Yes! YES! Yes!
As I finished reading this excellent article by John Diff, originally published here, I knew I had to share it with you. Thank you, John, for being a fellow ‘cheerleader’ for saving sex for marriage. Because, yes, it still matters.
Why Saving Sex for Marriage Still Matters
In my teen years, there was a lot of talk among Christian circles about “purity,” which was a euphemism for virginity and innocence. It took on many forms: At Christian concerts, teens would be asked to sign purity pledges, daughters were taken to “purity balls,” Josh Harris kissed dating goodbye, people made crass references to half-eaten pastries, Rebecca St. James wrote a song about it, pop stars wore “purity rings,” and “true love waits” became a catchphrase for all youth ministers. It was an interesting time to be alive. But a problem emerged…
The teens kept having sex anyway.
I imagine the morning after was often like what Adam and Eve felt after their fruit tasting experience: A mixture of guilt and shame, coupled with the bewilderment that they “did not surely die” as forewarned.
Since then, many have emerged to decry the “purity movement” as nothing more than a patriarchal tool for the systematic subjugation of women. Like most social waves, the purity movement came about as a reaction to a previous movement, “The Sexual Revolution,” and then spawned its own counter-movement, which is currently unnamed. (But, if any sociologists are reading, can we please call it “The Sexual Pornolution”?) This new cultural movement is — ahem — loosely defined, but it involves things like Tinder, Grindr, sexting, revenge porn, gender dysphoria, slut walks, and the arguably mislabeled “neo-feminism.” It is an interesting time to be alive. But a problem keeps emerging…
The research keeps coming out anyway.
So, as a society, we’ve tried it both ways, and we still can’t seem to improve the results. If the goal is to produce humans with the best possible opportunities for success, we’re not achieving our goal. We’ve tried the fire-and-brimstone approach, and we’ve tried the more “flexible” approach, but neither seems to make much of a difference. Which begs the question: What’s missing?
In John 1:1, we read that Christ was the divine order and logic (logos in Greek) that created the world. Isaiah 1:18 commands us to “reason together.” In Titus 2:12, we’re told to be sensible. Throughout Acts, the apostles practiced reason to make the case for their belief. But somewhere over the last 2,000 years, we checked our brains at the door. Instead of allowing reason and truth to inform our behavior, we’ve resorted to baseless sensationalism in an attempt to control the behavior of others and excuse our own behavior. Nowhere is the abandon of reason more evident than within the debates regarding sexual morality.
On both sides of the debate, reason has been abandoned. The old guard of my teen years made the argument that sex was evil and uncontrollable, which simply isn’t true. Sex is a gift from God, a good thing, and a controllable human behavior. Meanwhile, the libertine crowd keeps trying to make the argument that sex can be inconsequential and universally safe, which is also untrue. Sex is designed to be consequential (whether the consequence be conception or just oxytocin) and no biological or interpersonal activity is universally safe. One side produces shame, while the other side produces guilt. Both are rooted in half-truths, or, should I say, half-lies.
Sex isn’t inherently evil. Your behavior is controllable (assuming you’re sane). Sex is deeply consequential on just about every meaningful level: physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. And sex requires precaution to maintain a degree of safety. The truth is exactly what the Bible says: Sex is not just good, it’s “very good.” With this foundation in place, we must then look at the context in which sex occurs, which really gets to the heart of the debate.
If the goal is to achieve the best possible outcome throughout the duration of our lives, we should manage our behavior to achieve that result. So I ask you, what kind of person do you want to be? What kind of marriage do you want to ultimately have? What type of relationships do you desire? If you’re like most people, you probably aspire to have a long, prosperous, healthy life, filled with loving relationships, lasting security, and enduring trust. So what investments are you making in your life today to ensure the likelihood of those goals? If you ultimately want to have a strong, lifelong marriage, are you currently doing anything to undermine the probability of that outcome?
Now, this is where truth and logic collide. We’re fortunate to live in a society that values objective research. We can use the truth of that research to make logical, informed decisions about our lives. Here are just a few findings:
- Having sex with someone you don’t marry increases the odds of a future dissolution of your eventual marriage (source)
- The more sexual partners one has before marriage, the lower they rank their happiness in their eventual marriage. People who married their only sexual partner have the highest-quality marriages, statistically. (source)
- Pre-marital cohabitation drastically increases the likelihood of divorce by more than 50% (source)
- Having sex prior to a clear commitment (e.g. marriage) results in decreased satisfaction with the relationship (source, another source)
- Saving sex for marriage has profound results across a number of metrics: (source)
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out, universities and think tanks are continually churning out research that shows that there is tremendous benefit to abstaining from sex prior to marriage, assuming one wants to have a happy, lasting marriage.
- The nice thing about marrying as virgins is that you can both honestly say that your spouse is “the best [you] ever had.”
- STIs are essentially a non-issue within virginal, monogamous marriages.
- Babies are real.
- The release of oxytocin (the “bonding chemical”) through sex can create a feeling of closeness with someone who may not be your best match. It can also cloud your judgement. Who you bond your life to is a serious, consequential decision. It should be made with as much clarity as possible.
