Seems there’s been a decent amount of discussion in the JBlogosphere lately about shomer negiah and tefillin dates and stuff. My own opinion on the subject is simply to be 100% shomer. Honestly, its the one thing I’ve always been strict on myself about, mainly because most aveiros that people do are personal things, basically things that are between them and G-d, but whether or not you were shomer can have far reaching consequences when you get married and stuff, especially for girls. I’ve always known that I wanted sex, the ultimate expression of intimacy, to be only between me and my wife. I didn’t want a history, a list of previous partners, a “where did you learn that!” kind of thing. Its also a constant practice in self-control for me. If I can control myself from the most difficult to resist thing, it gives me the knowledge I can control myself given far easier things, like being lax on kashrus and stuff.
I’m not judging those who aren’t shomer, I believe to each his own. But what I don’t really get is the people who are shomer, but only up to the point of not going all the way. All that does is create a constant anticipation, a “so close but so far” kind of thing. In a shomer relationship, you know that whats off bounds is off bounds. If you don’t cross that first line, you don’t risk crossing any others. Its difficult, of course, but not the same as allowing yourself to get to that certain point then stopping. And its amazing to me how far people will go without doing it. Like sharing the same bed, but only sleeping. I’m sure its nice, but at some point that’s gotta be torture for the guy.
I’d say my view was reinforced by two things. When I worked at a Pesach hotel in Miami way back when, probably 9th or 10th grade, and I had the chance to but didn’t, that was kind of the ultimate thing. (Everyone else pretty much spent the entire ten days hooking up.) And it was pretty much solidified in first year Beis Medrash when I was older and wiser. My chavrusa was a 24 year old who had gone off the derech and come back on in the past year. He was engaged, and he was tortured by whether or not he should tell his kallah (who was always frum) about his previous sexual partners. Seriously, it was tearing him apart. I knew I didn’t want to be in his shoes.
Its only in the past few years that I learned that even among my frum friends, my strict shomer policy put me in the minority. At some point you begin doubting yourself about whether you’ve just been naive. As someone put it to me, “do I really think that these days I can find a frum girl who’s not crossed any of the lines?”. He didn’t say it quite like that though (I try and keep this blog PG). I hope I can.
(To clarify, when I say lines, I’m not talking about hand holding or something minor and stupid like that.)
(Wow, this post is a downer, isn’t it?)