As Catholics, we have an obligation to wait until marriage for sex. For the last two years, I have been an active member of Girls Ask Guys (GAG for short), a website on which guys and girls ask each other questions about dating, relationships, and sex. I’ve often been surprised by the number of up-votes I’ve gotten when I answer that I believe sex should wait until marriage. Until I signed onto GAG, religion and scare tactics (pregnancy and STDs) were the only reasons behind my abstinence.
Oftentimes, I wonder how many other young Catholics find themselves in such a predicament, particularly once they get to a secular or watered-down Catholic college. I’ve said before that Catholics ought to be well-educated on the faith, as it will hopefully (though not always) lead to deeper inquiry into non-theological defenses of their beliefs. This is one such case. That said, I offer my non-religious reasons for saving sex for marriage and my non-judgmental analysis of society’s views on sex. The original article as posted on GAG can be found here, published in April 2012. Note: This version has been edited for Oramus, features updated arguments, more links, and a few different ones. Beware.
Some accuse virgins of being judgmental or prudes. For reasons other than my lack of sexual experience, I have been called “low-testosterone” and a “beta male”. One time, I answered a question asking what qualities or traits GAG users would want in their spouse. A few of mine were “sweet and affectionate”, “caring”, and a “good cuddler”. One user down-voted me and said “this n*gga is a homosexual”. Would these people say likewise about my commitment to abstinence? I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s been a while, but one user had routinely denounced waiting until marriage as “silly”. Someone once asked what’s wrong with waiting on account of religious beliefs and one user asked why religion hates sex. Others automatically suggest reading Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins or make other derogatory statements about religion.
There are things that I’m unhappy with, but I have a happy and fulfilling life with great friends and a loving family. I’ve been well-educated, had management experience at my job, and will soon hopefully get a job as a regional coordinator with an upcoming pro-life group. Among my desirable qualities, I am honest, loyal, chivalrous, and an active Roman Catholic. I’m a good cook, I enjoy dressing up, and have no trouble remembering birthdays or anniversaries. I’m fairly good-looking, in good physical shape, I have good hygiene and don’t smoke cigarettes, use drugs, drink heavily, or watch porn. Contrary to how others may feel about their virginity, I see no need to question myself on account of mine.
This is the world we are coming into, where a girl asks if it’s weird to be a virgin at seventeen, a 25-year-old is “ashamed” to be a virgin and considering one-night stands, and a guy tells his girlfriend this. Isn’t it sad if a guy uses his best friend for sex when she’s in love with him because “it felt good”? Or a guy tells the girl he wants to marry that having had only one sexual partner (her) makes him sad? Isn’t it troubling if a girl makes excuses for her boyfriend trying to rape her? As if that’s not enough, one user thinks SHE is the one who has to apologize. Topping that off, he gets up-voted. And my personal favorite, thinking that sex is a need that should transcend both moral/ethical and legal boundaries, one guy asked if rape is the only way for some guys to get sex. I would have posted it in my original article even if he hadn’t asked anonymously. I would not have spared him the embarrassment (though you can go back and make yourself anonymous if you wish). The moderators deleted the question before I could save it.
“What about when you’re engaged?” I have two ways of looking at this. 1) An engagement can still end and 2) I’ve been a virgin all my life. I see no harm in waiting six to twelve more months.
“What if you never get married?” I’m prepared to accept if I don’t. However, I value my sexuality too much to give it to any girl who comes my way simply because I don’t know if I’ll marry her or not.
“I don’t want to get married.” I don’t care who doesn’t want to, but no one should try to convince someone who wants to wait until marriage to go against their beliefs, whether religious or not. Don’t make someone feel like something is wrong with them. Above all, don’t even think that something is wrong with them, regardless of their age (see the previous links).
“Your sexuality is too valuable to give to only one person.” I’ve seen people argue this before. Yes, your sexuality is in fact incredibly valuable. Obviously, however, I argue the opposite viewpoint. Why is it too valuable for only one person? If you want to get married and believe that your sexuality is of such high value, shouldn’t you save it for the person that you want to give it to for the rest of your life? If it’s as valuable as you say it is, why would you want to risk thinking about other people on your wedding night, let alone the rest of your life?
“The high divorce rate is making marriage obsolete.” This is like saying the law causes crime. I think society’s disproportionate emphasis on sex has loosened our attitudes about it and commitment in general, making people more selfish. This will tie in with sexual compatibility and will be argued more in-depth in my next GAG article on said philosophy.
“We need to know if we are sexually compatible.” This is the most common argument. It sounds like a good, logical premise, but is a major red flag for me. If a couple says that, it tells me that they have insecurities about the relationship and think good sex means “problem solved”. Some people ask “would you buy a car without a test drive?” No, but I don’t need to drive from New York to Chicago to know if the car will make it to Philadelphia. Additionally, studies show that couples who wait until marriage have more satisfying sex because their bodies have grown accustomed to each other. Most importantly, their relationship is based on a deeper and more mature connection with each other (American Psychological Association, Journal of Family Psychology, December 2010). They communicate and know each other’s desires. Plus, I’ve seen plenty of questions on GAG asking how one can spice up their sex life.
I’ve argued that sexual compatibility falsely justifies the vicious cycle of “sex = love, love = sex”. People ask if you can have sex without love, but I think this argument almost tells couples preparing for marriage that they should. Sex cannot be the deciding factor in a relationship. Though written by a celibate priest, there is so much wisdom in Love and Responsibility that is as applicable in non-Catholic relationships and marriages as it is in Catholic ones.
I want love and intimacy, but not if it would damage my being completely intimate with my wife. There’s an anonymous quote that I’ve seen on the internet a few times: “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most”. How many people have walked away from a sexual encounter thinking “I was used” or been told “if you really love me, you’ll have sex with me”? Even worse, how many have bought it? How many have to ask “does he/she want me for me or for sex?” There are conflicting ideas. We need sex to be intimate in a relationship, so it’s important. At the same time, we have friends with benefits when we’re single, so it’s not. I believe this contradiction has caused us to value human sexuality at lower levels than we should and in turn, ourselves.
My love for and devotion to Catholic doctrine are the icing on the cake. They bring my commitment to it’s fulfillment. I’ll believe anyone who tells me sex that feels great. I think I’m in for a real treat when I get married. Until then, I’ll wait. I think there are so many complications and insecurities that could be easily avoided, so much freedom available in a relationship if people saved sex for the proper context: the boundaries of marriage.