- Assuming you intend to have complete honesty in your eventual marriage, it’s a lot easier to not have a “sexual history” to confess.
- Guilt, emotional baggage, and shame are both unfortunate and real. Keeping your behavior aligned with your values (whatever they may be) helps reduce the weight of such burdens.
- The behaviors you choose pre-maritally will impact the person you are during your marriage. Choose wisely.
I find it compelling that the Bible’s guidance on pre-marital and extra-marital sex is perfectly supported by contemporary research and our own ability to reason. You may have noticed that I’ve not yet mentioned sin. While fear-mongering about hellfire has a long history in this discussion, I simply don’t see good fruit from that strategy. Plus, as a motivating factor, it doesn’t work. Christian teens know God loves them, and damnation doesn’t fit in the narrative they believe about themselves and God. (Cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing.)
I believe the Bible’s instructions are designed so we can have the best possible human life. They’re not simply a list of arbitrary sufferings we must endure to garner halos in the afterlife. Therefore, I believe that the behaviors the Bible describes as “sins” are simply things that are counterproductive to our lives. We shouldn’t do those things — not simply because they’re “sins” — but because they undermine the life we actually want to live, which is the life God designed for us.
Don’t let mistakes and the mistaken logic of others dictate how you will construct and live your life. Just because the purity balls and slut walks may have failed, don’t lose sight of your value and your values. Your future is worth more than that.
John Diff (Diffenderfer) is a husband, father, author, pastor, and business leader. His candid, humorous, provocative, Scriptural, and solutions-focused insights are published regularly, including on his personal blog: www.JohnDiff.com.
It really seems like that some days, doesn’t it?
Almost no one you know is saving sex for marriage. Few if any of your friends think it matters. The characters in movies and on TV aren’t concerned. Huh, they hop in and out of bed like it’s a game. How many people can you sleep with? Win a prize!
Except no one wins that game. Oh, they think it’s cool because who needs “rules” and such when it comes to sex. But they are not winning. No matter how hard they try to convince themselves they are.
I’m not surprised by this who-gives-a-care attitude. Saddened. Frustrated. Downright angry even. But not surprised.
Our society has so trivialized sex that waiting until after the “I do’s” is considered completely unnecessary. Not important in the least. And practically impossible. Even worse, being a virgin on the wedding night is considered dumb, even ridiculous, by a lot of people.
So why should YOU wait—when others aren’t waiting? Does saving sex for marriage matter in 2017?
Sure “times” have changed. Things are different now than they were a couple generations ago. Like people tend to marry later now, and in general society is more open about sex. Very true. But some things will never change. Like the purpose of sex.
You know what that is, right? The real reason sex exists? It’s all about the bonding of a husband and wife into this totally connected, deeply-meshed-together relationship. And then after all that joining, attaching and yes, cementing happens, that’s when the second awesome purpose of sex is supposed to kick in: the making of babies.
You know what else hasn’t changed? The way hormones related to sex effect the brain and the emotions. The way memories of sexual experiences become etched deep inside the mind. The fact that precious new babies need both a mom and a dad, fully engaged in their lives.
None of that has changed. No amount of time will change it.
At some point, someone in your life has asked you, “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you too?”
You whined against their wise advice to not follow the crowd. Groaned or growled and rolled your eyes at the annoying question. Trying to pretend it was the stupidest inquiry ever. Even though you really knew it wasn’t.
But you know what? Having sex without the benefit of marriage is really a lot like jumping off a cliff. In either situation, you have no idea what danger/disaster awaits you once your feet go over that rocky edge. Unless there’s another ledge within just a few feet—which is unlikely—you’re probably in for a bad fall. Broken arms, legs, a gashed head—if you’re lucky. A smashed skull and severed spine, if you’re not.
When you have sex with someone you aren’t married to, you have no clue what’s “over the edge.” What complications / heartaches you’re setting yourself up for. How your emotions will be messed with. How your future in general, the relationships specifically, will be impacted. Your body put at risk of disease or pregnancy.
Even if every single person you know is willing to take those risks, why should you?
And actually, not everyone else is doin’ it.
A 2016 CDC survey reports an increase in high school students who have NOT had sex.
“Sex without limits is not making people happy,” concluded Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, following the news that more Millennials are saving sex for marriage OR making commitments to “renewed waiting”.
Celebrity couples committing OR re-committing to saving sex for marriage are going public with their decisions to wait.
See, everyone else isn’t doin’ it.
If you have to look for people who are waiting, look for them. Just because your circle of friends aren’t saving sex for marriage, doesn’t mean no one is. Maybe a change-up in the who-you-hang-out-with department is in order.
Anyway, you should be mature and responsible enough to make your own decisions. Not fall for peer pressure. Especially the kind that has so much potential for harm.
Don’t let what you think everyone else is doin’ influence your decisions about sex.
You are worth waiting for. Sex is worth waiting for.
