By now you know that Clint and I went through infidelity. But that’s not the whole story. Our entire relationship up until the point of redemption was founded on sexual sin.
Clint and I met at a Christian college. There were so many rules around male/female relationships it was as if they didn’t trust us not to have sex. Maybe for good reason? They understood the nuances of male/female relationships and were just trying to protect us. I can see how some would consider it over protective but, looking back, I appreciated it.
When we met there was instant attraction but being at a Bible College I was feeling the urge to back off on the physical department. I had told him that I wanted to get to know him and not muck it up with physical stuff like kissing and holding hands. Well, that didn’t last long.
Three months later we were having sex pretty regularly on campus and off. The first time it happened I remember feeling so horrible. I couldn’t believe what we’d done. We both agreed to stop. But, we didn’t. It’s kinda hard to stop once you start (another reason to advocate for abstinence until marriage). We continued to put ourselves in situations where we were alone and one thing led to another….
Me getting pregnant. At a Bible College. You can imagine how well that went over.
Clint and I both had to hand over our leadership responsibilities. We had to meet with the Deans and were told that it would be best if we dropped out.
So, here I was a pregnant college drop out. I felt so alone. In the storm of “how could you be so stupid” and “what were you thinking” I had one mentor tell me, “I’m not going to tell you what you already know. Yes, I’m disappointed but let’s move on. I’m here for you.”
As Clint and I were planning our wedding I continued to take on a barrage of conversations that left me reeling. “You’re damaged.” “You’re used.” “No one will ever have you.” I was made to feel like I wasn’t allowed to celebrate my wedding because of how it had come about. No question those tactics were and are wrong and damaging.
Thankfully, one couple allowed me to stay with them. I bunked with their infant girl. A reminder of things to come. But what I remember most was this couples ability and desire to just be there for me. No judgment. No shame.
That’s what people need. This couple, this mentor, reached out in love and compassion and were just there for me. They expected me to be honest about what I’d done but they did it in a positive way. No name calling. No shaming. Just truth, wrapped in love.
So, I can see where all of the recent posts on virginity and the purity culture are coming from…to a degree. I completely understand the damaging affects of being belittled because I made a mistake. I completely get that we as a church culture put this evil lid on sex with kids when they are young but then make it out to be this grand, magical thing that will be perfect your first night together on your wedding night.
There’s so much illogicalness in those thoughts I don’t even know where to begin.
However, I’m failing to understand the additional thoughts that many bloggers are having on this subject. It’s all over the blogosphere right now. ALL. OVER.
It’s almost as if celibacy and abstinence are being made fun of. Because, since most of us (80-90%, from what I could find) don’t end up making it to the altar with our virginity in tact then we must find justification for the choices that we made. Right? The purity culture must be wrong.
We must have been interpreting scripture incorrectly this whole time.
People who have sex before marriage go on to have successful marriages so the church must be wrong.
We’ve got a multitude of bloggers, Christian bloggers, who are suggesting that your sex life and marriage WILL NOT be impacted, whatsoever, by you having sex before marriage.
I’m sorry, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While I was damaged by many of the things that were said to me, as a youth and as a knocked up college girl, I can emphatically say that doesn’t negate the importance of talking about purity and abstinence and saving yourself. It doesn’t negate the TRUTH that sex between a man and a women who are committed for life is the BEST method for creating a good, healthy sex life.
Keeping people in their shame by suggesting that they’ve completely ruined everything is not okay. But there is no shame in feeling shame. Shame is “a feeling…caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” It’s something I feel about my own behavior. Not something someone else has the power to hold over me.
As human beings, when we do something wrong we should feel ashamed. We should be conscious of our wrong and foolish behavior. We shouldn’t be brushing it under the rug or suggesting its not what it really is. The important thing is to see it for what it is, learn from it, and move on. Not to live in the shame. But these other bloggers are suggesting that there simply isn’t any shame in giving yourself away before marriage. That having sex before marriage has no bearing on your life, your marriage, your sex life with your spouse. Huh?
Yes, there is some truth to what some of these bloggers are saying. However, there is something crucial missing from these discussions. Yes, God is in the redemption business. He is the God of second chances. There is no mistake you could ever make that is unforgivable. There is no slate that God cannot wipe clean. He can restore any relationship. And I hate when I hear that so many of us have been made to feel dirty, unforgiveable, and unredeemable when we give ourselves away.
But let’s be honest. In most cases, we put ourselves in these situations…with someone we are attracted to where we give into an impulse with little to no thought of future consequences.
