True Love Waits – Purity

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(Lies I’ve Been S/Told series)

There’s an organization within Christianity dedicated to encouraging purity among students. The only problem I’m beginning to worry about is the notion that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage to “save yourself” for your future spouse—hence the name “true love waits.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I myself have worn a ring that expresses this sentiment for some ten years (it has inspired many amusing conversations) but in recent years the motivation behind it has begun to fall a little flat in my mind.

I mean, how do you know you’re going to get married?

Not to be pessimistic, but you don’t know that you will get married. I could be killed in a car accident on my way home tonight from Starbuck’s and never get married. It’s a real possibility.  And what then? Was my “waiting” in vain? Was it useless?

Or what about the fact that I’m twenty five and there’s no one on the horizon? The idea of “waiting” is suddenly a little hallow.

I was in a friend’s dorm room with a couple of female friends and they were talking about waiting to have sex and one of them said, “I dunno, if I haven’t gotten married by the time I’m twenty five, I might just say ‘forget it, I’m going to have sex.’” They laughed and all agreed, by twenty five, if they weren’t married, they were going to have sex.

It was mostly in jest, and they were all about 20, so 25 seemed a long way off, but I think it illustrates the problem: Waiting for some abstract future that may or may not happen only motivates for a short time.

So what do you do when you’re 25 and still single? I don’t think the 15 year old me would have so readily signed up for that. And after awhile the fact that you’ve been walking down a tunnel with no light at the end of it for such a long time can get exhausting.

We need long term reasons to remain sexually pure.

Like that fact that it’s not worth the heart break and added complexity that being physical adds to any relationship. Did you know that a woman’s brain begins to release oxytocin (the same chemical released by the brain after childbirth to bond mother and child) after being held for only twenty seconds? I even saw this in a Men’s Health article about how to get a girl. They were saying how those long hugs help her bond to you—chemically. Scary? I think so.

It’s very easy to see from there how girls (especially) stay in unhealthy physical relationships with men who treat them poorly.

And bonding happens in guys over physical too, it’s just much slower (and a different chemical).

How about the fact that it’s really a commitment to God? That kind of a reason lasts far past the “was it worth the wait?” questions that inevitably arise. And it’s not because God is down on sex, but that he loves everyone and doesn’t want them to be hurt or hurting, and out of that concern encourages sexual purity. So great a concern that it’s commended to not have even a “hint of sexually immorality” or “lust in your heart after a woman,” which Jesus equates as being just as bad as adultery. That’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

How about the fact that you can’t ever go back and undo something you did? The adage, “Once you taste the candy, you can’t go back” is probably especially true here. I mean, maybe it would be fun and worth it to have a romantic interlude for a summer with a girl and cherish it as a fond memory, but what if it’s not? And why risk bringing even more baggage into a relationship with the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with? I’ve got enough stuff to work through, why would I want to add to it? And what if ten years from now I realize I’ve regretted that decision I made that night (or those nights) and there’s nothing I can do about it? I can’t go back and take it back.

I find those more compelling reasons to not have casual sex in my mid twenties than the idea of waiting. Yes, I think it would be wonderful to marry someone who didn’t have sex with anyone before me, but it doesn’t have to be because she was waiting for me.

So I wish some of these things were the main reasons pushed to students to “wait.” I mean, even if the “true love waits” motivation holds when you’re young, it starts to get neutralized when you’re with the person you “know” you’re going to marry. Or you’re getting older. Or….

That’s why this one fell in the category of a “lie” I’ve been sold. It’s half true, at best inferred from scripture, but it’s shallow packaging with thin advertising at best.

And I want to call it out.

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4 responses to “True Love Waits – Purity

  1. While I enjoyed reading your article, I feel as though your rationales for not having sex are lame. As a single Christian virgin, I tire of the argument “oh you’ll be attached” or “oh you’ll never be able to stop”. People said the same thing about tattoos and so far I only have the one. I am positive there are a number of happy sexually active couples who are not in a funk because they had sex before marriage. Some people have no qualms with matter. Let’s be honest, unhealthy attachments can form with or without acts sex. So what about that? Don’t over spiritualize coitus, at the end of the day it is just sex. Too often in the Christian world sex is iconized and placed on a pedestal. We value virginity as if it is a symbol of purity when in fact purity is something much deeper.

