… it’s okay. See, it’s not like I’m hooking up with someone different every weekend. We’ve been together like (fill in the blank) . So, yeah, … it’s fine.”
A lot of people see hooking up or friends with benefits or casual sex—however you define those terms—as something entirely different, and definitely way worse, than having sex in a steady relationship.
“We’re together. We’re a couple. We’re in a committed relationship.”
That’s good. Awesome. Terrific.
Be together. Go steady or be exclusive (or whatever you want to call it). I’m all for nurturing a connection. Especially in today’s hook-up culture, you’ll find me cheering for intentional relationship building. Just leave sex out of it.
“Oh, come on….”
I’m dead serious. No wedding rings, no sex.
Okay, I’ll admit, I can kind of understand the we’re-a-couple-so-its-okay line of thinking.
You have an actual relationship. You’re getting to know each other. Making time to be together. What you have bears no resemblance to a one night stand. And you’d never do that kind of thing anyway. That’s just wrong.
I understand that thinking, sort of, a little, but still I have to say no, no, no.
And here’s why.
Sex is such a major thing—it’s so big—that simply being together isn’t enough of a reason (or excuse) for two people to delve into physical intimacy. It’s way too personal, too soul-baring—even for established couples. For any couple who hasn’t reached the ‘til-death-do-us-part level of commitment in their relationship, sex will complicate things like you can’t imagine.
“But it’s consensual—we both want this. So why not?”
Indeed. Why not do… whatever you want.
You like this person, you have a great time together. There’s chemistry and sparks and enough sexual tension to burn down a city block. So, why not just do it?
Because sex will change you as individuals. And mess with your “being together.” Nothing will be the same once the relationship crosses into experiences meant for couples who’ve pledged their lives to one another. And that goes for the “other stuff” that may or may not, in your mind, qualify as actual sex. Doing everything else, except for actual intercourse? You’re not protecting yourself from STDs or from the feelings and emotions that can’t be separated from sexual acts.
Not only does sex come with risks like pregnancy and STDs, there’s the emotional baggage. Sex is so much more than two bodies coming together. Heart, mind, soul and body—all are hugely impacted by sex.
“You just don’t want us to have any fun.”
I promise you that’s not what this is about. Cross my heart. In fact, someday, in a love-filled, committed marriage I hope you enjoy the most incredible sex.
Want to really mess with the probability that you’ll have great married sex in the future? Sleep around now when you’re single. Whether it’s random hook-ups OR sex in a couple (or more) relationships, you’ll regret it. The memories from those encounters will flood your mind at the most inopportune times. And then there’s the expectations … that will lead to comparisons. And even though you really won’t want them to, those comparisons will affect how satisfying you find sex with your spouse.
Hooking-up completely removes the relationship from sex. Or tries to, you know, so you won’t have to deal with a painful “break-up” at some point. The lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. But that’s just it. Sex and relationships will forever be intertwined—that’s how GOD designed it. That’s why hooking up leaves a trail of brokenness and discontentment in its wake.
All sex outside of marriage shows a disregard for the sacredness of sex and for the bonding that comes naturally with the physical joining of two persons into one. Hearts not joined in holy matrimony should not bond physically.
“Well, it’s too late for us now.”
It’s never too late to make smarter, healthier decisions—to say “NO” to sex outside of marriage. I won’t try to convince you that ending the sexual part of your relationship will be easy. It will be tough to put a lid on the hormones you’ve allowed to run free. Might even be the toughest thing you’ve ever done, but it will be so worth it.
Instead of focusing on the physical part of your relationship, concentrate on getting to know each other on a deeper, more emotionally intimate level. Which will reveal if there’s marriage potential in this relationship. If you stop having sex and the connection fizzles, you’ll have your answer. Don’t let your past make your future’s decisions.
When you make the choice to save sex or any more sexual experiences for marriage, you’re investing in your future relationships. And you are worth it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You are worth waiting for.
Share your thoughts in a comment (under the title) or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
[…] “Yeah, we’re having sex but we’re a couple, so…. […]
I 100% disagree. You require that we accept several premises a priori as true, and I don’t believe they are.
1. You claim that sex and emotional connection can’t be separated, which is false, or at least unassertable. My sex life has NOT lead to a string of heartbreaks and drama. Sex, for me, so far, is just good fun. You’ll probably claim that I’m being adversely affected without knowing it, but you really have no way of knowing that, just like I can’t prove that I’m NOT being adversely affected, or that I CAN separate sex from emotion. You can either take my word for it or not, but you do so whimsically, not from any undeniable logic.
