I make no secret about the fact that I am a follower of Christ, one of those people often ridiculed as “born agains,” and I confess that many “Christians” have made the job of calling them hypocrites particularly easy.
My faith shapes my life, drives my political beliefs, and molds how I choose to interact with the world.
But I have a confession that won’t surprise you:
I’m not perfect, as the Prayer of Confession and Pardon says in the United Methodist Church before we accept Holy Communion, I have not loved Him with my whole heart, I have not loved my neighbors, and I have not answered the cries of the needy.
And I am one of those 80% of Christians who had sex before I was married.
In response to Elizabeth Smart’s admission that she can understand why the victims of kidnapping and rape feel no reason to escape their captors, many Christian and non-Christian writers have challenged the church to begin reexamining the way it teaches the importance of only practicing sex inside marriage. I have to agree, but I also think we should be careful not to drop the concept all together.
I can tell you first-hand how much heartache can be avoided. I can list for you, from personal experience, the side-effects of being sexually active at a relatively young age. I can show you the physical and emotional scars of a life lived chasing intimacy outside the security of a healthy marriage.
I reject the notion that my worth, as a woman or as a human-being, is altered by the choice I made to have sex before marriage; to do so would completely ignore the message of Christ as love perfected, forgiveness freely given, and Grace endlessly extended that Christians are supposed to espouse.
But regardless of my religion, if my daughter or son (several, several years in the future… I just got married, and we’re in no hurry to have kids) asks me if I “waited” until I met and married their dad, I’m going to be brutally honest. I’m going to tell them that I didn’t, but those reasons are the very reasons they should.
Because now that I am married I see how much of my young life I spent chasing the false security of the sexual attention of boys, trying to mold myself into an object that would be pleasing to them, instead of concentrating on what would make me the best person I could be.
And that is why I’m going to encourage my kids to wait. Not just because no teenager should have to worry about raising a child, and the opportunities missed in doing so at such a young age, not just because of the danger of disease, and not because I think it would make them dirty and used up.
But because, there is so much more I could have been doing with my young life if I hadn’t been concentrating on filling the holes in my self esteem with the fleeting and shallow chase of boys who didn’t value me first for my intelligence, wit, and work ethic. I felt dirty and used, not because I had violated the “True Love Waits” class I went through when I was 13, but because I was mistakenly searching for emotional security and satisfaction from another person, instead of finding it in myself.
I understand that this view is contrary to the centralization of sexuality that has been adopted by many libertarians lately, and that my story and thought process are going to be criticized, probably even mocked. I am in no way shaming women who made different choices than I wish I had, and I’m not advocating for any law to enforce my views. I simply wish to add a voice to the discussion in our movement that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.