BUSTED: Three myths people use to promote premarital sex.

In 2009 and 2012, I wrote essays for the Tampa Bay Times about why I’m saving sex for marriage—essays that sparked impassioned reactions. Some feedback came from readers who agreed that saving sex is a good idea. Other feedback came from readers who shared why they think premarital sex is better.

But their reasons—which still show up in my inbox—have this in common:

They’re myths.

Today, we bust them:

Myth 1: “You should have sex with the people you date because you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first.” It is true that one would not buy a car without test driving it. It is also true that cars are objects, and that a person who owns a car is supposed to use it. But people are not cars. We’re not objects. A married person is not supposed to use his or her spouse. A married person is supposed to participate in “total mutual self-giving” (CCC 1644), and to exemplify the “absolute and unfailing love” God has for us (CCC 1604). The need for a test-drive, when the quest is for a car, exists because we have to see that the means (a car) serves its purpose. The need for a test-drive, when the quest is for a spouse, is a myth, because a person who treats a spouse like a means to an end is a person who doesn’t love.

Myth 2: “You should have sex with the people you date or wedding night sex will be awkward.” Or underwhelming. Or just plain bad. This myth—that we ought to have premarital sex so sex isn’t uncomfortable on our wedding nights—implies that the quality of wedding night sex is paramount, and that how immediately sex is pleasurable is what determines its quality. This myth requires a person’s focus to be on preparedness for a wedding night. It perpetuates the misguided belief that physical pleasure is what makes sex good. It isn’t. Unity makes sex good. Procreation makes sex good. That it feels good is an added bonus. Sex that isn’t immediately pleasurable requires a couple to use teamwork and communication and patience—skills a couple uses to practice chastity while they date, skills fostered when we prepare for marriage rather than just for a wedding night.

Myth 3: “You should have sex with the people you date because you need to know you are sexually compatible.” This myth wouldn’t be a myth if sex were static. But it isn’t. Even secular sex columnists agree (“Most people don’t start out very good (at sex),” one wrote; sex “skills” are learned, wrote another.) And indeed they are, with communication, practice, and patience. Which outs what actually underlies this myth: The quest isn’t for sexual compatibility. It’s for effortless sexual compatibility. Sexual compatibility can be achieved within a marriage over time, but our culture seeks compatibility that’s effortless because that sort of sex would not require what we are far too quick to avoid: work. A marriage doesn’t have to be doomed for newlyweds who discover that the sex isn’t effortless; instead, it can be fortified, when a groom and a bride agree to learn together.

Why the world says it’s ok to learn with each other before you’re married but not ok to learn with each other after you’re married remains a mystery. #Facepalm.

________________________________

arleen fall 2013Arleen 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. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. She blogs at arleenspenceley.com and tweets @ArleenSpenceley. Click here to like her on Facebook.

 

84 Comments

  1. its good u’ve shut up that thought premarital sex is a must.Continue educating us.

    By emmanuel juma | 3 years ago Reply
  2. Myth #1 always makes me laugh in a “do you really understand what you’re saying” kind of way. You’re literally telling the person you profess to love that they are like a used car. Unreal.

    Great stuff as always!

    By Scott Spinola | 3 years ago Reply
    • Agreed! Thanks for the feedback, Scott.

      By Arleen | 3 years ago Reply
    • There’s actually an even easier rebuttal-
      I don’t treat my girl like my car; I all my friends get to ride in my car

      By Alex | 3 years ago Reply
  3. I agree with all of these…esp #3! I was talking to an older woman a few months ago about what people say on #3 and she point blank told me, “Well why do you think sex books and sex therapists are for? So back in the day we could all figure it out after marriage.” She didn’t need to convince me but she did make a good point 🙂

    By Beth Anne | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Thanks for this sharing sister, that was a good one, especially the quotings from CCC! one man one woman!!
    God loves you!!

    By Matt Pratt | 3 years ago Reply
  5. This essay is excellent, because it expresses timeless Truths so logically. Ms. Spenceley makes total sense. Good job.

    By Tom Quiner | 3 years ago Reply
  6. Thank you very much for sharing, especially for the first myth because people usually use objects as means of trying to explain that premarital sex is good.
    Thank you again!

    By Katlego Rabuti | 3 years ago Reply
  7. Myth #2 reminds me of my mother’s story about her wedding night. They got married on a weekday right before Lent and by the time the reception was over and they could go to bed it was the wee hours of the morning. They did not have sex on their wedding night. They were so tired that they just went to bed. They came back from a week long honeymoon and had a square dance. Mom was pregnant within three months. They were married for 60 years until my mother’s death and had 12 children, 11 born successfully and still living. Having great sex on one’s wedding night is definitely NOT a prerequisite to a great marriage. My mother actually recommended to her children that they consider skipping sex that first night of marriage as they would be tired and stressed and that is never the best state to do that activity. The advice has worked out well so far for our generation–with marriages into their second, third and fourth decades and counting. A few (luckily not most) of the following generation have tried with ‘living together’ before marriage and they have not fared so well, suffering physical abuse, broken relationships and even a divorce.

