Hilary (my sister): Did you see what T___ wrote on her friend’s Facebook wall?
Me: Yeah, I guess she and her hubby actually waited to have sex? It surprised me a bit.
H: Yeah, me too
Me: That’s sad that it’s so surprising when a Christian couple actually waits to have sex.
My youth group years were spent smack dab in the midst of the “True Love Waits” campaign. I signed the pledge, bought the purity ring, and watched the Joshua Harris videos, along with countless numbers of my friends. Sex, or at least the saving of it until marriage, was talked about almost every Wednesday night.
Some years have passed and those friends and I find ourselves in our mid-twenties. Some still single. Many more married. Some with kids. The sad reality, however, is that of all those friends, I could probably count on one hand the number that actually ended up waiting to have sex until they got married. My otherhand could probably be added to include those that ended up having sex, and then later waiting (claiming their “secondary virginity” the term coined by former-Bachelor-now-married Sean Lowe).
In light of that saddening fact, trying to save sex for marriage would seem pretty hopeless and futile for those that are unmarried, whether they be weekly youth group attendees or thirty-something and not-yet-married . But it’s not. I know it’s not…because my husband and I waited.
I’ve been dreading writing this post. I’ve had it on my heart for a very long time, but I’ve been too afraid to actually share it. I just know that someone, or perhaps many people, will be offended or take it the wrong way. I worry that people will think I’m prideful or judgmental or haughty. Please believe me when I say that that’s not at all how I want to come across or what I want to portray. My purpose in sharing my heart is not to make anyone feel guilty, but instead to bring hope.
My husband and I waited to have sex not because we were saints or prudes or not attracted to each other. We waited because we firmly believed that that was God’s best and, by His miraculous strength, we stuck to our commitment.
It’s been over five years since our virginal selves said “I Do”, and I can tell you without a doubt that it was so worth the wait. Sex is a beautiful, unifying, transforming blessing within the safety and confines of marriage. Yet, so often, waiting to have sex gets a bad rap. People’s motives are questioned, the term “legalism” is brought into play, and those that did end up waiting, like myself, find themselves almost embarrassed to admit that they did.
Now, before we go any further, let me be very clear about something: In proclaiming the value of waiting, I am in no way saying that if you didn’t wait your marriage won’t be as good as it would be had you waited. The good Lord knows that, while I may have saved sex for marriage, my own past is full of its own set of sin and regrets. Do those things play into and effect my marriage and my future? Of course they do. That’s just life…but that doesn’t mean that my marriage or my future is destined to be any less glorious than the next person’s. On the contrary, the depths of my past mistakes only serve to illuminate the glorious redemption of Christ’s sacrifice. However, that doesn’t mean that I want my children to repeat my mistakes. I know that someday they’ll look back with regret about their own set of mistakes, but my hope and prayer is that they won’t be repeats of my own.
So, please know that if you weren’t a virgin on your wedding day, I am in no way condemning you or trying to shame you. I just want those coming behind me to know that waiting is possible…and that it is very much worth it.
Waiting Is Not a Punishment
My husband is currently building the coolest treehouse for our soon-to-be 3-year-old son. It already has three towers, a tunnel, a tube slide, a swinging bridge, and a bomb crows nest. And this thing keeps growing. The other day my husband asked me if I thought our son was too small for a complete-with-a-harness zipline from the top of the crows nest down to our shop (100 yards away).
“Andy,” I said (probably in a less-than-excited way), “You do realize that every other dad is going to hate you for completely out doing them?”
“Yeah, so?” was his response. “Miles is going to love it. The Bible does say that a good father knows how to give good gifts to his children.”
He was totally right. In our day and age waiting to have sex is often seen as an arbitrary rule made by a god who doesn’t want us to enjoy ourselves or have fun. The truth is that that isn’t our God at all. Our God loves us…and He knows how to give good gifts. Sex happens to be one of them, but you cannot fully appreciate and accept that blessing unless you enjoy it solely within the confines of marriage.
Bringing it back to my children again,as a parent I really truly want them to be happy. Sometimes, though, that desire comes across as me being mean. For instance, my infant daughter may see her brother’s legos and want to play with them. You better believe that she thinks that playing with those legos will make her happy. And you know what? Playing with legos would be really fun for her. As her mom, though, I don’t let her play with legos. Why? Because she currently puts everything in her mouth and she could choke on them. I know that the thing that she thinks will bring her happiness and joy could in fact hurt her. If it hurts her, the happiness that it brought will quickly dissipate.
She doesn’t understand that. She thinks I’m just being mean and don’t want her to be happy, but you know and I know that that’s the furthest thing from the truth. A few years from now, when she’s not trying to eat everything in reach, I’ll gladly let her play with the legos and I will enjoy watching her enjoyment of them. I will be confidant in the fact that her enjoyment of the legos won’t dissipate with one getting lodged in her throat.