I’d love to hear from you in a COMMENT (under the title) OR by email at email@example.com
Coming soon . . . The “Waiting Matters” series in paperbacks and e-books! Stay tuned right here for cover reveals and release dates.
I don’t normally write fantasy or dystopian, but since fantastical worlds are all the rage these days, I thought I’d try my hand at creating an other-worldly place. A place where I’d like to live.
A world inhabited by humans—people just like you and me—not oddly configured creatures or super heroes. Just ordinary guys and gals.
Here’s what my world would look like…
The entire society would be molded around the principle that sex is a gift. From GOD. An incredibly special gift with very specific purposes. One, to create a glue-like bond within marriage between a husband and a wife and two, to make babies.
This society would commit to teaching its people the truth about the amazing powers this gift possesses. Extreme care would be taken to educate on the need to guard and cherish this awesome gift.
Sex would be held up as something sacred. It would be understood that sex is more than simply a pleasurable physical act. Not that its enjoyment would be discounted. Oh no. But because it’s so good, sex would be protected from anything or anyone who would try to abuse it.
Sex would be respected. There would be absolutely no using sex as material for crude innuendos, dirty jokes, or trash talk.
Saving sex for marriage would be the “norm”. Guys and girls alike would put huge effort toward this goal. Because they really understood what sex was all about, people would want to wait.
Friends would encourage each other to postpone the pleasures of sexual intimacy for marriage. They’d hold each other accountable and make a big deal about it. Why? Because they believed that waiting was worth it.
The temptation to indulge in sex before a marriage commitment would still exist. But the expectation that sex was for only after the “I do’s” would be a major incentive to wait. So much support and encouragement would surround the idea of waiting that it would be like a 12-step program. This ultimate group effort would protect the purposes that sex was created for.
Sounds like pretty much the opposite of today’s world, wouldn’t you say?
But think about it…
If everyone saved sex for marriage, then no one would have to drag around the baggage casual sex leaves behind. The guilt, the memories, the heartache.
Babies wouldn’t be born to moms and dads who haven’t made a “for better or for worse” commitment.
There wouldn’t be more than 1 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed every year.
Future marriages wouldn’t be saddled with remembrances and expectations from past sexual experiences.
Can you even imagine how incredible that would be?
But that’s not our reality. And here’s why. Sex has been so trivialized that waiting until after the “I do’s” is seen as unnecessary and unimportant. Even worse, being a virgin on the wedding night is deemed, by too many, to be ridiculous or dumb.
The “test drive” theory has chipped away at the ideal of waiting, by maintaining that saving sex for marriage is actually a bad idea. Wow, is that sad and so not true.
By all means, test drive that Jeep or sports car or 4-wheel drive truck, but do not apply this tactic to sexual intimacy. The try-before-you-buy theory is the absolute wrong way to approach sex. Whatever needs to be discovered about the mechanics of sex can happen after the wedding.
Sex is not a mode of transportation. It’s the joining of two hearts and minds and bodies in what is intended to be the most intimate experience two people can share.
How different our world would be if people just understood all of this and made decisions based on these truths.
Would you like to live in my world?
I’d love to hear from you in a COMMENT (under the title) OR by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Forever and ever, I’ve been a save-sex-for-marriage cheerleader. I always have and always will root for postponing sexual experiences until the formal commitment of marriage. I’m 1000% convinced that the intimacy of joining one body with another is a sacred act that should take place only within the boundaries of marriage.
If you’re committed to waiting, raise your hand high for an imaginary high-five and know that I am in your corner. Because waiting really does matter.
Unfortunately, stats from a lot of sources back-up what I hear from many of you, that those who don’t wait outweigh those who do wait. I’m bummed about that, and it makes me sad because I know it’s safer and healthier and more fulfilling to wait.
I really, really wish it wasn’t so but the reality is that many of you reading this slipped up somewhere. In the heat of the moment, a decision was made that you now regret. As readers share with me their lives and struggles, the most common stories I hear go something like “I didn’t wait—I wish I had.”
And after “it” happens, it’s so easy to find yourself thinking, “Well… since I already didn’t wait, what’s the point?” It seems kind of meaningless to worry about “saving” anything now. You didn’t wait. You didn’t save yourself so… You continue on the path that gives in to sex without the benefit of marriage.
But soon the emotional baggage you’re weighted down with makes rational, wise decisions about relationships almost impossible. Exposing yourself to the risk of an STD or an unplanned pregnancy is a concern, but hey, you’ve been lucky so far so… You journey further from the ideal of one man joined with one woman for life.
As much as I believe in abstinence, I’m on board with “renewed abstinence” in an even bigger way—if that’s possible. Because “restored waiting” matters too. A decision that says, “yeah, I didn’t wait, but from here on, I’m gonna wait” is such an important, life-changing choice.
If the chance for a do-over was offered, many of you would grab it in a second. But it doesn’t work that way. The best option you have is to make a fresh start. It doesn’t matter if you messed up once or a dozen times, you don’t have to let the past call the shots for the future.
Don’t believe the lie that says it doesn’t matter anymore. Because it does.