2. This whole article is written with the presupposition that marriage SHOULD be pursued, even to the exclusion of sex. It seems that, to you, marriage is, if not the ultimate goal, near to it. However, if your end game isn’t marriage, then your article becomes sort of irrelevant.
3. You say all sex outside marriage shows disregard to the sacredness of sex, and I also disagree here. That’s only true if you accept your initial premise that sex IS sacred and SHOULD only be entertained between married partners, and I don’t accept that premise.
4. // For any couple who hasn’t reached the ‘til-death-do-us-part level of commitment in their relationship, sex will complicate things like you can’t imagine. //
Here you seem to have blended two things together–the wedding rings, and the degree of commitment ‘required’ for marriage. It’s not only feasible, but observable en masse, to be at that LEVEL of commitment in a relationship without actually being married. It seems like sex is inappropriate outside of marriage not because of the emotional or spiritual aspects of it, but because you aren’t legally recognized as partners?
I’d love to hear back from you!
As a reader who completely agrees with Beth, I’d like to take a stab at your objections to her post. In the order of points that you made:
1. Since Beth’s premise is from a Biblical worldview, yes, sex has a sacred component. Intimacy with a spouse transcends all other human relationships. The two become one, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. That’s what God intended. Something beautiful, enthralling, and fun.
But your fun, so far, is risky. Every partner was not interested in an emotional attachment? As a female, I find that hard to believe. Women thrive on relationship, connection. What about pregnancy? Will it still be fun to raise an unplanned child when you weren’t ready for marriage or commitment? Will an abortion be fun? Will an STD be fun?
2. If someone desires to have sex, then the ultimate goal is marriage. Yes, that would be a correct conclusion. Marriage isn’t the ultimate goal in life, but if sexual activity is a goal, then marriage is the goal as well.
3. Once you hold to a Biblical view of marriage, then of course extramarital sex is betraying your values. Not to mention sinning against the God you believe in.
4. Not completely sure what you were getting at. The legal recognition of marriage is a protection for both partners. Without it, long-time partners can walk out on each other with no legal avenue for a custodial parent to receive child support, etc. etc.
The spiritual/emotional aspect of long-term sexual relationships without the commitment of marriage lets me know that one or both want to have an “out” in case things go south. I would find it difficult to trust a man who was not willing to commit to me for life, and considering the divorce rate, it’s difficult to find a trustworthy partner even when they have made the commitment of marriage. The lack of commitment is a red flag that the guy probably won’t be around after ten or twenty years.
Since you don’t hold to a Biblical worldview, you say my arguments don’t apply to you. Whether you agree with me or not, there is such a thing as absolute truth. If the God of the Bible is real, then my arguments do apply to you because God has the same expectations of every human being He has created.
I hope you will consider these counter arguments.
Hi Joseph — How a person feels about the importance of saving sex for marriage has a lot to do with two things: WHO you think designed sex and for WHAT purpose sex was designed.
If you see sex as something GOD designed to be special and intimate and meaningful, a physical act that bonds two people already committed to spending their lives together –like the “icing on the cake” of a relationship — then saving sex for marriage, while not easy, will make sense. Unfortunately, not everyone who believes this way DOES save sex for marriage. A lot of people give in to temptation. Some adopt an “oh, well” attitude and continue to have sex outside of marriage. Others make a choice to save any further sexual experiences for marriage and commit to renewed abstinence.Often because of the hurt and heartache they experience as a result of their sexual experiences.
Almost everyone who writes to me did not wait and now wishes they could turn back time. Their regret builds when future relationships are complicated because even though they don’t want to make the same mistake again, their body and mind and sometimes even their heart wants sex. Sex has an addictive component. That’s great in marriage but not so great otherwise.
To some, sex is purely recreational. No ties, no emotions, no strings. Can I prove people operating under this MO will, at some point in their life, regret this cavalier attitude? Nope. And since someone choosing to live their life this way might have a hard time admitting to anyone–self included–if and when regrets start creeping in, a poll or survey would do little good. It’s important to remember that sex with or without the benefit of a marriage commitment still has baby-making potential. I’ve seen one nightmarish situation after another when people have babies with someone they aren’t married to.
Marriage has become the bad guy in our society. Archaic, unnecessary, old-fashioned, too restrictive, even useless on one hand and temporary, trivial, ho hum and inconsequential on the other. The less seriously people take marriage, the more likely they are to also trivialize sex. In spite of all this, studies still show that married people live longer and are happier. Can I PROVE any of these statements. Nope but neither can you disprove them.
