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.
Allison Vesterfelt is a writer, speaker, thinker, dreamer, and the author of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living LIfe with Less Baggage (Moody, 2013). She travels often, but lives in Nashville, Tenn. with her husband, Darrell. You can follow her daily at her website or on Twitter.