“Restored waiting” or “renewed abstinence” or “second chance virginity”. Whatever you want to call it, making a commitment to save additional sexual experiences for marriage is a huge step toward a better future.
Here’s what else I hear from you—
“I’m trying to wait now… but it’s hard. I don’t know if I can do it.”
“It’s really tough… I don’t know if I’m strong enough…”
“I don’t want to go down that road again but…”
I don’t doubt for a second that pursuing “restored waiting” is tough. It may well be the toughest thing you’ll ever do. But it is possible. And it does matter. Check out “What does it matter now?” and “WHY Save Sex for Marriage?” for more encouragement to change directions. Then keep reading through the entire “WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY of Saving Sex for Marriage” series.
I believe in second chances, that a person’s past doesn’t have to dictate their future
decisions. There’s really only one first time, but it’s never too late to make a decision to save future sexual experiences for marriage. No matter what’s in your past, it is possible to choose now to WAIT.
If this spoke to you, I’d love to hear from you. In a COMMENT (under the post title) OR via email at email@example.com.
Remember the 21-year-old girl from last time, looking back and wondering “What if sex hadn’t complicated our relationship?” Today it’s the guy’s turn. Even four years after they broke up, he can’t shake the memories of her… of them together.
And then a chance encounter leaves him wondering …
“I have to go …”I cut-off the old friend going on about nothing that interested me. Not with Bree standing on the sidewalk across the street, looking at me with… with what? Regret? Anger? Interest? I swung around hoping to connect with those brown eyes again. The air swirled heavy with snowflakes where she’d been just a minute or so ago, but she was gone.
In five days I’d head back to college for my last semester. So would she. I hadn’t seen her for so long. But ever since I’d gotten home on break, she’d been on my mind. It was so weird… Through all the family Christmas stuff, church services, and hanging out with friends, I couldn’t shake the memories of her and of us together all those years ago.
I knew I’d hurt her real bad when I broke it off our senior year. Practically killed me to break her heart like that, but I didn’t know what else to do. We were in way over our heads—I couldn’t see any other way out.
The end of high school couldn’t come fast enough after that. I wanted a new life in a new city, far away from the mistakes and memories of the past. The funny thing about memories though—they don’t care if you move away. They stick around anyway.
Originally we were supposed to go to the same college, but I knew that would be awful so I headed for the opposite side of the state. After a doozy of a freshman year—a miracle I didn’t flunk out—I buckled down and it all eventually worked out—the college part this is. Took a lot longer to wrangle my personal life back into shape.
Want to complicate your life real fast? Sleep with your high school girlfriend. Want to continue the insanity? Sleep around in college. Once you open the door to sex, your body and mind expect it to make regular appearances in your life. Man, I wished I’d understood all that before I slept with Bree. Sex totally messed with our relationship. And after that, I figured what was the point?
One of the guys at college—Jordan—married his high school sweetheart at the end of our sophomore year. They’d dated for three years but somehow managed to save sex for the wedding night. “How?” I asked cause I really wanted to know how people now a days could still do that. “A lot of prayer and honesty, iron-clad boundaries with absolutely no compromising and lots of friends checking up on us,” he’d explained.
“Well, it’s too late for me,” I’d admitted, the sting of regret sharp as a white-hot poker. Bree and I weren’t big on boundaries, but we specialized in compromising situations. And our friends knew nothing about our struggle cause that’s what we thought was best.
“Nah… really it’s not. Sure, there’ll never be another ‘first time’ but man, stop the casual sex. You deserve so much more than that.” I bristled at him calling what I’d been doing “casual sex” because that’s not the way I saw it. I wasn’t that kind of guy. But even while I tried to pretend my cavalier attitude toward relationships and sex was no big deal, I knew it wasn’t the way I wanted to live the rest of my life. The truth? I was miserable. And lonely.
Even after Jordan and his wife settled into married life, he kept trying to convince me it wasn’t too late to set a new course. He’d assured all us guys—some who were waiting, many like me who hadn’t—that the long wait, though incredibly difficult had been well worth it. And they seemed so happy despite super hectic schedules and not a lot of money. They were together and that was more than enough.
Would I ever have that? I didn’t see myself in a long-term relationship with any of the girls I’d dated in college. They were nice enough and everything, but the deep connection wasn’t there. I had no desire to be with any of them for the rest of my life. Yet, we’d joined our bodies in the most intimate experience possible, and each time when I wanted out, those invisible physical ties complicated the situation a thousand fold.
As much as I hated it—like some crazy automatic thing I could’t control—I found myself comparing every girl, every relationship to Bree. Which really ticked me off. She was history. We were history.
I’d finally wised up and distanced myself from sex. Last summer I avoided the friends who would push me toward that way of life. When senior year began, I made a point of hanging out in groups and getting involved in a church near campus. I showed up at Jordan’s often where others who didn’t buy into the “everyone’s doin’ it” excuse hung out. Kind of an impromptu support group.
