Christianity, sex, and an approaching marriage

We nearly posted this as V is for Virginity, as part of the AOW A-Z of Getting married, but we decided that this piece was important enough to have its own space, to not be part of a series.

It is one of the most honest and personal posts we’ve ever had the honour of posting here. Katy not only talks about something which could be difficult, in a really refreshing way, but she also asks some tough questions of herself, and reveals her honest answers to us.

Thank you Katy…

I will pre-empt this post by just clarifying I absolutely do not discuss sex in detail, only conceptually, so I hope you don’t get too weirded out… This is also definitely not advice, just my experience and questions!

I’ve been a Christian since I was a teenager, completely personal and nothing to do with my family. It comes with some amazing things, I promise, but the way you’re meant to live your life comes with some rules (for want of a better word…). The main one I will be talking about here is no sex before marriage. It’s not something that every Christian adheres to strictly, it’s not stated with any more or less importance than anything else in the Bible, but it is there. I personally believe you can’t chop and choose what you go with and what you don’t, it’s all or nothing!

Dan and I met when we were fresher’s at university. He was my first boyfriend; I was not his first girlfriend. As you may expect our first meeting involved clubs and alcohol and stupid costumes. There was this boy, the first boy who has ever shown any interest in me and not my thinner, prettier friends, and he kept dancing with me. He tried to kiss me and I wouldn’t, he was confused and we left it there.

But over the next few weeks we kept seeking each other out. I didn’t kiss him for a month (he was my first kiss, I didn’t want it to be in a drunken club), but we became an item. He was an 18 year old agnostic and had been seeing me for a couple of weeks when he found out that the Christian thing meant no sex. Until I’m married.

Now I do not doubt that this was a difficult one to hear, he was an 18 year old student and I’d just told him that there would be no sex unless he put a ring on my finger. No sex for the near future, for the next however many years. Why would he want that?

He decided I was worth a try anyway. Now I think there’s something here, not in any way constricted to only Christians, but knowing he thought I was worth it anyway, even though he knew I wasn’t going to be jumping in to bed with him anytime soon, makes me feel very special and very lucky. It genuinely wasn’t a test. But he passed.

I know a boy should think you’re worth it, should respect your choices and opinions and beliefs. But I think if you spell that out as no sex then not everyone would stick around. Not because boys are single-minded and want you only for sex, but because sex is a big deal. It’s important, it’s a way of expressing your love and togetherness and intimacy. It’s a way of making babies! Plus I’ve heard it’s quite nice…

We took it all slowly. Kissing, cuddling together in the same bed, getting to know each other better all took longer because of this.

If I’m being completely honest it wasn’t entirely the Christian factor… Some of it was just me. I was young, naive, new to it all, scared that I wouldn’t know what to do, scared I’d be unattractive. Did I use Christianity as an excuse? Yes. Definitely at the beginning I did.

But the trust grows and the love grows and we’ve been together over 4 years now. He proposed a year ago. I was 22. Some say we’re young to be getting married. I suppose we are.

Again, is Christianity a factor? Yes, I can honestly say it is. Where is our relationship going without marriage? I feel like because of our religion (he converted about 3 years ago, I swear nothing to do with me – but it eases the guilt a bit) our relationship is now stagnant. We need marriage to move forward (not just with sex, but definitely including that)!

How have we coped this long? Well everyone I know has different rules here… We believe our relationship with each other and God is our own. We share a flat, we share a bed, we know what we do and don’t think it matters that (I’m sure) the rest of the world assumes we’re having sex. Some Christians would argue an important factor is being an example and ‘proving’ you aren’t having sex by not sleeping together. I respect that but I think it would kill me.

Honestly, it’s hard. Sometimes it’s hellish. We are still intimate, in some ways not being able to have sex makes you more creative (I will stop in case this is grossing you out)… And we can see an end point now. We’ve got through it.

Do I think it would be ‘wrong’ of us to have sex now, being in a committed relationship for so long, us both being ready and willing to commit to only each other for the rest of our lives? Maybe not. In a way we’ve come this far so we may as well go all the way.

