Steadfast Madcap

"I Waited Until My Wedding Night and I Wish I Hadn't" -- What do you think?

15 posts in this topic

http://www.xojane.com/sex/true-love-waits-pledge

 

I thought this article was interesting because, unlike other criticisms of WTM that I hear, this author doesn't wish that she had the chance to sleep with other people, nor is she heading for divorce, nor is she dealing with major sexual incompatibility. She just wishes that she had slept with her then-boyfriend, now-husband before they got married, and that they had delayed their marriage by a few years. For her, the biggest problem was that she felt WTM made her whole identity about being a virgin, and, once she was married, it was very difficult for her to switch from the "sex is wrong" mentality to thinking "sex is good now."

 

What do you guys think?

 

(Also, I don't recommend reading the comments...they devolve into a religious screaming match pretty fast.)

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"Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal." 
 
At the age of 10, I took a pledge at my church alongside a group of other girls to remain a virgin until marriage. Yes, you read that right -- I was 10 years old.

 

Oh, another one of these..

 
I think a better title would be, "I went into marriage with an unhealthy view of sex, and wish I hadn't" 
 
I feel bad for her, but I was pleasantly surprised to read that she's still with (and seemingly in love with) her husband and they are working through it. 
 
I guess I got lucky. Even though I grew up in various Baptist churches (like the author), I never saw this kind of cultish idolizing of virginity and shaming of everything sexual. On the contrary, many people in my churches, including several pastors, celebrated sex; it was just in the context of marriage. I also never saw the one-sidedness so many people, like the author, talk about. It was always taught to men and women alike in my churches to remain abstinent until marriage. Virginity was never really put on a pedestal, either. It was simply a doctrine that Christians should only have sex within marriage.
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I always feel bad when I see cases where a church has twisted the message of purity to the point that it affects those who were brought up under it negatively. In a lot of cases it gives people a bad idea of what WTM is actually about.

Also, when people make purity pledges at like 10 years old, they really don't know what they're getting themselves into until later on in life. If they don't have a good foundation behind it aside from a simple "God said so", they either don't stick to it or end up waiting without any sense of purpose behind it...the latter of which happened here.

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I am sorry to hear about this woman's experience. I agree that virginity shouldn't be put on a pedestal and neither should sexuality be seen as shameful.

 

I think abstinence is more about giving reverence to sexuality in general.

 

I'm glad this woman is working through her issues with her husband. 

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I agree with Matt: I'm glad she's still actually with her husband, and her upbringing didn't completely wreck her marriage. Just reading the article, there were some pretty obvious red-flags:

 

RED FLAG #1

She made a virginity pledge at age 10. That's just wrong. Most ten-year-olds don't even know what sex is, or if they do, it's a very primitive understanding, the bare mechanics and nothing more. If you're making a pledge to keep sex for marriage at age 10, you're really just promising to WTM for this thing called sex that I don't understand but it's what grown-ups do to make babies where the man puts his thingy in the lady and they cuddle naked and it sounds gross because boys are weird.

That's never going to work. Either they'll be stuck with this primitive idea of what sex is, or when their understanding moves on, the pledge they made will no longer be relevant to them.

SOLUTION

If you want your child to take a virginity pledge, they have to actually be old enough to understand sex. That's probably going to be about the age of consent, where they're actually old enough to start having it.

Furthermore, it has to be their choice. I've always been suspicious about events where kids made virginity pledges en masse, in front of their families and friends, where they're really just getting pressured into it. Just teach your kid about sex, how it's so special that it belongs in marriage, and if you really want them to make some kind of promise then give them one of those pledge cards at home (in private), and just say, "Here's a pledge card if you'd like to make a little promise to yourself to WTM," and then leave them to it. Don't ask to see it, don't check if they've signed it. It's for them, not for you, and they might not want to sign it. I've not signed anything of the sort - I think it's tacky, and it's enough for me just to have made a private decision to wait.

 

RED FLAG #2

They taught her that sex outside of marriage was dirty. That kind of language just doesn't work. If you teach your kids the whole, "Sex is bad and dirty and disgusting" then it doesn't matter that you add the qualifier "outside of marriage."

In psychology, we talk about schemas (Mike can back me up on this). Basically, they're ways of categorising your beliefs about the world, and are individual to each person. For example, your schema for "dog" might include: four legs, barks, fluffy, pet, friendly, non-edible, and so on. Those ideas affect how you make judgements. If, for instance, you formed the idea early in life that dog=dangerous, then that would affect your behaviour with regards to how you thought about dogs, and could even lead to a phobia.