I’d squashed the memories, the feelings, the guilt from my relationship with Bree into a cold, hard box buried deep inside me. But that box burst open when I saw her, and the intense emotions flooded through me all over again. The image of her on the sidewalk permanently engraved itself in my mind. No question our gaze had connected for too long for it to mean nothing. Did I want it to mean something? Pretty sure I did. But did she?
One thing was for sure. I owed her a long-overdue apology. Somehow her cell number had survived three phone changes over the years. I remembered not deleting it when we broke up just to prove to myself that I cared so little, that it wouldn’t bother me if her number stayed there forever. What an idiot.
She owed me nothing. But since I’d ended it, I felt I owed it to both of us to put out a feeler.
It was a long shot. Still, adrenaline pumped through me at even the slightest possibility of another chance.
Was nice to see you too.
I stared at her response. Positive and pretty quick. So I pushed on.
I’m really sorry about all that happened between us.
The phone was silent in my waiting hand. Sweat formed across my palm. Endless seconds ticked by. My stomach knotted.
I heaved out the breath I must have been holding and sucked in another. Go for it.
You have time to talk before you head back to school?
I’d like that.
A jolt like an electric shock zinged through me. All the stuff I wanted to say to her raced through my head.
I never meant to hurt you. I never stopped thinking about you.
I tried to reign in the hope surging through me. Maybe we needed closure and nothing more. But just maybe we’d get another shot. My thoughts continued to race.
…is there a chance we could try again? And do it right this time?
Maybe you’re like Bree or Brandon–not proud of your past but committed to wiser choices in the future. Setting a new course is tough. But it’s worth it. Surround yourself with people who will support you and hold you accountable.
Don’t let the past make today’s or tomorrow’s choices.
I’d love to hear from you with comments, concerns, questions! Leave a comment OR shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If this young twenty-something female could send advice to herself in the past, this is what she’d say…
We need to talk about that awesome guy you’re seeing. I know you think you love him and in a way you do, but it’s not a forever kind of love. Not yet anyway. Maybe someday it could be—but only if you make better choices than I did.
Believe me, I know how romantic Brandon can be. He’s sweet. He’s kind. And so hot. His kisses are like a drug you can’t get enough of. He tells you all the time he loves you. And you believe him. You can’t imagine life without him. What you can imagine—and you think about every day—is the two of you together through high school and a wedding somewhere down the road. That’s what you want to happen so that’s what you tell yourself will happen.
Nailed it so far, haven’t I?
Even now as I write this, I remember how his strong arms felt around me. How his embrace made me feel safe, warm, protected. The memories are incredibly vivid and somehow, both amazing and gut-wrenching in the very same moment.
I loved being his girlfriend.
That’s why I ignored the red flags—huge, deep red, banner-sized flags—flapping all around us. When the kissing turned into marathon make-out sessions. When we couldn’t wait for the privacy of an empty house. When clothes started coming off.
Oh, we agreed not to have sex. Because we knew GOD created sex for marriage. We’d heard it all our lives. Still, we inched along on that slippery slope of how-close-can-we-get-without-going-all-the-way, desperately clinging to the myth that our agreement to “not do it” would protect us.
Guess what? It didn’t. One night it just happened. For days, we made up excuses, the most convincing being that because we loved each other, it wasn’t that big of an “uh oh”. In fact, since we were committed to each other and would, you know, probably get married someday, it was actually okay. So we kept doing it. Every chance we got.
Pretty soon, sneaking around to have sex consumed us. Of course, we couldn’t let our parents find out. They’d never ever approve and would be so disappointed in us. Even our friends—most of them active in the church youth group like us—wouldn’t understand. So we hid the truth from everyone—except GOD. Oh, we’d have kept it from him, too, if we could have.
The guilt and the sneaking around really got to me, and I wanted us to stop. “What would be the point of that?” he said. But every time I looked my mom in the eye or walked into church or pretended to our friend that we were “waiting”, I felt like such a hypocrite. I stopped praying because Brandon’s “what would be the point of that?” reasoning seemed to fit there, too.
All the guilt and pretending took a huge toll. Things between us changed—and not for the better. Our relationship unraveled before our eyes. Nothing we did helped. And then the unthinkable happened. He walked away. “We’re not the same people we used to be,” he said. I certainly couldn’t argue with that.
I thought my life was over. We were supposed to get married. We HAD to get married because we’d already had sex.
Shame overwhelmed me. I tried to put it all behind me and move on with my life. But the hole in my heart refused to close.
We totally went our separate ways. It was better that way. Even passing him in the hall sliced into my already bleeding heart. No one understood why we couldn’t just be friends. I couldn’t tell them we’d moved way beyond what a high school dating relationship was supposed to be.
When I dared to look at him, his eyes reflected the same deep hurt I was trying to escape. And I was strangely relieved. If I was hurting this much, he’d better be hurting too. Real mature, I know.
I tried to fill the emptiness by fooling around with a lot of other guys. Kind of an “I’ll-show-him” crazy, revenge-like attitude. I didn’t sleep with any of them though. I’d already given all of me to someone, and he’d walked away. I tried to hate him, but nothing could purge the memories of him from my mind or heart. High school ended and college took us to Christian schools in different parts of the state. Maybe now I can forget him.
