I said goodbye to my virginity when I was fifteen.
How old were you? If you had it to do over again, would you wait? I would. I knew none of the physical consequences of choosing to have sex early, but I was depressed. I felt like I’d given something precious away and could never have it back. That’s why I’ve devoted my life to spreading the idea that sex is worthy of something more than a casual hookup. Is that a message you want to share with your daughter? Little sister? A friend you’re trying to mentor? Read on, because the news today is better…and worse…than when you were a teenager and I have seven secrets that will reduce the risk in the teen girl you love.
“Good sex comes to those who wait.” That was last week’s claim by Her•meneutics blogger Courtney Reissig. Only, I should clarify that she ended the sentence with a question mark: “Good sex comes to those who wait?” And then her words decried the efforts of the abstinence and purity movement—my efforts, really—charging that we are guilty of “incentivizing abstinence with personal pleasure.”
To her credit, Courtney—whose work I’ve examined rather thoroughly and I’m fairly certain that if we shared a cup of coffee I’d enjoy her and find more common ground that different thinking—cited last year’s New York Times article “In Hookups, Inequality Still Reigns.” The article explained that women report having better sex in committed relationships than those having casual sex. Courtney argued that using studies like this to encourage virginal Christian singles to wait was akin to demanding a “cosmic exchange” with God. My purity now in exchange for great sex later, Ok God? “Promising great sex to those who wait for their wedding day is feeding off of our desire for self-fulfillment, not other-oriented service,” wrote Reissig.
Is it wrong to teach our children and young single adults that there are practical, pleasure-filled rewards in waiting for sex? Are we falling prey to using the world’s model of sex education when we use studies revealing that sex is better inside committed relationships? And—what you really want to know—is sex better if you wait?
This week, I took on water (so to speak) when I suggested that we could use movies like Noah and Heaven is for Real as conversation starters with unbelievers. I expressed this opinion thinking it was rather common in a blog entitled “Hollywood’s Very Good Problem.” I had no idea how furious a handful of people would be with my opinion, and I want to confess that I learned a lot in listening to the hearts of those with other ideas. I even clarified some of my early blog statements and readjusted them as my heart was brought into alignment through confrontation.
Might I share a little more deeply with you what my experience with the Noah movie has led me to believe, and petition you to put your good energies of dissuading people from harmful messages to use? There are two things just bursting to get out of my mind today.
I must begin with this confession: my husband and I invited a small group of friends to go see Noah with us last Saturday night.
“The truth is that God designed sex to be enjoyed within the context of a marriage bed. It’s as simple and as terribly frustrating as that. While it would be nice if there were a caveat for those who never get married, that would deny the sanctity of the act of sex all together wouldn’t it? The marriage bed should be honored by “all,” not just those who have one. (Hebrews 13:4) This is difficult, but true.” (From “How Can I Satisfy My Sexual Desire As A Single Woman?”)
And yet, I promised you when I started this blog series that I’d dig hard and try to find answers to your questions. Specifically, I promised that I’d look for ways that you can meet the five legitimate longings that Dr. Juli Slattery and I wrote about in Pulling Back the Shades. And one of them is this: God created women to long to be sexually alive. A rich theology of sexuality demands a robust desire for sex, and God did not create the boundaries of sexual expression to frustrate us. So, what plan exists to relieve the sexual tension? I think there are four ways that God enables a single woman to have her sexual desires released in a healthy manner.
If you’re conflicted by the fact that you find Johnny Depps’ Captain Jack Sparrow sexy, you’ve come to the right place. The treacherous, badly groomed pirate swoons the hearts of women despite that fact that he’s most likely incapable of sustaining a long-term relationship. (Never mind the fact that he’s fictional.)
Recent studies suggest that women are scientifically attracted to bad boys. Some think this tendency is heightened during ovulation when a woman may subconsciously be more likely to consider how protective a potential mate could be of offspring. (I’m sorry that I just called your future children “offspring.”) (Again, never mind the fact that the bad boy tendancy might make them undependable.)
I think we are, in fact, attracted to the bad boy. But I think the reason is much simpler than science will ever uncover. I’d like to reveal it to you today so you can figure out what to do with your bad boy appetite before you end up with one that might hurt you.