What's the Big Deal About Waiting for Marriage?

Reevaluating our generation's approach to sex and intimacy.

If Christians are supposed to be waiting until marriage for sex, they aren’t doing a very good job at it. Statistics show  as many as 80 percent of Christians in their 20s admit to having premarital sex. 

I am one of those Christians.

I learned  I was supposed to wait for marriage at a really young age. In fact, before I even really knew what sex was I knew the abstinence message: Having sex before marriage was just about the worst sin you could commit.

I was part of the True Love Waits generation. I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story. I even went on a youth group retreat where I was encouraged to write letters to my future husband. I did and kept them in a box under my bed. If any Christian was going to make it to the wedding day it should have been me.

So why didn’t I?

I now believe I was asking all the wrong questions.

I knew I was supposed to wait for marriage for sex, but I didn’t really know why. Instead of asking, “Why am I supposed to be doing this?” I spent most of my energy asking, “How far is too far?” or, "If I’m saving sex for marriage, can I have oral sex?" "How much kissing is too much kissing? Can I sleep in the same bed with someone?" "What if our clothes are on?"

The wrong questions pointed me in the wrong direction and I paid the price for it—I spent yearsof my life nurturing insecurities and growing in confusion, guilt andanxiety.

When I finally did talk to Christians about the reasons we werewaiting for marriage for sex, the answers I got were vague andconfusing. “Your body is a precious treasure and you need to treat itaccordingly.” “Sex is a gift you only get to give away once.” Theseexplanations didn’t satisfy me. If sex was such a bad thing, I wondered, then how come it felt like such a good thing? What was it that happened after the wedding day that made sex suddenly OK? It all seemed soarbitrary.

I’m convinced  we’re asking the wrong questions. We’re adults. We need to talk about sex like adults. We need to use the words that actually describe what we are doing. But if we’re stuck asking questions like, “How far is too far?” we miss out on the answer to questions like this: "What does it mean when the Bible says to avoid sexual immorality?" "Why would God ask me to wait? Are there actual reasons?" "If sex (and all the things leading up to sex) are 'bad' then why does it feel so good?"I believe  these questions have answers and we as Christians need to develop the courage to talk about them.

So, what is the big deal about saving sex for marriage? If we spend all day asking, “How far is too far?” we’re creating a list of rules and regulations that are pointless. And we wonder why, at the end of the day—no matter where we set the boundary—we have a hard time keeping it.

There are reasons God asks us to wait for marriage for sex:

It Builds Trust. Trust that your spouse is the kind of person who can control his or her sexual urges. Trust that your spouse values his/her sexuality enough to guard it until marriage. Trust that your spouse values you and your needs above anyone else. Trust that your spouse understands the concept of self-sacrifice and delayed gratification. 

Trust takes time to build. You might as well start now.

It Builds Friendship. Sex in addition to friendship creates a really lasting bond in a relationship—one that is hard to break. Sex without friendship is fragile and explosive. It’s like an expensive vase set on an unsteady table. Just give it the slightest bump and it will tumble and break.

How are you working to be friends first?

Happiness Isn't Everything. If the purpose of my relationships is happiness, then any time I feel unhappy or uncomfortable the temptation will be to end my relationship. If the purpose of my relationship is holiness, then I’ll see every discomfort as an opportunity to work toward becoming more whole.

Are your relationships making you happy, or are they making you whole?

You Are Valuable. Strong physical boundaries speak to your value. You are worth more than a movie ticket or a cup of coffee or a couple of dinners out. You are not that easily accessible. It takes more than that. Let your physical boundaries speak to the value you place on your sexuality.

Are you communicating the right message about your value?

Lust Is Not Manageable. If you think you can entertain lust in a dating relationship (or as a single person) and stop when you get married, you’re in line for a rude awakening. Lust does not have a light switch.

Do you want to get rid of lust now or later?

Whether you waited for marriage, are sorting out your sexual history or just need a reminder your wait is worth it, we can address the questions of sex directly, with honesty. Let’s start asking the right questions.

