by Felicity Leeson
A sixth-former at a prestigious private school has caused a minor sensation in the national press after writing an article for his school magazine, outing himself as a virgin and warning his peers against casual sex. Five years ago, when we published Just Sex (our work on sexual ethics and the limitations of informed consent), it seems likely that the reaction might have been quite different - disinterest, scepticism, or perhaps outright ridicule. Now, it seems that the sympathy his views have received in the mainstream media might herald the very beginnings of a sea-change in public opinion. Are we growing tired of an oversexualised culture that devalues the very thing it idolises?
Guest blogger Felicity Leeson takes a closer look.
Everyone else is having sex. If I’m not, then there’s something wrong with me. I need to be having sex in order to be attractive.
What if none of the above was actually true?
Phin Lyman, 18-year-old student at Wellington College, is a virgin and proud of it. And there is nothing wrong with him. He is, arguably, quite attractive. So why isn’t he having sex?
Phin believes that teenagers are treating sex far too casually. His peers see it as for their own pleasure, almost a right that they have. Online pornography teaches them that girls are objects to gratify their sexual appetites and we wonder why they are so promiscuous.
Aside from the physical act, what is sex?
Phin explains: 'I believe that sex is an incredibly strong symbol of love between two people. Think of it as glue. Once you have had sex with someone, you’re connected to them emotionally and physically. If you tear that bond the rip leaves open scars where the glue once was. That’s why "casual sex" never works in the long term.'
Even at 18, Phin has the maturity to see the result of casual sex on his peers. If you give a part of yourself to everyone you sleep with, it is not long before huge cracks begin to show. Maybe the girls show it more, but the macho image only masquerades the lostness of the boys as well.
In a world where the media is shouting at teenagers to have sex younger and younger, it is a breath of fresh air to see someone sticking up for abstention as an option. And doesn’t he seem even more attractive for doing so?
Good on you, Phin, for keeping yourself for that special person. Not only will you yourself be more emotionally intact but you will have the trust of that girl who knows you can control your appetite. And trust is one of the foundations of a lasting relationship.
What Phin is describing in terms of glue is what the first book of the Bible describes as the ‘two becoming one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Sex was made to be the greatest expression of intimacy within the lifelong commitment of marriage, so that there was no shame, no brokenness but an even greater closeness. If we don’t shout this message to our young people, they could rightly blame us for their brokenness.
Want to find out more?
Romance Academy is a revolutionary project that tackles the tough issues around teenagers and relationships. It aims to give teenagers the tools to make their own decisions about sex, not just accept what the media throws at them.
Watch a video of Rachel Gardner, Romance Academy's Creative Director, explaining how teenagers can learn to make their own intelligent choice.