In a recent discussion at a youth conference, it was put to us by some of the participants that premarital sex was acceptable as long as it was a ‘committed’ relationship. Casual sex was seen to be inappropriate and perhaps dangerous, but if the couple were in a committed dating situation, then sex was okay. It sounds very reasonable and moderate, even mature; there is a certain sense of respect for sex and a desire not to trivialise it totally, as it often is in the wider culture.

In fact, there was universal agreement amongst these young adults that sex was something precious and should be set aside for only ‘special’ relationships. Perhaps we should be grateful that they could at least see the tragedy of the casual sex culture. But truly, all we could see is how they had been duped by yet another of the culture’s subtle lies about sex.

What is Commitment?

Here’s our issue: we agree entirely that sex should only be for committed relationships. The problem is that what most (young) people see as a ‘committed’ relationship has nothing to do with commitment. They define a committed relationship simply by its duration. Ask one, it’s two years; ask another and it’s a year; for another, it’s a few months. There’s a major flaw in this thinking: time together does not necessarily imply or require any commitment.

A relationship commitment is a conscious decision — a choice to make a future with this person, to care about their welfare and to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the relationship. The commitment of marriage is a very public declaration of this decision of life-long dedication by a couple. Marital sex appropriately expresses and renews this commitment. In contrast, sex without commitment expresses anything from simple, short-term affection to raw, self-centred lust.


Originally published at SmartLoving. Photo by Игорь Лушницкий.

About the Author: Byron and Francine Pirola

Married for 25 years, with 5 children, Byron & Francine Pirola are the founders and co-authors of the SmartLoving Series – marriage enrichment and marriage preparation courses designed to help build successful and resilient marriages. International speakers and authors of numerous articles on marriage, more than 3000 couples have attended their programs, workshops and conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain Byron & Francine are Executive Directors of the Marriage Resource Centre from which they run SmartLoving programs and produce digital resources. Francine graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Religion and Religious Education. Byron is a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm, Port Jackson Partners Limited, and a Director of both listed and unlisted companies. He holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University.

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