Abstinence In A Sexualized World


Surfed the internet lately? If yes, then you may have seen a few headlines relating to sex in the Christian community. First, there was the Duggar’s older son inappropriate sexual touching before he was married, Billy Graham’s grandson’s infidelity in a crumbling marriage, and Bristol Palin announcing her 2nd out-of-wedlock pregnancy despite being a public advocate for abstinence. In the old days, all these visible Christians would have been publicly shamed for the rest of their lives.

The reality is we are all sinners, prone to temptation, and each and every one of us have committed sins and will commit sins in our lives. Welcome to the reason why the Bible talks about redemption. Despite knowing that, I do get a sick pleasure when limelight Christians screw up. Why is that? Because it shows that no one is immune and we need to be careful of our actions when we decide to put ourselves in the forefront as perfect Christian leaders.

Let’s chat about abstinence . First, let me say that I do not believe in abstinence only education. Our society is not set up to re-enforce that concept. Second, abstinence does not address some important biological and situational nuances that typically lead to breaking that vow. Third, abstinence is a difficult practice to maintain especially the more sexually charged you are and the length of your intimate relationship.

I believe there are two kinds of abstinence: one is the letter of the law abstinence and the other is the spirit of the law abstinence. When people talk about abstinence they are referring to no sexual penetration using the male and female sex organs. Therefore, if two people in a relationship never have coitus, then they have fulfilled the letter of the abstinence law. This letter of the abstinence law is very important for virgins and those who want to remain “pure” until marriage. However, the spirit of the abstinence law is very different. This is in reference to ALL sexualized behaviors ie. mutual masturbation, over and under the clothes touching of breast and genitals, anal sex, oral sex, foreplay and everything that stops short of penetration. If Christians should be judge by the spirit of the abstinence law, then a great number would be found guilty.

I applaud the concept of no sex before marriage. It’s a great idea for a number of reasons; however, by the time most couples get to their wedding night they have already engaged in various sexualized behaviors “to take the edge off,” and the only thing left is the grand finale. True abstinence is not an easy feat. Christian couples engage in the same dating style such as spending quality and alone time with their partners. Like all relationships, the two people are instinctively and biologically sexually drawn to each other, and each intimate alone time breaks down the abstinence defenses.

When was the last time you went on a date with a chaperone? Do you always kiss your partner on the cheek with a side hug? When the phone conversation turns intimate do you stop and say “God would not approve because we are not married?” or have you instituted a rule that you don’t talk in the bedroom and not past a certain hour? When was the last time that the most intimate thing you did with your partner was holding hands for longer than 5 minutes?

If true abstinence is to be practiced, then the Christian couple has to become puritanical in every sense of the word. If you cannot do that, then it’s time to have the talk (You should have had this talk already if you decided to be in a long-term relationship). The talk should involve what to do if you can’t wait or the it-just-happened moment. It’s time to have the real sex talk and not the ignorant watered down ‘Christian’ version. The version in which birth control and pregnancy are a reality. The version in which when things go too far how do you work through it instead of being riddled with guilt, shame and sometimes blaming.

It’s obvious that Ms Palin, the abstinence advocate, found her own message difficult to uphold – twice. If it was not for the pregnancies, which is how most Christian couples are outed, she would have been able to hide the hypocrisy. I could take cheap shots at her; however, her failures show the holes in the modern-day abstinence message. I do believe that most Christians are very sincere when they take on the abstinence challenge. However, they fail to see and prepare for the inevitable obstacle which is to underestimate how strong one’s normal sexual desires can be in the presence of romantic partner.

For those who intend on practicing the abstinence spirit of the law, I wish you God speed because you will need it. I also wish that you put in place preventive methods instead of reactive measures. Abstinence in a relationship is a good thing; however, ignoring one’s natural sexual urges will make it a feat to truly accomplish in avoiding ALL forms of sexual activities before marriage.