    By Ruth B. | 3 years ago Reply
    • My friends did the same thing. They were so tired that night that they waited two to three days into their honeymoon before engaging in first time sex. I wish I would have waited myself Even though I have a beautiful 9 and a half year old daughter. Great essay!

      By Ryan Rhynard | 3 years ago Reply
  8. Excellent. People tell me I live in the dark ages because I share these views about premarital sex. My kids are adults so they say my views are archaic. If society would reach abstinence until marriage so many couples would have a healthy respect and understanding For marriage and how sex enhances marital unity as we grow into our marriages.

    By Sandye | 3 years ago Reply
    • If you live in the U.S. and are as honest as you pretend to be, you would admit that many schools are in fact teaching abstinence until marriage, which my tax dollars fund, just as my tax dollars are paying for the thousands of newly HIV+ young adults who will need to take antiretroviral medications for life. But you aren’t interested in honesty here. You’re just seeking to complain about the private behavior of other people who are not you and are not related to you. More to the point, those of us who came of age before the current taxpayer-funded abstinence-only education boom, and who received medically correct information about safer sex and harm reduction are far less of a threat to the citizens of the U.S. than those who have no clue about protecting themselves from STDs because they attended religious indoctrination sessions masquerading as factually honest and correct information. The option you prefer is killing people, including those who “saved” themselves for marriage to people whose sex ed classes consisted of religious indoctrination and who therefore acquired completely avoidable lifelong infections like HIV and Hep C.

      By Ali | 3 years ago Reply
  9. This was a great and very reassuring article. As a junior in college, peer pressure when it comes to pre-martial sex is at an all time high. I struggle often with chastity and this was definitely what I needed to read. I know I’m on the right track and God is working miraculously in my life. God Bless!

    By Sara Garza | 3 years ago Reply
    • So glad to hear this, Sara. You indeed are on the right track!

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
  10. These are fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing. I have had premarital sex many times. Infact I have two kids because of premarital sex. However I have practiced abstance for 4 years and continue to wait until my wedding day. So even though I’m not a virgin these words help me keep the law of chasity. Thank you!

    By Meg | 3 years ago Reply
    • Awesome, awesome, AWESOME. 🙂 Thanks for sharing that.

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
  11. Woowhooo myth busters: Catholic edition! Thanks for writing such a superb article!

    By Hannah Pavalko | 3 years ago Reply
  12. ummmm…casual sex and unplanned pregnancy couldn’t possibly be related. Nothing to see….move along.

    By Mark Kimble | 3 years ago Reply
  13. Great Article!

    I remember my pastor once talked about these and his points almost exactly align with yours.

    I do remember a metaphor that he used for Myth 1, though, and that was, “You wouldn’t test-drive a toothbrush.”

    It really strikes me the extent of the excuses that people fabricate these days solely for the sake of justifying what immoral wishes they happen upon.

    By Jessen | 3 years ago Reply
  14. Thanks for this article. Really helps me counter arguments that propagate the myths! The world needs to hear the truth 🙂 God bless u sis!

    By Leo | 3 years ago Reply
  15. This was an atom bomb … esp the test drive one ….. 😀 thanks 😀

    By Rejath | 3 years ago Reply
    • Hahah, thank you!

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
  16. Great and affirming post here. May God continue to use you as His instrument to share this truth to the world. God bless your heart! 🙂

    By Eric Paraguya | 3 years ago Reply
  17. In order to give opinions on this subject, you have to had sex before marriage. Arleen has no idea because she never experienced both. Not a good article. Teaches the readers nothing. I laughed at her myth busters.

    By Blake Arambula | 3 years ago Reply
    • Refer to Jake’s comment below.

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
    • that was a lousy ad hominem if I’ve ever heard one. Have you ever killed someone in cold blood? id not I guess you can’t say it’s wrong.

      By Michael | 3 years ago Reply
    • If you see the car ahead of you driving into a pothole, Do you have to experience falling into it in order to decide to drive around it?

      By Alma | 3 years ago Reply
  18. I am constantly hearing #1 and #2 all the time. Especially #2. I’ve never been able to find the right words to explain why those myths are wrong. Now I know how to tell them in a way that they will understand.

    By Albert Tsakanikas | 3 years ago Reply
  19. Absolutely loved it!
    Feels great to know there are young Catholics out there who think along the same lines as me 😀

    By Ash | 3 years ago Reply
  20. What bothers me about this article is that it claims to “bust” these “myths” about premarital sex, but all it’s really doing is disagreeing on opinions with other opinions. There’s no facts, no studies, no actual “proof.” Where are the studies that have found that waiting until marriage to have sex makes a couple happier, more likely to stay together, etc? Oh, that’s right, there Aren’t any…

    By Nikki | 3 years ago Reply
    • Great article! Mostly great comments too; however I’d like to disagree with Blake who commented that one has to have had sex before marriage to give opinions. I have never been hit by a bus, or stabbed, or had cancer, or a plethora of other bad things, and yet I can have the opinion that these activities are not fun, and are not beneficial to my good health without experiencing them.

