I’m a real prude when it comes to sex, and my belief hasn’t come without costs.
Friends and acquaintances have been known to give me strange looks when they learn about it. “But you’ll have to try it out, you know, in case you’re not sexually compatible with your partner,” was the standard quote I’d hear.
There were also former boyfriends who believed sex before marriage was okay as long as it was within a loving relationship and between consenting parties. Well, I was only 16 years old when I went out with my first boyfriend, so I’m not sure how mature I would have been at that age to make such a serious decision. But they put me under pressure anyway.
All sorts of reasons from “if you love me . . .” and “all my friends are doing it with their girlfriends, I feel so left out” to “it’s a little outdated, don’t you think?” were paraded in front of me. One of them believed it was unreasonable for God to expect modern couples to wait until their wedding day to have sex since people were getting married at a later age. “It just isn’t possible,” he said.
The idea of getting pregnant, however, was terrifying. I would have rather sat my accounting examinations repeatedly than get pregnant at 16.
If you thought my no-sex-before-marriage stance stemmed from a religious upbringing, with parents harping that I would be sent to Hell if I ever crossed the line, you thought wrong. No, my only introduction to the notion that sex was not something to do outside of marriage was when I watched the movie Titanic. I was 12 then. An X-rated scene between Jack and Rose came on, and all my mum said was, “Don’t do that, OK, it’s not good,”—and that was that.
For some reason, her words stayed with me, and I repeat the stance to potential dates over the next decade, and to anyone who would listen (albeit with much skepticism).
“So, you’re religious, right?” they would ask.
To be honest, had it just been about obeying God’s law, I would have folded the moment the pressure got too much. It was in fact more of a personal belief that sex was not something that should be treated so nonchalantly, which is why I was so fiercely protective over it. As I grew older, I found it was a very handy test to gauge if a guy was worth dating or not. If he wasn’t prepared to respect my decision on such an important matter, then he wasn’t the person I would want to date.
One former date said he wasn’t sure if he could handle a relationship that did not have sex involved. “Unless I believe you were my soulmate, I don’t think I’d be able to give up having sex in a relationship. It would just be too much to ask for,” he said. Needless to say, I went home in a huff and the relationship didn’t progress to anything serious.
Admittedly, there were times when I wondered whether I should just throw this notion of no-sex-before-marriage away, so life could be so much easier. Why the prude lifestyle? I would ask myself.
After all, we live in a world where sex before marriage is the norm, and waiting for marriage is seen as plain bizarre.
When American writer and comedian Elna Baker wrote about abstinence in a 2009 article, “Yes, I’m a 27-year-old Virgin”, she described how she grappled with the challenge before deciding that she was no longer against premarital sex. In 2011, she announced that she was no longer a virgin and said, “I don’t regret losing my virginity, but I also don’t regret waiting. I know now that it’s a very personal journey.”
Sometimes, sex is seen not only as a personal choice, but is virtually a must-do. In the 2005 comedy, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, when the friends of a hapless single find out that he has never “done the deed”, they set out to help him “do the deed”.But what if I told you God is no prude when it comes to sex?
In his book, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, American pastor Mark Gungor notes that sex was God’s idea. He writes: “He is the one who created our bodies to feel the way they feel when they’re touched and caressed. He is the one who created the potential for orgasm—that almost out-of-body experience. Sex is a divine gift.”
The Bible tells us that God designed sex to be enjoyed within the context of a marriage. It is a gift that one should enjoy in the right context, because it involves a level of intimacy that no other human relationship can bring. God meant it for our good when He instructed us not to arouse or awaken love until it so desires (Song of Solomon 8:4). We are also to flee from sexual immorality because our body is a temple of God and we’ve been bought at a very high price—the precious blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
The way I see it, God’s instructions not to have sex before marriage is like having your parents tell you that you can’t open your birthday present until it’s your birthday. You see, sex is like a wedding gift from God to a couple, and it’s something that’s to be opened on your wedding night. But if you go ahead and open your present before your birthday, then you would lose the joy that comes with the anticipation and fulfilment when the big day comes round.
As Gungor wrote, “Always remember, God is not a prude. He does not tell us to avoid sexual promiscuity because He is somehow embarrassed about sex. He just knows how we’re wired and wants us to experience the very best.”