The blogosphere has lit up over this question: Why Wait Until Marriage? Some people go so far as to argue that not waiting is worth it because it is a means by which to measure compatibility. Others suggest that not wanting to wait is the yardstick to measure one’s lack of worthiness. Both can’t be right, even though relativists will tell you that’s what’s right for me may not be right for someone else, or what’s wrong for me may not be wrong for someone else. Allow me to use some of the arguments against waiting, against not waiting - if you know what I mean.
Many young people regard waiting until marriage as the problem, although in this upside down society why should we be surprised? Currently legislators in Oklahoma argue over whether or not to ban hoodies and city officials in Dubuque, Iowa argue for banning sledding. As if sledding and hoodies are the problem rather than the people committing crime or wrongfully suing the city for personal injuries suffered due to personal choice. So why should we be surprised when young people cite virtue as the problem, rather than the vice that makes it hard to wait until marriage?
But back to the original question - why wait until marriage? Or wait - isn’t waiting until marriage the problem? It is true that waiting until marriage is very difficult to deal with if and when the siren call to have sex with anyone, anytime is relentless, deafening, persuasive and pervasive. The siren call makes waiting until marriage for many almost impossible to ignore and resist. But less anyone suggest that the problem is the siren call itself, or the sexual addictions, or the impulsive/compulsive response, or the lack of meaningful relationships, or the choice of individuals to pursue temporary happiness at the cost of long term happiness, let’s blame waiting for our problems. Every recovering sex addict will tell you that we all live in an over-sexualized culture. Sex is used to sell everything everywhere. Even porn has moved front and center stage thanks to social media, commercial ads, the movie / TV industries, music videos, and even talk radio, reality TV, and let’s not forget the sex industry itself.
Look at the newest Viagra ads! Ironically, the ads no longer feature men complaining about their dysfunction; instead the ads feature women complaining about ED quite seductively. Modern Jezebel seems unrestrained and looking for more action than today’s men can deliver and so she taunts them with: “Who’s got the problem now?”
Oddly, few seem to realize the sleight of Jezebel’s hand as she tricks man into thinking that she and the men she is talking about are real and that drug companies lust for more money is not real. These entities tell the story that waiting until marriage is too hard, not worth it, and wrongheaded. Therefore, it is incumbent to tell the real story and reveal the deceit.
Let’s start with the war that must be waged, though it is distasteful to consider. Few want to confront modern day Goliath - the sex god; but, if we fail to fell him, his tyrannical reign will not end.
Waiting is the problem when too few of us are intellectually inquisitive enough to question Jezebel’s ruse - they would rather blame continence. Waiting becomes the problem when the culture at large refuses to question sex itself. When is sex good, when is it not good? When is it too soon? Who are the wrong partners? What type of sex is always problematic - psychologically, physically, socially and spiritually? The person who waits is also the problem, because all too often he/she imposes her morality on others by simply inquiring why not wait? That question and that conversation is usually far too short, yet quite revealing. The person in waiting is considered overly endowed with virtue by those who refuse to wait. The show of virtue is too revealing for them and other friends and family alike. This gold standard is too expensive, even though it remains untarnished in real life. Waiting is the problem because it requires thought about what to wear, what to say, how to say what we really mean, what to do about friends with benefits.
People who wait are the problem because of their continued questioning of the meaning and purpose of life and their attacks against the pursuit of the goods life. They are the problem because why did they get to become the number one prude on the block without shame? Who gave them the right to go after our sex gods and goddesses?
Some presume that people who wait until marriage just really do not want to have sex - EVER! So they taunt their chaste friends into disproving the presumption by having sex. If they refuse to take the bait they must be gay or frigid or lacking in emotions or feelings or passion.
Waiting is a problem for some because it seems to interject God into sex. What has He got to do with love or life anyway? My body - my choice is their personal motto.
That said, let me try and take on Goliath with an army of one.
The sexual expression is nothing if it fails to express genuine passion, emotion, beliefs, commitments, and feelings: the very definition of authentic love. Who teaches us about authentic love? We all learned about authentic love in our home, from our parents and siblings, aunts, uncles, grandpas and grandmas. These people either did a good job of mirroring God (Who is Love) or they failed to do so. Familial love naturally foreshadows the supernatural - or not. Authentic love is sacrificial. It always looks out for the good of the other person over self interests. Thus the sexual expression is an extension of genuine love and can only be rightfully given to one very special person. When shared with many, it becomes un-special and not very unique.
My own experience can best be said through the words of some modern day wise men: “through a genuine self given love, the enjoyment experienced in sexual relations is raised to something higher than the more consent of two persons engaging in mutual objectification in order to gain pleasure for oneself and give pleasure to the other.” “Our expressions of love should reflect God’s love and our intentions ought to express God’s intentions, including and especially our sexual expressions of love. And by imitating Him and striving to align our intentions with His we become equipped to act lovingly over a sustained duration…Both the explicit and implicit meanings of the sexual act make it imperative that the circumstances, conditions, intentions and expressions surrounding it must be moral settings.” St Augustine also said it well, “We will either love God more and more and self less and less or we will love our self more and more and God less and less.”
So, waiting until marriage is a sign that we love God more than we love ourselves; not waiting until marriage shows that in reality, we love self over God and others.
Waiting until marriage is hard for the reasons given above - but it is not even close to being impossible or impractical when we believe that the circumstances, conditions, intentions and expressions matter and that our actions take us closer to God or farther away. Yet, even as we move away from God, our hearts will be restless, because they fail to rest with Him. (St. Thomas Aquinas). Restless hearts that fail to reflect on the meaning of life will look for love in all the wrong places and think that waiting until marriage is a failed notion of the past.
If you are wondering if I think that not waiting until marriage is a sure sign you are going to hell, stop wondering - let me answer that imagining. God does not send anyone to Hell - we land there all on our own - that is one negative of having been given a fully free will. His gift of choice continues to be proof positive that God unconditionally loves and honors all human persons. It’s we who fail to love and honor God’s creation and design with unnecessary attitude, pride, refusal to see it His way, while only wanting to talk about my way, my freedom, my interests. Nonetheless, God still loves unconditionally and honors us with more gifts, including the grace to wait until marriage if we ask. But there is one catch; we have to stop pretending that we are the Creator and He is the creature.
Waiting until marriage is great because it is proof positive that you believe that sex is excellent when shared with the right person at the right time and the right way. It proves that you have pondered your intentions and motives and have come to an elevated understanding about the explicit and implicit purpose of the sexual act. You are more likely to keep that frame of reference, even after marriage, as you practice marital chastity refusing to let anything come between you or your beloved. You want to love freely, fully, faithfully, fruitfully and for forever (within this lifetime). Authentic love grows our capacity to love even more - in better imitation of God’s love. This type of love enhances personal wellness - spiritual, physiological, sociological, emotional, and psychological. Blood pressures drop, endorphins are released, and natural hormones are shared, binding two persons for a lifetime. The plan certainly isn’t natural but supernatural. Not one of us could have come up with it! Waiting until marriage is proof positive that we desire to love and to be loved authentically in this lifetime and the next. It is the best for our sake. It is best for the sake of the future lives that we touch with and through our love. It is best for society as a whole.
Ultimately we can say that waiting until marriage is not the problem unless you expect to use sex to get love or to use love to get sex.
As for the notion that our bodies are our own - get thinking! You didn’t create yourself; you could not even order up a specific natural eye color, hair color, or height and shape. Some suggest that in time, our babies will be designed to suit our specifications; at that time we will be able to pull them out of long black artificial wombs. Even then, the new person will not have been give the power to order up his/her specs. We know our lives are not our own or we would not be concerned when a friend threatens to commit suicide. God placed the moral belief in all peoples - believers or not - that life is precious and not one of us can morally take away someone’s life - even our own! This moral understanding can have only one source: God Himself. He breathed that into us at the moment of conception. He imprinted on us the desire for everlasting love and life. This is proof enough that our bodies and our lives are not our own.
Some suggest that virtue of virginity is used to control others. When did virtue get turned into a vice and when did vice become virtuous? Perhaps the real control over others comes from the Goliath that hopes to get women to think like men. Consider what Michael Kimmel (author of Gender of Desire) admits: “Women’s increase in sexual agency, revolutionary as it has been, has not been accompanied by a decrease in male sexual entitlement nor by a sharp increase in men’s capacity for intimacy and emotional connectedness.”
And why should anyone expect men to change if women want to become just like men? Fear not, women really are not becoming like men. If they act like it, they are just pretending for utilitarian reasons. Too many of them, even after having sex with strangers, hold onto the expectation and hope for intimacy in and through relationship with the one they are having sex with. Studies back up that statement! Real women and real men are never going to be about just having sex no matter how many atheistic notions are tossed around by modern Goliath.
Therefore, I am thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity (a virtue better called by its real name - Chastity) lovingly limits selfishness and lust - the two agents which effectively destroy love and life. Together they cloud our intellects explicitly and implicitly. They introduce our sense of passions to the possibility of increased sexual agency without consequence to life or love. They are the Trojan horse outfitted in seductive clothing. But Goliath will continue to die alongside the societies that adopted him willy-nilly.
Lest you missed my point: Waiting until marriage is the Gold Standard because it comes from God Himself who is Love and Life. And each of us who discovers authentic love and happiness in this life will also find it in the next life.
“You will not find true inner peace if something is lacking in your spiritual life. You will always be subject to anxiety and there will always be something too merely human in what you do: attachment to your own will, traces of vanity, self seeking, ambition, narrow mindedness and so on. There can be no deep radical purification of the heart (without faith) and the practice of mental prayer. Otherwise your wisdom and prudence will always remain in the human plane and you will never reach true inner freedom.” Fr. Jacque Philippe