Ally Spotts is a 20-something writer and blogger (read her blog series on waiting until marriage for sex). Ally believes that what feels like a crisis is almost always an opportunity to step out in faith and do something crazy. She is the author of the e-book Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting For Marriage For Sex. Follow what she is saying on facebook and twitter. 

220 Comments

84,019

Kate commented…

But why does sexuality have value?

Paul Powlison

4

Paul Powlison replied to 's comment

I heard it said in a message by Timothy Keller that sex is a sacrament, or a physical act that is part of a spiritual truth (like communion). Sex is an act of giving yourselves to each other, and being vulnerable with each other, just like we should be able to be emotionally and spiritually naked with our spouses. Basically, it's a remembrance or even a restatement of the marriage covenant. It loses a lot of meaning in marriage when it's turned only into something that feels good, or when it becomes an attempt to perform or "compete" with expectations from your spouse.

Paul Powlison

4

Paul Powlison replied to 's comment

http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/love-lust-and-liberation

I don't know what the policy of linking messages on the comment thread is, but I think this sermon gives a really full perspective of sex's value, the unabashed biblical celebration of it within it's proper boundaries, and its purpose.

84,019

J_Ann commented…

I am a born again Christian and I walk daily with God, reading His word, speaking with Him through prayer, and going to a Bible based church. I've realized that sex is making love to someone you are in love with. It is very fragile, just like being in a relationship and building a relationship with the person you want to bein your life forever,so is making love to this person. If you make it a point never to make love to your person without love being present then it is nota sin. Since God is love and sin is us seperating from God, wouldn't it make sense then that unless we make love without actually having love in our hearts/doing it out of love then we could consider ourselves to be sinning? Love is God and Sin is being without God. Anything without love is a sin.

84,019

Saraf_124_k commented…

Hi

am waiting for marriage ...did not date .but marriage is not happening.waiting for GOD to give....almost all frds married now.ppl who had not married some are also married.seems i am the only one person this way,waiting and waiting .GOD has to answer my prayers.

Henry Kim

10

Henry Kim replied to 's comment

you cant just wait upon the lord with this issue. you have to be proactive about it. your husband is not going to land on your lap. pray and take action. its really about discernment when choosing a spouse.

Brett

63

Brett replied to Henry Kim's comment

i want to encourage you to keep waiting - and if you have some time read some of these stories of good friends of mine and their attitude towards singleness which has not been an easy time for a lot of them [mid 30 to 40 year olds] as they are really encouraging - http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/taboo-topics-singleness-intro

hope that helps
love brett fish

Brett

63

Brett replied to Henry Kim's comment

but also this post c/o Jamie the very worst missionary [excellent blog] also helps a big deal with the sex before marriage question: http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/taboo-topics-sex-before-marria...

Kirsten Oliphant

5

Kirsten Oliphant commented…

I think this post speaks for a lot of the people that grew up hearing the message of true love waits and others. I am definitely going to check out your blog and ebook, as my husband is a youth pastor and I know this is something that, because of the nature of church and parents and youth groups, is often really tough to address.

I think in addition to all those whys, there is something to be said for our relationship with God, and also the picture of marriage as the picture of our relationship with him. Often in the OT when God is talking about the unfaithfulness and sin of his people, it's spoken of in a sexual way. Like, "you lie down with idols" or even "you became a harlot to all the nations." The sexual relationship is that oneness, the completing, and as our marriage points to the marriage and relationship with have with Jesus, I think another why is that we are learning the value of faithfulness. We are learning about purity. We are saving ourselves for our spouse, but also we are keeping ourselves pure because God asks us to. And I believe he asks us to as a picture and greater way of understanding the faithfulness and commitment to him in that relationship.

I love these reasons why and am glad for this post!

Brett

63

Brett commented…

thankx for posting this - i think you raise some excellent points and definitely that of having been fed the wrong question as young people in terms of 'how far is too far?' and all of that - if we had been taught to value sex over being taught to run away from it there might have been some kind of difference...

keep on
love brett fish

Brett

63

Brett replied to Brett's comment

specifically on that question i have a three parter answer which may be of help to some people: http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/i-kissed-dating-part-how-far-i...

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