      Also, with regard to Nikki’s comment about how there are no facts to back up these arguments, I think that our own observations in day to day life can tell us a lot about trends. For instance if I saw someone poke a bees nest with a stick when I was 5 years old, then I would not need studies or scientific evidence to tell me that poking a bees nest is bad. In the same way, I can make observations about married couples based on their actions. On a larger scale, we know that premarital sex is a much more common thing these days than it was years ago, and so is divorce (divorce=unhappy marriage). So yes there are no studies yet that I am aware of, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t use our brains to make observations (after an important part of the scientific method that studies often use is observation), and notice correlations in data which doesn’t necessarily mean that one thing causes the other, but definitely is evidence.

      By Jake | 3 years ago Reply
    • Read the book “Hooked” it is all scientific proof on why premarital sex is unhealthy and damaging to an individual.

      By Jessie | 3 years ago Reply
  21. Well said!

    By Scott | 3 years ago Reply
  22. Thank you for writing this up. I definitely intend to link this to a few people. God bess!

    By Kendra Hutchison | 3 years ago Reply
  23. Even though this topic has roots in Christianity, I really appreciate the use of secular logic in these arguments. Thanks for giving an explanation above and beyond “God said so.”

    By Rae | 3 years ago Reply
  24. My family is conservative and my mom wanted me to stay a virgin till I marry. I didn’t know why. I was so eager to try it out and find out whats the buzz all about. Once I did, I realized that sex with someone is a serious thing. And the consequences after is too much and too heavy to bear if one is not married to the guy. Birth control pills, STI check ups. Its a big big hassle. I finally realized that I should wait till I’m married. And this article is so true! Too bad I couldn’t give my future husband my first. I needed it to learn this lesson.

    By Grace | 3 years ago Reply
    • Thanks so much for sharing this, Grace!

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
  25. The truth is, no man and woman are “sexually incompatible” insofar as they have the proper equipment.

    By Mark | 3 years ago Reply
  26. Love this! I also want to add- for those who might not see the CCC as a credible source for why we shouldn’t “test drive”–

    If you save sex and share it with your spouse on your wedding night, and you aren’t satisfied, and that makes you love your spouse less- you can be very sure that you never loved them in the first place.
    Saying that you “need to know” how your partner is in bed, or that they’re “good enough for you” in bed, is demeaning to them as a person. You’re saying, “I don’t love you enough to accept your faults, especially your faults when you’re most vulnerable and having sex with me, so I need to double check that you’re good enough for me, and if you’re not, you’re out.”

    What a nice way to start a relationship, eh? 😉

    By Liz | 3 years ago Reply
  27. I asked my dad in high school how I would know if I liked sex without trying it first. (Yeah, he was cool to talk with like that.) His answer made sense: sex is always good; don’t worry about it, you will like it. His answer may have shaped my attitude, because he was right. I’m glad I listened.

    By Lara | 3 years ago Reply
  28. I agree with your points, and they are good arguments. From my experience and only my experience, having sex made me a healthier person and more aware of my body. If I had not been sexually involved when I was it might have been years before I was diagnosed with a chronic inflammatory condition, and might have spent those years in unnecessary pain. I am not condoning or condemning sex before marriage, I think it is up to each individual person, for me I am glad I didn’t wait because like I said it brought attention to a condition that I have learned to overcome. I do think it is shameful how we teach people to be ashamed of their bodies and to not ask questions when something doesn’t quite feel right especially when that feeling is in an intimate location. I also don’t think that marriage is necessary for people to build the type of communication and respect that you mention. For me it is vital that I communicate in every relationship that I am in especially about the nitty gritty details about sex, which can be a very uncomfortable conversation.

    By Megan | 3 years ago Reply
    • Great feedback!

      I agree that people — in churches and outside them — need to drop the “be ashamed of bodies” thing. As Catholics, we believe our souls are gonna reunite with our bodies someday after death… we need no further proof than that that bodies are good. 🙂

      Re: communication, one excellent part of saving sex for marriage for me and others has been the fact that it forces dating couples to talk about sex. My human sexuality professor in grad school (who’s a secular sex therapist) brought up a time or two that there are so many couples who’ll have sex but won’t talk about it. So good to get comfortable talking about it when you aren’t sexually active!

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
      • It’s great to discuss sex prior to becoming involved with someone, but you need not be abstinent until marriage to have that conversation. If people are taught to embrace their physical bodies and learn how they work rather than fearing them and staying in the dark about the basics of anatomy, physiology, and public health, they will be more equipped to have that conversation with a potential partner, whether they have chosen to wait until marriage or not. Everyone should make the choice that personally suits them, and everyone deserves to have the information they need to make healthy decisions if and when they do become sexually active. And they deserve this whether they are newlyweds when they start having sex, or college/grad students getting into relationships that might become long-term or might not, depending on how things work out. Everyone deserves the information and tools needed to reduce harmful outcomes like HIV and other STIs.

        By Ali | 3 years ago Reply
  29. How can she know that if she’s never had premarital sex, this is also propaganda. Hypocrites

    By John Abatte | 3 years ago Reply
    • How can you know murder and stealing is bad if you had never done it? Hypocrite.

      By Juan Trejos | 3 years ago Reply
  30. I live in California.
    I’m 56 years old and divorced 4 years ago (after 30 YRS).

