“It’s pretty normal these days for Christian guys to have sex before they’re married. You’ll be hard pressed finding a guy who is still a virgin,” my brother says.
Somewhere along the way we had started talking about guys who sleep around. As if it’s normal talking about sex with your 22-year-old brother.
I grew up going to church. Actually, my Dad was a pastor, so I pretty much grew up “in the church.” So I heard the “save sex for marriage” talk at least once a year, usually during Valentine’s week. I even signed my abstinence pledge card in Grade 8, the one where you commit to wait until you’re married to have sex.
Being temped to be promiscuous was never an issue for me in high school, probably because I kept most boys at a distance, and probably because my self-esteem was at an all time low during those years. Plus, Grade 8 pledges are serious business.
It was during college when the idea of saving sex for marriage became something more than a pledge. Since I had friends who were sleeping around and who weren’t afraid to talk about it openly, I got the chance to ask lots of questions. It was during this time when I solidified my view that sex isn’t about only the physical.
But am I in the minority? Is it pretty normal for Christian guys (and girls) to be sexually active before marriage? And has waiting become so overrated that we just aren’t willing to do it anymore?
The truth is that choosing to wait until I’m married to have sex does put me in the minority. A big minority. An article in Relevant Magazine in 2011 says, “80 per cent of young unmarried Christians have had sex. Two-thirds have been sexually active in the last year.”
So maybe my brother’s right after all.
For me, waiting is no longer about that piece of paper I signed in Grade 8. Waiting is actively saying that I care so much about my future husband that I’m willing to save a part of myself for only him. It’s choosing to honour a marriage that I don’t have right now, but will (hopefully) someday have. It’s believing this choice now will protect me and my husband in the future. It’s one day being able to say, “I’ve waited for you.”
I know it might seem silly or naive, but the picture of someone offering me that gift is anything but silly. It’s not some cheap, last-minute thrown together gift. It’s a gift that has involved a ton of small and difficult choices. It’s a gift that has been intentional. It hasn’t come easily or without struggle.
Perhaps there is a correlation between choosing not to wait and believing that marriage is neither sacred or permanent. Or maybe it’s that we live in a self-absorbed culture that tells us if it feels good, then we should do it, and that we should “test drive” our partners. Maybe it’s because our Internet-driven world is leaving us starved for human connection. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I think it’s a problem.
Love is not instant gratification. When we make choices that turn it into that, we dilute love. Love is patient. It waits.
If I can’t choose to love someone right now with my choices, then will I be able to love them years down the road when things are rough?
Waiting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for those who won’t settle for a culturally-driven definition of love. It’s for those who are choosing to put their future spouse before themselves, even when they might not know him or her yet.
And there doesn’t seem to be anything silly about that.
Flickr photo (cc) by bokeh burger