After my post on 500 Days of Summer, I thought more about the search for “the one,” or a “soul mate.” A lot of times, I feel American society is a moral cesspool, in which people have casual sex without much regard for love or human relationship. Although my attitudes on sex can be quite worldly (maybe because of the culture, or my appetites, or a combination of both), there is a strong part of me that believes sex should be reserved for marriage. As the slogan goes, “Abstinence before marriage, fidelity thereafter.”
What’s interesting about the search for “the one,” though, is that it shows a strong regard for monogamy in our culture, notwithstanding our promiscuity. Many people aren’t just interested in sex, sex, sex, as they move from one partner to the next. Rather, they’d like to meet one person with whom they’re compatible. Why? I don’t think it’s just because our society outlaws polygamy, for, in our society, people can be sexually active with multiple partners without committing to one particular person. Yet, why do so many people prefer commitment to “the right person”? Is it a desire for predictability, or security, or the fulfillment of being “the only right person” for somebody else?
Something else I wonder: Does anything short of monogamy devalue people? What I mean is this: Many Christian advocates of abstinence before marriage argue that promiscuity or pre-marital sex treats others as means to satisfy ourselves. We’re trying to manipulate others to gratify our own desires, without loving someone enough to commit.
Maybe. I admit that there are people who seek sex without regard for other people. It’s a game for them. To tie this to my weekly quiet time on II Samuel 13, I think of Amnon, who lusted after Tamar and dumped her outside as yesterday’s garbage after he had his way with her.
But there are people who have sex outside of marriage, and they actually have a relationship with their partner that goes beyond sex. There may be a regard for the partner as an actual person, not just as an object.
So why can’t they commit through marriage? Maybe they’re still trying to see if the person is right for them. Or they’re afraid that the person will change. That’s one challenge in relationships: If we’re to wait for a lifelong partner before we can have sex, then we may not have it for a long time! After all, spending the rest of one’s life with a person is a tall order. No wonder people want to see if a person is “the right one.” And even if someone is “the right one” today, where’s the assurance that he or she will be “the right one” tomorrow, or the next day, or several years from now?