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Abstinence In A Sexualized World

  1. I have been viewing posts on your website, and I absolutely love that you are one of the few who will actually speak about sex as a Christian single. I honestly get tired whenever they talk about singleness, it’s from married people projecting their feelings onto others. So I say yay to you. I also love that you’ve addressed this topic of abstinence for me because I have been in such a struggle with being abstinent. Not only am I abstinent, I am also a 25 year-old virgin (a 25 year-old male virgin). It’s a complete anomaly, I feel. Well, an easy anomaly for me because I’ve never had a girlfriend, but an anomaly nonetheless. Now, while I haven’t been perfect with plenty of sexual struggles, I do want chastity more than anything. To make me more of an anomaly, I am not really even interested in getting married. I’d become a priest if I were Catholic, but I am just interested in staying single. I don’t want to get married. Of course, if I am not getting married, then I can’t have sex, right? That is where I have been struggling lately. I am now having a hard time saying no to getting rid of my virginity. I find myself obsessed over my “virgin tag” every single day, and it’s like no one could understand what I feel. So I’m so thankful you are speaking about this.

    In one of your articles you said you weren’t a virgin. I cannot lie that in the past I would have looked differently and self-righteously judged you. I probably would have said to the effect of “unless you are a virgin yourself, you cannot understand me”. However, lately, I think you may be the closest in one of your articles on Adult virginity. The stigmas, stereotypes, and shameful images put out about virgins are so condemning that it makes one wonder why one would want to stay a virgin. Abstinence is already hard enough (ask Bristol Palin & Lolo Jones) physically, but I feel like I am in a mental prison because of it. Being a virgin has become a stronghold on me now. I feel like people laugh at me for being a virgin still. After all, being a virgin in my case is the case usually shown for Andy Stitzer 40 year-old virgin, as I’m a bit of a nerd & outcast who has never gotten a woman. You are right, virginity has now become the shameful secret now because virgins get made fun of. Look at Elliot Rodger. I get afraid to think about being one now, and get afraid that I’ll be one for my whole life because of that. I sometimes wonder if I am a loser because I’ve never had sex, like they say. Then i start wonder if I would benefit from losing my virginity so that I could escape this prison. However, I know if I do it I would have sinned by premarital sex.

    Let’s be clear, I do want to be chaste and single, but it feels like everywhere we turn, it gets more and more difficult. Sex is just out there to see, whether one likes it or not. None of them help. The worst of them, though, is Christian media. Why? the focus on church scandals and sexual sin. The more the church does damage scandal control, the less time there is to focus on the virgin celibate people who never get any spotlight time. One thing I wish people would address is the fact that it is so not easy being a virgin. We focus on Christian headlines showing Christians failings sexually, but what if you are a Christian who hasn’t even had an opportunity to be sexual for so long? People in Christian circles just imagine virginity as something easy to accomplish. From firsthand experience, this has been my hardest battle ever, especially since I just turned 25. I never thought it could be so hard, but it is. For 25 years, I’ve barely been kissed and that’s it. I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t date a virgin, thus they wouldn’t date me. I’ve heard people say that first time will suck, so they wouldn’t want to be my first. I’ve basically been railroaded into this “virgin zone” that no one wants to be in and everyone wants to be out of. At my age, living in a culture where everyone has already lost their virginity with kids by this time, I feel strange being an adult virgin, and it’s discomforting, even in church. Ever since I turned 25, I have suffered feelings of discomfort, anxiety, insecurity, and embarrassment because I am a virgin. I would love to say I only experience this from the world, but I experience this in church too. Statistics show that the numbers aren’t any better there either with premarital sex. You would think that would lead to an appreciation of virginity, but it just has led to being an outsider for not being married & having or dating & potentially having sex. Frustrating.

    Why do we harp on those who fall into sexual sin, but never give a virgin person praise for withstanding temptation for however many adult years? I just see couples praised, even if premarital sex was done beforehand (after all God forgives). I’ve also seen when the topic of virginity come up basically say that virginity is worthless from Christians. All it is is just a status, with no significance. For someone like me, it basically kills all the effort I put into not having sex. I wonder then if no sex was worth it, or should I have just gone out and gotten some. With all the focus on those who fall into scandal, we can’t focus on those who are truly virgins. I just wish churches and congregations would love on virgins too.

