>>My period’s late, dummy.
>>Just kidding, dummy.
Whoa, Hori. Even though she immediately scales back her comment, Hori’s text to Miyamura isn’t some random joke. In episode ten of Horimiya: The Missing Pieces, in the midst of an argument with her boyfriend, Hori reveals how tightly woven sex is with the struggles of her past and her current relationship with Miyamura. Despite the messiness, though, there’s wisdom to be found here, too, about how harmful sex can be when infused with manipulation and fear, but also how it can be beautiful and uplifting when practiced according to God’s intent.
Throughout episode ten, Hori has been expressing jealousy about the amount of time that Miyamura is spending with a classmate. In the context of this fiery topic, Hori snaps at Miyamura about something silly, but instead of apologizing, she grumbles and refuses to give in. Miyamura, in turn, is upset and instead of making peace in the situation, stubbornly doubles down. The argument pours over into school the next day, with Hori being so despondent that she skips classes while sending mystifying texts like the one about possibly being pregnant.
That the series travels down this road is surprising. In the midst of mostly light and happy episodes that add a sense of completion to the series, the second half of episode ten of Horimiya: The Missing Pieces stands out as both somewhat serious and in certain places—like in the text exchange—pretty jarring. Though she quickly comes to her senses and adds that she was just kidding, that moment is a reminder that Hori and Miyamura share intimacy in a variety of ways, including sexually, and that maybe there are some complicated strings attached.
After Miyamura learns that Hori has walked out of class, he finds her and the two finally hash things out. But they don’t reach a typical lovey-dovey type of resolution. Instead, Hori exhibits more odd behavior, kicking Miyamura in the gut and admitting that she knows she’s wrong but Miyamura is a “bakamura” anyway.
Their friends, witnessing the scene from a window above, stand with mouths agape at Hori’s behavior.
Her actions are immature and bordering on abusive. Something is amiss. But we can’t analyze this scene in isolation. Episodes from season one and material from the manga emphasize that while Hori seems to have her life all together on the outside, she’s suffering from some severe wounds inside. Troubles she experienced with her parents as a child are impacting her now and affecting her relationship with Miyamura. Hori’s father has been in and out of her life, and even though he’s often presented in the series in a comical light, he is pretty disliked by the fandom for his selfish actions. Her mother isn’t nurturing either, instead leaving Hori to fend for herself when she’s hurting. In this context, Hori’s behavior begins to make sense, particularly when she admits her fear that Miyamura will leave her, inferring that he’ll abandon her as her parents have.
Despite Miyamura’s calm and kind response, this is pretty serious stuff that the two must work through. It’s so serious, in fact, that it’s totally unreasonable to expect them to have “fixed” it by this point in their relationship. Miyamura does well to calm Hori down in the moment, but this issue will certainly come up again and again; her fear of abandonment, based on a history of abandonment and neglect, may in fact never fully go away. She’s been impacted deeply. And it’s the severity of Hori’s trauma that suggests that her decision to sleep with Miyamura—again referenced in those texts earlier during their fight—was made with complicated motives. Perhaps she slept with Miyamura out of fear of losing him or as a way of keeping him close. Whatever the reasons, her decision was made at least in part from a place of brokenness and hurt, and was perhaps tinged with manipulation. In other words, the foundation for their physical intimacy was unstable—not at all the best ground on which to build that part of their relationship.
It might sound backward to ever say that consensual sex is wrong. After all, the world gives us varying definitions of the deed, saying that “sex is all about power” (an academic definition), that “sex sells” (a cynical one), or that “sex is freedom” (a cultural and sex-positive message). These notions all have in common the idea that you should be having sex. None emphasize the negative consequences.
So I understand that it’s not a popular idea nor is it romantic to say that Hori shouldn’t have decided to have a sexual relationship with her boyfriend. But her actions in episode ten point toward a young woman who is desperate to avoid abandonment and who may even use sex to manipulate Miyamura in her desire for security. They point to the likelihood that all these ideas about sex in our culture may have gotten it wrong.
I think it’s interesting that Hori may have made a misguided decision because she isn’t considering her heart well enough. It seems unlikely that she considered the depth of her trauma and its connection to sex before sleeping with Miyamura. And neither did he.
I don’t blame them for this, however, especially since so few of us seem to have a thoughtful approach to sex. Christians may have learned, for instance, that they should wait until marriage to have sex, but do they understand why?
Their answer might be, “Because the Bible says so.” They could point toward verses about fornication and adultery, indicating that sex outside of marriage is sinful, and to God’s directive that man and woman should marry and become one. While it’s good to know these verses and to obey God’s word, it’s even better to understand why God desires that we live this way. What’s the point? What’s the heart behind these rules? What in the New Testament are these Old Testament verses and laws pointing to?