So now I am approaching marriage a virgin. I am excited. I am nervous. Sometimes I am terrified. I still have no idea what I’m doing, or if the build up will make it horribly disappointing. It’s a lot of pressure, knowing that the first time we’re ‘allowed’ is on our wedding night, after what is probably going to be a long, emotional draining and physically exhausting day. On clean white sheets. With our parents in a room across the hall… Who ever thought this was a good idea??

Sex is important, I don’t deny it. It will hopefully bring us closer together, make us one. I think maybe I’ve given it more importance than it actually has by writing this post though, I am reflecting my own thoughts and fears rather than what’s important when approaching marriage as a Christian.

The vows and commitments centre on giving your all to another person exclusively, and sex is really a small part of that.

I am not scared of giving him my love and laughter, my doubts and insecurities, my money, my kisses, my future. It is just this.

But I can’t wait.

Categories: Life, Religion
19 interesting thoughts on this

19 Comments

  1. Posted February 28, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this, you are very brave for putting it all out there. And I think it is great that you are going to make it, that you are living to your values.

    I wanted to wait until marriage too… and then I had this first boyfriend who was an idiot who only wanted the sex. He managed to convince me with my own arguments (pretty much saying that if we were going to be together anyway on the long run and because we loved each other…. it was the same, as he thought of us as being already married (mentally).) So then it happened and then he dumped me. Just writing this down I feel so stupid for actually falling into all that BS, and for buying it… but I was young and naive and I really didn’t see that coming.

    Anyhow after that I went through a phase where I realized that if boys only wanted sex and saw it as fun, why not have fun too, given that my virginity had already been taken and with my virginity lost I wasn’t worth anything anymore anyway (according to the catholic silliness I had been raised with). Luckily I just thought that, I did not really take action and I started choosing boys better and had 2 more serious relationships with boys that actually cared about me. Then I realized that when / if I found someone who truly loved me he wouldn’t care or measure my worth or make it equivalent to my virginity and he would understand… I also promised myself not to sleep with anyone just because… and in the end it all came well.

    But this stuff can be hard to deal with specially when you are young and confused and naive and gullible (or maybe I was just plain stupid).

  2. Cheri
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Aaah Kay, you beat me to it! Great post, and I’m really glad you have written it. Ad you know, my now H and I went through something similar, although not having become Chritians until our 30′s we had both obvious been there and done that before. We even dabbled, rightly or wrongly together, as a couple, deciding as you say above that we were commited and going to get married anyway so what did it matter? Then we had a realisation that we couldnt just pick and choose which bits of the bible we decided to listen to, and decided to wait until we were married for the next time. I think it really benefitted us as a couple, we learnt how to communicate, we didnt fix things and make up through sex, forgetting the un-solved problem in the process. I believe it has made us a stronger couple. One word of advice, dont feel like you have to do it on your wedding night, you’ll be tired, oh so tired, I wish we had waited until the first night of our honeymoon when we were more relaxed and less rushed!

  3. Posted February 28, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Oh K – This is so incredibly brave and honest, and an absolute joy to read. You have no idea how much respect I have for you and I love how excited you are about the whole thing.

    There are lots of personal anecdotes I could share about sex being everything, or indeed nothing at all to a relationship, but it is different for everybody.

    Looking back on my teenage years, I wish I had waited. I was my Mr’s first, and it was special for him, I wish I could have shared that with him.

    It sounds like you have got a boy who not only gets you emotionally, but really respects you and excited to spend the rest of his life with you, and that’s so amazing :D

    L x

    • Posted February 28, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Yeah I was also the boy’s (the husband’s) first and I really wish I had that for him too.

    • Lizzie
      Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      I was my husbands first too!!

      I was raised Christian and always thought I would wait until I was married, during my late teens I thought I was too cool to be a Christian and all that went out the window. I wasn’t pressured, I just didn’t think. It wasn’t until I met my husband, and I was his first, that it started to matter something to me.

