Waiting until marriage for sex – the best decision I ever made
A newlywed shares why he chose to wait for marriage.
I got married recently, to the love of my life. My wife and I were both virgins when we got married. We made the decision to obey God’s word and to not have sex until after we said our vows. We both feel that this was one of the best decisions for our relationship that we ever made. In the following articles, I’m going to try to explain why we feel this way. These articles are not so that we can brag about our sex life, which is why I am writing anonymously. Instead, I’m writing to hopefully convince you that God’s way is the best way for you, by sharing how it has been the best way for us.
Performance versus Intimacy
In so many parts of our lives, there is so much pressure for us to perform, and to reach a particular standard. You have to be clever enough and study hard enough to do well at school. You need to be sociable enough, pretty enough, or funny enough to be popular. You need to be fit enough, strong enough and train hard enough to be good at sport. You need to be good enough and successful enough to impress your parents.
We Christians already know that the gospel is not like this. Our relationship with God is not based on us reaching a particular standard. We are not good enough for God - but that’s OK, that’s what God’s grace is all about. Jesus has made us good with God. And yet, even as Christians who know the gospel, we can slip back into this performance mindset - this “good enough” way of thinking - when it comes to sex. This article will expose that mistake, as it dispels two different myths about “good sex.” But before we get there, let's first see what God has to say:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)
This is the first description in the Bible of what sex is meant to be like. Ideal sex is “naked and not ashamed.” It is a nothing-held-back, complete and shameless sharing of a man and woman with each other: no fear, no anxiety; only love and complete acceptance of each other as you are; “naked” emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically.
Patricia Weerakoon, author of Growing Up by the Book, explained the implications of this verse better than I ever could:
“To feel no shame in this act of shared intimacy is an act of trust - a blatant sharing of the body and emotions. Each act of sex will be one where both husband and wife know that they will not be judged on the size and shape of their genitals, or their sexual performance in bed. It will not matter who initiates sex, whether they are both aroused, or if they both orgasm. Sex will be an act where mutual vulnerability will be celebrated and supported, and … lovingly accepted. There will be no shame because covenant love covers a multitude of flaws.” (P Weerakoon in The Best Sex for Life, emphasis mine)
The knowledge that you are both totally loved and accepted unconditionally is what makes sex in marriage so good. It doesn’t depend on anyone’s performance or meeting any particular standard. You will love and enjoy one another exactly as you are.
But, in exchange for this amazing promise, the world has sold us on two different myths:
Myth 1: You need to be sexually compatible to have good sex
Vastly the most common reason I’ve seen for people recommending that men and women should have sex before they get married, is to make sure that they’re “sexually compatible.” That is, they should see if their sexual preferences are met by the other person. If the other person can’t meet their “needs” then, supposedly, they shouldn’t get married.
This is wrong, because it turns what should be an act of acceptance into an act of judgement. It causes us to ask, “Is he what I want for myself?” or “Does she do what I want her to do?” or similar. We are invited to judge the other person, to see if they perform to a standard acceptable to us - and to discard them if they don’t. This thinking is self-centred, and it ruins the intimacy and the love that sex is meant to express.
For the record: my wife and I both had sexual dysfunctions that we only discovered after we got married. And we were both fine! Marriage gave us the security to know that it didn’t matter that we “couldn’t perform” at the start. Marriage also gave us the time to figure it out. And the process of overcoming those dysfunctions together, helped us to learn a whole lot more about each other and ourselves. And now, having overcome those issues together, we are a lot closer than we would have been otherwise.
Myth 2: It’s better to be good at sex for when you get married
Rather than judging the other person, we may instead look to ourselves: “I should make sure that I’m good at sex before I get married, so that I can please my future wife/husband.” And so, the logic goes, we should have sex before we get married (maybe lots of it) to get the “practice” we need to ensure that we’re a good spouse one day.
I’ll go into more detail in the next article why this is a very bad idea. But this idea does come from a better place than the previous myth - a person who thinks this way could genuinely want to be the best husband/wife he/she could be.
However, ironically, this attitude and behaviour will be counterproductive in the long run. As we saw in Genesis, good sex is unashamed sex. It’s sex where both the husband and wife know they’re secure in each other’s unconditional acceptance. And the best way to know you’re accepted despite your performance is to experience it. If you have “bad” sex (by whatever wordly standard of performance) at the start and still love, accept and enjoy each other just the same, that shows that your marriage is built on a solid foundation of acceptance, unashamedness and intimacy - rather than a weak and tentative foundation of “good” performance. If you are always “good” at sex from when you start, you’ll never get the privilege of knowing you’ll be accepted and loved by your wife or husband no matter what - and how liberating that is. That’s why, from my experience, it’s better to be “bad” at it when you start, after you’ve said “I do.”
Conclusion: Intimacy is better than performance
Ironically, while the the “common wisdom” of the world thinks that a “performance mindset” will lead to good sex, actual experts in the field (sexologists) will tell you the opposite. Stress and anxiety about sex (including performance anxiety) is the leading cause of anorgasmia and vaginismus in women, and premature ejaculation in men.
This should not surprise us: we should expect that sex in line with God’s word is going to be better than sex that goes against it. And God’s word is clear: sex is meant for marriage. It is only in marriage that we will find the absolute security needed, to absolutely entrust our whole self to another. Marriage is the place of safety, where we can be totally vulnerable, totally open, totally accepted, and totally loved.