I read a lot. Have at least one book going at all times, sometimes more than one, and I finish several each month. Just ask my husband who, out of necessity, has learned to fall asleep and stay asleep with the lamp on my nightstand burning brightly every night. Honestly, I doubt his body would know how to enter a state of slumber in complete darkness. He is not so convinced of this…yet.
Anyway, I read a lot of young adult (YA) fiction and some new adult (NA) fiction, the relatively new genre geared toward the college-aged and twenty-something people out there. I not only like and read YA and NA, I also write YA fiction. And since I plan to publish my YA series next year, I’m digging into what’s popular in both these genres. Of course, all things fantasy, speculative and dystopian have a huge following. Think Hunger Games, Divergent and the more recent Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson. I appreciate the vast creativity in these unique, other-worldly stories. But my likes lean toward present-day, real world novels brimming with relationships and intriguing characters.
My favorite genres are romance, contemporary, and coming-of-age novels—the more realistic the better. I don’t go for syrupy-sweetness, perfect characters, or predictable story lines. Other people look specifically for the “sweet” stuff and that’s great, for them. But give me the nitty-gritty stuff of real life, and I’ll be a happy camper… er, reader.
Back to my research. Wanna venture a guess as to what’s big in contemporary and even more so in romantic YA and NA? Three guesses but the first two don’t count. Because I bet you already know the answer. Teenagers and co-eds falling into bed with someone of the opposite sex, almost always without the benefit of marriage, most often so early in a relationship, everything they know about the other person could fit into one, maybe two, neatly-written paragraphs. If that wasn’t bad enough—promoting pre-marital sex as normal, earth shatteringly awesome and fulfilling in every way—the details of these sexual encounters are painstakingly played out in vivid color. When did romance and sex become one and the same? Help us all.
Give me tough growing up circumstances, mega relationship complications, disasters—natural and otherwise, issues with drugs and alcohol, and yes, hormonal and emotional longings for sexual involvement, even the reality that many lose the battle for abstinence or don’t even try. All of this, absolutely. That’s the stuff of real life. These issues need to be written about. But don’t leave out the real-life consequences. Addiction. Broken homes. STDs. Smashed dreams. Heart ache. Pregnancy. Loneliness. Just please, draw the line on the explicit details and stop promoting the false, unhealthy assumption that romance only happens after the clothes come off.
We’ve established, repeatedly, that sex was created for the commitment of marriage and nothing less. I want us to also go on record with a firm stand on this: Sex is meant to happen in private, behind closed doors. It’s not a spectator sport.
A story can allude to the fact that a physical connection is occurring off screen. A play-by-play is not necessary. Especially one that majors only on the “awesomeness”, conveniently bypassing the less-than-romantic or embarrassing or awkward things that are sometimes a part of physical intimacy.
So, what does reading fiction have to do with abstinence? A lot more than you may realize.
If you’re committed to saving your first time for the wedding night or if you’re pursuing a renewed commitment to abstinence, you have no business exposing your mind to the details of fictional characters’ sexual escapades. Believe me, you don’t need the vivid pictures those fictional encounters will brand on your brain. When the temptation to abandon your commitment rages—and you know it will at some point—those images parading through your mind will shoot huge holes in your determination to wait. Why would you want to make it more difficult than it already is? Anything at all that undermines your efforts, that makes it harder to walk away from the allure of sex should be abandoned and fast.
I’m happy to report I’ve uncovered some great reads that do not fit the above sex-filled description. Novels that deal with tough real-life issues. Definitely not sporting a cast of perfect people boasting perfect pasts who will continue to make perfect decisions in the future. But rather real people living real life, often dealing with the very topics we chat about here. Books that will inspire your pursuit of purity rather than drag you and your impressionable mind through the mud.
I’m excited to point you to a new tab above: WAITING MATTERS READS. Here I’ve listed some novels that get my seal of approval for NOT leading readers astray as you pursue abstinence or renewed abstinence. Rather these stories will encourage and strengthen and inspire the pursuit of saving sex–or any further sexual experiences–for marriage. Check back often as I hope to add new titles on a regular basis.
In an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment, send me the title of books you’ve come across that fit the above description. I’ll check them out.
I want to hear from you—your thoughts, questions, insights—you name it about this important topic of saving sex for marriage. Contact me via email or in a comment.