    As a 25 year old Christian woman who is in fact a virgin. I have concluded that it is about self-control and submitting to God’s design. It is about my desire to love and obey my creator rather than having an oh I waited attitude. I don’t see my virginity as a gift to anyone but God. And I do not place all my value as a woman on it! At the end of the day, should I get married, I am sure my husband will fall in love with me, not fact that I’m a virgin.

    Relationships are such a taboo topic in the church. UGH I hate it sometimes. I can’t tell you how many guys have given me the God told me you are my wife line…Seriously, my goal in life is to serve God. When the time comes I know that my father, who gives good gifts, will give me a good gift so to speak. My virginity doesn’t define me…

  2. I have written about three different responses but then deleted them. Honestly sex is worth waiting for marriage for so many reasons. Sex is about more than erections and orgasms. . . and more than chemicals that connect a person. If you want and many people do, you can reduce it to simply casual and the first thing I mentioned. . . If you do honestly, I feel sorry for you. As the ultimate expression of “us”, sex is about unselfishness. You want to ruin your marriage. . . do only what you want. . . you want to set your self up for a crappy marriage. . . do whatever you want whenever with whoever you want.
    I should have probably deleted this one too. . .

    • Was your response to me?! Sorry if it’s not. I won’t cloud Nate’s wonderful blog with my “devil’s advocate” response. BUT how does sex before marriage ruin marriage. There are a number of christian couples who are divorced having nothing to do with sex before marriage. And there are a number of non-christian couples who stay married for years and it has nothing to do with sex before marriage. MARRIAGE IS MORE THAN SEX. But let it be clear that I am saving myself for my husband BUT I have no rose-colored ideals about sex. Two people can love each other and have sex AND not be married!!! It’s irrational to say that the only way to have sex and love is in a marriage…

      Again, I’m a Christian.
      Again, I’m a virgin
      Again, I’m saving myself for marriage.

      BUT… the church has idolized sex so much to this gold nugget!

      I will say it again. When I get married my husband is marrying ME. Not the fact that I’m a virgin. Not the fact that I’ve never been with another man.

      ME Rhonda A. Gibson, all the ups and downs ins and out highs and lows. There is more to me than my virginity!!!


  3. First off, I’m going to say I am NOT a virgin. I am a 23 year old woman and have had multiple partners. I do, however, wish I had waited (and have made the decision to wait from here on out). Waiting isn’t so you can idolize sex and think its some remarkable thing (even though I am sure with the right person, at the right time it will be more wonderful than any one night stand that will be incredibly special to you and your spouse and only bring you closer). I think what Matt meant by saying it will ruin your marriage if you have sex before marriage isn’t due to the act of sex in it of itself. The thing is, and I can contest to this, if you introduce sex to early into a relationship (such as before marriage) you are laying a foundation based on sex. Waiting until marriage to have sex gives you the blessing of being able to build your relationship foundation on God, on friendship and on really knowing one another. Sex can put these rose colored haze on your relationship and you think everything is great until you hit a storm. And there will be storms in every relationship, even if you are the best Christian couple out there. What sustains a relationship through those storms is based on what kind of foundation you have laid. I’m sorry but until you have had sex outside of marriage, you have no idea of the consequences it has for you, or the way it makes you see your relationship. If you have sex before marriage you are not truly putting God at the center of that relationship because he is very clear on the matter. Not to mention the fact that sex outside of marriage can cause you to get an STD. It only takes one time. You don’t have to be some whore to contract an STD.

    Yes there is more to everyone than their virginity (thank God, because otherwise I would be screwed, no pun intended). That more is what foundations you have laid. This includes your spouse as well as friendships. I have had friendships where we literally talked about sex all the time. Once I decided to recommit my life to Christ, it is amazing how fast though relationships fell apart. Why? They didn’t have a Christ based foundation. Not to say you can’t maintain friendships with non-christians but you can never go to the deepest level of friendship because they won’t understand your desire for Jesus, even if they are there for you.

    What is more than your virginity is your character.

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