When I was five, a brand new show called Sesame Street first aired on TV. I, and many kids in my generation, loved this show and grew up learning a lot while having fun. One of the segments on Sesame Street included a song with the lyrics: “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things is not the same.” (If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, you no doubt read those lyrics with the iconic tune in your head.) As the song played, there would be four items on the screen, such as three circles and a square. Or there might be four completely different shapes—a star, a square, a circle, and an oval—but three would be red and one would be green. The goal was to teach kids the concepts of same and different.
In our culture today, we seem to have forgotten this lesson in one important area of life. There is an activity that is very different from all other activities—it is, in fact, unique—but our culture has lumped it in with all other activities. If we were to play the game of “One of these things is not like the others” with the following list of activities for a third date, some would have a hard time deciding which one was not like the others:
- Going to a movie
- Having a picnic
- Going for a hike
- Having sex
One person might say the picnic is different, because it is the only one that involves food. Another person might say that the hike is different because it involves outdoor exercise. Still another might say that the movie is different because it costs a lot of money.
But really, the one of these things that is not like the others is having sex. It is the only unique activity that can result in the creation of another human being. It is the only activity that, once it has been done, changes a person’s status from being a virgin to being not a virgin. It is an activity that bonds two people together in a way that can never be completely broken even if they break up and never see each other again. (“The two shall become one flesh.” Mark 10:8).
But thanks to the sexual revolution, this beautiful, unique, creative, and intimate activity has been reduced to just another Friday night option. This wonderful gift of God has been reduced to “hooking up,” “bumping nasties,” “getting laid,” “getting lucky,” and numerous other terms that I won’t post here.
Last month we were watching Last Comic Standing—and I’ll admit I didn’t think any of them were funny—and one of the comics said, “I had sex in high school, like a normal person.” Our culture has reached the point where everywhere you turn you see casual sex and it’s expected that teenagers will have sex, or they aren’t normal. Even on the TV sitcom Big Bang Theory, Leonard the nerd—the last holdout of young men who didn’t have sex in high school like normal guys—had sex with several different women before he met and married Penny.
We hear that Planned Parenthood’s birth control services are essential because abstinence for teenagers or young adults just isn’t an option. But why isn’t abstinence an option? When and why did we as a culture decide that it was better for our young people to have sex whenever they want? When did we decide self-control just wasn’t something to teach our children?
Perhaps if our culture didn’t teach young men that they are normal only if they’ve had sex at 15 or 16, then the 16-year-old boy who raped me when I was 14 wouldn’t have thought it was okay. Maybe if our culture didn’t treat sex like just another activity that boys (and more often these days girls) can’t help but do starting at a young age, then we wouldn’t have so many pregnancies of girls in their teens and early 20s, often followed by abortions.
Maybe if we taught our sons and our daughters that their virginity is not something they should be itching to lose, like smelly bag of garbage, but rather is something to be kept and cherished like a bag of gold and gem stones until they find the right person to share it with. Because once you lose it, you can’t get it back.
We hear much in the news about the rape culture in our colleges and wonder what to do about it. Well, it’s not just in our colleges. It’s in our high schools, it’s in our television programming, it’s big money at the box office. I believe the rape culture stems from the inability of our culture as a whole to see that “one of these things is not like the others.” Casual sex and a focus on “getting laid” as opposed to finding true, lasting love have blurred the lines between what’s acceptable and what’s not for many in our culture. When we tell young, unmarried men they aren’t normal if they don’t have sex, is their obsession with it really a mystery?
But in God’s culture, the lines aren’t blurred. Sex is a unique and intimate activity that is to be reserved for a husband and wife. Before marriage, God calls us to have self-control when tempted and He gives us His Holy Spirit to help us with that self-control (and more). (See Galatians 5:22-23).