I’m an anime fan, by which I mean I’m not particularly a fan of manga. I just don’t read a lot of it, though I do go on tears where I’ll read chapters upon chapters, and there are a few series that I do keep up with, like Genshiken and Claymore. But mostly, I leave commentary on manga up to the experts, like Laura of Heart of Manga, and here on this site to R86 and Murasaki Lynna.
And so, I might be inaccurate when I say that it seems a trend in shoujo manga is for a couple to progress step by step through their relationship, with sex as one of the rungs on the dating ladder. This is true of Pastel, a series I used to enjoy until it became too fanservice loaded and sex-focused for my tastes (not that even the earliest chapters contains a whole lot of it), and of Suzuka, and probably of other series I’ve read and can’t remember.
Without a foundation in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Japan isn’t as concerned with moral issues surrounding sex before marriage as Americans are. Why would the Japanese wait for marriage if they don’t find it wrong? Shoujo manga couples have it even hard (ha!), after all…
- They’re extremely pretty (even the “ugly duckling” types)
- They’re hormone-raging teenagers
- Their best friends have usually already done it
- It’s a chance to move past their shy glances and blushing cheeks
Of course, what they (and real people) don’t often realize is that enjoying such intimacies with someone else can have consequences. You miss out on something incredible that you might only have shared with your future spouse – and who would you want to share it with more, anyhow?
This morning, I heard a radio interview with a young woman who is set to get married in a few months. The DJs were dumbfounded at the fact that she and her groom-to-be had never kissed, and weren’t going to, until they officially became man and wife. They wanted to save that intimacy, not to mention anything more physical, for their covenant marriage.
Sound crazy? Well…then call me crazy: my wife and I did the same.
It was my idea to wait to kiss until we wed. And to be sure, it was at times a struggle. But it was worth it because we developed the most important parts of our relationship (emotional, spiritual, etc.) and saved our physical intimacy for our marriage, an agreement that meant something very special to us. In a symbolic way, the marriage was sealed with our kiss when the pastor pronounced us “man and wife.”
Neither of ever regretted our decision. But I do know many who have regretted enjoying intimacies before marriage.
There’s a reason for, and blessing to, waiting until marriage to be physically united as one. I hope that we understand that it’s not about a conservative viewpoint that’s old-fashioned, nor is it like manga on the other end of the spectrum, depicting another rung on the ladder. Sex is neither something to be feared nor something to do at will. There’s reason to wait. When we do, we honor it as the meaningful, beautiful, and loving action it is.