How many hundreds of times did you hear this “clever” little poem in elementary school? You would develop a simple little crush on someone, word would leak out, and then suddenly you are listening to others sing this song about you. As annoying as it is, this famous childish chant carries truth to it.
A God-honoring relationship does follow these steps, (though the jury is out on whether or not He would be pleased with K-I-S-S-I-N-G in a tree ~wink~), starting with friendship and love, followed by marriage, then arriving at a sexual relationship, and finishing (or continuing) with procreation.
As someone who remembers what it was like to be so in love and yet so “bound” by the no sex until marriage biblical rule, I deeply empathize with the struggle. A strong physical attraction paired with wedding planning made waiting all the more difficult for us. Then Eric bought a house.
A house! As in no upstairs or downstairs neighbors. (Will these infernal temptations never end?!?!) At times, I hated the “rule.” (God, why are you torturing me?!)
But, as is often the case with life experience, I can see more clearly now why God chose this progression rather than telling us to choose our own path. Sex is not a harmless event we can enjoy and then thoughtlessly toss aside. Its effects remain with us for years – sometimes physically; sometimes spiritually; sometimes emotionally; or, often, a combination of the three. Because God created sex to bring about a physical oneness between a man and his wife, (and I believe also to display to us a glimpse of the ecstasy God’s people will experience in eternity being in His presence), it can significantly burn us when used out of His divine context.
As the saying goes, “A fire in the fireplace (its proper context) warms the home, but a fire outside of the fireplace (outside of its proper context) burns the home to the ground.” Marriage is the proper context.
Why Might He Require Us to Wait?
Have you ever talked to a friend who went against his or her faith and gave in to hormones or pressure from a sweetheart only to deeply regret it later? That is a natural response to climbing over the boundaries God set in place for our safety and emotional well-being. His timeline has a purpose. This side of Heaven, we may never fully understand why He tells us to wait; but, here are a few reasons the sex chapter of the book should come after the marriage chapter.
- Peace. When sex enters a relationship, it is a game-changer. Women often become more needy and fearful. (Is he going to leave me? Is he tired of me? Has he gotten what he wants from me? Is he looking at her?) Men often feel less of a need and desire to woo, cherish, and respect their girlfriends after beginning a sexual relationship – especially if the relationship is centered on sex. Putting the cart before the horse – or, in this case, the consummation before the marriage – creates emotional chaos.
- Safety. Sexually transmitted diseases are everywhere. We were not created to exchange our essences with scores of people. Also, not everyone we think we can trust turns out to be honorable. Date rape is real and difficult to prove. Stay out of compromising situations for your safety. Think of your future (and the future of your future spouse and children).
- Emotional Freedom. Sex makes it so much harder to leave a negative relationship. And, when sexually active dating relationships do end, the grieving process is so much more agonizing. Why? Because two people became one in deed; yet, not in reality. Thus, the break up feels like an emotional divorce. Soul ties can last for years (or, even forever). Do not create a spiritual tie to someone until you are married to him or her. Soul ties do not fall off of you simply because you marry someone else. When you are in bed with your spouse someday, you will not want to be haunted by experiences with exes.
- Focus. The season prior to marriage is the only time you will be free to pursue God and your dreams without also having to consider another person. I Corinthians 7:34b reads, “And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.” (ESV) Reading the end of the book first robs you of this time of focus. Not only does sexual sin create a chasm between us and God, but it also propels us into a marriage-like (minus the security and commitment) relationship that keeps us from making the most out of this season God gave us.
- There is joy in obedience. Even when we do not understand His reasons, we trust His goodness and His sovereignty over our lives. When we obey His word and do what we know pleases Him, there is joy. When we disobey, we receive the consequences of those actions and those consequences are not joyful – they hurt. Three times in the Song of Solomon (2:7; 3:5; 8:4) we are told not to arouse or awaken love until it pleases. Once the fire is lit and that desire awakens, it becomes much harder to remain obedient.
Once sex is a part of the relationship, it is so much more difficult to back track and stop – even when both parties truly desire a fresh start. It is not impossible, but so very difficult. It requires a lot of grace, a lot of determination, a lot of prayer, and a lot of careful and wise planning.
Still, it can be done (and is worth it); and, if you and your significant other have been sleeping together, you can have a fresh start. God does offer forgiveness when we repent and turn away from our sin. You can be cleansed and set free!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9, ESV)
God is a Master Author. Read His Story in Order.
The character, Emma, from the movie Alex and Emma comes to mind. She loved reading the back of books first – much to the horror of Alex, the fiction writer for whom she was transcribing his latest novel. She said, “This is how I read books. If I like the ending, I’ll like getting to it. If I don’t like the ending then I know not to waste my time.”
Many people treat sex and relationships this way. We will have sex and then read what was supposed to happen first. God has never written a bad story because He is good. Even when His stories appear wrong or cruel to us, He is still good. We can only see but so far. He sees all the way from the beginning to the end.
We can trust Him. We know we will enjoy the story if we read it the way He wrote it – first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… well… a lifetime of making up for lost time with your spouse. Wahoo!
Eric and I have been slowly, but surely, working our way through a television series. It is several seasons long and the rule is we can only watch it together. The writing is superb and the written-in suspense is almost more than I can handle some days. I just want to know how it ends! But, I know if I sneak ahead and look, I will be deeply disappointed. The writers meant for the show to unfold in a specific way and if I give in to my curiosity, I will regret it. Can I finish the series even if I already know how it ends? Sure. Will it carry the same pleasure? Nope. Not even close.
There is a blessing in waiting. Just as children enjoy ripping open packages on Christmas morning after waiting all year, guiltlessly enjoying your future spouse’s body will be so worth it after the long wait. Once you are there in the moment, and not strapped with the baggage of regret, you will not be annoyed that you had to wait. You will be thankful that the day has come and that you are free to indulge as much as you want for as long as you both shall live.
God is wise. His rules are for our good and His glory.
What is your story with sexually waiting? (or struggling? or recovering?) [If you feel courageous, share with us in the comments below.]