One who didn’t have sex before marriage.
Call me old-fashioned, but when I got married not so long ago I was a virgin. And yes, it was worth it.
The call to wait for marriage to have sex is almost entirely ignored nowadays when christian leaders preach on different themes to youth. When I was twelve years old, I knew just as much about Jesus and the Bible as people who go to church exclusively on Christmas. But then things changed when I was invited to be a part of christian youth group which taught on God’s word and just how much Jesus loves me, that I am valuable. If no one in this setting had not also told me that God recommends that I wait for marriage to have sex, than I highly doubt that waiting for marriage is a thought which I would have come up with on my own at twelve.
God created sex and gave it to us as a gift to enjoy. As a wise creator he has also given us instructions for how to best use his gift. There is actually an entire book in the Bible devoted to love and sex, but not in the way in we find plastered across the media. The Song of Solomon describes passionate and exciting sex in a different light in which it appears on social media. It is more exclusive. “My beloved is mine and I am his.”
The culture in which young people grow up in today says the opposite of this. “If you want to do it, go for it and just remember to use condoms” is the typical phrase preached in school. But condoms don’t offer protection from feelings, broken hearts, and bad self images. We are told that we are free to choose whatever we want, but no choice is free from consequences. “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is good for me” says Paul to the Corinthians.
Safe boundaries create both excitement and freedom for you and your partner. When God has set these boundaries himself it is then the job of the church to inform young people what takes place when they are broken.
Twelve years later I am now a leader in the same youth group that I grew up in. I regularly meet youths who are feeling the demands and pressures from maneuvering their way through the jungle of tips and advice for a better sex life. It seems to them that sex is a requirement for entering into adulthood and therefore it is expected that you have had sex by a certain age.
There is a pressure on youth who maybe don’t feel like they are ready for sex, but are afraid to be different. It is not easy to convey an alternative picture of sex with media and pornography constantly hurling misleading information and false expectations. But that does not mean that we should not try.
I am aware that I am the exception today, even in a christian environment, but if no one is telling young people that it is actually possible to wait with sex, how are they going to know that it is possible? Jesus was a radical. He broke away from popular culture and belief systems and people followed him. It doesn’t cost a thing to follow the crowd, but it is demanding to stand against the current. And I can underline that it is not easy to resist temptation. But who knows what consequences resisting the stream will have if more decide to go the other way as well.
The trend of the average age for making a debut into adulthood has gone. Youth are now waiting longer to have sex and I believe and hope this is a sign of a counterculture on the rise. There is no lack of good reasons to wait to have sex, but for me the deciding factor in my choice was an open and humble youth leader who told me personally that it was worth it.
I know that there are those of you out there who believe that waiting for marriage to have sex is a long gone chapter in society. I completely disagree. It is maybe a bit naive to believe that people today will have just one sexual partner for the rest of their lives because this is far from what we see in reality. But if we stop encouraging young people to wait, how will they ever know that there is an alternative way? I will never accept today’s sexual culture and align myself with its belief system. Jesus did not and neither should the church or we will capitulate.
Written by Helene Pederstad Øien. Translated by Emily Huyck