If you teach your child to associate sex with dirty, then that's going to be very difficult to shift that association when they get married. As it said in the article, the woman had exactly that problem when she got married and suddenly she was meant to think completely differently about sex.

SOLUTION

Just be very careful how you talk about sex to your kids. Make sure they understand that it's a very good thing, an expression of love, beautiful, intimate etc. You can still follow all of that up by saying, "That's why it's for marriage." Don't make blanket statements e.g. "Sex is bad" - it's not the sex that's bad, just the circumstances it's taking place in.

 

RED FLAG #3

She was taught that only female virginity mattered, and that if her husband didn't wait, that was just how things were and she'd have to forgive him.

SOLUTION

Pretty simple. Just don't have double-standards. Most Christians don't, so she was unlucky enough to find a group of sexist hypocrites.

 

RED FLAG #4

She was taught that it was her responsibility to fulfil her husband's "sexual needs." Frankly, that reduces women's dignity to that of inflatable dolls.

SOLUTION

Like before, you can't have sexist double-standards. Plus, you can't teach that sex is just some means to an end, and that you can just use your spouse whenever you want sexual pleasure. Sex is an expression of love, and you have to learn self-control, because you can't just have sex whenever you want. 

 

RED FLAG #5

She was taught that if she waited, she would have the perfect marriage.

SOLUTION

You have to teach your children about marriage in a realistic way. Part of that will be by example: your kids see how you act when you disagree, or when you're going through a difficult time, etc. But just let them know that marriages are never perfect. You have good days and bad days, and that's completely normal. It's normal for marriage to be difficult sometimes. You have to work at it, and not think that something's wrong because it's not like the perfect marriages of Hollywood movies.

 

RED FLAG #6

She was taught that her virginity was a badge of honour, and was defined by her virginity. If that's what the kids believe, then what happens if, God forbid, they're sexually abused? If virginity=value, then as soon as it's gone, your value's gone. Young teens who've been abused are going to think they're damaged goods and therefore worthless. Likewise, it teaches young men especially that if a woman's no longer a virgin, then she's no longer worth your time or respect.

SOLUTION

You can't teach your kids that virginity is the only thing that matters. It's great to keep your virginity till marriage, sure, but it's not the only thing that matters. Purity is what matters. It can't be taken against your will, and it can be regained if lost. Once you've lost your virginity, you can still start over. Teach your kids that yes, it might be nice to marry a virgin, but no one can change their past - what matters is their purity now, their attitudes to sex now, etc. Your virginity should not define you.

 

RED FLAG #7

She felt guilty and worried any time she did anything remotely sexual, even afraid to think about sex.

SOLUTION

It's fine to think about sex. That's not the same as having impure thoughts. It takes time to learn about sex, and that's something you have to do throughout your young adult life. You need to give your teenage kids reading material, good sources to learn about sex. For example, I have a couple of really good books about WTM and sex within marriage based on St Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. They don't go into any explicit details, but they still explore the issue thoroughly and answer questions on the subject.

For example, in "Good News About Sex and Marriage," Christopher West answers the question of whether sex has to be just the "missionary position," to which he answers that although that's not the only morally okay way to have sex:

"If husband and wife are afraid to show their faces to each other during sex, then something's wrong. They should be able to look deeply into each other's eyes - yes, right at the moment of climax - and rejoice in the mystery of knowing one another so intimately."

That's a pretty frank discussion of sex, but it's in no way impure, and that's the kind of thing older teenagers should be reading about sex. You can't just tell your child, "Thinking about sex is wrong," and expect them to know how to think about it when they get to marriage. Plus, the media presents a distorted view of sex which your child is exposed to through their life, so they have to be able to learn another viewpoint.

 

Basically, her parents and community messed up her view of sex, and she had to pay the price for it. That's not fair. She's lucky that her husband was so understanding and willing to help her through everything. But her whole view of religion has been ruined, and she might never believe in God again. Her church have effectively turned her away from Jesus Christ, because thanks to them, she can't see how sex could be a holy thing even in marriage.

 

xxx

 

(I wonder...I've written a heck of a lot. Perhaps this could be a blog post someday. I should scour through my previous posts for stuff to copy...)