It’s the same way with God. He created sex as this beautiful blessing, but He knows that if that blessing is enjoyed before the right time or in the wrong setting, then the enjoyment and happiness we experience from it will be incomplete. He knows that sometimes that thing that was meant to be a wonderful blessing could, in fact, hurt us. He doesn’t create arbitrary rules to steal our fun and make our lives miserable. He sets specific parameters for the blessings He has given us so that we may experience and enjoy them to their fullest.
Waiting Isn’t Antiquated
In the culture we live in, saving sex for marriage is seen as an old fashioned notion. To forfeit pleasure until you’re married is seen as a ridiculous and near-impossible idea. Everybody has sex before marriage these days. It’s a normal and healthy way to get to know someone. How else are you to know if you want to marry someone if you don’t know if you’re sexually compatible? And if you know you’re going to marry your partner eventually, why deal with the stress and tension of waiting any longer?
Of course, all of these are selfish reasons born out of a self-centered culture. In her book Passion and Purity the late Elisabeth Elliot writes:
What do women want today? What do men want? I mean, deep down. What do they really want? If ‘times’ have changed, have human longings changed, too? How about principles? Have Christian principles changed? I say no to the last three questions, an emphatic no. I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy. In forfeiting the sanctity of sex by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot well do without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.
The sad fact of the matter is that we can’t actually find true fulfillment when our lives are so self-focused. Momentary happiness, perhaps, but that soon fades. You see, when we are so consumed with self-gratification, we actually miss out on true love. True love is self-sacrificing. True love wants what’s best for the other person. If we really loved our partner, wouldn’t we a) recognize that God wants us to wait to have sex for our good and that b) if we really wanted our partner’s good, we would wait for their sake?
Waiting to have sex may be antiquated in our culture, but the reasons behind waiting are not.
Waiting Is Possible
To be honest, everyone who didn’t wait has an excuse. Usually those excuses are completely understandable and relatable. Things got out of hand. We were hormonal teenagers. We had a long engagement. We knew we were going to get married. All valid, but all overcome-able excuses…and I can say that from experience.
The truth is, my husband and I didn’t have chaperones or a short engagement to keep us from straying. We were alone together a lot, and we were engaged for 13 long months. Yet we were still able to wait. You see, excuses may explain the temptation, but they don’t validate the sin.
And we are not alone. They may be hard to find, but there are others that waited too. You don’t have to be in a fundamental courtship to be able to save sex for marriage.
Waiting Is Worth It
Don’t get me wrong…saving sex for marriage isn’t easy. Far from it. When you love someone, are intensely attracted to them, and know you want to spend the rest of your life with them, withstanding the temptation may not seem worth it. But I can tell you, it is.
My husband and I have a special bond because we have something that is sacred and special to our marriage. We may have loved each other and enjoyed being with each other pre-marriage, but marriage knocks dating and being engaged out of the ball park. Our wedding day brought to a close a very long time of waiting. So, instead of the world’s view of marriage as a ball-and-chain that ties you down, our marriage has always symbolized freedom.
Furthermore, by waiting to have sex, we avoid a myriad of issues that come with having sex. Birth control, unplanned pregnancies, regret…these were not problems that we had to worry about until our wedding day.
Finally, there’s also something incredibly unifying about knowing that you were tempted and overcame temptation together. You enter into marriage without regret, and with an ability to persevere through adversity together that those who didn’t wait lack. It really is a beautiful and peaceful thing to experience a blessing of God exactly as He intended it to be experienced.
Waiting Starts Now
But what if you’ve already had sex?
The point in all this is not to shame. We “all have sinned and fall short” [Romans 3:23], remember? But you know what the wonderful thing about that is? Christ died for us and washed our slates clean. If you’ve chosen to accept this gift, then you are a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17] and no longer a slave to the flesh [Romans 6:15-23]. This doesn’t mean that we will no longer be tempted, but that God will give us the strength to withstand temptations when they come [1 Corinthians 10:13].
We may not be able to erase our pasts, and that’s where God’s glorious grace comes in, but we do get to choose how we go forward. We get to choose whether to let our flesh or Christ’s righteousness reign in us. Just because you’ve already had sex outside of marriage doesn’t mean you have to again. It’ll be hard and take some guts, but let me remind you that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Saving sex for marriage doesn’t have to be a one-time-and-you-blew-it thing. It’s not something that you already lost the ability to do. Waiting starts now.
Sometimes, I almost feel embarrassed to admit that we waited to have sex, because I feel like I will be singled-out…seen as a judgmental prude with above-average self-control. That’s really, really sad. If you and your spouse waited to have sex, whether your entire life or just for a time before marriage, I’d encourage you to join me in sharing that. Share a picture of you and your spouse on Instagram with the hashtag #wewaited . Let’s show our unmarried friends that waiting can be and has been done…and that it’s worth it.
This is a touchy subject. Feel free to comment and discuss…but please be respectful and kind.