Wifey Wednesday: Why Wait?

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Today I want to write a post that perhaps some of you could have better used five or ten years ago. But it’s an important one, so if you like it, please pass it on!

When I wrote the book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I conducted a “Wedding Night Survey”.

Among those who are very committed Christians, only about 30% waited until they were married to have sex. Of those who did not wait, though, a tremendous proportion volunteered on the survey that they wished they had. So many said, “Why didn’t we just wait the extra two weeks?” Many say they’ve been plagued with guilt since.

First, if you didn’t make it until your wedding, and you did have sex first, you need to let the guilt go. Jesus died for that, and to carry around the guilt only hurts you, your marriage, and your sex life. To carry around the guilt is to say that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for you, and that’s just adding to the problem! So let it go.

But the real thing I want to talk about was this comment: One woman said,

“I grew up with everybody telling me why I should have sex. Nobody took the time–not my parents, not my teachers, not my friends–to give me a good reason not to. I should have waited, and I’m going to make sure my children know why.”

I thought that was rather sad, but also rather typical. So in this post, I want to give you the reasons why you should wait.

Why God Wants us to Wait for Marriage to Have Sex

1. God tells us to. It’s a matter of obedience.

Some people question if God really DOES tell us to, because no where in the Bible does it say, “don’t have sex with someone you’re not married to.” You’re right. The Bible does not use those words. But it does use the words “sexual immorality”, which is a more modern translation of the word “fornication”. And what does fornication mean? Having sex with someone you’re not married to. So the Bible DOES say it; it just uses older words to do so, and we sometimes forget what they mean.

But God doesn’t just do this to stop us from having any fun. There are good reasons to, like these:

2. Having sex can make your friendship less powerful.

Here’s a comment another woman made:

I wish we had waited until we were married, because our relationship became nothing but sex. We didn’t know how to do anything else.

Sex is a powerful force. It is physically amazing (or at least it can be), and once you start, it’s hard to stop. It seems like that’s what you should be doing all the time.

And many couples, once they become sexually active, find that their relationship does now revolve around sex. Instead of finding other things to do, they stay in. Instead of socializing with other people, they jump in bed. And what happens? They lose their friendship.

3. A relationship can’t survive on sex alone.

You need other things to keep you going. One of the benefits of not having sex while you’re engaged is that you’re forced to find other things to occupy your time. You talk, and find out about each other. You find hobbies or sports you can do together. You go biking, or hiking, or you play golf. You volunteer together. You DO something.

Once you get married, you settle into a routine. You go to work. You come home. You have dinner. You watch TV. You go to bed. You have sex. The problem is that, for women especially, you’re not going to want to make love unless you’re also connecting on different levels. And sex should be the culmination of the relationship, not the basis of the relationship. Sex should flow out of your friendship, affection, and companionship; your companionship, affection and friendship can’t flow out of sex.

We need to feel connected first. But so does he. For sex to be meaningful, it has to be two people who truly love and want to be together. But how do you know if you want to be together if you don’t really know each other? You can have sex a ton and not really know each other, because you’re not doing anything else.

That’s why we have that period, in engagement, to get to know each other. And the habits we develop then will carry over. If you’ve been helping out at church together, you’ll keep doing that. If you’ve been hanging out with your siblings, or with your friends, then you now have friends you can spend time with together. If you’ve been biking, you know you like doing that together.

But if you’ve been doing very little of anything at all, what is going to hold you together once you’re married? You need to have a friendship; you need a reason for that connection. Sex can’t be that. And couples who have learned how to build their friendship beforehand do much better in the long run.

4. Sex cements you together, when perhaps you should stay apart.

Another woman wrote, “I confused sex with love. I thought that since we were having sex, we were bonded and meant to be together. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have married him.” Sex gives you a false sense of intimacy. When we have sex, we release the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, which makes us feel close to the person we’re with. We start to experience those fluttery feelings, and the wistful longing for that person.

But it doesn’t mean it’s based on anything real. Many people have “fallen into” marriage because they’ve been having sex and it seems like the next logical step. But while the physical side of their relationship accelerated, the rest of it didn’t. And now their friendship is stunted and it doesn’t look like they can build it up again.

One more thing on this point: the more people that you are “cemented” together with before you’re married, the harder it will be for sex to cement you together later. Sex can cement you together; but if you have sex and then break up and have sex and then break up, you start teaching your heart not to bond. And that’s setting yourself up for problems in your marriage, because sex becomes something distinct from love. You may still love your husband, but you don’t do it through sex, because sex has become only the physical. That’s sad.

