I read this article tonight about Jessa Duggar's pending courtship. It's a great, intelligent article that accurately sums up why this "counterculture" of chastity should get more credit:
"Sexual freedom was a legitimate tenet of the original women's movement, but the Girls Gone Wild climate of today's youth culture is not pro-feminism. It has nothing to do with feminism. The Miley Cyrus arc of "growing up," becoming overtly sexy and proclaiming your independence, is not progressive. Embracing the objectification of women doesn't make you clever. You are still objectified, and that gets to the heart of what I want to teach my kids."
When you choose not to have sex in our culture, you are considered a freak. I won't forget the shock and immediate distancing when I revealed to a blog buddy that I was a virgin. She honestly didn't know how she had accidentally made friends with such a person! It's as though sex is the only legitimate option for how to spend your adulthood. I've always thought that was terribly limiting.
But here's the thing. I've read so many articles about how 1) if you don't have sex before marriage, you are repressed, 2) if you don't have sex early, you will never enjoy it, 3) if you don't have sex before marriage, it's because you are unattractive and 4) if you don't have sex before marriage, you may not be compatible with your spouse. I would like to shout BULLSH## on all counts.
Five years ago, I was operating on faith on the issue. I didn't really know if I could have a "normal" relationship after choosing chastity. I believed that I could. I knew that people had done so in the past, but I had no idea if I could do so with a man who was raised in this culture. I dated enough to have had men proposition me, so I knew I wasn't a hag. I just didn't want to have sex before marriage.
I met my husband. We courted without doing more than kiss (albeit passionately). Both of us were 100% committed to our chastity because that's what it takes to be successful in chastity. I have learned amazing things during our courtship and marriage.
1. Men CAN have self-control. My husband had trained himself to be in control. He didn't turn into a Hulk and tear my clothes off if he got aroused. He backed away, took a minute, and regained control. Men do not have to be oversexed maniacs.
2. Good men don't seduce. My husband asked me frankly where my boundaries were and he never violated them. He knew what I wanted and he NEVER pushed the issue. Even when we disagreed about a limit, he respected me. That's what good guys do. They let the woman make a decision about her body. They don't push her and ridicule and humiliate. It's the woman's body so it's 100% her choice. This is feminism at its finest! Best thing my husband has ever said to me: "Just because I married you doesn't give me a right to your body. We can be together when you're ready, even if that's not the wedding night." Overshare: it was the wedding night. I'm not repressed. (Not really an overshare. Our first child was born almost exactly 9 months later, so the whole world knows that I wasn't a fainting little bride.)
3. Biology gives you pretty good clues before intercourse that everything will be okay in your sexual relationship. No details here, but I knew pretty soon into dating that we would work physically (and we do).
4. Your personality determines more about your sex life than whether or not you "waited" for sex. I tend to be passionate about things. My husband is happy. 'Nuff said. He probably wishes I weren't so fastidious about germs. Too much said.
5. In order to have self-control, you have to eschew some things that tend to cause problems in a relationship, especially pornography and "hookups." Sex has always been about marital intimacy for us so we don't have unrealistic expectations or a past history replete with exploits that our partner will never be able to match. We are just two somewhat-unattractive people doing what people do. Yes, I know that people who like porn and had sexual partners before marriage have successful relationships, but it can cause problems. Not WILL - can.
6. Our relationship is no better or worse than yours. It's true. When I read research on sex, we seem to be completely average. A little better than average in some respects and below average in others. Your relationship is probably the same since that's what "average" means. The important thing is that we are happy with our relationship.
7. When sex is not a focus of your relationship, the relationship becomes the focus. I realize that those who have sex before marriage just "get the sex out of the way" in some ways. They go through that hyper-sexualized period and then they decide if they have a relationship. One way or the other, you have to focus on your relationship eventually, because most of your life as a family will be much more coitus interruptus than impassioned nudity. Sex also doesn't pay bills, parent children, take care of elderly parents, or clean up the back yard. Like it or not, 99% of your life will be spent in non-sexual pursuits, so it's good to know that your partner won't be pouting every time you need to put on clothing and be part of the real world.
I'm not saying anything about whatever sexual course you choose to pursue. Instead, I just want to plant the idea that the stereotype is false. It's possible (and even likely) that choosing virginity before marriage can lead to a perfectly normal and healthy sex life after marriage. It's also possible (and even likely) that those of us who chose not to have sex before marriage aren't missing out on that much and don't regret choosing not to participate in a lifestyle that is unappealing. So, whatever you choose to do about sex, make the choice because it matches who YOU are and respect that the people who chose differently than you did aren't weird or abnormal. 'Nuff said.