ongoing discovery, layers of intimacy, and giving to one another as its core. (See Do Good Girls Have the Best Sex? from Intimacy in Marriage.) It comes from following God’s Word on what perfect love looks like and taking that attitude into the bedroom as well. (See The Gospel in the Bedroom.)

So how should Christians combat the wrong messages out there being pushed by not merely the porn industry, film makers, and Cosmo magazine — but now by higher education institutions? We must present the right message. We must speak up and present a better way.

What should we teach our young adults and singles instead?

Sex is not merely a physical sensation. Sheila Gregoire made a great point of this in her book, A Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. You can also check out her post on The Act of Marriage, in which she insists that there are three components to sex — physical, emotional, and spiritual. Stripping it down to the physical components only may create some feel-good moments, but you won’t reap a good sex life. That comes from relationship, connection, intimacy.

If it was only about the climax, most of us gals could get there faster with a bottle of KY and a battery-operated device. Treating sex like it is merely a method to reach physical nirvana is essentially treating your partner like a sex toy. You keep him around as long as he pushes all your buttons just so. That attitude completely misses the very best part of sex — the deep connection between two individuals in love and doing life together.

Sex is an emotionally bonding experience. The phrase “casual sex” is an oxymoron. God designed sex by its very nature to be intense and intimate. You can’t experience that with another person at the same level as a casual handshake or even kiss. You’re naked, for heaven’s sake! When we have sex, our bodies secrete Oxytocin, a bonding chemical. Men have a huge surge of this post-coitus, and women experience it with stimulation as well. This is the same chemical that mothers’ bodies secrete when they nurse their babies.

As soon as you have sex in a relationship, you have upped the stakes. You have intimate knowledge of that person that other people (largely) do not have. You have physically experienced an intense connection, and that emotionally impacts your response to the person. One, or both, of you will feel invested in that connection now because sex has an emotional component. That emotional intensity is best saved for marriage.

There is no method that is 100% guaranteed to keep you from getting pregnant or contracting a sexually-transmitted disease. I have known couples who conceived while on the pill — yes, taking it correctly. There is a failure rate for every form of birth control, even if it is small. But if a method is 99% effective, that 100th time you go at it, you’re unprotected, darlin’. That’s basic math.

Despite years of touting the glories of slapping on a prophylactic to prevent the spread of disease, the Center for Disease Control reports about one out of six people, 14 to 49 years of age in the U.S. have genital HSV-2 infection. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease, and in 2010, 1,307,893 chlamydial infections were reported to the CDC; however, this bacterial infection is substantially underreported because most people aren’t even aware what they’re dealing with and don’t seek testing. Then there’s syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, etc. My point is that STDs spread with sexually active people — through genital-to-genital contact prior to the barrier being applied, through mouth-to-genital contact, through digit-to-genital contact, etc. Unless you put your whole body in a prophylactic suit — or better yet, stick to one partner — you are at risk.

Sex is better when you practice long-term with the same partner. I read a great book a few years ago titled The Talent Code about what distinguishes the incredibly talented among us. It cited a wonderful study showing that to truly master a skill, you need 10 years or 10,000 hours of practice. Hey, hey! Wanna get really good at physical intimacy? Pick a long-term (marriage) partner and get to practicing!

Seriously, there is something to this. Movies often depict that first night of lovemaking as the most passionate, ideal interaction between a couple. Often, however, the first time is intriguing but awkward. As you grow in your relationship and knowledge of the other person through ongoing contact, sex gets better. You can figure out what pleasures your mate, try new things, and be more open and free as you grow in your comfort level. For most couples, sexual satisfaction goes up after being married for a decade or more.

Sex is worth waiting for. Take note, Harvard U and singles: It’s worth the wait. We do a lot of waiting in life — for traffic to clear, for our food to arrive, for the main performer to take the stage, for our turn at the doctor’s office, for the roller coaster ride, etc. When you finally get what you were waiting for, some things are worth it and some aren’t. This one is. I love what a friend’s son said after getting married: “Believe me,” he told a group of singles, “Now that I’m married, I am not thinking, ‘Boy, I wish I’d done this in high school.'” He was content, or rather enthusiastic, about making love to his wife after the vows. It was worth waiting for.

What do you wish singles, especially collegiates, knew about sex within marriage? Why should they wait? And what do you think about “Sex Week” being sponsored by universities?

25 thoughts on “Do Colleges Need a Sex Week?

  1. Do Not Disturb Blog

    I can remember vividly at my freshman orientation having woman talk to all incoming freshmen about sex. Telling us to please ourselves regularly and have lots of sexual partners (safely) of course. Seriously, it was ridiculous!

    I want young people, whether high school or college, that sex is worth the wait. I can unashamedly say (and have been known to) that I have 10x’s better sex than Hugh Hefner. Only as comfort, confidence and commitment grow can we truly experience sex as God designed it.

    I just wish that higher education institutions would get the message that they are not promoting sexual freedom but inviting people to experience a prison of poor choices and life long emotional and oftentimes physical pain.

    Megan

  2. Marisa

    It absolutely disgusts me to hear of Sex Week at Harvard. The intellectual hubs have missed the mark totally and get a big “F” from me. SO sad that society allows these institutions to push their agendas on young, impressionable kids. They look at the “immediate gratification” rather than the long term impact of one night stands or cohabitation. Society today craves acceptance and love and pretend sex will fulfill it when as you said, it does not and rakes emotional havoc on people due ot the connection they form.

