I guess you can say the topic of sex is a passion of mine. Not with regards to its pleasure, but in how it’s so powerful in building or ruining relationships. In how it can create or destroy a life.
Raised in a Christian home and surrounded by mostly Christian circles, the most common clichés I’d hear about saving sex for marriage was “because the Bible says so“, “to prevent STI’s” and “so you don’t get pregnant“. While practical, with the advent of contraception you can do away with the latter two reasons for abstaining from sex (when used properly anyways)…and “because the Bible says so” really doesn’t reach very far into our very relative morality as having any kind of substantial reason to obey it. Especially since not very many people actually read it.
Our culture heavily emphasises that abstinence is “impossible” and should not even be attempted. With the devaluation of marriage as well as later marrying ages, saving sex doesn’t seem to make much sense. Even for unmarried, self-professed evangelical Christians, 80% of those between the ages of 19-29 have had sex (cited in RELEVANT). I think it was C.S. Lewis who said, and I paraphrase, “What seems impossible is only so because you haven’t actually tried it.” (Apologies I don’t remember which book that was from.) One who trusts that God has a very good reason and design for why sex is reserved for marriage will try very hard to obey…and find it IS possible to do so. I am very thankful to God that I can say I was a 31 year old virgin on my wedding night. I’m not the only one so I KNOW waiting is possible for those who commit to it.
And it’s rewarding. Between my husband and I, there is no comparing to memories of prior experiences. It’s a true giving of our entire selves.
I read this article in Boundless.org (good read!) which clarified some reasons of why I waited. Struggled…but still waited. It’s true, the cliché reasons weren’t enough. (Actually, I was a little bothered that STI’s and pregnancies were in the same category of prevention…especially now as a number of my friends are struggling to conceive.) But consider this:
…a couple with nothing separating them but a theologically formed vision of the body, sex and marriage will find a way to reserve the consummation of their mutual love until after their highest moment at the marriage altar, where they forsake all others and heroically pledge their total being (body and soul) to each other for better or worse, until death does them part.
…a couple captivated by the theology of sex and marriage will find a way for the act of consummation to be just that: a genuine consummation (the most radical gift they will ever give in this life), not a counterfeit consummation (telling the other person at least in body that he or she is entirely and exclusively the other’s, that they are one flesh, when in truth they have not yet made that vow to each other).
We outright LIE to each other through our bodies when we have sex outside of marriage. The claims of “I want to show how much I love you” or “This moment just feels so right” are hollow if this highest demonstration of love isn’t preceded by the highest level of commitment as expressed through marriage vows. Sex is designed to join body AND soul so when we allow our bodies to express the vow we have not yet made before our communities and God, we confuse ourselves in a very deep, and sometimes destructive, way. When a genuine consummation of love is made, new life bearing their images can result as a beautiful extension of that vow. By trying to prevent pregnancy, we essentially reduce sex to being just about pleasure, but it doesn’t change what was written into our bodies, that sex joins two people body and soul. And that every time we tear apart to be with another, we tear our souls.