    I feel like a Unicorn (myth) in trying to remain Chaste and live a Holy life. I have been ridiculed in trying to do so. I’ve had all these tricks in the books. I don’t want to hate men but they really can be pigs! PLEASE PRAY FOR ME as I continue to pray for them!

    By Antoinette Milano | 3 years ago Reply
  31. This was a really informative essay! I will have to share this with my friends. Sometimes it can be hard to defend my position on premarital sex, but this is perfect! 🙂 God bless.

    By Hank Forswythe | 3 years ago Reply
  32. Incisive!

    Almost decided to bypass it for busy-ness, but thanks to God I finally decided to check it out.

    Love you.

    By Yosev u Cighan Yosev OCD | 3 years ago Reply
  33. Incisive!

    Almost decided to bypass it for busy-ness but thanks to God I finally decided to check it out.

    Love you!

    By Yosev u Cighan Yosev OCD | 3 years ago Reply
  34. Sorry but I have a good friend who waited ‘till marriage and then discovered that he and his wife just weren’t compatible. They tried for many years and even had children, but in all this time sex just wasn’t satisfying. At some point he encountered sex outside of his marriage and it was a revelation. He couldn’t believe how great it felt and how wonderful it was to experience the body of woman who WAS compatible. He an his wife tried to do things the “right” way but at the end of the day it didn’t work out for them. They just weren’t compatible.

    Quite frankly the idea that two people who are sexually very different can learn to become sexually compatible is nonsense. Imagine that you spend months or years with a person but never talk to them. You get married and on your wedding night you have your first conversation and it is, well… not great. Over the next few years you try to grow your conversations with this person, but it turns out they like to talk about their favorite TV shows but you want to talk about politics and world events. It doesn’t matter how long the both of you keep trying, it just so happens that your conversations aren’t that great. It can be exactly like this with sex. It is important to have deep conversations before marriage, and guess what – you can learn a LOT about sexual compatibility if you sleep with someone before marriage. And yes, if you sleep with SEVERAL people you can learn how it is different with each person.

    My own experience has been that after several YEARS in a relationship sometimes the sex is good and sometimes it is just ok. And the surprising thing is that the ladies who I thought would be the most compatible before we had sex didn’t always turn out that way. They weren’t as good at pleasing me and I wasn’t easily able to please them. It just didn’t work that well. Other ladies were spectacular.

    Beyond the practical issues regarding sex before marriage, the REAL reason conservative Christians wait until marriage is that they are told, and believe that it is a sin. And funny thing is really is more of a sin for a lady than a man. While the official church doctrine says that both men and women should wait, the reality is that a man who has sex before marriage is just “being a guy” *wink wink* and he really shouldn’t do that but if a girl does the same she is dirty, used, worthless, and undeserving of love and respect. It is a double standard that exists in many extremist cultures where the men are men and the women are property. Unfortunately it still exists in our culture. It is not about improving the quality of sex after marriage, and much more about controlling the behavior of women.

    And yes, there are practical risks associated with sex, but again the BIG issue is sin and shame and morality. You can go sky diving, rock climbing, riding motorcycles, cave diving, skate boarding, and a good number of activities that are risky or even deadly, and the members of your church will smile at you and tell you to please be careful. If you have sex before marriage these same people express anger and pile on the guilt and shame, never mind asking if you used any sort of precautions to reduce the chances of pregnancy or disease. Funny thing is, cultures where sex is views with much less shame and guild tend to have LOWER rates of teen pregnancy and STD. It turns out abstinence doesn’t really work, and those people who try to abstain often don’t. In the heat of the moment they give in to a normal human function, and often have the most risky kind of sex: unplanned and unprotected.

    The bottom line is that almost everybody has sex before marriage. If abstinence is such a great idea, then why is it so rare?

    By Paul K | 3 years ago Reply
    • Dear Paul

      My first question is did you read the article? Yes I may sound rude (apologies I am not trying to be) but I am wondering where you got the terms “sin” and “hell”. I suppose there are many Christian churches out there who scare people into “abstinence” but this article is not about that… She is talking about the original plan God has for our lives and how “chastity” which means saying YES to Gods plan and not Abstinence which just says NO out of fear prepares us to receive Gods greatest gift: Marriage – a sign pointing towards the Heavenly union of God and His people. You see marriage, for a Christian, is not about having the most mind blowing sex you have ever had in your life. That is not the goal – yes that may be the result but it is NOT the goal. The goal is to offer yourself – mind, body and soul to one person forever – making a gift of yourself and thereby emulating Gods gift of Himself to the human race (His bride). You talk about compatibility… Pleasure… Yes these are Beautiful things but again I am not waiting for my wedding night to experience these. I’m waiting so I can give myself completely to one person – the union occurs as a result of the self donation. If your aim is to get pleasure then you have missed the point. First give, totally, completely, without wanting … I have done this in other areas of my life and God finds a way to BLOW my mind 🙂 I realised after reading this article chastity cannot be fully explained if you think life ends on this earth… There is a bigger plan … An eternal plan… A plan for us to be with God in heaven. Our lifes purpose is not to have the most mind blowing sex but to have the most soul blowing love …

      By mila | 3 years ago Reply
      • Hm, I have to agree with Paul K though, mainly because sex is one of the important threads that holds together a marriage. If a couple is having trouble actually pleasing each other, either spouse might look elsewhere for satisfaction (pornography or an affair). Furthermore little to no interest in a spouse sexually inhibits procreation, which is kind of the whole point. Making yourself a gift to only open on Christmas sounds all nice and dandy but sometimes the gift isn’t what your spouse is looking for and is horribly disappointing. What if someone has a particular fetish or preference that their partner isn’t comfortable accommodating, and that leads to heartache, judgement, arguments, and perhaps even divorce? That’s a lot of wasted time and pain for the sake of maintaining chastity.