    Will never forget a visual once used in a sermon: two people having sex casually is like putting a dot of glue on one piece of paper and then attaching the other one. When you take them apart, there is a hole in one and a part of you becomes attached to the other person. Do this multiple times and you get a piece of paper full of holes – bits of you torn from your soul and taken by someone else.

    The social media generation that craves intimacy is blowing themselves up with the casualness of sex. What is truly sad, is when they find someone to marry, what they want to be special and intimate no longer is and causes many insecurities as they wonder if they are being compared to previous partners etc. Something you have to wait for means so much more when you get it!

  3. Casey

    Thank you for posting this! There are so many people that believe abstinence is archaic and completely irrelavant in today’s culture. Singles are being fed a lie from practically every facet of life and it is refreshing to see someone using their voice to promote God’s vision for sex and marriage. THANK YOU!!

  4. Nylse

    the focus of a sex week at a secular college will never be the same for someone who is a christian. in a warped way it’s their acknowledgement that sex is good, but there’s something very wrong with the way the culture is doing it. as you point out knowledge does not lead to having sex God’s way and this is the one thing that won’t be shared, but everything else will be. For the christians at these colleges – “chew the meat and spit out the bones” and recognize that saving yourself for marriage puts one less pressure on you.

  5. Anonymous

    “Safer Sex”? Sex was never designed to be dangerous. Sigh, we need to pray for the generations behind us who are bombarded with sex. From the magazines at the grocery checkout to the billboards, tv, music. Nothing is purer than newly weds giving each other the gift of their virginity.

  6. John Wilder

    Well I encourage kids to masturbate to relieve their sexual tension. There is no where in the bible forbidding masturbation.

    John Wilder

    1. J

      Well, John, I also believe that masturbation is not forbidden in the Bible. However, encouraging kids to masturbate can become problematic. My understanding is that the more you climax, the more your body wants to climax. So you can create a greater desire for sexual release through stoking that fire. Plus, I tend to think that sexual energy should be reserved for one’s mate as much as possible. Essentially, something may be permissible but not beneficial. So I’d say it simply depends on the situation.

      Moreover, even if teens or young adults can/should masturbate, it is not a college’s purpose to encourage this.

  7. Greg

    Yet another sign of the pornification of our culture. There’s no other way to explain it.

    I pray that we as Christians (and as a church) wake up to the fact we are in a major battle for truth–in ALL aspects of life. All the more reason to live and speak the truth without compromise!

    1. J

      I think secular people are searching for that sexual high but don’t realize it comes from experiencing intimacy the way God intended. So they just keep chasing after this, that, and whatever. It’s frustrating, sad, and foolish. Thanks, Greg!

  8. Sheila

    Such a great post, J! I just want to add that chlamydia is the leading cause of infertility right now. I don’t think people realize what damage they are doing to their bodies when they sleep around. Even if you don’t have very many partners, imagine sleeping with someone when you’re 19, and then finding out at 31, when you’re happily married, that you can’t get pregnant. It would be heartbreaking. And totally avoidable.

    1. J

      Thanks for that info! I think chlamydia gets downplayed, and it is a serious issue. Frankly, all STDs are serious business and preventable. I appreciate your input, Sheila!

  9. Paul Byerly

    J – Nice rant, thanks.

    No matter how it’s billed, what sex week is really about it breaking down inhibitions. It’s about getting people to try things they have been uptight about, and feel less concerned about things they felt were dead wrong. This is driven by those who want to be free to express anything sexual, any time, with just about anyone. Sure, they dress it up with safe sex, and rape prevention, but that is not the primary issue.

  10. Julie Sibert

    Love, love, love this post J. As someone who speaks to teens in our public schools about waiting until marriage to have sex, I can tell you that this generation has been sold a bill of goods about “friends with benefits” and the Jersey Shore approach to sex.

    The big thing these kids underestimate is that the heart is always involved. They’ve been preached to about “just be sure you wear a condom,” not realizing of course that a condom will not protect you from a broken heart, will not help you think right thoughts, will not bring balance to your life and in many cases will not even protect you physically.

    With all the fall-out from premarital sex (unplanned pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, broken hearts, skewed ideas about sexuality, etc), it is beyond me how so many people can still argue that sex without a marital commitment is a good idea.

    Anyway, great post. As usual!

  11. Anonymous

    In response to John Wilder….While the Bible does not specifically forbid masturbation, it does say that lust is a sin. How can someone masturbate without lusting? Just my thoughts on the matter. J – great article, by the way!

  12. Anonymous

    In response to John Wilder….While the Bible does not specifically forbid masturbation, it does say that lust is a sin. How can someone masturbate without lusting? Just my thoughts on the matter. J – great article, by the way!

  13. Heather

    At risk of playing the “one-up” game, we are facing this where I live but with our local “family” museum. They have put in a special exhibit that displays all manner of information about stds, masturbation, homosexuality, etc. The display is, at best, an exploitation of what the political left would like our kids to know. Just as an example, there is one display that shows the body’s erogenous zones but to find them you have to run your hands over a mannequin until it lights up. Don’t worry, though, there is a sign at the entrance saying that you need to be over 12 to enter without your parents.

    All of this to say, we need to be so on guard, teaching our children what is right, true, and amazing about sex the way that God planned it. Because the world is going to throw poop at them packaged as candy, we need to be sure that what we have taught them is true in word but also our actions to our spouses. That is the best message our kids can get. Then, they can disregard the trash that surrounds them.

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