Sex Before Marriage: What’s the Problem with “Free” Relationships?

Vladimir Gurbolikov | 01 August 2020

Vladimir Gurbolikov

One of the common meanings of the word “sin” is a miss, a mistake from Greek. The word “fornication” is also not an abusive word. It is not insulting. Its sense and meaning is that a person is in error. What is the blunder and misconception, which I believe is present here, in the talk about the existence of some kind of “legal”, morally justified premarital sex? I am convinced that the mistake lies in not understanding that intimacy is always an integral part of marriage. It is one of marriage’s “generic characteristics”. The only question is whether people are ready to admit it or are trying to pretend that they can be together “just like that”, that there is some kind of “just sex” relationships, that people can “try first, and only then…” and so on. In any case, these relationships are too serious to easily accept words about “trial” marriage, about “sex before marriage” and so on.

Why does intimacy have such a special meaning for a person? To begin with, it results from human experience. This experience tells us that these relationships entail a lot of practical (biological, medical, and social) consequences. Furthermore, it results from moral and psychological problems. For example, the problem of trust between two people. There is so much here: starting from the disgusting fear of getting a disease from one’s “partner” to a person’s deep trauma who realized that he or she loved someone, but that loved one just used him or her!

Later is the question of not only physical, but also spiritual purity of a person. How he lives exactly and how he solves this problem for himself cannot pass without a trace for him. Moreover, Christianity talks about the spiritual side of the matter, claiming that it harms one spiritually. The latter is, of course, impossible to “touch” and verify by experience…

Besides, if we talk about the Orthodox position, Orthodoxy does not consider the body to be a “prison of the spirit”. Orthodoxy does not despise the body. The Church calls us to perceive the body by analogy with the temple where the Spirit lives, where the sacred actions take place, and calls both the man and woman to treat their bodies and bodies of each other accordingly. Physical intimacy is not shameful. However, happiness is when this closeness becomes part of spiritual, heartfelt closeness, part of love. So that people through these relationships do not lose their chastity, because according to the Church, chastity is not at all equal to physical virginity.

Chastity is keeping a clean, serious, and deep attitude towards your actions and communication with other people. It is integrity, wisdom, and purity, including both mental and physical. This is chastity.

Obviously, this is the ideal. Clearly human is not perfect, alas. It is clear that both chastity and human virginity are relative. But a lot depends on the vector and the mood. It is one thing when a person considers closeness to be a high and extremely serious occurrence in life, and it is another thing if all of this is part of everyday, non-binding life pleasures and “biology” for him or her.

And it’s hard to believe that this “easy” position is completely sincere. Honestly, I rarely met people for whom closeness would not, in fact, become an experience, memory, or lesson. Moreover, in my life’s experience, there was not a single case when even “innocent” kisses and hugs did not turn into heartache at the break-up and did not leave a trace. Such kisses and hugs are not at all innocent, not at all fleeting. Everything is remembered, everything is stored. It is just different things can happen to one’s soul. In response, someone’s conscience begins to hurt, and he feels that he is mistaken, he begins to seek purity in relationships. Someone, on the other hand, allows his soul to freeze and lose sensitivity. He begins to repeat: So what? What’s the big deal… Everyone lives like this and I live like this. What’s the problem?

But this does not mean that everyone really lives like this. It does not mean that values have indeed changed, become obsolete and different. People are different, values are still different. As Dostoevsky put it: the beauty of Madonna or the ideal of Sodom… Yes, you may not be aware that what is happening is bad. Indeed, there are people who cannot experience pain at all. But this does not mean that there is no pain. Moreover, pain is necessary for a person, it allows you to avoid many dangers. Without feeling pain, you can easily injure yourself … And maybe it is bad when we calmly (and even proudly!) talk about our sexual “achievements”? ..

I am especially amazed how fervently women defend these particular “free” relationships… which are most often beneficial and convenient not for them, but for men, i.e. unprincipled men who do not want to take responsibility for themselves!

After all, women are more often the victims of this “freedom”! I don’t know, maybe they will jump at me here, but nevertheless, indeed women are still looking for chivalry, hoping for a serious attitude towards themselves, wanting the One and Only man… Everything is important: protective, caring power; affection, consent to have and raise children … And I do not fully believe in the sincerity of this feminist “parade”, there is some kind of strain in it.

Some time ago, reading a similar discussion on a forum, I imagined the continuation of Alexander Grin’s novel “Scarlet Sails”: Gray takes away his Assol, and she, in less than a year, suddenly falls ill, and remains bedridden forever (you never know what “prose” happens in life, right? During a squall, she fell, hurt herself and fell ill). She becomes completely disabled… Can you imagine Gray, whom she had been waiting for all her life, going to women in ports, while she lies there, alone, under those damned scarlet sails?..

What blasphemy would it be, how beauty would be violated and perverted! But that is a fairy tale. But in life, doesn’t it seem that everything happens like this?.. However, I think: does it depend on abstract “life” and not on a person? Doesn’t sin remain a sin, whatever excuse you use to justify it?..

In general, no matter how much we feminize, you can’t break nature on your knee: you won’t break it easily, but if you break it, it will only get worse. I recently told my wife as a joke: the family is “rear” for the man, and it is the “front” for the woman. We laughed at it, of course, and then agreed that “there is a grain of a joke in every joke.” While the two both need a family, a man often works hard for the interests of his family. He is still a hunter and gatherer. And a woman, no matter how much she works, no matter how she is emancipated, she sees the family as a supervalue, as the main work of life. The collapse of a career is less likely to be such a blow for a woman as it is for a man. And the breakdown of her family will always hit the hardest.

Everyone has a special ministry. My wife and I had to live for several years under the yoke of serious illnesses of our daughters, each illness threatened its own misfortune. Now it is a little easier, although… But it doesn’t matter. It was then quite obvious that in these situations, no one could replace MOM for children; that children, loving their father with all their heart, at some point will still not accept anyone except their mother.

I don’t know how psychology explains it, what biological science says about it. But it is enough to experience, to see, to understand how DIFFERENT we are – a man and a woman.

We are not equal. This does not mean that a man is taller and a woman is lower, that he is smarter, and she is stupider, that he has the right to work, hang out with friends and have romances, and at this time she is obliged to cook, wash and wipe the snot. Of course not. And, as a rule, the modern family is not like that, at least for the people on that forum. Inequality lies in otherness, in the fact that man and woman remain unique anyways, they remain dissimilar people. If women become men, and men finally turn into women, it will only get worse.

Personally, I don’t want such equality. And I also don’t want moral defeat to be presented as a victory even, so that mistakes, delusions, inability to resist, and inability to be saints (and Christianity calls a person to strive not for an average-standard life, but precisely for holiness!) are perceived with complacency and admiration. I don’t want the conviction of the need to maintain chastity to be declared a mental pathology. This will not give us anything, let alone the children who are going to be brought up on the ideals of such “freedom.”

And finally. Maybe this is the result of Orthodox fanaticism, but I know so many good couples, for whom everything happened as it was written. Many of them didn’t “try first” anything before marriage. I see that it is possible (I will say even that it is essential!) to live according to the commandments, that there is no real reason to say that chaste relationships are “outdated.” And most importantly, I see that it is not a question of pressure from the form, not of some kind of religious dictate. People love each other, they learn to love. That is all … So, is it possible then?..

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