Five Reasons to Wait Until Marriage

In case you missed it, I have articles up at Salon and at The Advocate this week. My book is available for pre-order - you have 8 days left!

I like sex. I think it's really fun and a good way to experience a unique kind of physical intimacy. I spent a long time developing a healthy way of looking at sexual ethics, particularly for the Christian set, for my book. In all this talk, one thing that I tend to get accused of is hedonism - I just want to encourage everyone else to join me in my sin. I'm apparently a libertine.

But that's not the case at all - I believe that sexual ethics are your own and they need to correspond to what you believe. I also believe that encouraging someone to have sex when they're not ready is just as bad as shaming them for having sex before marriage. So in that vein, I've come up with five good reasons to wait until marriage.

1. You view sex as the culmination of a romantic relationshipIf your view of sex is such that it's something that should only come after commitments of love and it's a final way of expressing that love, then waiting is a great option for you. You shouldn't feel like you need to express that love any sooner than you feel ready to.

2. You feel called by God to celibacy or abstinence. There are people on this Earth who are genuinely called by God to remain abstinent, whether until marriage or for the whole of their lives. It is not mine to judge God's call - just you don't use God's call on your life to judge me.

3. You need a safe space with binding commitment to explore sexual experience. In my ongoing research into the sexual lives of American Christians, I've encountered a number of people for whom marriage is the only place they feel safe expressing their sexuality. This can be because of past trauma, because of the burden from purity culture turning sex into a traumatic event, or from just anxiety or personality. Safe spaces are necessary and for some people, marriage is that safe space.

4. Your partner wants to wait and you love and respect them. This is kind of an old canard of purity culture, but it's one that really gets at some truth. If you're with someone who wants to wait until marriage and you can't handle that, then you're probably not a compatible match. Respect and love also mean respecting another person's decision to wait.

5. You goldang want to. You don't have any high minded reason or God's calling, but you just feel that it's the right choice for you. Then, it is. Go for it. You wait your heart out, because it is your choice and no one else's.

The main conflict feminism has with the purity movement is not the fact that people are waiting for marriage - it's that they use waiting for marriage as a status to condemn everyone who doesn't. "Because it makes me a better person than you" is a bad reason to wait - our ethical systems and decisions around sex need to be working on internal thoughts, not external motivations. Live the life you feel is best for you, as a unique and wonderful human created by God, motivated by love and grace, not by shame and threats.