Not everyone gets married or even wants to, you’re right. Marriage in itself is not the GOAL. Although both men and women are marrying, on average, at a later age, the majority do still wed at some point. So, saving sex for marriage simply means don’t become sexually active until you marry. You know, sex is not necessary for survival. Food, water, shelter–all necessary to sustain life. Sex–not necessary.
Are you willingly to consider that the adverse effects may be yet to come? Should you choose to marry at some point, can you not see how those prior experiences could have a significant impact on the relationship you share with your wife?
Would the woman—or women—you’ve been or are involved with agree with your conclusion that sex and emotions can be separated? That she has experienced no adverse effects? No heartbreak or drama? Guys tend to be less emotional in general than women. It’s a pretty common scenario that a guy can walk away from a sexual relationship while the girl has a major issue breaking the ties with that guy. Guys are especially good at convincing themselves sex is nothing more than an amazing physical thing that they can’t live without.
Will I convince everyone to save sex or further sexual experiences for marriage. Nope. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to champion the cause of abstinence and encourage those who are striving to save sex for marriage. I’m as concerned if not more so for those who messed up a time or two then simply give up, adopting the mentality that “it’s too late now” or “what does matter now?”. A string of broken relationships can leave a person unable to bond once they find someone they want to marry and settle down with.
To be perfectly clear, I agree with your article and that sex is sacred and meant for marriage.
Praise the Lord for this article! I completely agree with this article, including the actual observance of Judeo-Christian moral law myself. God has kept me from so much hurt, harm, danger, drama, trauma, & distress because I refuse to rebel against Him. Because of my obedience, my life has been richly blessed. Just like the wages of sin is death, with SNOWBALLING consequences, in areas most people do NOT think about, there are blessings attached to obedience that also SNOWBALL in your behalf in your favor. Hallelujah!! Still single, never married, no vices and supernaturally kept CLEAN by God! YAHOO!
Thanks for sharing, Latanya!
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[…] And here is why! […]
Wow! It’s amazing how much I agree and disagree with this!
My husband and I both believed that there should be no sex before marriage, so we were both virgins. I had it pounded into my head that sex was bad (unless you’re married) that touching, caressing, deeply kissing, etc. was all bad (unless you’re married.)
Well, when it came time for the honeymoon, it didn’t feel any different for me. I loved him as much as I did the day before but suddenly now we were “allowed” to act on it physically. Emotionally that didn’t make sense to me. I said vows (which we had promised to each other long before the actual wedding.) Then there was a big party, had some cake and voila! Those years of sexual repression should magically disappear because we put our name near the X? I felt NO different then I had before I signed my new name. My husband was the same man I called “fiancé” the day before. I felt the same comfort, security, commitment, trust, and love for this man. He had already been a part of my life, my family knew him well, we had common interests, saw each other very frequently, and shared the same faith. To publicly vow to be his wife was, in my heart, already a done deal. I was told that sex was a gift from God for those that marry. I was not told that I would still have emotional shame and guilt. When that wasn’t an issue, another problem was that we had become so used to NOT doing it and we were such close friends that it just didn’t happen. Happened one time in the first three months. After that I was lucky if it was four times a year. We went a year and a half at one point.
Sex was not a gift for me, and I believe it was partly because it was SO taboo and partly because I didn’t know/understand what chemistry is, between two people. I knew I loved this man, but I didn’t know that there is this whole chemistry/compatibility aspect to a full and complete (marriage) relationship. I was told that if you “gave each other your due” then it’d all work out and you would have a fulfilling sex life that would add this illusive sacred part to a marriage done under God’s law. That didn’t happen.
Fast forward to 10 years of being with this man. We have our problems, they become serious, and we divorce.
Started seeing a man I met while my ex and I were separated. I went about planning a new life with a new man and yes, we were sexually active. Although, ultimately, that relationship didn’t last, at least for a while I got to experience pleasure, romance, and the amazing feeling of falling in love. I expressed that physical love when I felt committment in my heart, which tied me emotionally to that man in ways I didn’t know were possible. I didn’t know about chemistry or being “in love,” or the way you are supposed to feel about the person you marry.
I do believe that being taught abstinence helped keep me out of trouble when I was a teenager. It saved me from the worry of pregnancy or STD’s, and emotionally as I didn’t just “hook up” with anyone. So, for that, I am grateful.
