Saving Sex For Marriage: Why I Don’t Regret a Thing
When I was a teenager, I decided I was saving sex until marriage.
I didn’t make that decision out of fear. My decision to save sex for marriage wasn’t because I thought that sex was bad or dirty. I realized that if I was called to marriage, I’d come to my wedding night without any ‘experience’. But I wanted to love my future spouse freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully.
My husband and I have been married for a year and a half now.
Was our wedding night awkward because we didn’t have sex before marriage? It actually wasn’t. Instead, it was really beautiful. I chose to come to the wedding night as a virgin – and I don’t regret a thing.
Today, sexual immorality seems to jump out of every magazine, movie plot line, and billboard. Saving sex for your wedding day can seem prudish and old fashioned. There is massive amounts of peer pressure to have premarital sex, even in some Catholic circles that make it out to be ‘no big deal’.
But despite how sex-saturated our modern hook-up culture is, conversations about sex, intimacy, and virginity tend to make people uncomfortable. Many of us may find ourselves echoing the thoughts of Saint Augustine when he cried out “Give me chastity …but not yet!”
If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the wait to save sex for marriage, here are four things to think about:
1. Striving for chastity encourages communication, stability, and satisfaction
A study conducted by Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life in 2010 revealed that couples who practiced chastity and abstained from sex before their wedding reported 12% better communicators and 20% more satisfied in their relationship than their peers whose physical relationship had developed earlier on in the relationship. Couples who saved sex for marriage rated relationship stability 22% higher than couples who had been sexually active before the wedding.
It stands to reason that how a man and woman manage their dating relationship has a pretty big impact on happiness in their marriage or whether that marriage ends in divorce.
“There’s more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship. I think it’s because they’ve learned to talk and have the skills to work with issues that come up,” said Professor Dean Busby, who conducted the study.
Some of the reasons to choose abstinence before marriage are rooted in the truths of Catholicism. However, the study conducted by BYU didn’t factor in faith when researching. “Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationships form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction,” Professor Busby explained.
2. Marriage makes a difference
Sex isn’t bad or dirty, and the Catholic Church actually views sex as holy.
Sexual intimacy within a marriage acts like a glue that holds a couple together. Physical intimacy is something that is both unitive and procreative – God created it for bonding and babies. However, it’s only when both of those essential aspects are preserved and honored that sexual intercourse reaches it’s fullness in the sense of truth and mutual love.
Within the context of a marriage, sexual intercourse allows couples to give themselves to each other freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully.
This doesn’t mean that if you choose abstinence until marriage sex will automatically be physically satisfying for you and your spouse. We can’t assume that our sex lives will be more physically fulfilling if we wait.
Practicing chastity does not automatically make you better in bed. But your body and soul weren’t made for just physically satisfying sex. Marriage was created as a context for sex that is holy.
Intimacy that honors both your spouse and the Lord only comes within the context of marriage. Your vowed commitment before God and all of those who witness your vows does make a difference when it comes to your sex life. Sexuality and intimacy is a mystery that we get to spend our entire marriage unraveling – it’s not something that we have to have figured out by the time the wedding night rolls around.
3. Saving sex until marriage gives you more freedom, not less
“Freedom exists for the sake of love,” writes Saint Pope John Paul II. He dedicated his first Wednesday audiences as pope to talking about what he called the “Theology of the Body”. It may seem like the Catholic Church’s beliefs about saving sex for marriage is restrictive. But the reality is that not having intercourse with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or even fiancé frees you to love him or her more (and better!).
Pursuing chastity allows couples the freedom to recognize each other’s inherent human dignity and worthiness. “Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground,” G.K. Chesterton wrote. “We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the center of the island; and their song had ceased.”
Modern psychology backs Chesterton up. Couples who “prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy,” said Dr. Mark Regnerus from the University of Texas.
4. Saving sex for marriage brings clarity to your relationship decisions
When you have sex with someone, your body produces oxytocin. According to researchers at the University of California, oxytocin is “associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other people.” Oxycontin is sometimes referred to as a cuddle hormone.
Because sex was created to be unitive, having sex with someone helps bond you to each other. In my marriage, that chemical connection is something that I cherish. But without the context of marriage, that chemical bonding can be a challenge in your relationship. Saving sex for marriage allows you to be free from chemical bonds that can make decisions about your relationship harder to make.
“So many women have told me that they knew the relationship they were in was not good for them,” inspirational speaker and author Emily Wilson said in a video that discusses her decision to save sex for marriage. “They’ll say that they knew it wasn’t the right thing but because they’d brought sex into the relationship, they felt that chemical bond to that person. They couldn’t break it off because they were physically attached to that person.”
Catholic dating is increasingly unique in a world that is obsessed with a hook-up culture. But the truths within the church are not random religious beliefs. Rather, they are a reflection of the truths of God. As our culture looks and seeks more happiness, let’s embrace the teachings of the church and her wisdom on sex, love, and marriage.
Chloe Langr is a very short stay-at-home-wife, whose growth has probably been stunted by the inhumane amounts of coffee she regularly consumes. When she is not buried in a growing stack of books, she can be found spending time with her husband, geeking out over Theology of the Body, or podcasting. You can find more about her on her blog "Old Fashioned Girl."