        Now I’m not saying that the first thing a couple dating should do is make love. All I’m saying is that if you’re seriously considering spending the rest of your life with someone, then learning a thing or two about how they like to romp it is a good idea, whether that be through an open conversation or a night spent together. I’ve always felt that if God explicitly meant for sex to be only within marriage then He would have laid it out in bold within Leviticus 18, since He’s so thorough in what isn’t permitted, and yet he mentions nothing about pre-marital sex. It is mentioned briefly in Deuteronomy 22:28-29, but only in the context of a rape (which is clearly sinful). Godly men throughout the OT had multiple wives, ie slept with several people, and yet it isn’t condemned. However women were always punished for the same behavior. I’ve always reasoned this is because back then women were viewed as property of their fathers and then their husbands, and to sleep with a women without the permission of the father was to steal that property, since virginity was a valuable commodity. Seems a lot like objectification if we’re honest, doesn’t it? Now if a woman is her own responsibility, and an adult, should she be restricted like in the days of old? Her virginity, her body and her love is not a good to be bought and sold by others, so why should she act as if it is?

        For the record rampant promiscuity still isn’t a good choice since it’s usually devoid of real, Godly love, but we have to remember that Paul says, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion,” which kind of assumes that they got it on before they tied the knot. Presumably, if you can’t keep your hands off one another you have similar sexual preferences and should get married! I’m so tired of seeing Christian friends acting as if marriage is this cold, calculated process that has only to do with non-sexual attraction and immature romantics, only to find out all too late that “whoops! I can’t stand having sex with you.” Christians shouldn’t have to gamble like that, they’re risking the rest of their lives and the hearts of their loved ones for the sake of tradition.

        By Chris C | 3 years ago Reply
      • You are proving his point though. He is saying not everyone is Christian (or Jewish or Muslim or whatever), and those of us who don’t wish to follow the major Abrahamic religions should have the right to refuse the teachings of those faiths.

        No one is forcing the people who wish to wait until marriage to have premarital sex. In fact, the remaining schools that focus on secular, harm-reduction sex ed models always emphasize that teens should, ideally NOT have sex until they reach legal adulthood, and even then, should only have it IF they want to, and IF they are ready and willing to shoulder the necessary responsibilities and precautions. But the converse situation does not exist for those students who are secular or who follow other faiths that do not emphasize abstinence until marriage. Those students are denied access to medically accurate, factual information about the responsibilities and precautions and are told instead that they must adopt the “you must wait until marriage” edicts of faiths they do not follow. And their parents’ tax dollars (and mine) fund this, despite it being blatantly unconstitutional.

        By Ali | 3 years ago Reply
  35. While certainly a well-written and well though out discussion of these “myths”, I struggle to agree with the conclusion. The points the author makes are valid counter-points of some commonly thrown around comments to justify pre-marital sex. That being said, she fails to justify why the underlying reasons behind each myth are incorrect; rather, she argues that the timeline on each point ought to be different (i.e. post marriage).

    Myth 1: I completely agree with you on this. It is a crude and disrespectful interpretation of an act that means far more.

    Myth 2: The author discusses how the quality of wedding night sex is irrelevant, as the couple should value the meaning of the sex over the physical benefits in and of themselves. I fail to see a link between that point and the sex needing to be post-marriage. I completely agree that the act of giving oneself to another for sex should carry a great deal of weight, so why is bad for people to start building that emotional intimacy before marriage? I do not mean to say that waiting for marriage is bad, simply that sex can develop emotional intimacy to a uniquely high level, if both partners appreciate it that way. Earlier comments discuss how many failed marriages there are these days — yet having sex early cannot cause a marriage to fail. Not appreciating the sex can. I would contend that pre-marital sex could in fact be beneficial for many couples, if they use it as an opportunity to see to what extend they can truly bond with their partner.

    Myth 3: While it is true that a couple does not NEED to know if they are sexually compatible before committing to a marriage, many people (men and women) benefit greatly from having that knowledge in advance. If sex is truly appreciated and valued by two individuals, as I described above, it can help bolster a marriage to last the years. While by no means the only or most important aspect of a long term relationship, it can be critical in today’s day and age. In an era where both men and women, both husbands and wives, have a multitude of commitments (work, children, social gatherings, personal hobbies, familial responsibilities, etc.), sex can be a rare escape for a couple. One of very few places and moments where they can be alone together in their own little bubble, and forget for just a few blissful minutes the stresses of the rest of their lives. There may not be many other opportunities for a couple to bond with each other on that level, so a sexually frustrated marriage may be at greater risk of failing. To reiterate, it is perfectly acceptable to say that each spouse can work on improving the sex, for themselves and their partner, but it is not always possible for both. Knowing they have the foundation of quality sex can provide some much needed assurance to couples worried about marriage potential.

