Perhaps the most often-encountered lie I heard about sex from youth pastors, conference speakers, inspirational books, and the impassioned speeches of parents was the idea that if you wait until you are married to have sex, God will reward you with mind-blowing sex and a magical wedding night.
For those of you who don’t believe there are individuals, churches, and organizations who teach this, here are some ACTUAL QUOTES on the subject:
“For you, the person who waits, your wedding day and night will be everything: every Hallmark card, every romance novel, every poem, every religious text, and every little girl’s fantasy of what a wedding day and night should be.” (www.waitingtilmarriage.org)
“Married people have the best sex!” (www.marriedandyoung.com)
“Put simply: When you get married, you’ve got a whole lot of awesome sex that you haven’t ever had yet.” (www.waitingtilmarriage.org)
“You’re fighting for (and earning) amazing sex for your future marriage.”(www.singleyoungchristianmom.wordpress.com)
Before my wedding night I had been told that honeymoon sex isn’t usually the best sex. I had heard that good sex takes work. I knew that it would probably be uncomfortable for me at first. What nobody ever, EVER told me was that it was possible that it just might not work at all. On my wedding night, my mind and heart were there, but my body was locked up tighter than Maid Marian’s chastity belt.
I entered marriage with the firm conviction that God rewards those who wait, only to find myself confounded by the mechanics. This brought with it a profound sense of failure. Not only had I failed as a wife by being unable to give my husband something he deserved after years of faithful celibacy, but I was a failure as a woman on the most basic level – unable to perform this one role I was biologically intended for. After all, there are 14-year-olds getting pregnant every day. How hard could it be? For the record, my husband did not express disappointment or any sense of entitlement – but I still felt these things thanks to years of hearing messages like the quotes above. And while we did (eventually) get things working, this was hard, frustrating, embarrassing, and a huge blow to both our confidences.
Some people responded to this part of my original article by making this an argument for pre-marital sex. “Why would you want to have that awkwardness on your wedding night/honeymoon?” I don’t think there’s any fundamental problem with an awkward wedding night. In fact, I think we should embrace that kind of messiness more in our lives. I don’t believe everything needs to be tied with a pretty bow in order to be good. And I don’t think we have to achieve our most perfect selves in this or any other area to be ready for marriage. The problem wasn’t the awkwardness or the messiness – it was the false expectations and lack of comprehensive information that made us feel isolated and embarrassed, believing we were the only couple on the planet who had experienced this.
Saving sex for marriage is not a guarantee that you will have great sex, that sex will be easy, or in some cases, that sex will even be possible. All it guarantees is that the person you fumble through it with will be someone who has already committed to love you forever. To me, this is still SO worth it. I can’t imagine having stumbled through those experiences with anyone other than my husband. Figuring it out together has brought us closer and has taught us about communicating even when it feels awkward or embarrassing. But we could have done all of that without the added shame and isolation that came from those false expectations.
So now, I make it a point to tell my friends who are getting married the things that no one told me. “Look, this may not happen to you at all, and if it doesn’t, that’s great, but if, for some reason, sex isn’t as natural and intuitive as everyone told you it would be, don’t feel bad. Know that you’re not alone. Know that you WILL figure it out. I know it can feel like this has been built up into such an important and weighty thing, but you really don’t have to be so serious about it. Find ways to laugh together. Look at your wedding night as the night you start a new journey instead of the night you finally reach your destination.”
[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]