I do respect your opinion but I whole heartedly disagree.
Sex isn't a handshake or the crossing of a street. Sex is or should be a much more spiritual and personal act. It should take thought and be treated with care. Sex is a very powerful thing and can either make or break you. Some try to be robotic about sex (acting with no emotion) but believe me when I say it has ramifications. Whether anyone realizes it or not, hearts can lie, hearts can connect, and hearts can break. You can't always be cool and shut off your feelings. The heart wants what it wants regardless of what our brains are telling us. That's why we have both. To think and to feel.
As for marriage, millions of people around the world hold their marriages near and dear to their heart. Marriage is something that has been performed since the dawn of mankind. It's the sealing of two hearts as one. Marriage is from God himself (if you're a believer). Marriage is something that peoples of all kinds have fought for. It's something that should be cherished and treated with respect. It takes time, love, and care to work. Only the ones who are strong in love, heart, and mind make it work.
It's that very train of thought that marriage is irrelevant which is part of what this topic is all about. The breakdown of sex, love, and human emotion. Where has the intimacy gone? I'm not saying marriage is for everyone or should be. I don't care if anyone wants to get married or not. That's not what I mean. I'm talking about a common breakdown of connection. The devaluing of the most basic human emotions.
I didn't used to want to get married. I was actually against it, but then I met my husband and my life changed. I started wanting things that my heart never had before (or maybe it did and I didn't know any better). Love is a crazy and beautiful thing. It's not always easy and you do have to work to maintain it but it's so worth it.
The "wam, bam, thank you mam" mentality only works for so long. Eventually, you'll be left feeling alone and empty.
Love is where it's at.
I respect the fact that we both hold drastically different views on the topic at hand. Your views on sex and marriage seem to be dependent upon a belief in a god figure and on more-or-less "traditional" and romantic ideas of marriage. Of course, you are fully entitled to hold whatever opinions you please. My views, however, are not those which are endorsed by our increasingly sexualised media. My problem with it has nothing to do with any sort of morality connected with sex, but with action/consequence aspects of it.
The media does its best to portray casual sexual relationships as something desirable (which they are to some people). It does not, however, do a competent job in informing its viewers on the possible risks and consequences which are attached to the action, such as pregnancy, etc. In fact, they seem to even glamourize pregnancy by having shows like 16 and pregnant, in which the majority of the girls concerned are of middle to high-class background and have little to no visible struggles in their progression to giving birth, and beyond.
I am of the opinion that people should look for information themselves, however, the media holds responsibility in providing such information if it intends to glorify sexual relationships in the manner they presently do.
I will tell you that marriage is, in practice, a very individual-oriented experience. There are people (such as yourself) who wish to marry for love, which is fine. Others, however, see marriage as an opportunity to advance their finances or social status, which is the "traditional" ambitious realist (perhaps even excessively so, but that's up to interpretation) manner of viewing it.
Sex is similar to marriage in that way, at least in my opinion. There are those who seek an emotional connection in addition to a physical one (most commonly women, but some men desire this too), while there are those who are perfectly content with receiving and giving physical gratification (sometimes in exchange for money) without becoming emotionally attached to the partner. If this wasn't true, successful, high-class, self-employed prostitutes would not exist.
The pros and cons go both ways. In my personal opinion, neither viewpoint is either "right" or "wrong". In theory, they (and a myriad of other viewpoints which doubtlessly exist in between) function for the individual who holds them, generally speaking. That's the beauty of different stances and opinions on a topic. None are definitively right or wrong, and they can be successfully applied in accordance with one's own circumstance.
I would also like to clarify my previous post's statement. I compared sex to crossing a street when it comes to morality. In other words, that aspect of the equation is completely irrelevant, as I do not believe that morality needs to be linked to sex. The proper use of one's intellectual faculties, however, is of vital importance.
I think people should refuse to place themselves in risky situations or casual sex with a stranger not because it is "wrong", because it really isn't, the way I see it. It is simply an incredibly stupid course of action to take which can endanger one's own well-being. The preservation of the self is the most important thing, as I said.