"I need a cigarette. Come over and chat with me." An old friend of mine beckoned toward the front door of the gym. I followed. Tim and I are exact opposites in many ways and trying to convince him that God exists or that traditional moral standards are a good thing proved nigh impossible. Still, we could disagree without being disagreeable and each stood ready to respect the other.
Our conversation drifted into the realm of what relationships need and what are appropriate physical limitations in dating. He mentioned some of his experiences with his girlfriend and seemed quite staunch in the opinion that physical intimacy should exist before marriage. He seemed for a moment about to cross the line of respect for my standard of chastity in dating and said as though it was an obvious fact, "You know, men have needs!"
I've mulled over that phrase repeatedly since that conversation about four years ago. I wish I had had a ready answer, and I have since become rather annoyed at how frequently that phrase arises in order to convince women to cheaply sell their precious bodies before marriage. Here is my answer now. It is true that men have needs. I honor that. But what we rarely consider is that women have needs too and one of the strongest and most paramount is the need for commitment and emotional security. Are we not half the relationship, too? If a man expects a woman to give herself entirely to him, shouldn't she also, as an equal human being, have the right to expect his devotion in like manner? If he is not devoted to her, is she in any manner required to keep him happy by giving her whole person to him? I think not. And if both decide that the relationship is the right one and are both committed, what can the man have against marriage?
I would further consider that marriage is a man's need just as much as it is a woman's. Let me back up a moment and remind my gentle reader that I am talking about a man. I have heard it said, "Boys will be boys" in defense of the masculine tendency toward unfaithfulness and pornography. A male friend once said in answer to that, "Man up, kiddies!" A man, a real man, believes in commitment and wants to live a full familial life in a morally upstanding way. A man finds marriage exalting, ennobling and satisfying. A boy is the type who will play around and the ironic thing is that a boy who doesn't strive toward honor and marriage isn't a real man, so his defense of "men have needs" clearly doesn't apply to him in the first place!