If you are my family member or friend that doesn't want to know my past or current sexual history and opinions, please stop reading. There are just some things my grandpa and dad just don't need to know.
For the rest of you, let's start off with pointing out the elephant in the room before we start this post: Every person that reads this is going to have different perspectives about this topic.
Some had/have strong commitments to "True Love Waits."
Some grew up in a home where safe sex was totally acceptable in their house.
Others wanted to wait and didn't.
Others didn't want to wait and still are virgins.
Others... Well you get the point. We are coming from different perspectives.
One perspective that I hardly hear is the one I'm about to share with you. My perspective. My truth.
The first time I heard about True Love Waits I was 16. I had just become a Christian and up to that point in my life garnered quite a reputation. Most of it unfounded and made up of lies. But every rumor starts with a spec of truth.
I loved relationships and loved pleasure, but thankfully for me have always had commitment issues. I say thankfully because up to this point I'd had a boy in my life in some capacity since middle school, but I had never stayed around long enough to fall in love and choose then to have sex. Which means by all technical terms I was a virgin.
Let me take a time out for two seconds and address one thing: I'm not saying I was safe and clear and good because I was a technically speaking virgin. This wasn't something I had done right. It was actually my insecurities of commitment that kept this from happening. I can't tell you how many times I was a breath away from breaking my personal rule of love and giving into the passion I was experiencing. But everyone, regardless of belief, has their own personal values and stick to them.
But once I discovered the truth of Jesus and the life he calls us to (not just a label of Christian), everything changed. Every opinion and value I once held to be true was challenged. Not just by the church, but by myself (both the Holy Spirit convicting me and the truth I was reading in the Bible).
I knew I immediately had to change how I did relationships. This happened to be the same time a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye came out. It was the first Christian book I read. A little extreme but for this chronic relationship girl, it was a must read. So I decided not to date at all for 6 months. Knowing my past you now know this was a novel idea.
During that time I did some research on not just sex but all the grey areas we tend to skim over as a society. I looked at every verse on sexual immorality (see some verses here). And this is what I found:
The Bible doesn't straight up say: Thou shall not have sex before-eth though get-est married. Number one the Bible doesn't really talk like that. But it also doesn't give that specific of an answer. I love that reading the Bible because it forces you to think. I found that it did say:
*You should have sexual relations with your own spouse (1 Cor 7:2). That's about as close to wait till marriage as I could find.
*Again and again to flee or avoid sexual immorality and it is a sin (Acts 15:29, 1 Cor 6:18, Eph 5:3, Col 3:5, 1 Thes 4:3).
Now as I heard more and more about abstinence in the church a couple of things turned me off.
First, all I heard was wait. Don't have sex. The grey was hardly ever addressed. Mainly because I think that people felt too uncomfortable saying words like felt up, fingering, hand jobs, blow jobs, etc. at church. I think my friends and I had a good idea that those things were a part of "sexual immorality" (see verses above). But still because even reading those words make us uncomfortable or even offended, no one offered real advice or solutions when tempted, just don't. No one shared how even those things can cause insecurities of comparison into marriage. That even in the grey there are lasting consequences.
Second, these same adults that were telling us to wait to have sex till marriage also complained about sex (having to have it seemed like a chore) and had affectionate-less marriages. Not all, I know, but most. So this thing, sex, that they were telling us was worth waiting till marriage for didn't seem that fun within marriage.
Compare that to what we saw around us in the world in TV, movies, songs, magazines and rumors. Sex outside of marriage seemed exciting, acceptable, and something that everyone else was doing. They were having fun. They were not feeling bad about it. And you were the lone virgin. I think we all know that what we see is not reality. I've learned with time that the editors of media make things to look a certain way. Their way. Some of it is true, but most of it is not completely accurate. Words, pictures and stories have all been photoshopped.
So what did I do with all these conflicting messages?
Well I continued to struggle in relationships. Each relationship was different (so if you knew me in a relationship, make no assumptions). I learned health boundaries that did protect us from not just "messing up" but also temptation to "mess up." I also went through a season of what I call "the drought" (not a date for years).
I found myself 24 and single and a virgin. I wish I could tell you that I was confident in that. That I was some how proud that I had made it. And most days I knew it was the right thing. Most days I couldn't wait to give that gift to whoever I'd marry. But some days I hated it. Even in my circle of friends that were Christian, I still felt left out because by your mid 20s there aren't many virgins left. I just wanted to share that thought struggle to be honest. That not every day I was excited to wait. Some days it was a choice and a chore... and, unfortunately, an embarrassment.
He was nothing like any man I had ever known. And that was a good thing, he was the perfect compliment I needed. His journey was different than mine but our experiences were similar (meaning we had both done more than we liked but were both still virgins). Knowing our struggle with physical things in the past we set up some strict boundaries (I'll share in part 2) and committed to not have sex till our wedding night.
Were we tempted? Yes! Listen if you aren't tempted to do things physically with the person you are about to marry, then you should probably be concerned.
But did we cross into the grey? Never. I don't say this to brag on our perfection. Because listen we are so far from perfection. But to share a glimmer of hope with any fellow strugglers out there that it is possible. It is totally possible to choose today to not mess up when it comes to your physical relationship with who you date.
Check out Part 2 to hear what we did to set up boundaries and how waiting till marriage worked out for us.
Question: Share in the comments your perspective (obviously you don't have to share the amount of details I did). What were you told about sex? How did that negatively or positively influence you?
Tammie Head (An challenge to single ladies)