It IS a shame that so many of us are doing that.
It IS a shame that so many of us treat sex as casually as we do.
It IS a shame that we aren’t willing to talk honestly about what happens when we tie our bodies to another person.
Let’s stop putting blame where blame doesn’t belong. Your mom may have told you how “bad” sex was…you know..until your wedding night. Your church may have attacked the perils of giving yourself away in degrading ways. So what? The responsibility of the choice still rests in one place only. With the two people involved.
So, you want no shame attached to that choice? There is a key ingredient involved in order for God to be able to wipe clean, start fresh, redeem and forgive.
Restoration does not come without repentance. Healing from the past does not come without acknowledgement of what was done. So when we teach young kids that its okay if you do or you don’t, either way, we’re not sharing the whole story.
You’re marriage can still be wonderful and God glorifying. Your sex life can still be wonderful, intimate and healthy. Yes….But, not without repentance. Not without acknowledgement. For us to sit here and act as though having sex before marriage, however it came about – casual sex, multiple partners, one time with our soon to be spouse – won’t impact you as a person and won’t impact your marriage…is a lie.
It will. And it will most assuredly impact your marriage and your sex life if you don’t stare it in the face, call it what it is, and then move on from it.
No, our sexuality is not a bad thing. God gave it to us to enjoy. But, he created it for a purpose. And what we do with it matters.
Does the church need to change how it approaches this subject? Absolutely. Telling young people, “We don’t have sex until we’re married because the Bible tells us so” is not good enough. Yep, I just said that. It especially doesn’t work with people who don’t have the same foundational faith as we do. There’s a lot of ambiguity in scripture. A lot that we have to read into. It might not say anywhere that sex before marriage is wrong. But there are plenty of scriptures that when taken together as a whole show us that God’s intention is for the marriage relationship to be where two become one.
I’ve always believed that God asks us to do certain things, not to keep us from the fun everyone else seems to be having, but to protect us from the dangers inherent in those behaviors. So, while I do believe that we can make a case for the Bible sharing that sex belongs within marriage, lets make the case for saving ourselves elsewhere. Because it is out there. It’s not just religious fanatics who are suggesting that the best method for sex is saving yourself for one person for life.
Every year more than 700K unplanned pregnancies and 19 million STI’s occur in the US. Yikes! Yes, condoms can reduce the risk but not eliminate them. Many STI’s are contracted because the condoms aren’t being used correctly and because the condom simply doesn’t cover the exposed infected areas. Beyond this, infertility experts estimate that 80% of today’s infertility is due to venereal diseases contracted before marriage. Even the CDC (the CDC!) suggests that “the most reliable way to avoid transmission of STDs including HIV are to abstain from sexual activity or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.”
Authors, Dr. McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush, M.D. state that the two biggest reasons for abstaining have always been pregnancy and STI’s. But they suggest that there is a third important reason. There is a major effect on the brain when we have sex with people.
The Medical Institute for Sexual Health has revealed evidence that when two people become sexually active they release a series of brain chemicals that create emotional bonding. I truly believe that this is what the Bible is talking about when it says that two shall become one. We don’t become one when we say “I do.” We become one when we share our bodies. Simply because of the emotional and spiritual components that are present in that moment. I know the world would tell you that sex is just sex. That couldn’t be further from the truth. And we’re doing our kids a huge disservice by suggesting otherwise.
CS Lewis once said, “The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.”
I applaud these bloggers for bringing up the epidemic of shaming people for erring in judgment. But I think the bigger epidemic is that with all of the knowledge we have these days, from the Bible, and from psychology and science, that people are still choosing to have sex with multiple partners.
So, yes, lets talk about ways in which churches and communities can create positive ways of talking about the importance of abstinence. Let’s talk about all of the reasons why we should wait in non-shaming ways. But lets be honest about what it is. Let’s speak the truth about what sex is and what it can do.
And for God’s sake, lets stop shaming the people who are making the active choice to wait until marriage. We should be applauding them. Studies show they will more than likely end up having not just better but more satisfying sex than those who didn’t wait.
Sex is a beautiful thing. It connects people in wonderful and lasting ways. But it is also a powerful thing. It has the capacity to hurt us and steal from us if we don’t use it appropriately. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. It could affect your marriage. It could affect your sex life. It could affect your ability to connect with your spouse.
I know because it did for us. And countless others like us.
And there is no shame in saying that.