There is no shortage of misery in what previous generations used to call this “vale of tears.” Murders, thefts, earthquakes, bullyings, genocides, governmental opressions, slanders, hurricanes, and other man-made and natural disasters dot our newscasts and haunt the internet. As unlikely as it is, we all hope to be spared the worst of these and hope to survive those that strike us. But there is at least one cause of misery that is hidden from the news and rarely discussed because it is so private.
Somewhere, I read this statistic. I cannot know if it is true, but I was struck by it. Of those men and women who are not married and yet are engaged in sex — what that same previous generation mentioned above used to call “living in sin” — 80% of the women expect to marry the man with whom they are sleeping. Only 20% of the men expect to marry their current partner. Let’s assume for the sake of this blog post that the statistic is true.
The best that we can hope for is that the 20% of men are all in a relationship with the 80% of women who expect to marry them. At the worst, there are many women, and a smaller number of men, who will one day wake up and discover that they are alone, discarded like a power tool that is now obsolete.
If this statistic is true, there are many conclusions that can be drawn. First, there are many men who are telling the woman in their bed that they love her, but they are lying. They are only using her to scratch a sexual itch and feed their egos while they look for the love of their life. Or perhaps they simply intend to travel from woman to woman like a bee travels between flowers, until they are so old that they no longer desire a woman or no woman will desire them. Second, there are many women who have been deceived by their partners or by themselves who are, no doubt, in for a bitter disappointment. Lastly, the potential for human heartache and its attendant misery is great.
There is nothing that can be said to deter those sexual predators (men and women both), who say “I love you” but do not. No words will convince them to stop courting the hopeful partner and slipping with him or her between the sheets. These men and women have what they want. No words of censure would stop them, and to judge from the quick and painless way fictional characters meet and sleep together on TV and in movies, there is very little censure for their actions in our culture. “We’re all consenting adults,” is the Hollywood message. “No big deal. We’re not hurting anyone.”
But that can’t possibly be true. What about the man or woman who expected to marry his or her sexual partner, and now has been surprised with rejection that had always been intended by the partner he or she loved? Doesn’t this man or woman hurt? How does he or she (I’ll use the feminine pronoun to refer to both from now on, since if the statistic is accurate more women are going to experience this) deal with the rejection? I submit that she has many avenues. She begins to trust less. She hides her pain in her heart. She may be angry. She may pretend she never cared. She may become depressed. She may become hard of heart and cynical. She may attempt suicide.
She may even become that which hurt her so she can “get even”, only to continue the pain with some other unsuspecting partner.
For sure, she dare not speak of how she hurts. Does anyone want to hear? Does anyone really care? Even superhero shows like The Flash and The Arrow show our children that when a man meets a woman in a bar and barely know each other, sexual liaisons are perfectly acceptable — even expected. Comic books — comic books! — proclaim the same morality.
And so, her misery is hidden.
The scar may never heal except in the arms of God, but then, our culture is no longer interested in God, either.