      Oh and don’t worry if you think people worry that your too young, I met my husband 2 weeks before my 19th birthday, we got engaged when we were 21 and married when we were 23, only you know when its right! Four years on and its still magic!

      xxx

  4. Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I initially thought the same way. No sex before marriage. I’m a (Roman) Catholic (and I have been ever since I were born), which means there are even more rules I’m supposed to stick to. I met Corey, made it clear to him that there was no sex, he was ok with it. I’ll admit he didn’t find it easy and once made me feel bad about my decision. He didn’t do it on purpose, he just didn’t understand, I felt bad, then he felt bad because he made me feel bad.

    And then I changed my mind. The important thing to me was that I changed my mind, he didn’t do it for me, or pressurise me in anyway. It took a fair while to come to that decision, and while my religion, and the bible say I shouldn’t be doing this, I also go with Jesus said there were only two commandments and I try my damnedest to stick to them. We were both virgins, and I knew we didn’t want to be with anyone else, and I suppose I justify it in that way. I don’t really see it as picking and choosing, as there are many, many “rules” in the bible that are utterly abhorrent in today’s society that no one would follow.

    I truly admire your decision, Katy. And I know what you mean when you say you know you have a relationship based on so much more than that one aspect. I also find it incredible that you’ve written your post, and sent it out into the world, knowing that the majority don’t agree with you. Do I sometimes wish I hadn’t made the decision I had? Sometimes, occasionally, usually when I’m feeling like I’m a bad Catholic, or insecure or something.

    I am very, very glad I waited for him, though, in all respects.

  5. Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments so far everyone!

    I just want to clarify that I really hope it doesn’t sound like I’m judging anyone for their choices or interpretations of the Bible.

    Hopefully it came across that my decision was motivated by fear of rushing into sex at least as much as it was by my religious and/or moral obligation!

    This “One word of advice, dont feel like you have to do it on your wedding night” – - I will forward to Daniel :)

  6. Sarah
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I love this post. So open & honest & brave yet vulnerable all at the same time. I’m agnostic but I have to say I really admire & respect you for following your beliefs & values which I can imagine must be incredibly difficult at times, particularly in today’s society. Equally though I don’t mean to offend others who follow a different path, like you said Katy it’s a personal decision. I’m glad you & your fiancé have found your own way of following your beliefs & I wish you both every happiness on your wedding day & for the rest of your lives together. Xxx

  7. Posted February 28, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I think this is a phenomenal post. I really admire your ability to be so honest about something which people often don’t talk about (never mind certain Christian circles).

    I was a Christian (of the no-sex-before-marriage variety) for five years, during uni and into my early/mid-twenties. I therefore had to (along with many other things!) redefine what sex meant to me when I left the church/faith. It was really interesting to see what parts of my beliefs regarding sex were formed by Biblical/Christian cultural ideas, and what were my own thoughts.

    I have also heard the “don’t feel pressured on your wedding night” advice too, and I think it’s really important to remember that it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of your wedding night (particularly if you have crude friends who will ask you outright if you’re looking forward to “doing it” – yeah, I knew some great guys when I was at uni!).

  8. Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh you brave lady.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us

    I’m on my phone so quick comment but I really think you don’t need to put any pressure on yourself for wedding night sex- lots of people do NOT have wedding night sex!!!

    • Posted February 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      By the end of our W-day I was too tired to take off my make-up, unpin my hair, or smile, let alone do anything more strenuous!

      K x

  9. Posted February 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I really admire you for this post – like others have said, it’s great to see so much honesty about something that is not often spoken about.

    On the other side of the coin, just to give my experience, I met my husband when I was 19 but before him there was my teenage boyfriend who I went out with until I was 18. He was my first love and the first person I slept with and I don’t regret it because I loved him, yet I do regret that he turned out to be a total toad. I’m hoping my husband won’t turn out that way ; )

    I am not particularly religious and I always think it must be amazing to have such a strong belief system. And all that anticipation… your wedding day will be even more exciting for it!

  10. Fran M
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Fair play to you: for sticking by what you believe in; and also distinguishing between what your religious beliefs are and what opinions are your personal feelings.

    Making a decision you feel comfortable with makes the whole thing more meaningful I think – whether you want to wait or not.

  11. Anon
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Just checking this is anonymous before I post…

  12. Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    First off, such an brilliant post, Katy. Your honesty is inspiring.