5. Good sex before you’re married does not mean that you will have good sex afterwards.

Many people make love to see if they are “sexually compatible”. That’s pretty stupid, because any two people can be sexually compatible as long as they love each other. Love should be the basis for sex, not physical prowess in the bedroom. But sex after marriage tends to be different from sex before. Over and over again, my respondents said, “I can’t believe how sex changed. It used to be fun, but now it’s a chore.” Or, “he used to care for me; now he doesn’t.” Once the commitment is there, sex changes. And if you’ve been making love already, it often changes for the worse.

Sex used to be something forbidden, and that gave it excitement. Now that it’s not, it’s become hum drum. Or he used to care about you; now he doesn’t. That’s because you started having sex when you were courting, and he had to impress you. Now he doesn’t.

But isn’t that the way with any marriage? Not really. If you don’t have sex until you’re married, it’s new, and you learn together. He learns how to please you. It’s now part of your marriage. Have sex first, and it can easily become something that is treated in a more lacksadaisical way after you say your vows.

6. You don’t know how to make love.

Sex is supposed to be about connecting you together on all levels. When you have sex without the commitment, you take the bonding part out of the equation. And it’s very hard to get it back. So it means that sex, once you’re married, won’t be the powerful emotional force that it can be for others. It’s still focused primarily on the physical, and not on the rest. The emotional is not the primary consideration.

And so, dear friends, I urge you to wait. It helps clarify your choice for marriage, and helps you to marry your best friend. It gives you a tool once you’re married to cement you together. And, of course, waiting helps you obey God and not become pregnant when you don’t want to.

Does all of this mean that if you did have sex before you were married that your marriage is doomed? No, of course not. It’s just that you have some obstacles in your marriage that need to be talked through. You just have a few hurdles, and God can help you get over those hurdles. I’ve written before, for instance, on how to make sex about intimacy, and not just the physical, and perhaps we’ll return to that next week again.

But if you’re not married yet, my question would be this: why set yourself up for hurdles? Keep yourself pure; you won’t regret it. Nobody said they regretted waiting in my survey; the majority of those who didn’t said they did regret not waiting. Listen to those voices, and wait. There’s a reason God did what He did, and it wasn’t to punish you or rob you of fun. It was to protect you.

Do you have teens you know or engaged couples who would benefit from reading this? Why not share it to Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest by clicking the buttons below!
About to get married? Sheila’s book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex contains lots of info for your honeymoon–and help to get your marriage started the right way, even if you wish you could change your past.

Good Girls Guide Banner Click to Purchase


  1. Anonymous says:

    >Thank you for this post, I will definately be passing it along to others! A lot of what you said really makes sense to me, as I am one of the 'committed Christians' (although at the time I was far away from God) that had sex with my boyfriend, we did eventually get married. The thing that I have often struggled with is that if we wouldn't have had sex I don't know if I would have married him because I probably would have had my head on straight! It has been a long journey for me to accept my mistake, ask for forgiveness, and truely see that I am forgiven and try to use my journey to help others. It has taken a while for me to accept that even though I may have made bad choices which lead to my marriage, I am committed to my marriage and God can still make the best of my situation. One thing I found to be the most difficult is that everyone says 'wait until your married' but no one really explains the consequences (except the obvious of getting pregnant) and no one really explains how or gives tools to help a young person (especially in their 20's+) to maintain purity. So thank you for at least doing one thing and clearly (and reasonably, without judgement) explaining consequences or results of sex before marriage!!
    -an avid reader

  2. >Thanks for your comment, Anonymous!

    It's funny but I've been thinking about this issue a bit lately–why is it that Christian teens and young adults don't wait? And I think it's because we talk "purity purity purity purity" and "STDs pregnant STDs pregnant STDs pregnant", we don't get into the REAL stuff, like the reason that they might want to have sex in the first place–it feels good, I want to feel close to you.

    Those are all the positive sides of sex, but if we use sex out of its context, those positives can become negatives. And that's what we really need to be telling kids.

    I'm so glad about your attitude towards your marriage. I know you must have a really difficult road sometimes, but you sound like you're really working it out with God. I hope I can keep being a resource to you!

  3. Anonymous says:

    >I took your survey but some of it was rather confusing. Do you reach orgasm for instance … yes, I almost always do now, but for the first three months I never did … and now, often he's finished and I have to "finish the job" myself… if you know what I mean… So maybe there should have been more space for comments? You are right about sex being "more exciting" when you're living in sin, however now that we're officially married it is better because I am much more relaxed about the whole thing… And I suppose being in our 40's and 50's, it is different than being a youth "doing it like rabbits." My ex constantly denied sex (part might have been medication he was on) but it hurts to be told that there are a million things he'd rather do than have sex with me! And he kept saying if I'd lose weight or do this or that, he'd feel more interested in that aspect. My new husband tells me that I am "hot" and that it doesn't matter what size I am, as long as I'm happy. That makes a big difference…