    The author concludes her article with: “Why the world says it’s ok to learn with each other before you’re married but not ok to learn with each other after you’re married remains a mystery. #Facepalm.” I would never presume to speak for society, but from my perspective, not many people claim that saving sex for marriage is bad, simply that their are many aspects to pre-marital sex that they value. Just as one person should respect another’s wishes to save themselves for marriage, people saving themselves should understand if another cannot stay in a relationship without the interpersonal development and learning that comes from sex.

    By Sky Laars | 3 years ago Reply
    • I grew up in a Catholic family. I am 18, and I used to believe from the age of 12 that waiting until marriage was the right thing for me. Now that I come to think of it, was I really allowed to have an opinion for myself, or was I only agreeing because that’s what the church told me to do? I have heard stories of people who have had bad times due to waiting until marriage, and eventually their spouse went to seek sexual pleasure somewhere else. I have a friend that has been sleeping with her boyfriend, and I asked my parents if they thought that she was a slut because of that. Instead they said, “No. But to use a different word to describe her, I’d say worthless, ruined, soiled, etc.” I as a young Catholic have always felt intimidated by sex and that it is dirty to be doing outside of marriage. How can a young girl go through her whole life in an unmarried status thinking that sex is bad for her at the time, but then to so quickly change her mind about it at the altar? Maybe the whole “waiting” thing might work for other couples, but it may not work for others. I also feel like a person’s virginity should not define them. My mom and Dad did not wait until marriage, and my mom got pregnant out of wedlock. She tells me that she wished that she would have waited until marriage. It feels GREAT to hear her say that, because if she would have waited, I would not be here, since she didn’t end up marrying my real father. I feel like it is a person’s choice to make. Whoever makes the “wrong” choice however, should not be looked down upon or chastised by other people who are sinners as well. Ugh I really don’t know what to do 🙁

      By Cassi Lente | 3 years ago Reply
  36. First off!!! Great stuff!! Im happy for you and your decision…how precious will it be when you “really connect” emotionally physically and spiritually!

    It does beg another question? What about post-divorce sex? Why do we “adults” think? Wow, i have already done the deed…why do I need to wait? Again?

    Thoughts?

    By Zach | 3 years ago Reply
    • Here’s my short answer:

      If the divorced people we’re talking about are people who practice chastity, they wait again because chastity requires sexual abstinence outside marriage (key word: outside — not just before). Great question — I may take the time to write a longer post here or on my personal blog (arleenspenceley.com) in the future.

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
  37. My problem is that people who have sex before marriage keep trying to convience others it’s the right thing to do and those saving themselves are on a mission to make others do the same. I chose to have sex before I got married. But that’s my choice. I have been very lucky that the boys I’ve dated, while not the best of boyfriends, have never pressured me into have sex and I went at my own pace. I think what at least I mean when I say things like “you wouldn’t buy the cow with out tasting it’s milk” is I wouldn’t know which *type* of cow to buy. Not that two people can’t learn and grow together, but there are things I have learned about my preferences with certain partners that I never would have learned otherwise. That being said sex is not about “using ” the other person, even in this analogy… At least for decent people. It is about know what you are getting yourself into. What if the other person doesn’t improve?

    That being said I don’t think there is anything right and wrong about either way. For me, there is a huge difference between a stress relieving , carnal sex act and making love. But that’s me. To others, there isn’t a difference. Or they don’t want there to be and that is fine. Abstinence is a viable option for some but it is not the ONLY viable option and we need to shift the conversation to this way of thinking. We need to stop shaming people ford waiting and stop shaming people for not waiting.

    By Rhiley | 3 years ago Reply
    • “My problem is that people who have sex before marriage keep trying to convience others it’s the right thing to do and those saving themselves are on a mission to make others do the same.”

      That is factually false. The viewpoint that is funded by my tax dollars and promoted by politicians is the one that dictates that you MUST wait until marriage. The alternative, which is secular, medically factual, harm reduction-focused sex ed, is on the wane, despite that version ALSO emphasizing that sex is an adult responsibility and not ideal for teenagers under 18. There is no model of sex ed approved by public schools that purports to tell teens they MUST have sex. If your complaint is about individual people, that is a simple issue to rectify. You can avoid people who discuss their sex lives freely and tell others “do things my way.” Believe it or not, the vast majority of adults living the U.S. both have premarital sex AND refrain from discussing our sex lives or telling others they have to be exactly like us. Who is and isn’t a virgin is about as much of my business as what people think of me inside their own heads: absolutely none.

      By Ali | 3 years ago Reply
  38. The essay is fine, but it doesn’t seem like you’re busting any myths. To “bust a myth” usually means to provide demonstrable facts or evidence to dispel a held belief, but you don’t actually dispel the myths as much as question some of the underlying beliefs about the myths. For example, myth 2, you never prove that it won’t make for a lackluster wedding night, you simply note that sex will most likely improve. Absolutely, but that doesn’t actually address the myth.

