Opinion: Worth the wait
Abstinence is more than the absence of sex
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 15:12
My average abstinence-only sexual education experience typically went like this: A (married) youth pastor would stand in front of a group of hormonally-charged teenagers and tell us “Sex is awesome. It’s the best thing ever. But it’s something you shouldn’t do until you’re married. Or God will be mad at you.” Or something.
It’s like being given a present in January and told you can’t open it until the following Christmas.
However, for beliefs both spiritual and personal, I have chosen to abstain from sex until the night of my wedding.
College students have sex. Your friends have sex. You may be having sex. If you haven’t had sex, odds are you will at some point in your life. The only question is when you’ll be having sex – before marriage? Or are you going to wait until after the wedding band has been slipped onto your finger?
Call me foolish or old-fashioned, but I still believe in the power of the traditional love story. In my opinion, our lives our composed of the grand narrative we find ourselves in and the storylines we choose to pursue. Every flirty text message, dinner date, side-hug-turned-real-hug and kiss are all bits and pieces of the love stories we choose for ourselves. The love story I want to write for myself doesn’t involve premarital sex, cohabiting before marriage or satisfying fleeting desires for temporary satisfaction.
I was at a comedy club one night and the comedian onstage quipped “people who choose not to abstain from sex before marriage are the ones that have fun wedding nights.” I laughed with the rest of the audience but as he continued his set I sat quietly ruminating the barb. For me, it represented misconceptions held by both those who chose to abstain from premarital sex and those who do not.
For those of us who are holding off from sex until our wedding night: If we intertwine our expectations of marriage with our anticipation of sex, we run the risk of sorely distorting both experiences. Just as marriage should not be viewed as a cure-all for lust, sex should not be viewed as the final culmination of a relationship. To hold this view cheapens both marriage and the potential for a vibrant sex life with your spouse, post-wedding bells.
I view sex not merely as a component to a relationship, but as a physical manifestation of love, a gracious gift given to couples that have dedicated their lives to one another. Sex is a physical act, but it’s also more than that. The synthesis of love, passion and security that results from sex achieves its full potential when it’s experienced through the institution of marriage.
At the end of the day, I could have filled this column with all the familiar statistics about sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and divorce rates among couples who choose to engage in premarital sex, but I’m not naïve. One of the critical failures of abstinence-only sexual education is it relies too heavily on arguments built around numbers and the threat of delayed consequence.
In spite of all of this, the honest reason I choose to remain abstinent until marriage hinges on one moment in my future. At the close of my wedding night, the furthest thing from my mind will be “I wish I had sex with other women when I had the chance.” Instead, what I will whisper in the dark to my wife will be “I’m glad I waited for you.”