I met some incredible girls my freshman year, and finally, I opened up about my past. Two of the girls had suffered through similar experiences. They helped me realize that sex had bonded Brandon and me in such a deep, profound way because that’s what sex is supposed to do. We’d been cemented together then ripped apart. No wonder it had hurt so much.
I saw him the other day—we were both home on Christmas break—less than six month from graduation. Our eyes connected across the street for a long moment before I pulled my gaze away. A few seconds later when I couldn’t help but look back, his blue eyes met mine, and my scarred heart skipped a couple beats. He offered a brief wave and a hesitant smile—that same heart-stopping smile that still haunted my dreams.
I waved back, blinking against the hot tears instantly stinging my eyes. Something in the way his gaze lingered set my pulse racing. His pace slowed, and he glanced at the crowd on the corner waiting to cross the street. His eyes found mine again as the light turned and the crowd lurched into motion, with him bringing up the rear.
My slow shuffle ground to a halt. All these years, I’d desperately clung to a sliver of hope that someday we’d get a second chance. Did he want the same thing? A vise squeezed my chest, breathing was almost impossible.
Someone clapped him on the back, drawing his full attention for too many endless moments. His head whipped my way one last time, and his raised hand paused in an uncertain waving gesture. On tiptoe I waved until the distance between us—and his attention-seeking friend—forced him to turn away.
That sputtering spark of hope instantly fanned into a strong flame. We can try again—give our relationship another shot. It will be different this time.
Oh, please, can’t we just try again? I promise it will be different. We will be smarter and not complicate things with sex. Anything even close to sex will be off the table. Completely. If we get a second chance, we’ll do it right.
I trudge home as a light snow dusts my coat with white crystals. Will he call? Should I call? Oh, GOD, remove this longing to be with him if there’s no chance of us being together.
There’s still time for you to make better choices than I did. Please, give this awesome relationship the chance it deserves.
You at 21
Could this be you? A guy or a girl in a relationship that’s heading down the wrong path. Take control of the situation now and make choices that will protect your heart, your mind, your future.
Maybe your past left you wondering what might have been. Learn from the past. Do not repeat the mistakes of the past. You and your future are worth fighting for.
Read the guy’s perspective here… “I never meant to hurt you. I never stopped thinking about you…”
YOU matter to me! Drop me a note at email@example.com OR leave a comment (under the title).
I liked the guy. I had no issue with them being together, getting engaged, planning a wedding. But I wasn’t a fan of their living arrangements.
“We simply can’t afford to get married.”
“That’s not true.”
“It is true. You just don’t understand.”
“Oh, I understand. It’s not the marriage you can’t afford. It’s the big, fancy wedding.”
“It doesn’t cost anymore to live together, married, than it does to live together, unmarried.”
A heavy sigh and more silence. Because she knew I was right.
Now before you go accusing me of not liking weddings OR thinking that wedding ceremonies are unimportant, let me set the record straight.
I LOVE weddings. Just ask my husband who’s been drug—I mean urged to go—to more than his fair share of weddings (in his opinion). I loved every second of planning my daughter’s wedding and all the do-it-yourself projects we took on to minimize the cost. What fun I had perusing the pictures from their special day to use in this post.
And as far as the importance of wedding ceremonies? I dare you to find ANYONE with stronger feelings about the significance of a wedding. The day a bride and groom pledge, before GOD and family and friends, to spend the rest of their lives together? It’s one of the most meaningful occasions in a person’s life. It should be at least because marriage is serious business.
So, why was I not buying my young friend’s can’t-afford-it excuse for living with her guy?
Frankly, I don’t buy any of the many reasons couples toss around for “playing house” before the “I do’s”. But that’s another discussion for another time. Stay tuned.
The reality about weddings is simply this. A big, fancy affair doesn’t make a couple any more married than a small, intimate, simple ceremony.
“But weddings should be special and unique and… and I know exactly what I want!”
ABSOLUTELY, weddings should be special—a memorable celebration of two lives joined for the journey ahead.
And yes, most brides enter into wedding planning with several—often several dozen—long-held wedding dreams. Precise ideas about the dress… or the flowers… or the wedding cake… the reception decorations or the first dance. After all, she’s been dreaming of this day for years! It has to be perfect.
The groom might have his own “must have” list. A certain kind or color of tux… a preference about the ceremony music … a sweet limo ride to the reception. Could be he’s planning an exotic-paradise honeymoon.
Ah, the honeymoon… I’m a firm believer in honeymoon get-aways. A time set aside to relax and enjoy each other. But it doesn’t have to be elaborate or mega-expensive to be exciting and fun.
In the midst of the hoopla and excitement of “wedding fever”, it’s easy to get carried away. Rational thinking and common sense can fly out the window. Too many ideas and opinions and decisions can have your heads spinning.