    Again, I agree with the article, but using misnomers detracts from the truth of this piece.

    By Michael | 3 years ago Reply
    • Thank you for your criticism.

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
  39. This is precisely why Pope Francis’s statement that 50% of marriages are invalid is most likely true. Having pre-marital sex, or sex prematurely, distorts one’s vision with regard to the relationship. Oftentimes it leads a person to believe they are emotionally closer to someone when in reality they are not… they actually haven’t taken the time to get to know the other person well enough before ‘marrying’ themselves physically to that person. Could this be grounds for Annulment? One could make the case that marriages in which both partners had partaken in pre-marital sex with other partners in addition to each other could render the marriage sacramentally invalid. A marriage is a Covenant with God, which Jewish tradition called for the shedding of blood through consummation.

    By Anna Githens | 3 years ago Reply
  40. Straw Man! These are not the real justifications people give for pre-marital sex. Most reasons that people do give for engaging in/abstaining from pre-marital sex involve personal choice and bodily autonomy.

    By Leyla | 3 years ago Reply
    • It’s your right to believe these are not real justifications people use, but I’ve written about chastity and sex for secular and Christian audiences for five years, during which countless readers who don’t share my sentiments have called and emailed, during which I’ve had conversations with friends who don’t practice chastity, during which I’ve conducted several informal sex surveys — and these are justifications that have been given to me in those responses, conversations, and surveys, over and over.

      By Arleen Spenceley (@ArleenSpenceley) | 3 years ago Reply
  41. Another point…. sex is about intimacy, and everything is laid out bare…. within the context of marriage this intimacy is protected with a vow and legally binding…..there is absolutely no protection outside marriage…. you can be totally used….. and that is NOT how GOD intended sex to work….. He wanted us to be UNIFIED in marriage ( the two shall become one flesh)…. sex creates unity. And of course the old saying “why buy the cow, when you get the milk for free!”still holds true today.

    By marcy | 3 years ago Reply
  42. Just had a “pub conversation” about “why I don’t live with my girlfriend” with some work mates (girls and boys) and was very proud of being the rare. Even one girl was really angry at me (curious how I understand people like her, and she doesn’t respect my options).

    Nobody has to convince me I will be fully compatible with my girlfriend when we marry. And if some issue arises, we have all our lives to learn together. This is closer to true love in my opinion.

    Indeed, I’m happy to explain that I have learnt to love my girlfriend without sex… We have learnt (and are still on it) to talk, support, and understand each other in our differences. Imagine how it will be when we marry and can add this gift that sex is.

    Sex is good, but it has some rules that, if not respected, turn it into a lie very easily.

    Thanks for this article (my girlfriend shared it with me some weeks ago) as I used some of the examples to better explain my point of view.

    By Mike VF | 3 years ago Reply
  43. My now ex-fiancé would always tell me but we are engaged, we are gonna have to do it some time, eventually I gave in and not long after that his entire attitude changed he became very violent and aggressive with me and his son and my animals so I called everything off. I regret that I had let him talk me into pre- marital sex, but it is something I must live with.

    By Angela | 3 years ago Reply
    • This example in particular tells me that it was actually beneficial that you found this out before. You would be in a much more difficult position if you got married and then his true colors were shown after this. “Test-driving” is not what it seems, you are not de-humanizing the situation, you are finding out answers for your future as well as your family’s future. Essentially, how is the person going to act after experiencing this closeness? Is it something you know you can help them with (taming aggressive tendencies, bettering themselves and their esteem?) or is it something your partner has no regard for you to try and truly change for you? My husband and I had premarital sex very early on and it allowed us to open ourselves to each other in such a deep way. We both had problems, sometimes violent, but because we knew each other at such a deep level of understanding and connection, we were able to point each other in the direction of what was right. Sex makes connections, I truly believe that if I had waited I would have been more pre-judgmental about our problems. I believe we would have still remained together and even come to the same understanding as we had with premarital sex, but it would have been much more hard to bear. Yes, love takes work, but needless work for what could potentially be double the amount of years it takes to understand your loved one on a more personal level will let you miss out on years you could have been happily in love and fully understanding one another. Patience, trust, understanding, and honesty are as much a part to play with premarital versus post marital sex. Some have the type of connection where waiting suits you both, it’s when one person doesn’t agree with the wait that the problem comes in. That’s where trust takes place, and trust can come by with or without sex. All-in-all, I suppose what I get from this article in my own mindset is that premarital and post marital actually isn’t so different, it’s the way a couples’ love endures through trust and how you decide to build upon that trust that matters the most.

      By Jamie | 3 years ago Reply
  44. As a newly wed of a few days, all these things are so true!

    By Daniel | 3 years ago Reply
  45. This isn’t busting myths. These are opinions. Opinions that work for some people, and not others. If it works for you, great, all the power to you. If not, don’t follow this.

    And ‘lol’ at the people posting scientific studies about this. It’s ironic you’ll use science to prove your point, yet when science points to the non-existence of a god, suddenly science is wrong. Stop cherry picking, that’s why people hate Christians, all the hypocracy.