    1. Hi driller,
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. First off, I can understand why your initial reaction to me not being a virgin could be disconcerting. One thing I can say about that is I was also in the same boat as you. Let me explain, I grew up in the church and was given the same no sex before marriage message which I held dearly until my very early 30’s. Like you, I did not want to get married but still carried the virgin stigma which felt like a burden. There was nothing wrong with me but for most of my life I was taught and believed that the initial sexual experience should be “magical with your spouse.” As I got older, I started to understand the implication of what no sex before marriage belief would have on my life knowing that I did not want to get married any time soon. The virgin pride started to turn to some embarrassment. Believe it or not, there are people in their 30’s and 40’s and older who have never had sex. The decision to engage in a sexual relationship with my partner at the time did not bring any regret for “losing it” before marriage. Maybe it was age and the “first time sex is special” wonderment wasn’t so important to me because there were other things that took priority in a relationship.

      The no-sex burden is still an issue now because I am celibate. Just because a person is no longer a virgin does not mean that he/she starts “whoring around.” The sexual practice of those in the church often times mimic those of the people outside the church which includes their views on virginity. There will never be a celebrate virgin day in the church so you have to do that for yourself. You have to pat yourself on the back and thank God that you are able to keep a goal that is true to you and your Christian beliefs. As you and every other “horny” single or married but not having sex individual know, it’s hard to put a lid on sexual desires. Instead of getting anxious about your virginity, take pride in knowing that you are holding strong walking a difficult path. If you cannot find people who are virgins to share your struggles with, then talk to people who have been celibate for a long time- the struggles and temptations are very similar.

      Unfortunately, the older you are, the more there is a negative stigma for virgins which is very silly. However, we do live in a sexualized world in which it’s okay for total strangers to get it on and walk away afterwards like nothing happened. You are not a loser in anyway. Finding someone you can trust to share this “burden” with always helps. Trying to be sexless, with natural urges, in a sexually driven world is darn near hard whether you are a virgin or trying to be celibate. Your efforts are not wasted because that is the goal that you want for yourself. Having sex when you are not ready can increase or add anxiety, shame and guilt. There is no return from taking that step to willingly have sex for the first time. Don’t be too discouraged, you are doing the right thing for you whether others appreciate it or not.

      1. Thank you for your input. It means a lot that you took the time to actually reply to me. Your response is heart-warming as well. You are really one of the few people who truly understand and speak my language. Most people just can’t, or better yet don’t want to. Maybe if I met some other like-minded people I would have the same thing, but I unfortunately haven’t really found anybody personally who is a virgin. I don’t know how to even go about finding people who are virgins. There isn’t a support group for adult virgins like I am, I think. So I can only tell you my experiences, which I delved into before. However, there is more to the story than just that, and I think it’s relevant to the abstinence discussion. So, here I go.

        Now, I have told some people that I’m a virgin, in which response is that they find it commendable. Yet, at the same time, they are having sex, leaving me in a bit of confusion. I don’t know which one is more difficult to deal with: the sexual temptation, the stigma, or standing alone. I think all the are the hard to deal with, but if I had to rate them in order, the order would go stigma, loneliness, and sexual temptation being the highest. I knew that you said that the virgin stigma was a burden, but I feel like my virginity can be an albatross. It’s like I’m the needle in the haystack, and you can’t fit it with the other hay. I think I’m convinced my virginity does that to me, because there really isn’t anybody there. I know you said that there are 30 & 40 year-olds who haven’t had sex, and it’s a little comforting in a sense. It’s just hard to deal with being the only one and the holdout. It’s simply not easy to be the only one who hasn’t when everyone assuming has, with statistics backing that up. I’m the 3% category, as that is how many virgins there are after age 25. That part is really one of the hardest realities to face, especially in Bible Belt America.

