[Editor’s Note: Don’t read the post if you are easily offended or blush when someone says “sex.” because it says sex like 100 times. I also want you to make sure you read the feedback post to this post which was posted right after it. There are more thoughts and comments from readers that may be helpful to you. Thanks for reading!]
Some time ago, a post on Huffington Post’s blog gave a list of how to know you are sexually compatible. It was from the standpoint of a single male who decided that you HAD TO have sex before you committed to the person because that was the only way to know for sure this was the “right one” for you. A few days later, The Gospel Coalition posted a reply of sorts by another single male who explained the party line on why you wait until marriage to have sex and he did a fine job of defining sex in terms of God’s design for a married couple.
But as a single woman up until the age of 39, and far far far from a virgin, I felt that the answer needed to be less simplistic. We need to start here: Sex is NEVER about sex. Let me ‘splain. and no I will not sum up.
Sex in its full capacity and purpose is not “just sex.” We are so desperate to make it so. As a collective society and culture, for decades now, we have bought into the notion that it’s “just sex,” that it’s “progressive” to truly deeply believe that it’s just for our pleasure and is as casual as what you like to put on your burger. We’ve watched our culture consistently belittle and degrade it into something that is “no big whoop” and because we have fell into the lie, we have found perfectly rational ways of excusing this total corruption of what is meant to be one of the highest most transcendent gifts we have ever been given. Sex is magic. I wrote another blog saying just that here.
When people start talking about sex as if it’s a retail item, you’ve already lost your argument. You are trying on shoes because you want something that is comfortable, that looks good on you, that fits your budget, and whatever other criteria you have. When you start to view sex as something that has criteria, you’ve missed the point. The criteria is not in the act but in the person.
And here’s where our troubles begin. According to many modern day single people, you won’t know what kind of criteria that person will meet until you “try it out.” There are many problems with this thinking. I had these problems for many years as a single woman in the city throughout my 20s and 30s.
Here are a few. And by a few I mean ten because we like lists of 10 things.
1. I didn’t wait because I bought into the lie that sex wasn’t THAT meaningful.
2. I didn’t wait because I decided that sex was just about my pleasure.
3. I didn’t wait because I thought that sex was just about his pleasure which I apparently needed to earn.
4. I didn’t wait because I bought into the lie that I was damaged goods. Once I had sex, there was no reason to stop having sex any more.
5. I didn’t wait because I forgot who I belonged to, both my Savior and my future husband.
6. I didn’t wait because I was looking for sex to be something it could not possibly be outside the healthy committed relationship it was intended for.
7. I didn’t wait because I made sex into a commodity and a bargaining tool.
8. I didn’t wait because I didn’t really believe that God had a plan for or even thought about my sexuality.
9. I didn’t wait because I thought that meant to give up my rights to do whatever the heck I wanted to with my own body because it’s mine all mine.
10. I didn’t wait because I forgot someone was waiting for me.
The bottom line is that I cannot think of a more selfish arrogant way of looking at sex and relationships than this. How incredibly short sighted is a person who has sex with someone and decides then and there what kind of lover – and I mean not just in bed – that person is? How much of your life will you continue to be myopic in, holding some trumped up personal standard which will only lead you to constant discouragement and unmet expectations?
I can tell you as someone who did not wait for marriage that this way of thinking is flawed at best. I did the test drive thing. I wanted to make sex into something manageable and conditional. I wanted to house it inside this concept of getting what I want and need out of life. I made it about the act itself and rated people based on that. It became a measurement of how good our relationship was going to be, instead of an outward expression of how good our relationship already was.
If you are having bad sex it is not time to move on or to reevaluate if this person is good enough for you. It’s not about your performance or your compatible levels of kink. The act of sex is a reflection of what your relationship already is and where it stands – and if you even have one to begin with. What will happen when sex inevitably starts to change in your marriage years from now? I think too many people are looking for that epic fireworks display, the rush of newness mixed with anticipation and mystery, every time. We are looking for excitement somewhere between cliff diving and bungee jumping from the royal gorge. We are looking at scenes from porn as some kind of indication of how good sex is supposed to be, forgetting entirely that they are ACTING and they may not even know each others’ names. We look at movies and TV shows that put some kind of expectation of sex life as exciting and NEW and all animal-like chemistry as we watch people “fall in love” mostly meaning jumping into bed at the first opportunity.
But what we know about relationships is that the excitement fades, the trumpets stop sounding, the fireworks fizzle out. It isn’t in the attempt to recreate the most amazing, aka orgasmic, experience you’ve ever had. The goal shifts in time to creating – and keeping – the beauty and intimacy, true lasting intimacy, with the love of your life, your sun moon and stars, the one and only person who knows you through and through and will cling to you through all of life’s ebbs and flows. It takes much more character and nobility for a person to commit to that ONE LOVE for the rest of time than to constantly search for the “upgraded” version that better meets your needs.
For those who have bought into the throwaway sex culture, you are in for disappointment and heartache, or bitterness and jadedness. You will always be left wanting something, desperate to fill in the emptiness that nearly meaningless sex leaves behind. You will hold people to a standard that is only meant for two committed people who won’t give up on the first signs of trouble, and you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of losing battles. Calculating it as a measurement of some kind creates an inherent fault in the equation because it isn’t made to be a means to evaluate each other, but rather a means to express and adore what you already have come to know about them. I don’t love my husband because we have a great sex life. We have a great sex life because we adore each other. Yeah I just wrote that out loud.
[Author’s Note: My disclaimer is that I have been married for 18 months as of this writing. I’ll let you know how it goes 18 years from now and 38 years from now. My suspicion, well really an educated guess, is that I’ll say all the same things, maybe a little slower.]
All this said, for those of us who walked that road of casual sex and now struggle to feel forgiven and pure, I write these things not to condemn you, but to remind you that you can choose differently now. You can remind yourself of the precious gift of sex, in the right way with the right person at the right time, that it truly is worth waiting for. Remind yourself that God sees you, the repentant one clinging to His grace, as 100% PURE, beautiful and a pearl well worth the price. Purity is not lost when you believe in grace. If you are struggling to believe in your purity today, please read another post I wrote on this – “My husband wishes I had tattoos.” While on one hand we know that we reap what we sow, we know that there are consequences to sin and sometimes it feels too much to bear, we also know – oh joy of hope – that God pours out His grace on our lives and uses all of our back stories to His glory. Everything about my back story is being used and often to help others, to prove to others He is working, He is victorious and He loves so very much. May you know His intense, intimate, magical love today and all your days.