It’s been over a year and I still haven’t slept with my girlfriend

Over a year on from a date that wasn’t a date but ended up being a date, and I still haven’t slept with my girlfriend. 

I’m aware our sexual inactivity is something that makes us pretty odd. It’s not down to a lack of attraction, opportunity or any other issue that keep couples from having sex. For us, it’s a choice we made. 

You are probably curious to know why we’ve freely turned down one of the most powerful human pleasures?

I’ll tell you. But first, I think it’s important to question why we think it’s so odd to abstain. In 2016, 75% of Britons declared that premarital sex was not wrong at all, up from 42% in 1983. Waiting used to be a virtue in our society. It still is in most cultures around the globe today. But we’ve rejected it. Why?

Sex is fun. I can’t say take it from me, but it’s pretty much a universal opinion that consensual sex is awesome. Awesome fun is a pretty good reason to do something.

Sex is easy. The pill makes sex a nine-minute, rather than potentially a nine-month activity. Sex is now available in a few taps on an app. The ease of meeting and mating has dramatically risen, as the risks have simultaneously plummeted.

Sex is natural. I’d go so far as to say it’s a gift from God.

If sex were just fun, natural and easy, it would be obvious that we are right to liberate ourselves from our prudish past. But we all know that sex isn’t just that. It’s much better. 

Sex is powerful. We all know it’s far more than a physical act. It’s why Ross being ‘on a break’ didn’t fly with Rachel. Sex is emotional, vulnerable, intimate and has the psychological power to bind people together. Or in our no-strings-attached culture, causes people to ‘catch feelings’. 

The evidence suggests that you should aim to catch feelings for your spouse. The Economist put it this way, “Study after study testifies that married people are healthier, wealthier and happier than unmarried ones, and less likely to split from their partners… Wedlock seems to increase human happiness even allowing for the fact that many marriages fall apart.” 

Any rational person interested in their long term happiness would go for marriage over cohabitation or NSA encounters. Yet, culture upholds marriage as old, dull and restrictive.

As with cake, climate change and having just one more cocktail, humans don’t tend to make good long-term decisions when there are alluring alternative short-term highs. We want to be free to sleep around and experiment, and also be that devoted elderly couple still holding hands, 60 years on. We don’t make sense.

I know I’m no different. I want both. So, back to the question I promised to answer: why on earth have I chosen to wait until I’m married to have sex?

It wasn’t a decision based on the studies, as they don’t cover when couples started to sleep together. So whilst the evidence makes a great case for marriage and monogamy, it’s not so clear a case for waiting until marriage. Instead, our decision is based on trust.

We both believe that God is our creator and trust he knows best when it comes to how to live our lives. The Bible paints an incredibly high view of sex and marriage, and that the two are designed to go hand in hand. The power, joy and vulnerability of sex are safe in a lifelong committed relationship built on love and trust, that’s the Christian reasoning. When you know someone is with you in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, it’s the perfect place not just for sex but to be fully open and vulnerable in all areas of your life.

So not sleeping together is a sacrifice we are both making because we want to respect and uphold each others’ beliefs.

But, if I’m honest, we’ve failed to live up to Jesus’ standards, even though we are waiting until we’re married. Jesus’ bar for sexual conduct is much higher than the one we’ve upheld. Jesus claimed “that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus commanded his followers to not entertain any lustful thoughts.

Impossible. Fanatical. 

Two words that spring to my mind. But for just a second, imagine if society followed Jesus’ words. 

Cheating would end, spouses would only have eyes for each other, #MeToo wouldn’t need to exist, sex wouldn’t be a commodity to advertise and the pressure to look a certain way would lose it’s greatest power.

It almost sounds heavenly. 

It’s a vision we, mere mortals, fall far short of. Or at least I know I have and on far too many occasions. As someone who has done too much wrong to be in God’s good books, what do I do? Give up? That would be a pretty hopeless conclusion. 

The good news is that Jesus doesn’t make it about being good enough. Instead, he offers forgiveness to anyone who is willing to accept they need it. Something I’ve joyfully accepted, I mean why wouldn’t you?!
God’s vision is not just a world that sounds heavenly, it’s not just to keep sex for marriage, it’s not just to avoid the pain that comes from following our own, reckless, restless hearts; it’s also that there is grace and forgiveness for anyone who asks. I’m forgiven and invited to live in a way that makes the world more heavenly. In preparation for when heaven actually comes to earth.

Photo by Qusv Yang on Unsplash

Ben Palmer

Ben Palmer
Ben works for a mentoring charity in London, but boasts a CV that includes a year of living as a monk.

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