        Now, while I would love to have deep relationships and deep friendships in my life, I haven’t really desired to be married in my life since being truly saved. I’ve desired to live for Jesus only, and that’s it. However, most people look at me and say that it’s impossible or insanity. I don’t know where you live at, but in my state, everyone is expected to get married. If you aren’t married with the kids, dog, white picket fence, then you are seriously messing up, friend. You could even say that the requirements to even enter a church is to be married if you’re an adult. Married with kids to boot. That’s the majority of churches I’ve seen including my church, by far. It’s a weird deal to be single, and be single like me. I’m the weirdo misfit, and that leads to a lot of misplaced assumptions. I definitely don’t fit in the world’s box either, and that leads to a lot of misplaced assumptions. Better yet stereotypes. They’re not assumptions, but stereotypes. I hate them all so much.

        The stereotypes about virgins may actually be the worst. I don’t know if girls get it, but I as a guy surely have. I have been called everything under the sun. Let’s get them out the way. I know it to be a bunch of baloney, but it is so hard to block that. Here’s a list of them: I’m not a real man because I haven’t had sex, I’m boring, I’m ugly, I’ve got a bad personality, I’m a prude, I’m missing out on the fun, I’m a Jesus freak who should just marry Jesus. People come up with these weird beliefs about me, all because I’m a virgin. I should just look at them as petty words, but they aren’t for some reason easy to deflect. Maybe deep down I do believe that, and maybe I believe that I’m not a real man and sex will make me that. Maybe I do believe that no one does want me. Maybe it is true I’m a prude. Maybe it’s true I’m boring and ugly. Maybe I am missing out on fun. I don’t know, but it gets under my skin more lately than ever before. I guess I may be starting to believe society’s rules a bit too much. I hate being a virgin in this society. No one thinks of celibacy as a legit practice, besides priests and nuns doing it. They think of someone like me being a virgin at my age, and they think there is something off-putting, ending in a phrase like “You need to get laid”. It’s what I have faced in my life, no lie. At least it’s better than being called gay. Regardless, the point gets put across that you need sex to be normal. Being a virgin isn’t normal. It’s so sad. The world believes that, and what’s worse is that the Christian side has too.

        Sometimes I find my virginity funny. I may actually be the oldest virgin ever in my history. Both my parents weren’t virgins when they got married, as they admitted to me, as were all my relatives. They turned out all right, with no stigmas attached, right? Meanwhile, I am the virgin dealing with the “virgin blues”. Being inundated in a world with sex songs, sexy tv shows, and racy commercials makes me the outsider to it all. It’s so easy to see how most people have had sex in my opinion now looking at that. It’s just not easy, and it’s not easy when you want to be single too. Jesus was tempted all the while, and resisted all the while. I hope to only do the same, and not cave. I just hate how people react to you doing that.

        Again, I could just up and lose my virginity and problem solved, right? But I don’t desire that. I desire to stay a virgin, and I don’t want to change that so long I live. I hope to obey Jesus, who wasn’t married either. I hope to be stay this way, no matter what. I just hate how being a virgin is code word for “can’t get laid” to most. Is that true in my case? Maybe. I’ve never pursued a girl to find out if that’s true. I’ve heard girls turn down guys for being virgins for whatever reason, but never directly to my face. Oh, well. I guess I can’t get laid then, huh? Welcome to my life. I say this knowing I need to work on things and develop more as an adult, but why does sex have to be a part of that? That’s the question I have at the end of the day. Until i guess I’m “missing out on the fun”.

        However, I wish I could find some more celibates. Now, excuse me while I take a celebrate virginity day! I think it’s time we created one. back pat, back pat.

        1. Those were my feelings, and I didn’t even get to the sexual temptation I deal with. Maybe I should write a blog post about this.

        2. Happy virginity day :-). I think you should blog about your struggles. You would be surprised about the number of people who are sharing your experience.
          Sex has been around since the dawn of humans. Its modern day belief that implies if you are not “getting any” then you are missing out on life. In reality, sex is just one aspect amongst many parts of a person’s life.

          1. Yeah, I think I’ll take you up on that offer. In the meantime, I would love to find those who haven’t ever had sex before either. I feel like the only one who hasn’t, from what I see. It’s an isolating feeling. Sometimes I just feel like giving up and joining the club. Actually, that has been what I’ve been feeling for most of my life. Honestly, ever since being 25, I have come into this crisis where I can potentially face not ever having sex the rest of my life. I have a bit of discontentment when thinking about that. I don’t know what to think about that. I feel a bit out of place already in this culture, but being permanently sexless may put me in the world’s “freak zone”. If there are other virgins out there, even older than me, then I would love to hear from them about this. I often hear I’m being a loser for being a virgin so long. It’s defeating to hear it. What’s even more defeating is to believe it sometimes. Maybe if there were more “virgin losers” then I wouldn’t be the only one.

              1. I will say this: Being abstinent only hasn’t really been all too joyous either. There have been things I haven’t experienced that I thought I would love to. For example, I don’t know what a breast feels like, or what they particularly look like up close. I’ve never even come close to that area in my life. I don’t even think I would even know the mechanics of sex either. I am now so inexperienced that I don’t know what to do period sexually, or how to act around a woman relationally. I have girl friends, but never have had a real “girlfriend”.. I’ve been basically sheltered into a little box, a fear-based box designed to keep women away. I live in fear so much, and this may be the biggest one. I mean, I have to face up: My abstinence pledge speaks more to being afraid of girls & sex than it does probably have to honoring the Lord. After all, I know plenty of people who have already had sex, and they do indeed honor God now. They probably have no problems with women, yet I feel like I’m the only one who shows up single all the time at church. I am sure of that. I definitely know the reason for that too. It’s part apathy, and part fear. I don’t care to have a girlfriend, yeah for sure. I’ve given up on that end. However, if I ever did want one, I would be too scared as to where to begin looking. I after all was taught that girls are temptresses lying in wait to be a snare, and I learned early to stay away from them. After all, avoiding pregnancy & STDs and junk. Now I question whether or not after all this time will I ever get to “experience” a woman, and now I’m in a dilemma.

                I still don’t think I want to get married, because I’m just not into it. However, I also have to say, I don’t know whether I would want to basically die a virgin either. I would like to see what I’m missing out for once in my life and actually have it. After all, a real man has sex, right? Maybe it’s right. I don’t know. I just wonder so many times if it’s this state of wonderment that I think sex to be. I wonder if it is like I think it is in my imagination. I guess there would only be one way to find out. Sometimes I can’t imagine not doing that facet. People curious whether I’m gay, and what’s wrong with me, I just don’t know. Maybe I did miss a benchmark of maturity related to this. Is there a first time for everything? Am i too old to still be a virgin? I don’t know. All these questions run in my head all the time. All of it leads me to just one thought people have been saying to me since 17: you need to get laid. Now I wonder if that’s the truth.

                However, even if it’s true, I don’t even know where to begin to have sex. I’ve heard of guys going to prostitutes to deal with their first time, but I wouldn’t want it to just be some screw and be over with, though. I’d want it to be like a real relationship. I have heard of this thing called a girlfriend experience with it being about more than just sex, but it’s like dating and relationship. It still feels like prostitution, but it sounds better than the nothing I have most times. I just don’t know. And for someone who believes premarital sex to be a sin unto God, I find myself in a state of battle. If I never get married, can I be like those who are in their 40s you mentioned of and be celibate? I would love to, but I would love it to not be out of fear. You mentioned you had sex, I know that. You mentioned you don’t regret it either, and that is something I have heard other people say as well. Then there’s myself, and I must say that I do have regrets too. I know sex isn’t everything, but I just don’t know what to think of myself now. I’m behind everyone else in the world for I thought doing what’s right, and now I wonder if I’m going the wrong way. Plus, if people don’t regret premarital sex either, am I truly being the foolish one for waiting until marriage? I find the lines blurring sometimes.