Reality check #2. There’s no better time to practice the blending of ideas and the fine art of budgeting than when planning your wedding and honeymoon.
So, grab a pen and paper and, together, make a list of your absolutes, whatever you think you can’t do without. Then run each “must have” through the following questions:
- Will the day be ruined if this is a no-go?
- Can something less expensive/complicated/elaborate be substituted?
- What about a compromise, a little give-and-take?
- Can we spend fewer days away OR choose a less extravagant locale?
And then the final test: are we willing to wait, in a non-living-under-the-same-roof, no-sex arrangement, for the needed funds to accumulate? If the answer is “yes”, fine. If you agree that’s what you want, there’s nothing wrong with that.
My advice to all wedding-planning couples is this: don’t let the wedding become more important than the marriage. Some couples put way more thought and planning into the wedding than into the marriage. And that’s a serious mistake.
The wedding celebration will fill a few hours. It’s an occasion you hope to remember fondly for years. But the marriage should last a lifetime.
Resist the culture’s many reasons for living together before the “I do’s”. Save co-habitating—and sex—for marriage. YOU are worth it. Your future spouse is WORTH it. Your MARRIAGE is worth it.
Your thoughts, comments, questions and concerns are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you in a comment (below the title) OR by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I mean, the ring is on her finger. The church is booked. The dress—it’s being altered as we speak. So come on, we waited this long. What can it hurt?”
Maybe the question shouldn’t be “What can it hurt?” but rather “What will it help?”
How will having sex now—2 days or 2 weeks or 2 months—before the wedding help your relationship? How will it benefit your marriage? What will you gain?
And you had better not say experience. Because there will be plenty of time after the “I do’s” for gaining sexual experience. You don’t practice before so you’ll be good at it after the wedding. Even though the “test drive” theory is quite popular, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. (Check out “But if we wait, how will I know…” )
But we don’t want to wait…
Practicing self-control will do far more for your long-term relationship than giving in to the desire to express your love with physical intimacy. Exercising the willpower and restraint and self-discipline it takes to postpone sex until after the wedding will build character and integrity—qualities you looked for in a potential spouse, right?
…because waiting is too difficult.
Difficult, yes. Impossible, no.
Our society wants life to be simple and easy as well as fun and exciting. Human nature tells us to push for what-I-want-when-I-want-it. And we’re programmed to want and to pursue physical intimacy. So, yeah, it’s tough to wait.
In our world, marriage is too often seen as unnecessary and sex is … well, somehow sex is considered both essential for survival yet no big deal. And this skewed mentality laughs at the idea of waiting for the intimacy and pleasure of sex until after the ‘til-death-do-us-part ceremony. Abstinence has been trivialized almost to the point of extinction.
But here’s the thing. A lot of things in life are difficult. And marriage is one of them. But with effort and commitment, it can be amazing. Some of the most meaningful things in life come at a cost, they require sacrifice. Delaying the pleasure of sex until after the official introduction as Mr. and Mrs. is one of those incredibly worthwhile things.
But what does a few days matter?
Waiting will build up your ability to “delay gratification”. Making a choice to wait for something that you really, really want has become extremely unpopular. But learning to wait, to put something on hold, is a character trait that will pay off in a huge way in so many areas of your marriage.
Like finances for instance. People acquire mounds of debt because they can’t wait to buy what they want. They spend way more money than they make because they think they deserve to have nice stuff. Reality check: You don’t have to get everything you want in order to be happy. Accepting that reality will spare you lots of grief and possibly a trip to bankruptcy court.
The same thing goes for sex. You want to have sex with your fiancé. Of course you do. So, you convince yourself that waiting is dumb and ridiculous and of absolutely no value. And the world backs you up on that. But you want the very best for this relationship, right? You want the firmest foundation on which to build this new phase of your life—I know you do.
So, talk and dream and plan and prepare for your new life together. But don’t have sex. Don’t move in together. Don’t spend hours and hours alone. Don’t hang out in bedrooms. Don’t spend the night together. Don’t see how close you can get to sex without actually doing it.
Commit to spending your lives together and THEN indulge in the gift of sex. Pledge before GOD, your family and friends to love each other forever THEN say “yes!” to sex. After you declare your choice to forsake all others THEN surrender yourselves to the pleasures of physical intimacy.
It could be that one or both of you had sex in a previous relationship. That doesn’t matter now. Leave the past in the past and focus on the future with your soon-to-be bride or groom.
Don’t let the past make your future decisions. You can wait. It will be worth it. You deserve the best.
I’d love to hear from you with thoughts, questions, concerns OR topics you’d like to see discussed. Just leave a comment (under the title) OR shoot me an email: email@example.com
couple dancing photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/10966541@N02/6209575405″>29987 Julia and David’s Wedding Reception – Glenmore Country Club</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
I love, love, love when a guy gets real and deep about…
- the sad reality of how our world views sex
- GOD’s awesome design for sex
Mike Donehey does that and more with this great, visual analogy
…I want to say to anyone single out there, don’t believe the lie you have to let them sample the milk to buy the cow. It’s simply not true. In fact, I’ve witnessed it over and over again, more often than not, when you get physical too quickly, it only clouds how connected you really are. I believe the physical was really meant to be the cement on top of the foundation of emotional and spiritual connection, not the other way around. Mortar works best when you have bricks already to work with.
