“Sex Outside of Marriage is Selfish”
Why should I wait to have sex until marriage? Isn’t that just one of those religious rules I am taught to believe but really doesn’t apply anymore in our time and culture? What even are healthy boundary lines? Read on to learn about a woman’s personal experience with these questions in light of her past and present relationships.
“Having sex outside of marriage is a sin.”
“Drinking is a sin.”
“Cursing is a sin.”
This was how I heard and interpreted the Gospel for the majority of my life: a long list of rules and things I wasn’t supposed to do.
My whole life I grew up going to church. I had my First Communion, I was Confirmed, and I attended a Christian private school. I went to church on Sunday to make my mom happy, and while I could answer questions about the Bible, and knew right from wrong, I didn’t have a strong relationship with Jesus. I prayed in spurts, but not consistently and my prayers were always about my own wants and desires.
When I started college on a soccer scholarship. I had never dated anybody, apart from the occasional movie date in high school.
I definitely had never been in love.
My sophomore year, I met Ryan. He played football and I played soccer. We had all the same friends. He was charming, funny, and I was instantly attracted to him. I probably had a crush on him for 4 months before we started dating. We spent so much time together. He was truly my best friend.
Going into the relationship, I had never had sex before.
Growing up going to church, I knew you were supposed to wait until you were married, but I just thought that was old fashioned and no one really waited anymore. Whereas the church tells you to wait until marriage, the world tells you just to wait until you are ready- whatever “ready” looks like. For me, I felt like I would be “ready” when I was with someone I loved and cared about and knew cared about me. Ryan and I were best friends before we ever started dating, so I felt comfortable with him early on. I just wanted security and wanted to be in a “committed” relationship.
Once I felt like I had that, Ryan and I had sex.
Ryan and I dated for almost a full year. My identity was completely wrapped in him, and my mood was dictated based on how our relationship was that day. For the sake of making a very long story short, the last four months or so of our relationship had a lot more lows than highs. Ryan ended up breaking up with me almost a week before what would have been our one-year anniversary. I was devastated. I will never forget sitting in his car and him telling me he wasn’t happy and didn’t want to be together anymore. My heart was shattered.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. I felt so disposable.
It was the first time I realized that the “committed” relationship I so desired, really wasn’t so committed after all. All he had to do was say a few words, and he was out.
There are a lot of hard things about break ups. The one thing I had the hardest time with, was the thought of him being with someone else. It seriously made me want to die. When he eventually went on to date someone else, I had nightmares of them in bed together and would wake up with my heart pounding and drenched with sweat.
I began to think maybe there is a reason God tells us to wait, more than just an “old rule” to follow, but maybe a rule that brings us more life and less hurt.
After Ryan and I broke up, I started going to FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and thought I would try working on my relationship with God and deal with my pain in a healthy way. It’s amazing to look back on that time of my life and see the ways God worked. I distinctly remember sitting in my bedroom thinking about how I wanted to go to FCA but didn’t want to go because I wouldn’t know anybody. My old teammate then texted me out of the blue inviting me to go with her. After that, I started going regularly.
It was at FCA that I heard the gospel in a way that I had never heard it growing up. For the time time, I understood that I am broken and Jesus was sent to this Earth to die on a cross paying the penalty for all of my sins so that I could stand before the Lord as holy and blameless and be in a relationship with Him. Entering a relationship with Jesus began (and still is) transforming every part of my life. My heart slowly began to align with His ways, in how I wanted to spend my time, who I wanted to spend my time with, and about dating relationships. I only wanted to surround myself with people who were going to push me closer to Christ and found myself less attracted to environments that pulled me away from Him.
As I began walking with the Lord, sex was one of the things I started to question. For so long I thought the pain I felt from my break up with Ryan was normal, and that’s just the price you pay for love. It wasn’t until I built a relationship with the Lord that I discovered that the pain is preventable and isn’t a necessary “right of passage.”
I will never forget a specific relationship talk we had at FCA when Joe, our FCA leader, said “sex outside of marriage is selfish.” That line hit me like a school bus. I had never thought about that. Why does God say to wait for marriage? Because God created sex to bond two people for life, and when sex occurs outside of marriage, it is damaging. God created rules because he doesn’t want to see us hurt. After that talk, I started to really feel conviction about waiting to have sex again until I was married.
This is probably where a lot of questions come in, like “If you have already had sex, what’s the point of waiting?” Trust me, once upon a time I thought the same thing. I remember watching Sean Lowe’s season of The Bachelor (yes I am a Bachelor watcher) and quite frankly not understanding the whole “recycled virgin thing.” It didn’t make sense to me.
I then went on a mission trip with FCA over my senior spring break. I saw on that trip first-hand how selfless relationships look when they are centered around Christ and it made me want my life to look different in order to glorify Him.
It was the first time I began to not focus on what I couldn’t do if I followed Jesus, but what I could do.
At this point, I knew I didn’t want to have sex again until I was married, with that, there came certain insecurities though.
“Is there even a guy out there who would want to wait?
“Am I worth waiting for?
While these insecurities were all lies, they were also hard to fight off.
Naturally, as the Lord changed my heart, my hearts’ desires changed, and who I was attracted to changed. I went on a dating hiatus for about six months before I started going on a date here and there, until …I met my now boyfriend Tim.
After my first date with Tim, I knew he went to church, listened to Christian podcasts, and the story of how he came to really know Jesus. I discovered the massive heart he has for the Lord. Tim is a leader in our relationship, and pushes me to know Jesus. I like the person I am with Tim.
What is crazy is in all my insecurity, I always questioned if any guy would wait, and never thought I would meet a guy who felt as much conviction about sex as I did.
Tim and I didn’t talk about sex until about three months into our relationship, which might seem a little late, but he lives 2.5 hours away and to be honest in those first few months, we were never in a position where we needed to talk about it. We didn’t kiss until our fourth date, which was almost two months after we first met. When he came to visit me, he stayed at a friend’s house, or would sleep on my couch. Pretty much everything about Tim was different than my last relationship.
One night we were on the phone and got talking about past relationships and the topic of sex came up. I found out Tim has similar regrets that I have about sex. He said he wanted to wait, not only to honor God, but if we were to get married, it would be better for our marriage. The next thing that came up was boundaries. Not having sex is hard, but there are certain preventative measures you can take to make things easier. One thing we decided was to not sleep in the same bed. We also decided that honoring God meant abstaining from all sexual activity. I listened to a sermon one time that talked about sex and the minister said “When your bodies start preparing for sex, you have gone too far,” so to leave some things to the imagination, that is pretty much where we drew the line. I also want to add that Tim and I have been together for eight months now, and while we haven’t had sex, we haven’t been perfect and we struggle. It is something I am constantly praying about and something we regularly talk about.
At the end of the day, my hope is not in abstaining from sex. Following rules is not what changed my life. My hope is in Jesus. Jesus is the one who transformed my heart and showed me how much better His ways are than mine. Choosing to wait until I am married is just an overflow of my love for Him.
So, where do you stand in all of this? These are the hard questions to think about and ponder but I encourage you to talk to a friend or mentor about it. Sex, intimacy, and relationships are all big topics and not ones to avoid or just accept the common cultural approach to. Dig in, be raw, and really start to discover what God has planned for you in the midst of it all.