Unfortunately, that deeper investigation is something the church has by and large failed to convey in this day and age. Many of us are the products of purity culture, either because we were reared on the idea when it was in vogue in the church during the 1990s and into the 00s or because it was passed down to us by our parents (Joshua Harris!) or grandparents (Elisabeth Elliot!). While these teachings focused on tips to avoid “any hint” of sexual immorality before marriage, through them, the church created an atmosphere that indicated sex was dangerous, sinful, and shameful. Although most of the books that became the classics of the movement would explicitly refer to sex as something God-created and good, by presenting premarital sex as something you need to be “saved” from, they also implicitly reinforced the sense that it’s shameful and ungodly, too.
Unfortunately, a generation of Christians have been hurt by these teachings. The “exvangelical” movement is largely fueled by a backlash against this “purity culture,” with many Christians now confused about their faith and large numbers rejecting the church or Christianity altogether. This is a tragic result of a movement rooted more in church culture than in the Bible, a book that actually demonstrates in its very pages an understanding of how wonderful sex is and strongly resolves to keep it holy by ensuring that, like everything in our lives, it is worshipful.
But here we stand, stuck between two extremes. On one end, the church has turned sex into something secretive and shameful. On the other, mainstream culture diminishes it by making it just another pleasure in life and one to be had with as many partners as you like without consequence to your heart and soul. Both approaches are damaging and neither is right. Instead, sex is at its most wondrous, beautiful, and meaningful when aligned with its progenitor: God himself. What we need to do is reclaim God’s own purpose for sex.
For example, we should fully embrace that God created sex as a pleasurable activity. He didn’t have to, but thank God he did! So yes, while sex is certainly the function through which His directive to be fruitful and multiply is accomplished, remember, it’s meant to be fun as well. And within marriage, it’s vital, too. Paul advises married couples to have lots of it to keep their marriages full of love.
Sex is also a form of worship to God. Keeping the marriage bed “pure” (Hebrews 13) is an act of obedience to Christ, as is considering how heavy sexual temptations are when deciding to marry or to stay single. These acts of obedience in avoiding sin are offerings to God. The idea of sex as worship, both in sacrifice and in practice, lifts it to something even more beautiful and holy than anything the world or purity culture could shape it to be.
So do you see? Sex is so full of wonder and significance that it’s actually more meaningful than we would be led to believe. The world often presents it, for instance, as unrelated to our mental health (“I keep my sex life separate from everything else in my life”), as an easy solution to it (“You’d sleep with me if you loved me”), or as an answer to one’s woes (“I wish I could get laid”). But what Hori’s example demonstrates is that sex is much more than a separate, temporal, and inconsequential thing. It has not resolved her abandonment issues; in fact, it’s given them new life in the form of sexual manipulation. Even though it was just through one text, we can see the doors starting to open for Hori on a new troubling tendency that she may fall back on again and possibly with more frequency in the future. And neither is Hori “set free” by freely engaging in sex. Her fears are instead exacerbated. They add fuel to the fire that is her trauma.
But what if Hori had made a different decision the night she and Miyamura first slept with each other? What if she’d been more aware of her abandonment issues and sought genuine healing first instead of the quick fix of sex? What if she had waited, so that she could engage in this God-designed act when it was meant to be enjoyed, within a marriage? Imagine the joy Hori would feel in making the vow of “forever” with Miyamura without relying on the feelings of closeness that come with sex or manipulating her beloved by how she uses it. Sex would change from a temporal pleasure with a negative consequence for her to a form of intimacy free from fear, shame, and manipulation.
But there’s another reason, too, to wait until marriage—and that’s the very concept of marriage itself! While it’s been reduced in its meaning and significance in our culture, marriage remains a wondrous union when practiced as intended by God; it’s also the best context in which sex can flourish. I’ve mentioned some of the ways that it can be harmful outside of that context; inside of marriage, however, sex is a key component to drawing and keeping two people in a happy union for the rest of their lives.
There’s a difference when you’ve made that lifelong commitment as opposed to one that could end at any moment. Marriage isn’t a hasty arrangement. It’s not a one-night affair. It’s not a power struggle or a quick fix. Marriage is meant to be the longest relationship and commitment you’ll ever make. It takes love and practice and forgiveness every day as you grow in patience and grace, building character as you and your spouse grow together. As you wait on sex, you’re also waiting on this blessed union. You’re building character, too, and in doing so, helping to set a strong foundation for the grander goal of spending the rest of your life with your spouse.
Of course, not everyone is meant to marry, nor are all marriages successful. But we are all made to seek, love, and worship God in any and all circumstances. When we veer off the path he carved for us, including the way we approach relationships and intimacy, we become lost. Like Hori, we become bruised and battered along the way, and we begin to hurt others as well.
God’s design for us offers hope to the worn and weary, to the injured and exploited, and yes, even to the perpetrators and manipulators. The reason to wait on sex until marriage is to worship God by trusting his intent for sex and marriage. And the reason to worship Him is because He’s proven that he is holy and that he loves us. His ways are perfect, too, and as we follow him in our romantic relationships and all other matters, we’ll discover this as well: His precepts—even when they require us to wait—are always for our good.
Horimiya and Horimiya: The Missing Pieces can be streamed on Crunchyroll.
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