16 January 2009

Of Broken Hearts and Shattered Dreams

This week in the tunnel (the place where campus clubs can set up displays) SHIP (the student health initiative program) set up its display on how to keep you life balanced while at school. This group does many laudable things including giving students tips on de-stressing, eating properly and cheaply, and staying fit. However, their biggest focus (from what I can see; I've never used their services) is on "sexual health" and that bothers me, especially since my tuition dollars go to fund this organization (and I have no choice but to pay these fees.)

The goal of their sexual health services is to keep university students healthy by teaching them "safe sex" methods, giving STD information and helping students find the "right contraception for you." Obviously as a Catholic I have serious moral issues with that, but that's not what I want to talk about with this post. I recently ran across this article talking about the "Hook-up Culture" on campuses. The premise of the article is that scientific evidence can demonstrate the severe psychological impact of "no-strings sex" on college age people. The article suggests that rising infidelity among young couples can be directly traced to the years of casual sex that occur for many people in the college years. From the article:

"There are many possible explanations for that shift, but the habits of heart cultivated by today's hook-up culture qualify as a leading culprit. It's hard to imagine better preparation for adultery than years of emotionally detached, random sexual couplings. And the "marriage-lite" solution embraced by growing numbers of cohabiting young couples -- many of whom are refugees from the hook-up culture and too skittish for marriage -- may exacerbate the problem, as the temporary mindset they learn in their live-in romances transfers to their marriages."

I've been on a university campus for the last 6 years and I can attest to the hook-up culture that permeates college life. From what I've seen in law, and from what I've heard from friends in other professional colleges (med, vet med, etc) that hook-up culture gets worse the longer you spend at university. It also seems to be correlated with the amount of alcohol consumed- the more you drink, the more casual sex you have. I fear for my generation every time I attend a law school event. It's a small college, and on Monday gossiping about who hooked up with who is the thing to do. I've also seen the physical and mental harm this behavior causes. Friends nurse broken hearts when they find out their boyfriend cheated on them Friday night because they were here and he got drunk and didn't realize what he was doing. I've seen friends cry because they guy they hooked up with never called them back and ignores them whenever they try to talk to him. I have no idea what the long term effect of this will be on their psyche, but as the article says "emerging consensus among experts that today's anything-goes campus sexual mores carry lasting consequences we only have begun to understand. And those consequences extend well beyond unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." I don't want that to be true for my friends, but I think it might be.

And yet, as this article mentions at the very bottom, there is hope. Some of my generation are rebelling against this culture of hook-up sex and booty calls by creating campus groups that pledge chastity. The founders and members of those groups are decidedly countercultural, but they bring great hope and joy to me. I don't want to see my friends and family ruin their lives and marriages because society tells them that casual sex is harmless fun. In some ways, the rebels of my generation are formed directly out of the rebels of my parents generation (the sexual revolution generation). We have seen the results of the free-love ways of our parents, and we don't like them. Many grew up with parents who fought then finally divorced, or parents who committed adultery or parents who just weren't there. Consciously or unconsciously we've recognized that sex for the sake of sex doesn't make you happy, and so we refuse to buy into society's "safe sex" message. And just as we have to fight the pro-life revolution and be witnesses and examples, we need to do the same in our personal lives.

I thank God that we have that chance, and I pray we will be successful, for our sake and the sake of our children.

1 comment:

Armin Arend said...

May I join you and your friends in this prayer. I too attended university (but fortunately lived off-campus) and could not believe how university and free sex changed people. I was so sadened, especially, as you describe it, on Mondays.

Now it is my youngest daughter who wants to attend university because she wants to become a vet. She is a "good" and "sane" girl, but can you imagine how I worry, knowing what happened to others? My daughter is thinking of attending an open Christian university, I think this would be a wise choice, I just hope that the university will live up to deliver what it promises in the culture of the setting.