    By Dante | 3 years ago Reply
    • Not all Christians believe that science-even science that apparently disproves God-is wrong. Both religion and science are truth, and you can’t discount one or the other (it helps that science and religion don’t answer the same questions, and that not all the books in the Bible were meant to be read literally).

      And hey, if the science backs it up, what makes these myth busters ‘opinions’ rather than objective truth? Curious why you see a disconnect here.

      By GiannaT | 3 years ago Reply
      • Because the surveys endorsed by Christians do not adhere to the scientific method. If someone sets up an experiment to specifically and intentionally prove the hypothesis, s/he has failed to observe the basic principles of science. If someone’s surveys intentionally focus on devout Christians and exclude secular people, we cannot claim the results are representative of the general population. If someone’s study uses devout, abstinence-only virgins as the test group and unwed teenage parents as the control, the study is meaningless because it was manipulated from the start to produce the desired, “pro-abstinence” outcome. Many of the people who endorse such surveys, studies, and experiments intuitively know this is true, but feel compelled to hide it in favor of evangelizing their faith.

        By Ali | 3 years ago Reply
  46. It WILL be a bit awkward when the wedding night rolls around (at least it was for me). Best advice I got- don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t be afraid to laugh. You both get better at it with practice. 🙂

    How freeing to realize that yes, sex is sacred…but it’s not the relationship end all be all that the secular world seems to think it is.

    By GiannaT | 3 years ago Reply
  47. Love the article Miss Arleen. Growing up in a society that is embracing the loose behavior around is especially tough for everyone. This article would definitely help anyone who is confused or led astray. Thanks a lot. Gonna share it with as many people as I can

    By Vivien Tannen | 3 years ago Reply
  48. I think you need facts not opinions to “bust” a myth…

    By Z | 3 years ago Reply
  49. hmmmm…I would say a hard black and white view on this subject, leads to an unhealthy debate. An open conversation about the pros and cons of abstinence vs “pre-marital” sex, could promote a healthier dialogue, that could provide educational “food for thought”.

    I sit in the middle, or “the gray”, on most things. I see both positive and negative “moving” parts to this subject. I for one, married someone who waited, and I was abstinent during our 3.5 years pre marriage. Things have turned out well, but it was a very difficult journey for a full decade, due to, once again, pros and cons on both sides.

    On another note, “I have friends who didn’t “test drive before they bought” (which I feel that analogy is a pretty de-humanizing one), and their marriages have been incredibly challenging. I have other friends who haven’t waited, and they are just as functional and dis functional as the next…wether they be “believer or unbeliever”.

    To me the truth behind sexuality is this: it’s messy, it’s beautiful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s life-giving. It can destroy you to your core, and it can fill your soul with so much love and passion, you feel your “insides” will become your “outsides”.

    Telling someone how they should live their life is a destructive path. Providing a personal story from one’s own journey, and reminding the listener that you are mearly another “mortal being”… this can lead to enlightenment indeed.

    -justin

    By Justin | 3 years ago Reply
  50. Loved the article, thank you so much 🙂

    By Miriam | 3 years ago Reply
  51. Interesting Article! But here is the underlining reality….Considering the Author’s reference to God, is Yahweh (the God of the Bible) makes it very clear to me that those who FULLY UNDERSTAND and FULLY SUBMIT their live’s to His laws and ways, will agreewith your views . Those who do not, will disagree and there is no reason to think that is strange. God’s view of sexual morality, is a spiritual concept because He is Spirit, and those who grasp his reality do it with their spirit. You will always hit a wall trying to explain a spiritual concept to the the carnal mind. Therefore when you present an argument it will be rationalized according the thinking of carnal influence. The natrual mind cannot grasp spirtual reality unless thier Sprit is connected to His Sprit( the Holy Spirit) once that happens your mind is influenced by His Sprit and not your evil nature.

    Sex is more a spritual activity than given credit . The spiritual principle of covenant, seed, and intamacy are prime examples…. But grasping the understanding of these truths, requires you submit sex to the God who created it in the first place.

    (Romans 8: 6)

    By Mike | 3 years ago Reply
  52. I love your articles! I’m glad women like you still exist. It’s hard to find them at my age (22). God has got a plan though! God bless you

    By Joel | 3 years ago Reply
  53. I personally refuse to be involved with anyone if we’re sexually incompatible. What I don’t do is dictate how others should live their lives. A shame that some in the pro-virginity till marriage crowd can’t extend the same courtesy to me. And let’s be honest: no politician is spending government money to teach the so-called “myths” you “busted” in this article. What they ARE spending my tax dollars on is abstinence-only education, which is directly correlated to the skyrocketing HIV infection rates among people born after 1985. There is a very high correlation between HIV infection and abstinence-only education. A lack of medically correct sex ed that focuses on harm reduction instead of telling teens they’ll “go to hell” or “be like a licked lollipop with flies on it” is killing people. The people endorsing chastity have blood on their hands — and instead of acknowledging it, they have doubled down and grown more obstinate with each passing year.

    By Ali | 3 years ago Reply

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