Disclaimer: This is also not meant to be a judgment on anyone for his or her actions or life choices; I am merely just trying to get an answer to a question I have pondered on for a while. I am writing this from the point of view of a grown woman who while not ready to get married today is willing to work towards it.
I have been toying with the idea of writing an article about abstinence, but I didn’t know how to approach it from a Christian standpoint without sounding like Pat Robertson. Well today I was at a Bible study class about transformation. The whole evening was based on the bible verses Romans 12:1-2. The Bible study leader read a new translation from the J.B Phillips version:
“ With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
These verses hit home to me, especially the italicized portions. Of course it is not explicitly about abstinence and sex but it is about non-conformity.
By His Grace alone, I can say that I have somehow managed to not have sex. This is not to boast because I have crossed boundaries that I shouldn’t have. This is not a boast or an attempt to seem holier than thou because it has been a tricky dance between my faith, my mind, and my body. In society nowadays, abstinence is a somewhat of a very tricky topic, it’s not exactly a virtue that is applauded or appreciated even by very religious people. I have had more than one person tell me that no guy wants a virgin. I have also had some other guys tell me that a guy who really cares will appreciate it. Quite frankly, I don’t give a damn. I choose to not have sex because as an aunt of mine is fond of saying “I am answerable to a higher power”. That is all that matters to me.
Now this is my personal dilemma (and why I started with a Bible verse), how do practicing Christians justify pre-marital sex? Am I completely missing the point or is the issue of abstinence so outdated that this article is a joke? I have heard some really great reasons, which have some valid points. One of those is “what is marriage really? And why do I need a piece of paper from the government to say I am married?” This is a very good point, and even beyond the religious and civic claims, there is the issue of a culture. For example most Igbo families accept traditional marriage as a legal and binding contract (no piece of paper involved). For many other cultures, a basic marriage contract is entered as soon as you take a formal stand before family and friends to be committed together.
The most common reason I have heard though has to do with sexual compatibility, test-driving the sexual relationship, and things along those lines. But do we really think that we are smarter than God? Is it so hard to trust that a marriage can be sexually fulfilling without “test driving in the car”. God designed sex and he designed it to all that it is: GREAT, AMAZING and MIND BLOWING. Now this maybe this may be my sexual inexperience speaking, but despite this new age of supposed improved sexual compatibility divorce rates are still high, both in Nigeria and in the states. So apparently it takes a little more than perfect sex to make marriages or relationships work.
I also have a less religious reason for refusing to get bullied into having sex. If I am dating someone and simply overcome with love (or lust) that I must sleep with them, oh well! That’s that then. But to be pressured into having sex because my boyfriend can’t do without it? Absolutely a no-no. Let’s be real here, my fellow Nigerians, we know that Nigerian men are notorious for being unfaithful in and out of marriage. I think if a man can’t take 3 or so months to get to know a woman and decide if she could be a potential life partner and then commit to working towards that future with her sans sex that might indicate some future problems. What if she has a difficult 9 months pregnancy or they are apart for a number of years for reasons beyond their control? Say what you may but character is built over time. There is no magic in the words “I do” that makes a man or woman become what they aren’t. A person’s actions before marriage are highly indicative of their future actions. And since cheating will not be negotiable in my home (seriously someone will die, preferably him) I am very cautious with this. Another concern for many guys is what if it doesn’t work out? What if she is sleeping with someone else? What if…, what if… My response to that is that there are no guarantees in life or love. Getting hurt is simply a part of living, if you don’t like it; try dying because that’s the only way out.
If you aren’t a practicing Christian, who actively strives to be Christ-like then really this article is not applicable to you. But, and this is a big but, if you do profess to be a Christian and believe the Bible I really would like to hear from you. How do you justify having sex outside of wedlock (old fashioned phrase I know)? Is it really inconceivable for a couple to not have sex before marriage? Are my ideas about people (men in particular) who say that they won’t wait for sex unfounded?
NB: After you read this take a second to read Romans 12:1-2 again in whatever translation you would like and think of what it means to you.