I’ve been dreading episode seven of Horimiya for weeks before it aired. Well, not episode seven exactly—I was anxious for whatever episode it would be where that happens, the episode which corresponds to events in chapter 36 of the manga (spoilers ahead). Through a source, I learned that it would happen this week, so I girded myself and prepared for the scene to occur.
Yes, that language seems unusually strong for an episode where in a very short scene, Hori and Miyamura consummate their relationship. But I have my reasons. First, my kids—they’re watching the show with me, and while we’re very frank and open in our conversations with them about sexuality, it’s still a bit different when you see characters you like and admire engaging in a sexual relationship. It hits different, especially for a developing mind.
And that all has to do with the second reason, which is that I’ve personally bought into the Kool-Aid that says Horimiya is “pure”—whatever that means. Like Tonikawa before it, I see comments a’plenty that all basically state, “Horimiya is just so pure!” Sex feels dirty, or at the very least, not quite “pure.”
But again, that’s just Kool-Aid.
And so is my third reason: There’s a lingering Evangelical, purity-culture thought in my mind that says, “That’s not right.” I want to land there today, on this reason, and talk about why for the Christian these ideas about sex outside of marriage are important, though maybe not be for the reasons you believe.
Even though Hori and Miyamura wouldn’t hold to a Christian worldview, they present a good starting point through which we can consider how many Christians think when it comes to premarital sex. While scripture infers and points at sex outside of marriage being against God’s design, a peculiar cult of purity fixated on the idea, gripping evangelical circles some 20 years ago (perhaps even further back) and remains a strong force today. Unfortunately, it’s caused great harm, with many people using social media today to express how thoughts back then led to life-long hurt. For those unaware, this culture insists that young people must go to drastic means to avoid sexual temptation as they seek to work toward a godly relationship and marriage: 1) No one-on-ones with the opposite sex. 2) Hang out in friend groups first. 3) Courtship, not dating. 4) Set strict rules regarding physicality. And on and on and on.
But why do this in the first place? Is it to protect one’s chastity? To have the magic of being with only your spouse, physically, for a lifetime? Or is it to obey God?
For the Christian, following such rules (I won’t usher in the term “Pharisee” here. Oh, wait.) should be about that last option, but I find it strange that such a culture erupted around this idea. And why isn’t there an “escape the love of money” culture? Or “avoid making a safe, suburban existence the goal of life” culture? Or maybe a “Live by the word only” culture? After all, these topics to seem to be of higher significance to the same audience of churchgoers.
We get fixated instead on sex. And while sex outside of marriage is a sin, and yes, it can leave scars, it’s also not a special sin by any means. God will forgive these transgressions as he will any. I mean, if God will forgive murder, he will certainly forgive you having sex during your teenage years before you even really developed your faith. He’ll even forgive you when you’re older than that, more mature than that, more developed in your faith than that—and even when you hurt others by going outside the marriage bed, if you approach him with sincerity and humility.
Unfortunately, I think as purity culture captured many young people’s imaginations, they got stuck on the process, engaging primarily with the “How do I obey?” while forgetting the “Why do I obey?” when that’s far more important. If we skip that question, we may essentially deem that God is just trying to prevent us from having a good time. But one thing that a close examination of scripture reveals is that he never gives arbitrary rules.
Let’s go back to Hori and Miyamura, for example. Although we all want them to work out as a couple, and I imagine they will (I suppose the last chapter of the manga, out next month, will tell us what ultimately happens), what if they don’t? What if they break up, and Hori later meets someone and falls in love with him and he’s just not as physically, er, talented in the bedroom as Miyamura? Will she be satisfied?
But what if they do marry? Well, I think that’s where we can understand the question of “why” most of all. Marriage exists (And as a side note, what really constitutes a marriage by God’s standards? I can’t say—though I have trouble believing that a marriage done in haste in a chapel in Vegas, as legal as it is, is closer to God’s marriage than what Hori and Miyamura have even now in their short time together) as a relationship that portrays what God is to us. It’s a way for humanity to experience God, and to understand what it is to find fulfillment in him. Not in a perfect way, but for just a taste. And sexual fulfillment is a very part of that satisfaction.* We most experience fulfillment in God through godly relationships, including a marriage where sex is highly valued, and highly sought after. Anything less not only cheapens the marriage, then, but also our understanding of our marriage to Christ.
Still, we tend to get mechanical when it comes to sexual purity. We do our best and then worry about failure. Will God forgive you if you have sex outside marriage? Of course. If you’re in a relationship with him, the forgiveness has already occurred (and on a funny note, he may have already forgiven you for a sexual indiscretion you haven’t yet committed). And if you have sex outside of marriage, even lots of it, will you be able to find strong fulfillment in a marriage, including sexually? I imagine you can, though as youth pastors all across the nation teach, scars and other issues from such relationships may follow you into your marriage bed.
But all that talk of sin and future spouses and purity in marriage? It kind of misses the point, which is this: Because God is perfect and only wants our good, when we obey him, we’re at our most fulfilled, our most godly, our most human. We’re doing what we were made to do. And knowing that, why would you rob yourself of something that good?
So that’s why this is important. Not because some author has great advice about a courtship relationship. Not because your church tells you so. Not because you feel “guilty” if you’ve been intimate with someone outside of a marriage. We seek to have sex within marriage because it’s by God’s design, and through it we draw nearer to him, and as do so, simultaneously also toward all we can be.
If Hori and Miyamura were Christian, if they were, you know, not fictional, they may be feeling a mixture of elation and guilt right now. You might be feeling the same. But don’t let that sense of guilt be one that’s brought about by purity culture or by a static reading of the Bible. Let it be about wanting more of God, just like Hori leaning on Miyamura’s heart, wanting more of him, and Miyamura leaning on Hori’s heart, wanting more of her. That’s exactly the desire we could and will, one day, have for him. And by living according to his design, we get a bit closer to it while showing him the devotion and love that we would show our earthly lover.
And who doesn’t want to be in a relationship like that?
*Note: There are folks who don’t have a desire for sex, and those who feel fulfilled being single and without sex. Paul says this is good. If that’s you, well, I guess you can move along from this post. In many ways, you are quite blessed!
Horimiya can be streamed on Funimation.