    I find this so interesting, I’m not religious, I’m vaguely agnostic, but not religious in the sense that I live my life according to any specific faith. That said, I actually identify with a lot of this. G and I got together while he was abroad in Australia, so the first 11 months of our ‘relationship’, were very long distance, and we never physically saw each other. When he got home, a lot of people assumed we’d sleep together immediately, because we’d been waiting so long already. I just wasn’t ready though, I waited another 2-3 months to have sex with him (I don’t remember the exact date!). So, I totally understand where you’re coming from on the ‘feeling afraid’ thing. For me, I felt that our emotional relationship was leaps and bounds ahead of our physical one, and rather than making me want to hurry the physical one along, it just made me feel under pressure (note: HE did not make me feel under the least bit of pressure, my neurotic mind was well capable of doing that all by itself!).

    I think you can only ever do what’s right for you, but it’s wonderful to be so self-aware and so open about your decisions. And it starts an excellent and important conversation. For quite a long time I was embarrassed to tell people that G is, and ideally will be, the only man I ever sleep with. I’m not sure why exactly, it just seemed not to be what I should have done. That’s why I love posts like this, it’s so good to read people standing up and owning their decisions proudly, because they know it’s the right thing for them, whatever everyone else is doing.

    K x

  13. Posted March 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Really interesting to read this, Katy. Do you mind me saying that I’m completely blown away by the fact that you live together and share a bed, but don’t have sex?! Not because I can’t believe it can’t be done (obviously) but it made me wonder how your church friends think about it? I remember lots of stories from Christian Union friends at uni where a girl went to stay with her boyfriend at another university and because she said she slept on his floor she was shuned by the Union. Clearly not a very inclusive attitude, so I’d be glad to hear that that hasn’t happened to you. I also know two women who had their first kiss with their husbands at the alter (ok, well one of them started off kissing and then her and her boyfriend stopped after a year or so). That seemed at the time and still seems now to be a bit extreme – how would you know you had any sexual attraction?

    Tom and I were each others’ first (and hopefully last!) and even though it scares me sometimes to think how young we were (not young in comparison to some people, but it was a long time ago!), it was really special and I would never regret it. We never intended to be the only people we’ve ever slept with, but I do like that fact now – it means that we have a unique relationship that no-one else will ever experience. So, I can understand why you have decided to do that too, Katy.

    I will also echo the messages of don’t put too much pressure on your wedding night – the first time is fumbly and awkward at the best of times, so if you would rather just lie and cuddle, don’t feel bad. It will happen.

    xxxx

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm, maybe it’s just the Christians I know but I see it as a very personal decision that you need to make based on what you feel comfortable with and what you believe/pray about and think you SHOULD be doing. And I don’t see how anyone, even fellow Christians, can know that. So none of them have ‘shunned’ me. Some of them have done it differently…

      I do think that you have to know there’s an attraction – and if you can’t have a cuddle and a kiss then how do you know? Or do you hope? Also I think some Christians who are very strict end up marrying very early just so they CAN live together, kiss, cuddle and have sex. And I never wanted to do that, I wanted to be sure that I was with the right person.

      I don’t think you can go out with somebody for 4/5 years as we have and not do ANYTHING at all, because that would either be horribly hard and to what end? Or would be really easy and then you obviously don’t fancy them – which is important. And so people rush in. I’d rather compromise early on but know I’m right and not get divorced.

      But then I have to not judge those people in my church who got married at 17 or who have never kissed or spent a night in the same place but do get married, because they obviously believe that that is right for themselves.

      Also we don’t go to CU, just our own church each week, and have always found Christians just really happy that you’re there and inclusive. We have put separate addresses on our marriage form, but that’s because I want my banns read at home rather than because we would be frowned upon…

      Everyone’s responses have been really really interesting and well-considered, it’s so nice to read!

      xxx

  14. Amanda M
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Personally I think that doing the right thing for you is the best thing. And you can feel proud that you have done what you believe in, despite, I am sure, being subjected to all sorts of people’s opinions. I hope your first night is amazing!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About

Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post

Find:

Follow: