Why I don’t date men who are ‘willing’ to save sex for marriage

why i don't date men who are willing to save sex for marriage

[Guest post by Arleen Spenceley: If you’re an unmarried Diva, this article will give you some pretty hard to argue with advice. Arleen’s writing on chastity is not something you read everyday. Even if you are married like me, this is something we should pass on to our friends, daughters, nieces and granddaughters.]

“There’s something I need to tell you,” I said to a man on his couch in a Tampa apartment. He — then in his late 20’s and interested in me — nodded, and waited for me to say it. I, then in my early 20’s, breathed in before I did: “I’m saving sex for marriage.”

I breathed out while he silently processed what I had said. Then he turned his face toward mine and spoke:

“If you want to wait, I’m willing.”

But waiting had never been part of his world. He agreed to abstain from sex with me because he knew that if he didn’t, I wouldn’t date him. He agreed to behave as if he practiced chastity, but was only bound to nonmarital abstinence by my prohibition of nonmarital sex.

He respected my boundary, until he didn’t — until he mocked my decision to save sex and chalked it up to “immaturity,” in effort to manipulate me into changing my mind. He said “no guy will wait that long,” and begged me to break my promise to practice chastity. Instead, I broke up with him. I learned a lot in that relationship, including this:

I’d never date a guy again who was only “willing” to save sex.

Here’s why:

Because I don’t want a man who acts chastely; I want a man who is chaste. We who practice chastity have apprenticeships in self-mastery. We promise to govern our appetites instead of being governed by them. A man who is “willing” to save sex in order to date me isn’t a man who governs his appetites. He’s a man who makes chaste girlfriends do that for him. If I date him, I govern two sets of appetites, which makes me an enabler: he doesn’t have to practice self-mastery if I master him.

Because a man who doesn’t practice chastity doesn’t define sex the same way I do. We who practice chastity believe sex is a sacred, physical sign of the the commitment spouses made to each other on the altar where they were married, ultimately designed to bond them and to make babies. A man who is “willing” to save sex — but would have nonmarital sex if he had my permission — does not by default define sex the way I do. How can we be united by sex in marriage if we can’t agree on the purpose sex serves?

Because a man who would forsake virtue (his or mine) if only I gave him permission is a man whose standards are too low. A man who is “willing” to save sex is a man whose choice to abstain from nonmarital sex likely isn’t underlain by much other than the absence of my consent. He’d be as content — or more — dating a woman who doesn’t practice chastity. But I don’t want to marry a man who settled for a chaste woman. I want a man who wants a chaste woman, who holds a high bar for me because he wants me to become the woman God designed me to be.

Because men are capable of more than the world around them says they are. “No guy will wait that long” is a lie, and boys who are taught that turn into men who believe it. But I hold up a higher bar than that for men because I think my future kids deserve a dad who can reach one, because I believe men can reach one, because I believe God created them able to do it.

 

arleen spenceley on devotional divaArleen Spenceley is author of forthcoming book Chastity is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin, to be released by Ave Maria Press in Fall 2014. She works as a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times and blogs at arleenspenceley.com. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. Follow @ArleenSpenceley on Twitter and click here to like her on Facebook.

 

This post originally appeared on arleenspenceley.com and was used with permission.

 photo credit: Photosightfaces via photopin cc

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Our Need For Intimacy

need for intimacy

[Guest Post by Priscilla Cash – When I got an email from a military wife, I had to say yes. Not just because I support our military, but because I know many military wives and moms who can relate. I hope you are encouraged by her vulnerability and courage to share about intimacy.]

It was not just that I was a woman. It was not just that I had seen too many TV shows or read too many novels.

Deep within, I knew I needed intimacy. It is a profound need. We crave it, we seek it, but it often alludes us. And so, as a teenager, I waited, feeling like there was a deep, vacant hole in my soul.

I have journal entries from those days before I was married, chronicling the loneliness. It brought me closer to Jesus. My relationship with God grew as I looked to Him to fill the void. Even so, I knew that God had something more for me.

A man came into my life and I was swept up into a beautiful and tender romance. I had never imagined anyone being so happy. The love and intimate friendship we shared was unlike anything I had ever known before. We were married late in 2010.

For two and a half years, our relationship grew. Sometimes we argued and hurt each other, but forgiveness and love continued to abound. God blessed us. Then in 2012, my husband, a soldier in the Pennsylvania National Guard, was called up to deploy to Afghanistan. We bravely set about making plans. I slowly transitioned into doing everything at home, while he was away frequently for training. We spent the moments we had together as wisely as we could and prepared for the unknown.

In late summer, my husband left for Texas for four months of pre-deployment training. In January he boarded a plane and left for Afghanistan. His residence became a little combat outpost with weak Internet and poor living conditions. My residence was our small apartment, with his empty shoes left by the door.

Intimacy became a long-distant memory and I struggled to maintain a connection to a man surviving in a world dramatically different from my own.

Intimacy eroded over the months that followed.

By the time my husband came home, nine months later, I had changed. As strange as this may sound, I had grieved when he left and it changed me. I became closed, hard, and tenaciously independent. As much as I tried to understand that my husband had done what he needed to do, I still felt like a dear and intimate friendship had been ripped from me. Now I was lost and unsure where even to begin to put the pieces back together

As our marriage began to struggle, I found myself pushing my husband away. I realized that something needed to change, but I could not force myself to engage, try as I might. It only resulted in me feeling angry, bitter, and broken.

So I began to pray, desperately. My husband began to pray. We talked and talked and talked. And as I came to God, broken, having only enough courage to utter the word, “help,” God began to work. But not in the way that I had expected.

I wanted God to fix me and our marriage, to miraculously zap things back to the way they used to be.

Instead, He drew me to Himself.

I found my deep need for intimacy being nurtured and healed by God’s hand. Whenever anger and bitterness rose their ugly heads, I felt God’s gentle calling, “Priscilla, come back to me. I’m here.”

I still have a long way to go, but seeing God’s hand in my life, touching me deeply where I have needed it the most, has been a life-changing experience for me. No one wants to go through hard times. No one knows exactly how they’ll handle those times when they do arise. But God is always there, touching and healing in intimate ways.

I fear we try to “fix” things much more often than we’re meant too. When we’re supposed to be leaning on God, we’re running around trying to force things to happen and make our lives perfect looking, while deep within, our spirit smothers.

I’ve found that God addresses our need for intimacy by drawing us to Himself first.

Only then, when we’re nestled close to Him, are we free to begin to engage fully in other relationships. If you’re going through something similar, I’d ask you, dear sister, to kneel where you are and hold up closed fists to God. Slowly let your fingers open and give your burdens, one at a time, into His hands. He’s gentle with the sorrowful and the weak and the worn out.

He loves you.
Rich intimacy awaits.

Priscilla CashPriscilla Cash is married to an Army National Guard Soldier, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. She spends much of her time caring for their precious toddler son, keeping their home running and trying to better her skills as a wife, mother, friend, and follower of Christ. When she’s not engaged in the above, you’ll find her reading, freelance writing, crocheting, and bookmaking. You can find her on her blog at priscillacash.blogspot.com.

[photo credit: loungerie via photopin cc]

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When it's Easier to Declare Defeat

declare defeat

[Guest Post by Mara Rose – I am so encouraged by her story because someday if my husband and I decide to have kids I will have to go off my medications, and that will not be easy. I love what she says that God still performs medical miracles. Believe it! Be encouraged today my friends.]

Sometimes it’s easier to declare defeat prior to trying, rather than to try and fail later.

There are so many things that we can worry about in life. And our worries can be amplified when we decide to have children. This past summer, my husband and I decided that we felt ready to start a family. Unfortunately, my ability to carry a child was still questionable.

My issue with doubt and self-defeat stems from 15 years of chronic pain and a questionable reproductive disease known as Endometriosis. I’ve spent years on medications to try and help me function “normally”.

I have often thought that my body should come with an instruction manual. Thankfully my Maker knows the number of hairs on my head, He knows my fears, He knows my desires, He knit me together in the womb, He knows it all.

Yet, I still had doubt.

What would happen to my body if I went off medications? What would happen to my pain if I got pregnant? Not only that, but statistics say women with Endometriosis can take up to 1 year to get pregnant and some aren’t able to conceive at all.

The answers were uncertain — which is when we took a leap of faith and gave it a try.

My first thought after reading the positive pregnancy test was, “Holy cow! This is a miracle.” My second thought was, “I need to talk to my doctor”.

Joking aside, it is incredible to know that despite my doubts and fears — God blesses us anyway!

In the first several weeks of this pregnancy, I was gripped with anxiety and uncertainty. I felt better after speaking with my doctor about how to treat my pain while pregnant, but I still had fear.

One day I was overcome with emotions (and hormones). My husband lovingly took my hand and said, “You aren’t the first person to have chronic pain and be pregnant. Trust God to take care of it.”

Even with the blessing of this miracle baby growing inside me, I was focused on trying to control my pain instead of giving it over to the Lord.

Our baby isn’t here yet but I am already learning so many things about myself through this pregnancy. Everything has improved since my first trimester. There are still challenging pain and energy days, but I’m learning to cope with it. Most importantly, I have to say that my faith in the Lord has grown immensely. He showed me that His Plan and His Power is far greater than any statistic or prognosis.

No matter what your doctor has told you, medical miracles still happen every day! Believe it.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:4-7, NIV).

Mara_RoseMara Rose is an up-and-coming author and Christian writer. She has endured years of chronic pain and strives to be a light for Jesus even on the darkest days. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Jonathan, who serves in the military and is an OIF Veteran. You can read more from Mara on her blog,wordsbymara.com, or on Twitter @MsMaraRose.

[photo credit: lanuiop via photopin cc]

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A Happy You Comes Before a Happy Wife

happy wife

[Guest Post by Arlene Pellicane – I just love the question she asks because so many women ask it before getting married. Now that I AM married, I can honestly say she speaks the truth! Don’t be afraid to wrestling with this question yourself, and be encouraged today!]

Have you ever met someone who thought her happiness was dependent on getting married?

I remember being in my twenties, dateless, without a speck of hope when it came to romance.  But I always believed that a happy me preceded a happy wife.

In other words, if I couldn’t be happy alone, I couldn’t be happy with someone either.  I love the story John Maxwell shares in his book Make Today Count. He and his wife Margaret had been married for a few years. He was speaking at a pastor’s conference and she was presenting a session for the spouses. He writes:

During the Q and A time, a woman stood up and asked, “Does John make you happy?”  I have to say, I was really looking forward to hearing Margaret’s answer. I’m an attentive husband, and I love Margaret dearly. What kind of praise would she lavish on me?

“Does John make me happy?” she considered. “No, he doesn’t.” I looked to see where the closest exit was. “The first two or three years we were married,” she continued, “I thought it was John’s job to make me happy. But he didn’t. He wasn’t mean to me or anything. He’s a good husband. But nobody can make another person happy. That was my job.”

A happy you has to exist before there can be a happy wife.

Happiness begins with a choice you make. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t only decide what you are going to eat for breakfast. You decide whether you’re going to be irritable or even keeled, cheerful or melancholy.  An attitude isn’t thrust upon you. You have the great honor of choosing how you will respond on any given day – whether married or not.

Happiness in marriage can be found in some counter-intuitive places. Through serving your spouse instead of waiting for him to serve you. Through seeking God instead of seeking your own good. Through make wise choices instead of waiting for great circumstances.

It’s not up to your husband, your address, or your circumstances to make you happy.

You are the one who ultimately makes the decision to choose joy. When you place your hope in your marriage to make you happy, you will be disappointed. But when you put your hope in God, you will find enough joy in Him to last you a lifetime.

As you look around, you see a lot of people singing the blues about marriage. Becoming a happy wife seems impossible on many days. Yet this desperation is where hope can really shine.

Is it really possible to have joy on a regular basis in your marriage?
Can you really be happy in your current situation?

If you are married to a decent man who is not abusive, I am here to tell you that happiness can indeed start with you.  But you must begin by placing your hope in God.

Question:  Who are you counting on to bring you joy? What unrealistic expectations might you have for what your husband will do for you? 

*Today’s blog is an excerpt from 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife (Harvest House, 2014).

Arlene Pellicane 600x600jpgArlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.  You can visit her website at www.ArlenePellicane.com Arlene lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children.

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Walking the Plank

walking the plank

Transition throws me for a loop every time – silly, of course.

We all know that the only constant in life is change. But somehow my longing for comfort and control gets me to settle into a place with a deep, satisfying sigh. Close my eyes. Take a break from watchfulness. Then everything tips and I find myself rolling sideways, stumbling down a new ramp of transition. Looking for a new normal.

Some transitions are instantaneous.

In 2003 my husband collapsed on his favorite street in San Diego, Shelter Island Drive, just outside the bank. From that moment on, he never drove his truck, never wrote a check, dialed a phone, made love, or flipped a pancake. Everything changed and I spent eight years catching up.

Other transitions are expected.

The kids grow up and launch their own lives, families, children, careers. They are navigating their own transitions without me. The family home is sold. I live alone.

What I didn’t expect was the final step in another, slow, insidious change that I’m just now having to acknowledge. Over the course of Mike’s long illness, I had to let go of my online bookstore, localauthors.com, which had kept me in the loop of writing and writers.

I published my ninth book in 2002, Conscience of the Community, the memoir of the Rev. George Walker Smith. I’ve written a couple since then, but that was the last one published.  It may always be the last one published. There might never be a tenth, and my writing career may be over.

I was making a comfortable salary in communications and as a political advisor, then $10,000 less after a layoff. Then another layoff three weeks after my husband died. Then $30,000 less at a temp job. Then unemployment; then the end of unemployment.

In three years, it appears my working career has also slipped away.  Along with it has been a precise and surgical removal of my self-reliance, replaced by utter dependency on God’s grace.

It’s scary to be lonely and disregarded by others when status and recognition have been a part of my identity as a writer, a worker, a woman.

How I want to cling to them and scrape up some remnant of the career I’ve had, to stave off fear. Because the biggest challenge of aging and poverty is fearing that no one cares. It’s the core fear of each of us, really, at any age and in any transition. Some days I feel like I am walking the plank.

Alongside the highway of transition are neon signs, flashing with audacity at my fear. God Loves You! God Cares for You! God is Strong When You are Weak!

These words have illuminated my road for most of my life. But walking down this slow path that winds to the bottom of my ramp of loss, I see a new sign, handwritten on a simple plank.

You are mine.

It makes me smile. I am seeing the Lord provide for my daily bread. He is sustaining my health. He has given me time to ponder and read and know him. This transition may be the best yet.

Francine PhillipsFrancine Phillips is an author, journalist and poet from La Mesa, California. She has an M.A. in marriage and family counseling from Denver Theological Seminary and teaches Bible study groups. Francine has raised seven children in a blended family and is now a widow.

[Photo: Simon Blackley via photopin cc]

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New eBook Loves Me Not

Fisher COVER - Loves Me Not

I wrote a new eBook entitled Loves Me Not: Heartbreak & Healing God’s Way that released on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords on May 6th for only 2.99!

If you’ve read Not Another Dating Book, you’ll notice I don’t talk about my story. That’s because it wasn’t until after I submitted my manuscript to Harvest House that I met my husband Marc.

That’s why I’m excited to release my follow up with features including:

+ Why Guarding Your Heart Isn’t Enough
+ Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends”?
+ Desperate Singles
+ Breaking Up With “The One”
+ Why Changing Your Significant Other Won’t Work
+ The Right Way To Breakup
+ How To Handle A Breakup
+ How To Be Your Own (Single) Person
+ Why Breakups Are Hard
+ He (Jesus) Loves You!
+ How I Met My Husband Marc

Thanks to those who let me guest post or wrote a review of their own. Please feel free to read my articles and others reviews on Loves Me Not below:

+ Where’s the ‘up’ in breaking up? ~ Laura Anderson Kirk
+ Guarding Your Heart Isn’t Enough ~ Ronel Sidney
+ How To Be Your Own (Single) Person ~ Church 4 Chicks
+ Loves Me Not: Heartbreak and Healing God’s Way {A Book Review} ~ Brenda Rogers
+ Love Me Not ~ Pam Farrel
+ Healing From Heartbreak ~ iBelieve
+ He (Jesus) Loves You ~ Jenny LaBahn
+ Loves Me Not (Review) ~ Sarah Francis Martin
A Letter to My Former Self ~ Rebekah Snyder
Can boys and girls be just friends? ~ Laura L. Smith
+ Five reasons to read Loves Me Not ~ Arleen Spenceley
+ How To Be Your Own (Single) Person ~ Emily McFarlan Miller
+ He (Jesus) Loves You ~ Krista Back
Why Breakups Really Hurt ~ Angela McNeil
+ Doing Relationships God’s Way ~ Rachel L. Berry

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Living Together Before Marriage

living together before marriage

[Guest Post by Ruth Rutherford] – Picture this, ladies: You’ve been dating an amazing guy for a while now and things are going perfectly.

He is sweet, funny, smart and driven. When he looks at you, his eyes sparkle. When he smiles at you, your heart melts. And, most importantly, he really, truly loves God. You pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming because (deep breath) you think you’ve found the one.

You spend nearly every waking moment together, often falling asleep in one another’s arms while watching the latest Redbox release. Rustled awake by a nearby car alarm, you look at the clock near his couch and it says 2 a.m. You both groan as you slip on your shoes and coat, and crawl toward the door, secretly wishing you could both just crawl into his bed instead.

The subject of your future together starts to come up more often.

You talk about marriage.

You talk about where you might live.

You talk about finances, which turns into quite the Debbie Downer dinner topic.

Between his car payment and your student loans and both your apartment rent payments, money is tight. The math tells you to move in together. You’d only pay rent once, could share a car, and would see each other more often. And, hey, you could even read the Bible together every morning over coffee!

Although you feel a bit uneasy about it, the logic is there.

And you do love him with all your heart, and plan to marry him. So, why not? Why should you abide by some archaic, Christian dating guideline from days of yore? It’s 2013.

Times have simply changed.

And you’d be right to think that–times sure have changed. But that doesn’t mean that many of the guidelines around faith and relationships aren’t still incredibly relevant.

It’s like your mom used to tell you when you got too close to the stove: “Hot! Don’t touch!”

You were curious, drawn to the gas flame like a moth to a front porch light. But you, with your inquisitive streak, just wanted to touch. What your mom knew that you didn’t is this: If you’d just wait a few more minutes, you could taste what was cooking and actually enjoy it…without getting hurt.

So here you are–older, more mature, but with that same inquisitive streak.

The man you love–who you want to spend forever with–is inviting you to live together with him.

In his apartment.

In his space.

In his arms every single morning.

Sigh. It’s hard to resist. The upsides are clear. Yes, you would save money. Yes, you’d spend more time together. Yes, you would learn more intimate details about each other and grow closer. But don’t be blinded by the heat of the moment, by the lure of the flame.

I can tell you with complete certainty–and with many friends’ experiences to back me up–that there are, indeed, downsides. And they are dangerous.

Living together will open the door to experiences reserved for husbands and wives.

The intimacy you’ll share will be beautiful, but will come with a level of commitment that can be scary. And without marriage vows to hold you together, it will be way too easy to simply walk away when the going gets tough, leaving your heart in the balance. And if you’re trying to save yourselves for marriage sexually, you’re acting as your own worst enemy by tearing down all practical boundaries against temptation.

If he’s the one for you, and if you’re the one for him–you both deserve the commitment.

Notice the operative word here is “the”– the commitment, as in marriage. You both deserve to hear that mutual promise from the other, and to act on it.

When it comes to living together before marriage, hear me when I say, in my best mom voice: “Hot! Don’t touch!” Just wait a little while longer.

What you’ll taste in a loving, committed marriage relationship will satisfy any curiosity you have over what kind of toothpaste he uses or whether he wears boxers or briefs in bed. It’ll satisfy your curiosity as to what true, patient, sacrificial commitment is all about.

And most importantly, it’ll protect your heart for the long haul.

ruth rutherfordA freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., Ruth Rutherford (@ruth_rutherford) enjoys blogging about faith and life as a Christian single. She hopes her words will inspire others (and herself) to embrace their place today, instead of obsessing over tomorrow (ikissedmydategoodnight.com).

[Photo: .nate, Creative Commons]

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On Dating: Should We Talk About Sex?

love

[Guest Post by Lisa Velthouse] – Should we talk about sex?

If so, when?

And how?

And what is OK to say, and what isn’t?

And what, oh what, would our youth pastors think if they heard us now?

Christians in a dating and marrying world are typically aware that the Bible’s teaching on sex reserves it for a married husband and wife.

They are often also aware that the Bible celebrates married sex unabashedly.

Song of Songs, anyone?

As to the practical implications of all that, however, the clarity quickly fades into big questions and big confusion.

But let’s get our grounding here, and begin by remembering that the Bible is not about sex. The Bible teaches about sex and talks about sex, and we all would be wise to listen and obey its teaching. But what the Bible is aboutis not a what.

It is about who.

About Jesus, the perfect one who died under the complete weight of our sinfulness. About God, whose love was and is the engine for total forgiveness and joy. About anybody and everybody else, whom God loves and whom Jesus died for and whom didn’t and can’t and won’t deserve it.

Sex is a secondary issue at best. But that doesn’t mean sex isn’t worth talking about.

In fact, talking about sex is one way to dig out from the confusion, questions, frustration, and guilt that often surround this issue. Here are four ways to talk about sex before getting engaged.

1. Talk with God.

It has to start here. Ask for his strength to help you be obedient and to find joy in obedience, and for his grace to forgive you in your disobedience. Get to know the good news of his love, and understand that it means no obedience can bring you any more deserving of him, and no disobedience can make you out of his reach.

2. Talk with a trusted friend within the Church.

Have someone in your life who knows the gritty details of your life, including what role sex has played in it. It’s probably ideal that this person be of the same gender.

Admit your failures and be honest about temptation.

Ask the friend to encourage you in the gospel, reminding you that obedience is beautiful and that God is not surprised by the presence of sin in any person.

3. Talk with the person/people you’re dating or considering dating.

Yes, talk from the very beginning. Agree together that God’s plan for sex is best, and work toward obedience in that direction. From experience, in this phase of a relationship it helps to talk minimally about sex. Treat it as something that is genuinely off the table for the time being.

Focus on other ways to connect: communication, affection, conflict resolution, time together. If your relationship moves to marriage, those connecting points will be part of what promotes a great sex life for life.

Note: If you can’t agree together upon the importance of honoring God’s plan for sex, then, biblically speaking, you have bigger issues to deal with, and they’re about things far more foundational than sex.

God’s authority and goodness, for starters.

4. Talk with the person you’re engaged to.

Now you know that sex is going to be a part of the picture, so begin looking in that direction as you prepare more and more for an actual marriage.

Practice celebrating the idea that sex is for marriage: looking ahead together and gearing up for the lifetime of experiences that will be uniquely yours. Encourage each other in obedience; this discipline will be useful and beneficial for the entire life of your relationship. Begin talking about specifics, not to experiment prematurely but to hone your expectations together and to anticipate serving each other selflessly.

Look forward to what the two of you don’t yet have—the waiting is a bliss worth relishing.

Lisa Velthouse is the author of Saving My First Kiss and the 2010 memoir Craving Grace. Formerly Brio magazine’s “Brio Girl” and columnist, she has also been a contributor at RELEVANTmagazine.com, Christianity Today, and other venues. Lisa is a Marine Corps wife and a new mom living in Southern California. Find her at lisavelthouse.com, at her Facebook fan page, and on Twitter: @LisaVelthouse.

[Photo: Grace E. Jones, Flickr]

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Can you talk about sex?

(c) Desiree Shuey Photography, Design by Renee Fisher

If you’re a Christian, can you talk about sex while you’re dating or thinking about getting engaged?

No, seriously I want to know.

I wrote in Not Another Dating Book, “We dare to dream of the day when that guy or girl is going to walk into the room and change our lives forever. But what happens when he or she does? What if those feelings of unworthiness…don’t go away?”

This time last year, Marc and I were getting pretty serious. I knew the long exciting road that was ahead of me. We would probably get engaged and soon. There would be ring shopping dates. Talks of buying a house. We’d sit and talk about our future life together.

But…We hadn’t had the sex talk yet.

What about birth control? For how long? How many children? When?

I always thought of marriage as the culmination of my dream to have sex with one man for the rest of my life. Call me crazy, but I waited for this. I longed for it. I kept myself pure.

Here was this amazing guy kissing me.

Tiny butterflies escaped through my pours every time I was around him. And when I wasn’t, I was thinking of him. Whenever he touched me. Kissed me. Held me.

I knew I couldn’t wait much longer.

My biggest fear suddenly wasn’t about finding a guy to love me anymore. I had the guy, now what?

I cannot tell you how grateful I was to have spent all those years as a saangle (really, really single) girl working on my insecurities-because if there was a time when I dealt with them the most–it was before we got engaged.

Because of my history of health problems, I started my search to finding the right birth control for me before we got engaged. I knew it would take a while, and unfortunately that process was a nightmare. Some pills made me feel like I was going insane. Others made my blood sugar spike. I felt drugged. Tired. Not even interested in sex (which is only good when you’re not married).

I was scared I would even be able to take it at all.
I was afraid we’d have children right away.

Sex is something most Christians do not discuss–and that is why I am talking about it as freely as I can.

I know I had many questions.
I needed someone I could trust.

Thankfully, God brought a new friend into my life who had just gotten married about a year before me. She was so patient and walked me through the entire process. She never made me feel embarrassed or ashamed for badgering her with many questions. Even on my honeymoon she was gracious and walked me through some of my questions and fears.

It’s amazing how the enemy made me feel so worthless that I had saved sex for marriage!

No matter how scared or excited I felt about our future–I knew I needed to trust God with all aspects of our relationship–including sex. When I say I made it to my wedding night it wasn’t because I didn’t care or love my future husband–it was because of a commitment I made a long time ago to honor God with my body and marriage.

I’d love to say that everything was perfect the first night of our honeymoon. Wrong. Somebody gave us both the flu, and I had a sinus infection to top it all off. (Planning a wedding is stressful). Was it best sex ever on the first try? Not even close.

Whoever said sex was easy and “Hollywood” lied to me.

Eventually the sex got better. Much, much better.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I know my story is just one way of looking at sex.

Every story is different. Maybe your feelings of unworthiness go much deeper than just “sex.” No matter what your beliefs and feelings about sex are–it’s important to address them with your significant other before getting engaged. Don’t assume. Ask questions! Seek the council of someone you trust if you’re not sure how to have the sex talk. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.

If you have any questions about sex please contact me, renee [at] devotionaldiva [dot] com. If I can’t answer your question, I can at least put you in touch with someone or resources that can help!

SUGGESTED PRE ENGAGEMENT QUETSIONS:

*Do you find it hard to say what you really feel about sex?
*Do you know your expectations for sex in marriage?
*Do you know your significant other’s expectations when it comes to sex in marriage?
*What forms (if any) of birth control will be used? For how long? By whom?
*Do you have someone you trust that you can ask questions before/after marriage?
*What things will most taint your sex life? Do you struggle with pornography? Have you? Does/Has your partner?
*What things do you believe sex is intended to teach us in marriage?
*What distracts you from cleaving to your mate?
*Is “kinky” (inappropriate or impure) sex in marriage permissible? Why or why not?

FOR MORE PRE ENGAGEMENT QUESTIONS

Join my monthly newsletter to download Pre Engagement Questions eBook for FREE.

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Fifty Shades of Virginity

(c) Leif Brandt Photography

[Guest post by Arleen Spenceley] – In the twenty miles between my house and my office, there are at least six strip clubs.

As I write this, ‘Magic Mike’ – a movie about a male stripper – has been in theaters a week and has grossed an estimated $63,322,000.

Fifty Shades of Grey is novel about a woman who gives her virginity to a guy whose version of sex is violent and demeaning. It is now a New York Times bestseller.

All this is to say I was not surprised that when my own grandmother learned that I am a virgin, her eyes were wide and her surprise obvious when she fumbled for the words:

“You are?”

It’s true. I am a 26-year-old virgin by choice.

A study published in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics says about 97 percent of men and 98 percent of women ages 25 to 44 aren’t virgins. I am what I call a two-percenter. One of few who hasn’t “done it,” in a world where “everyone’s doing it,” where the primary purpose of sex is pleasure, sexual compatibility is paramount, where people are surrounded by exploitative sexual images, are taught that infatuation is love and, so, are confused by it when somebody wants to save sex for marriage.

This is a world where people say stuff like this to me:

“Don’t you want to learn what you like in sex, and whether you’ll get that from a guy, before you agree to marry?”
“If it turns out the sex isn’t good, it’ll be really difficult to stay loyal.”
“Do you really want to ruin your wedding night that way?”

True story.

I understand the concern, because we live in a world where the quest in relationships–clearly–is primarily for intuitive sexual compatibility, underlain by our culture’s first loves: uninterrupted satisfaction and effortless gratification. This is a world that says sex is recreational, and a bodily function like eating or breathing, and that it’s only good when it doesn’t require patience, practice or communication. Sex, the world says, is for pleasure.

And so I understand why my fifty shades of virginity strikes the world as absurd. It is absurd to wait, if the purpose of sex is pleasure.

But I have news for the world.

We who save sex for marriage aren’t waiting to have the same kind of sex the world is having. We will never have that kind of sex.

For us, the purpose of sex is procreation and unity. We believe we are not designed to decide to unite with someone because the sex is “good.” We are designed to create a unique, pleasurable sexual relationship with the person with whom we are already united in marriage.

The person about whom we asked (and got good answers to) questions like these:

“Is this person spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, socially and financially prepared to be a spouse?”
“Does my relationship with this person draw me closer into Christ or drag me farther from Him?”
“Does the world need a future kid who grows up and turns into this person?”

Instead of asking questions like these:

“Am I initially and consistently gratified by sex with this person?”
“Do this person’s body parts meet my standards?”
“What do I get out of agreeing to be with this person?”

This is not because we don’t think sex should be pleasurable (we do, and it should). It is not because we don’t think sex is important (we do, and it is). It is because a culture that deplores sex if it requires patience, practice and communication – a culture more concerned with being prepared for a wedding night than with being prepared for a marriage -has gravely missed the point.

The world says “marriage is just a sheet of paper” and it “never lasts.” But the world doesn’t see this:

That marriage requires a definitive love and a rejection of the use of a person. It is designed to result in the epic, beautiful, necessary and mutual destruction of self absorption. It is intended to be a reflection of Christ’s covenant with the church.

That if you are unwilling to be patient, to practice and to communicate in sex, odds are good you are unwilling to be patient, to practice and to communicate in other parts of your relationship (or will be after awhile).

That for people who reject definitive love, resist the eradication of self absorption and are unwilling to be patient, to practice and to communicate in relationships, the world is right:

A marriage is just a sheet of paper. And when it is, it will not last.

Arleen Spenceley is a Roman Catholic Christian, a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times and a grad student studying rehabilitation and mental health counseling at the University of South Florida. She can think, write and talk about sex, relationships, social media, communication and the impacts of American culture on Christianity for hours. Click here to read her blog.

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