Read his entire post “The Bacholette, the Currency of Sex and the Spirit of Divorce”
Great stuff, Mike. Thanks.
After all, people passionately insist, wasn’t sex specifically designed for people who love each other?
Well, yes, it was but—
See? We’re good because we really do love each other. And if we want to, you know, express our love with physical intimacy, why not?? Is it really so difficult to understand?
Oh, I understand. Completely. It’s goes something like this…
“She is amazing. I have never felt like this about anyone. I’m not pushing her, I promise I’m not. But all I think about is her… and us being together. I love her so much… how can it be wrong for us to have sex?”
“We are meant to be together, and he means everything to me. I love him—and I’m sure he loves me. I know I always planned to save sex for marriage. But now, I’m not sure I want to wait. Does it really matter that much?”
You are crazy about each other. You long to be together day and night and saying goodbye is total torture. If you could just express these insanely intense feelings by letting your bodies do what they really, really want to do, it would only help your relationship grow, right?
That’s a definite NO.
Why? Because the sex might be bad? Well, we’d get better—
Nope. Not because the sex might be bad.
Because sex has the power to consume your relationship. The merging of crazy intense emotions and feelings with the mega-powerful and highly addictive physical act of sex can easily bring to a screeching halt any real relationship growth.
Depth in a relationship comes from digging deep into each other’s hopes and beliefs and dreams and fears. Connections deepen when a couple weathers storms and shares triumphs. Closeness intensifies as you learn to give to and think of the other person’s needs before your own. It takes time, effort, and sacrifice to grow a relationship. Not physical expressions of love.
But I thought sex was supposed to create a bond?
Does it ever. Sex is all about the bonding. But it’s more than the two bodies that become one. The hearts and souls that belong to those two bodies knit together, creating “soul ties”. And that’s a problem if this relationship is only in the I-love-you-for-now stage. Those super-glue like ties are awesomely, incredibly amazing in marriage with a til-death-do-us-part love commitment. Cause that’s where they’re supposed to happen.
Being in love is an amazing thing. It’s exciting and thrilling and totally awesome. And you can actually, sincerely see yourself being with this person for… a long time. But the rest of your life?
Well… umm, yeah. Sure. Shoot, yes. Why not?
Let’s face it. When you’re in a committed, loving relationship, it’s hard to imagine not being with that person in the future. You can’t even consider that this amazingness might end—the thought is too incredibly painful.
So, you reason, if we’re going to be together in the end anyway, why would it hurt to indulge a little (or a lot) early since, you know we may/might/could possibly get married someday?
Girls, you are especially prone to imagining the present happily-ever-after stretching into a forever happily-ever-after. You’re wired to plunge into relationships on a deep, emotional, all-in level that can have you hearing wedding bells, even if from far in the future OR for a wedding that never takes place.
Guys, while you aren’t generally as quick to conjure up mental wedding party pictures, when your protective, take-care-of-her instincts get triggered, watch out. You might be surprised at how easily you’ll pencil-in an end to your bachelor days because you want to be the one taking care of her forever.
Pop culture tells you sex = love and love = sex. It’s what people do when they love each other. It’s natural and normal and you’ll be missing out big time if you don’t. It’s the next, obvious step if you love each other.
But pop culture is wrong.
Loving a person means you want the very best for him/her. It means you’d do anything in your power to not cause this person pain or harm or heartache. Yet making a decision to have sex invites the very real possibility of hurt and sorrow into your relationship. Sex always carries the risk of pregnancy. What then? And if saving sex for marriage was the goal for either or both of you, the choice to put those convictions aside will pierce your conscience. Guilt is a heavy weight that a growing relationship doesn’t need. But if you open the door to sex, you’re taking a huge risk that “growing” will stall after sex takes the main stage. And the clear thinking needed to determine if there’s marriage potential in this relationship? Really hard to come by now because sex complicates everything.
But it won’t! Not for us!
That’s what everyone thinks. If you’ve never had sex, you can’t fathom how much it will change things. Or how powerful and consuming it is. How big–no, enormous–a deal it really is.
Real love is about sacrificing for and giving to the other person—not about getting or taking for yourself. What saying NO to sex really says is, “I value you and this relationship too much to risk it.” If you want to truly express the depth of your love, say a firm no to sexual activity of any kind. Nothing will prove how much you love that special girl or guy more than choosing not to indulge in sex.
It’s a tough decision that takes guts and courage to make and keep. But you and your future are soooooooo worth it. You’ll get lots of encouragement and practical advice RIGHT HERE for making and sticking with a decision to save sex for marriage. Check out the tabs across the top for great resources. We are in this together, guys.
I’d love to hear from you in a comment (under the title) OR by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Thoughts, questions, concerns, topics you’d like to see discussed are all welcome!