(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.