    I agree that Christian teens should be given more instruction regarding sexual matters. So many are like Clinton and think oral is okay as there is no penetration etc. But sex is sex… pretty intimate either way… but it seems many Christian parents (at least mine were) won't talk about such things. In fact, my parents were so prudish, they didn't even talk about birth control before they married. Is it any wonder she fell pregnant in the first month after they married and I was born 10 months later and have always been told I was a "honeymoon baby" and that Dad told Mum to go buy some kotex to try to "bring on her period!" Never made me feel really wanted!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    >Also should have said, my Mother always claimed Christian girls got pregnant out of wedlock more than the non-Christian ones did…. I think it was simply that it seemed like a worse sin if you went to the doctor and started taking birth control — then it was planned rebellion… If you weren't on birth control and "accidentally went to far" then you could justify your behaviour a little better…

    Just a thought…

  5. Thanks for making the point about sex releasing oxytocin and therefore making you think you’re more ‘bonded’ than you actually are. We didn’t technically have sex before marriage…but we more or less did. And yes, I think that that made us think we were more in love than we were, although it hadn’t occurred to me until I read this. We’re fairly happily married now, but we’re not as compatible as we could be. I continue to hope that by striving for a better marriage, we will overcome the majority of our problems and in the end, enjoy the marriage that we built with hard work even more than we would if we hadn’t had to work for it.

    The best book I’ve read so far for our marriage is Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (I have yours but have only just started reading it, sorry!). The ‘respect’ portion really hit home – in this culture of man-bashing, unconditional respect for a husband is completely disregarded and mocked. I strongly recommend it for anyone who feels like they’re in a detrimental cycle of he-doesn’t-show-love and therefore I-don’t-end-up-showing-respect and then he-doesn’t-show-love… Be the bigger person and show love/respect first, get out of the cycle, and enjoy the rewards!

  6. I’m new to this blog, I’m engaged to be married in about 6 months and we talked about purity right from the get go, very easy to do when you just get started cause you know nothing about hormones or how strong the feelings can be! So we continue to talk about purity and our goals in that respect. It used to be, ” We want to stay pure because we know that’s what God wants us to do.” Definitely a valid reason, and a good starting point for listening and obeying any of God’s commands. But as we become increasingly close in spirit with God and each other there’s a million reasons to stay pure until our wedding night! God gave us this gift of total purity and the ability to take an entire week to learn each others bodies and how to give ourselves completely to each other and to God and not on our lives do we want to ruin the surprise God has in store for us. After all the ways God has prepared us for it why would we want to ruin it and peek beforehand? We talk very candidly about our goals and our expectations for our married life together and although initially it was awkward I believe that open communication will hugely beneficial to us both in the future. Doing things out and about to stay pure not only keeps you from temptation but it also just brings us closer and closer together. We try to do our devotions together and our goal is to continue that in our married life. I fall a little more in love with him each time we pray together, whether we’re praying for strength in the purity battle or just for family and friends. I’ve not a doubt in my mind that I am marrying my best friend!! 😀

  7. I am so grateful that my husband and I waited until we were married! We dated for 1 1/2 years, and were engaged for 3 months. Hmmmm, I wonder why our engagement was so short?? We are completely in love and dedicated to one another. Abstaining from sex helped us to have a greater respect for one another, and helped us to get to know each other on a much deeper level. It also showed our love and respect for God, and because we waited I truly believe that God blessed us with an AMAZING love life. It was hard, but so worth the wait. My husband proved to me how much he loved me and wanted me to be his wife, by waiting with me. I do not regret waiting.. not one little bit.

  8. Samantha says:

    As a teen I found this inspiring. Thanks!

  9. Ashleigh says:

    What do you have to say about masturbation? I’m a teen, and the question has been going around with some people I know and I was just wondering how it affected other aspects of life. Some people say it is a sin, others say it isn’t, and I just wanted your opinion.

  10. Great post. My only question is…what about the modern young Christian couple? My boyfriend and I have been together for over 4 years, and marriage has always been the plan and goal, but we just can’t do it right now. I’m in college and he’s just got his first real job, and we’re still young, so getting married just to have sex not only isn’t in the cards right now, but doesn’t make sense. We have always wanted to wait till marriage, but we’re human, and after 4 years it’s just getting too hard. This is not someone I don’t know, this is the love of my life, the man I want to marry when the time is right. What do you do then?

    • Randi, I guess I’d say, why does the time have to be right? What are you waiting for? If this is the man you are sure you want to marry, and sure you want to spend the rest of your life with, and he is equally sure about you, what is the wait? He has a job and you’re in college. That’s perfectly fine. I married when we both were in college! We lived in a tiny apartment until our second child was a year old. It was perfectly fine. If you’re not getting married because you’re not sure about HIM that’s one thing, but if you’re not marrying for other reasons–money? parental approval?–I’d say ultimately those things are pretty unimportant. Hope that helps!

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