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I think that'd be a great blog post, Jegsy. At least in the US, the kind of damaging purity culture this author talks about is what most people think of when waiting comes up. I think it'd be good to have a post to show people that waiters can fervently disagree with all of the harmful actions and beliefs of modern purity culture (and courting culture, thinking back on the responses the the article NicoleNova posted the other night), while still very much believing that waiting is the right thing to do. I think there are a lot of people who would really like to wait (whether for true love, engagement, or marriage), but who are scared away by the purity pledges and courting version of waiting this author grew up with. Since that's the only image of waiting they have, they think they have to swing all the way to the opposite extreme of hook up culture.

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Actually I've read an article like that about Amish women not being able to have sex after their marriage because they thoughts it was dirty as they were told from an early age. I guess, sex is not only emotional but sometimes psychological. Personally I think that it is just sad how some church by trying too hard to do the right thing indoctrinate their members....

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When you have your identity tied up in something, then yeah, I could see how it might be kind of devastating when that identity is removed. From what she describes, her identity was tied up in being a virgin, as if sexual sin is the only kind of sin out there. There’s also the sin of pride, but of course, the problem couldn’t be with her prideful heart. It has to lie in the formula she unsuccessfully tried to use to achieve greatness in life. You don’t do the right thing because it’s going make your life better. Plenty of early Christians, as well as Christians in other parts of the world right now like in Iraq’s lives are probably a lot worse than they would be otherwise, because they want to do the right thing and serve Christ.

 

As a side note, I don’t know what difference having sex would have made if she had done it before marriage. Even two years of sex (and maybe more at this point) didn’t cure her of her hang-ups about sex. How would having sex sooner, out of wedlock, and against her convictions have made any difference and cured her guilt about it?

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As a side note, I don’t know what difference having sex would have made if she had done it before marriage. Even two years of sex (and maybe more at this point) didn’t cure her of her hang-ups about sex. How would having sex sooner, out of wedlock, and against her convictions have made any difference and cured her guilt about it?

 

Part of the problem, I think, is that waiting until marriage wasn't something that she, personally, was really convicted about, but rather it was something she was pushed into by her entire community. I think she wished she had done it before marriage so she wouldn't have had time to build up such an identity around being a virgin, and to keep virginity/marital sex off of a pedestal. It also sounds like she and her boyfriend/husband got married at a young age in order to be able to sleep together, so she wishes she could have waited so they could have delayed that. I don't think she's arguing that premarital sex would have cured her guilt, though; rather, I think she wishes she could've been raised in a way that wouldn't have caused her to feel guilty about that.

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I still don't see what difference that would have made, considering she started building that identity at the age of 10. That identity had already had years to take hold by the time she reached her teen years and got a boyfriend, just like she said. However, I definitely do see the dangers in telling your kid about sex and then making them promise not to do it at such a young age. I know a family who tells their kids about sex and makes them promise not to do it until marriage all in the same evening and even posts pictures of their kids' reactions to facebook, because I guess they think it's cute. That's a lot to put on a kid in my view.

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I think that response misinterpreted some of what the author of the initial article said. She wasn't at all saying that women should have sex before marriage. Here's a comment from her that was in response to a woman who, like this second author, had a positive WTM experience:

 

"I agree! [Waiting] certainly doesn't have to be bad. If you make a decision to wait, I think it should come from deep within yourself after some careful and thoughtful reflection. And if I had come to the conclusion on my own and kept my sexuality to myself, I might have still chosen to remain pure but there would have been a lot of differences in how I perceived myself. It would have felt less like my identity and more like a choice. I think when the decisions is construed with religion and purity vows and hell is when it gets messy and destructive."

 

It also seems unnecessarily harsh to write off what she says about sex as lies. Afterall, the author is no longer a Christian, so it would be lying if she *did* write about sex from the perspective of a religion she no longer has.

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To me, it doesn't sound like she ever really sought to learn about God and to know Him personally. It sounds like she never got past her 10-year old mentality. Christians are expected to move past being newborns and to mature in their understanding and walk with Christ. If the only thing spiritual she ever really profoundly identified with was her purity pledge...

That is why single people ask questions on a site like this, or read books about marriage and sex. Because they want to have a healthy attitude toward it and neither be prudes nor profligates, but balanced while remaining pure.

And I should agree with a response to the second article that pointed out that someone who didn't learn the right way, who made sexual mistakes, and one day chose to embrace purity in Christ - that person becomes pure in God's eyes and should also be in their spouse's eyes and in the eyes of those around them. We're not talking about someone who made a conscious choice to rebel against what they were taught, but someone who didn't learn better and fell into something misguided. There is a difference between accidental sin and the sin of someone who rejects the ways of God.

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