I believe that being allowed/encouraged to experience different relationships (not necessarily with sex,) without the constant pressure to be looking for a lifelong mate, would have been healthy. To enjoy going on dates, with different people, to be able to find out what you really want, is essential. To receive genuine affection (not sex) because someone is beginning to care about you, is a beautiful thing and should not be shunned because it might “inflame your passion.”
I disagree with extremists on both sides. I think random emotionless sex is in no way attractive. I don’t believe that people can do that without emotional damage. There are very real dangers of sex with strangers. Friends with benefits, never works out the way you hope. Your body should be treated as something special and not a depository.
I still regard sex as a very intimate and special act between two people who are in love and in a committed, closed relationship. However, I no longer believe that if you fall in love and are planning a future together, that sex will ruin anything. It will be a joining piece in learning just how far your compatibility goes. Finding that out before you are legally tied to another human being, I feel, is an absolute must.
Personal update, I followed my divorce with the man I mentioned before, for four years. After that, another man for two years. Navigating those very different relationships, which included sex, taught me EXACTLY what I wanted and more importantly, what I needed. At 34, I have met the man I am sure will be by my side for the rest of my life. We met, fell in love, have frequent AMAZING sex, live under the same roof, and are just as committed to each other as husband & wife.
So what if my fiancé is my fourth sexual partner? We don’t care about past instances because we know that we have found our life partners. He is the #1 man in my life. Being with him makes me feel adored, loved and cherished.
We are eloping in October to have an intimate, romantic, private, ceremony for two. The exact number of people who should be worried about our genitals.
Hi Kristin —
I’m glad you wrote. I’m kind of like you in that I both AGREE and DISAGREE with you!
Here’s major point of agreement. I quote from above: “I believe that being allowed/encouraged to experience different relationships (not necessarily with sex,) without the constant pressure to be looking for a lifelong mate, would have been healthy. To enjoy going on dates, with different people, to be able to find out what you really want.”
As long as sex is NOT a part of the equation, I think that experiencing a number of dating relationships can be very healthy. CAN be is the key to that statement. And for the very reason you note: you learn about YOURSELF and about what you would want/not want in a future spouse by dating. I’ve always maintained there’s nothing wrong with dating, as I define it, but the word has so many definitions and connotations. I think that is what has earned “dating” a bad rap because to some people, dating automatically means SEX. Dating should involve spending time together, meeting friends & family, getting to know each other in ways OTHER than physical/sexual. And in doing so, discovering important things about yourself and the opposite sex, discoveries that will help guide a marriage decision.
So, where do I disagree? I don’t feel the concern for sexual compatibility AFTER the wedding is a valid reason for hopping into bed BEFORE the wedding. However, I do appreciate your experience and the candid way you shared it. And I see that the “on/off” switch can be difficult to trip after the official ceremony.
I really think a couple things need to happen to work through this issue. First, more preparation directed toward “waiting” couples before the wedding. Like the bride-to-be talking with some married women about the realities of sex–the first time, how her reluctance or worry is normal, how her groom is likely to be a lot less reluctant than she is, how sex gets better with practice. Make her feel free to ask the nitty-gritty questions. And the same goes for the groom. Spend some time with a couple happily-married men and encourage him to “ask away.” Help this guy try to understand sex from a woman’s point of view.
Second, just because everyone says you have to “do it” on the wedding night, tell ‘waiting” couples it’s okay if they don’t “go all the way” the first night together. If they have to work up to it, that’s okay. Encourage them to talk to each other about their concerns ahead of time. Help them see the importance of and assurance in the fact theirs is not a relationship based on physical pleasure. They have CHOSEN to join in this marriage journey NOT based on how good the sex is. They’ve chosen to learn, discover, and experience sex together. Practice almost always help if there are issues. Which leads to #3.
Thirdly, there’s not a thing wrong with getting some guidance or counseling when it comes to sex. If it’s not working the way you think it should, seek help. “Oh, I could never do that…” is a common response, but really, it can be a private issue. Sex is important enough to seek some guidance. No reason at all to be embarrassed.
And fourth, I’d love to see the Church talk more about sex as GOD designed it to be. Too often the only message is DON’T do it, stay as far from it as you can, etc. That message needs to be balanced with an honest sex-is-good-because-GOD-made-it-that-way message. The phrase “Sex is great – it’s best to wait!” comes to my mind. Sounds simple but it covers the two major points. Sex IS a very good thing. The designer said it’s best experienced between husband and wife. I would love to see the Church leading the way when it comes to discussions about sex rather than trying to stay out of the conversation.
I wish you and your soon-to-be husband well!
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