Fourthly, sexual intercourse is considered almost a sacred
act symbolizing total commitment forever, regardless of the
difficulties that arise. In this case, sex might reasonably occur at the
same time the couple are legally and spiritually united in marriage.
This is the traditional Christian and Jewish view. People who endorse
this attitude tend to be older and more religious.
Pros: In some respects, this sounds ideal: everyone
approves, no risk of children before total commitment, no guilt
about sex, comfortable and well planned conditions for sex, and
the sex act is made special--saved for years for this one special
person and symbolizing the highest degree of respect, almost a
reverence, for each other. One can be proud of the self-control
and religious commitment involved. And, one can be pretty
sure you weren't selected just because of your great body or
sexual virility. Your partner's permanent commitment to you
and to God gives some reassurance that marital problems will
be taken seriously.
It is as absurd to pretend that one cannot love the same person always as to
pretend that a great artist needs several violins to play a piece of music.
Cons: One has, in this alternative, to give up sexual
intercourse with all other people except with the person you are
going to marry. If, in fact, one has avoided sexual intimacy with
all others prior to marriage, eventually one might feel cheated
(especially if the partner has had or seeks sex or love from
others). This view of the meaning of intercourse may be
confounded with unhealthy attitudes towards sex: fears or
negative feelings about sex or genitals, difficulty
communicating, little interest in sex, etc. In short, one can
have sex or avoid sex for unhealthy reasons. If one abstains
from sex, the relationship may become "traditional" in many
other ways besides sex: the man is the boss; the wife stays
home, subordinates herself, and loses her identity. Too much
may be expected from the marriage or from romantic love,
leading to disappointments. If the couple believes divorce is
impossible or horrible, they may be miserable either way, i.e.
trapped in an unhappy marriage or breaking the vows and
getting an immoral divorce.
Sex can be given many meanings
Sex may, for some people, have different meanings at different
times; at first, intercourse may just be fun, then later it may mean "I
like you," later "I love you," and finally eternal commitment. However,