                I just hope my life isn’t a waste because I never had sex, and that the world is wrong about this. I hope I am doing the right thing. Right now, I’m not so sure about either one.

              2. I will say this: Being abstinent only hasn’t really been all too joyous either. There have been things I haven’t experienced that I thought I would love to. For example, I don’t know what a breast feels like, or what they particularly look like up close. I’ve never even come close to that area in my life. I don’t even think I would even know the mechanics of sex either. I am now so inexperienced that I don’t know what to do period sexually, or how to act around a woman relationally. I have girl friends, but never have had a real “girlfriend”.. I’ve been basically sheltered into a little box, a fear-based box designed to keep women away. I live in fear so much, and this may be the biggest one. I mean, I have to face up: My abstinence pledge speaks more to being afraid of girls & sex than it does probably have to honoring the Lord. After all, I know plenty of people who have already had sex, and they do indeed honor God now. They probably have no problems with women, yet I feel like I’m the only one who shows up single all the time at church. I am sure of that. I definitely know the reason for that too. It’s part apathy, and part fear. I don’t care to have a girlfriend, yeah for sure. I’ve given up on that end. However, if I ever did want one, I would be too scared as to where to begin looking. I after all was taught that girls are temptresses lying in wait to be a snare, and I learned early to stay away from them. After all, avoiding pregnancy & STDs and junk. Now I question whether or not after all this time will I ever get to “experience” a woman, and now I’m in a dilemma.

                I still don’t think I want to get married, because I’m just not into it. However, I also have to say, I don’t know whether I would want to basically die a virgin either. I would like to see what I’m missing out for once in my life and actually have it. After all, a real man has sex, right? Maybe it’s right. I don’t know. I just wonder so many times if it’s this state of wonderment that I think sex to be. I wonder if it is like I think it is in my imagination. I guess there would only be one way to find out. Sometimes I can’t imagine not doing that facet. People curious whether I’m gay, and what’s wrong with me, I just don’t know. Maybe I did miss a benchmark of maturity related to this. Is there a first time for everything? Am i too old to still be a virgin? I don’t know. All these questions run in my head all the time. All of it leads me to just one thought people have been saying to me since 17: you need to get laid. Now I wonder if that’s the truth.

                However, even if it’s true, I don’t even know where to begin to have sex. I’ve heard of guys going to prostitutes to deal with their first time, but I wouldn’t want it to just be some screw and be over with, though. I’d want it to be like a real relationship. I have heard of this thing called a girlfriend experience with it being about more than just sex, but it’s like dating and relationship. It still feels like prostitution, but it sounds better than the nothing I have most times. I just don’t know. And for someone who believes premarital sex to be a sin unto God, I find myself in a state of battle. If I never get married, can I be like those who are in their 40s you mentioned of and be celibate? I would love to, but I would love it to not be out of fear. You mentioned you had sex, I know that. You mentioned you don’t regret it either, and that is something I have heard other people say as well. Then there’s myself, and I must say that I do have regrets too. I know sex isn’t everything, but I just don’t know what to think of myself now. I’m behind everyone else in the world for I thought doing what’s right, and now I wonder if I’m going the wrong way. Plus, if people don’t regret premarital sex either, am I truly being the foolish one for being celibate knowing it will probably never end? I find the lines blurring sometimes.

                I just hope my life isn’t a waste because I never had sex, and that the world is wrong about this. I hope I am doing the right thing. Right now, I’m not so sure about either one. My curiosity about experiencing sex makes this the most difficult decision I’ve ever faced.

  2. This is another good post. It has become a little more difficult the older I get, and having to come to the realization that sexual part of me is real, and good, coming from God, and it is an important part of building relationships, in a positive way. This post just hammered that in more, and to trust God for the spouse.

  3. I think I have read most of your blogs in one sitting. Has me thinking so much! Do you have an email that I can message you? Have a few curious questions 😊

Tell Me What You Think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s