[sex]In a society where we grow up seeing sex on TV, in magazines and even in advertisements on building walls, it is hard to imagine that the subject of sex may be considered taboo in any culture. But for many, including Christians and Jews, religion weighs heavily on how individuals approach sexual relationships. For example, in Jewish culture the idea of waiting to have sex until marriage is both a written and unwritten rule.
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg of Askmoses.com explained why he believes sex outside of marriage is wrong.
“The Torah commands us to marry before we engage in sexual relations and sexual intercourse, when done properly, is a holy act,” Silberberg said. “Furthermore, marriage means inviting God into the relationship, so pre-marital sex reduces a holy act into a base and animalistic desire and act.”
Senior introductory humanities student, Morgan Taylor understands that within her Jewish culture, sex before marriage is highly discouraged. “It is something sacred and if you have sex before marriage it cheapens it,” Taylor said. “Sex is the one thing you get to do with your partner that is especially reserved for just the two of you, so we see it as a spark of the life from God…it’s holy in essence.”[sex2]
Scott Lachman, president of MSU’s Hillel Jewish Student Center agrees with Taylor’s perspective.
“From my understanding, sex outside of marriage is shunned upon,” Lachman said. “One is supposed to save himself or herself for marriage and some Orthodox Jews won’t even touch the opposite sex until they are married.”
Rabbi Isser Z. Weisberg, a representative from AskMoses.com, gives Orthodox Chassidic Jewish insight.
“It is biblically forbidden and considered prostitution to practice pre-martial sex,” Weisberg said. “The concept of sex in Judaism is a gift to enhance our relationships with our spouses, and forms used for self-gratification are considered unholy and wrong.”
However, in American Christian culture, which is often thought of as the most conservative in the world, sex before marriage has become more and more common, even though some Christians will look down on it. Rebecca Miller, a Catholic law student at MSU observed how individuals within her religion no longer hold fast to many of the rules that they were brought up to follow. “The church culture is no longer the dominant culture in society,” Miller said. “America is more of a secular culture now, and it really has become an individual’s choice to participate in pre-marital sex.”
Luke Moldenhauer, a Christian art student agrees with Miller’s observations. “People within my culture say that sex is a bad thing mostly because of their religious upbringing, so everything besides the actual act is alright and they probably still have sex anyways,” Moldenhauer said. “However, the church still verbalizes that engaging in pre-marital sex is something to be avoided because of what is taught in the Bible.”
Youth Minister Richard Mittwede from Christ Lutheran Church in Lansing explained why Christianity discourages sex outside of marriage.
“Culturally, traditionally and as revealed in The Bible, the blessing of sexual intimacy is best enjoyed by a man and woman who are committed to the bonds of matrimony,” Mittwede said. “Sexual activity outside of this is seen as contrary to God’s design for human relationships, and potentially harmful to them.”
Though cultures may frown upon the idea of sex before marriage, it seems that in practice, individuals from all cultures do not hold quite as stringent to this idea. Taylor said it depends on the person if they want to have pre-marital sex or not.
“It’s about fifty-fifty because nobody would come down on you for having sex,” Taylor said. “Our culture is not judgmental like that, but we are still encouraged to think it’s one of the most sacred acts we can engage in…wouldn’t you want to do that with someone you’ll spend the rest of your life with?”
Miller also believes that sex outside of marriage is becoming more and more accepted for Christians.
“It’s becoming more common now than in the past,” Miller said. “It’s actually much more rare to find someone now who will wait to have sex until they are married.”
Lachman agrees that many MSU Jewish students are not all that religious and therefore do not adhere to strict rules, but admits that there are those students who are not generally promiscuous.
“Many people my age have sex outside of marriage, but not all of them,” Lachman said. “Jewish students at MSU are just like other students and they want to have fun too.” Within stricter Orthodox communities however, sex outside of marriage is not done whatsoever, according to Weisberg.
Moldenhauer agrees that despite what happens in theory, in practice many people within his culture engage in sex despite their upbringings. Interestingly enough, though it may be important, sex does not have to play such a huge part within relationships outside of marriage.
“I do not think sex is an important part to a relationship until marriage, because growing up in a conservative household, I was given high morals and values to believe that relationships should not be based on sex,” Lachman said. “They should be based on friendship, honesty and mutual feelings towards one another.”
In the same aspect, American culture also does not see sex as being the most necessary part of a relationship.
“Yes I think it can be nice to have sex and even be special, but I don’t think it has to be the most important part of a relationship,” Miller said. “I think relationships can be just as strong and healthy without it.”.
Though it may not seem like the rules and regulations about sex before marriage do not cross over from culture to culture, but with research it looks like this and other ideas do indeed translate no matter your culture.
“Sex is something that one is going to naturally feel the need to have in a serious long-term relationship,” Moldenhauer said. “We’re only human and I think everyone has sexual feelings whether they are raised to have them or not.”

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