Here’s one email that I received:
My boyfriend and I really want to wait until marriage to make love. We know how important purity is. But we’ve been so tempted, and we’ve already gone further than we should. We haven’t had sex yet, but I’m afraid that it’s just a matter of time. I don’t want to start my marriage like that! What do I do?
I know that’s a struggle so many people have, so I thought I’d address it today. Let me start by saying congratulations that you want to wait! You’re making a good choice. And as you wait, it will also become easier to make the decision whether or not this is the person you want to marry. So very good choice!
Now, if the problem you’re having is more that you’ve already begun sleeping with him–or maybe even living with him–and you want to stop but you’re afraid you’ll lose him, read this post on how to stop sleeping with your boyfriend. But if it’s more that you’re feeling really tempted to sleep with him now, and you’re afraid that you won’t stay pure, read on:
Know Why You’re Waiting
It’s hard to wait if you figure it’s just something you’re SUPPOSED to do in order to be a “good girl”. Then it’s all too easy to doubt yourself, and all too easy to get a warped view of sex, where sex is seen as something wrong that “good girls don’t do”. Nothing is further from the truth!
God wants us to wait because sex is supposed to be intimate on many levels: physical, yes, but also emotional and spiritual. It truly binds you together. And when you wait, you’ll enjoy a better sex life afterwards (as I found in the surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex). I’ve written a few posts on why God wants us to wait for marriage, and I’d suggest reading them (and getting my book!) so you have a better view of sex–and more incentive to wait!
Here’s what one woman said on Facebook when I asked my readers what their advice for waiting is:
I didn’t succeed with this, and oh… Do I wish I did. I fell into temptation. Although we did marry, and are still married 15 years later, I still find myself wishing we would have waited for marriage. I can just imagine the sacredness of the wedding night. After a long wait, completely seeking God and relying on His promises. Then feeling that huge sense of accomplishment when you know you’ve done what He commands! Sex is a gift, and when used how its intended, such a privilege and blessing. I’ve recently watched two very dear couples to us successfully wait until their wedding night, and one of them, we’re close enough girl friends for her to share with me how rewarding it was, and I would give anything to be able to experience that. Once its spent, its spent. If I’d known then what I know now, we would have definitely waited. Persevere for the reward God has for you! You will not regret it! And, congratulations!
Have a Short Engagement
Seriously. When you feel that close to each other, it is hard resist. There’s a reason that Paul wrote, “it’s better to marry than to burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9).
I got married in December. Sure, a summer wedding would have been prettier, but we wanted to marry, and why wait twelve months when we only had to wait three? If you’re sure, and he’s sure, short engagements are likely better, and much easier.
Resist Temptation by Hanging out In Public
If it’s feasible, try not to spend too much time alone in each other’s apartments or homes. I know that isn’t always feasible, especially if you each live on your own, with no roommates. But then try to plan things to do, rather than just hanging out. Go for lots of walks. Volunteer together. Take up some sports you can do together.
When we hang out at each other’s homes, we tend to make out a whole lot. And even if you don’t have sex, you can still get more physical than you would want to. But there’s another danger: if your relationship becomes mostly physical, then you get married without having anything fun that you tend to do together. So it’s better to spend those weeks and months before the wedding finding things you enjoy doing together that don’t involve a liplock.
Do you have a good friend you can trust whom you can ask to pray for you? Do you have housemates that can hang out with both of you as a couple? If you have another couple, or a friend, that you can go to for accountability, that can help you resist. If you know someone is going to ask you pointed questions: “did you put yourself in a compromising position this week?”, or “did you go further than you want to go”?, it’s easier to say no. And if you have someone that you can talk to about where you should draw the line, that can help, too.
Be Careful About Praying and/or Talking Too Much About What You’re NOT Going to Do
This one may seem counterintuitive–after all, if you want to wait, shouldn’t you be praying together? Well, yes. And no. You see, praying is one of the most intimate things we can do together. And while I absolutely recommend that couples pray together, you could be finding that this is part of the temptation. So if you’re really struggling after you’ve prayed together, it could just be the natural pull we feel towards sex when we also feel connected in other ways. So maybe you should keep your prayer life in public, too!
But there’s another thing to consider: if you’re trying to remain pure, and you talk about it all the time, you can aggravate the problem. Let’s say that you’re experiencing a lot of sexual tension. You want to have sex, and you’re really drawn to him. What’s now going to happen if you start talking about where to draw the line? You’ll start to talk about what you CAN’T do, and likely how these things make you feel, and it just can make the whole problem worse.
You already know where the line is. You’ve already decided. You don’t need to talk about it again. Next time you’re in a compromising situation, instead of starting a big conversation about it, why don’t you go make cookies? Or go out for a walk? Or just do something else?
Fight with the Weapons You Have–Memorize Scripture
If you’re feeling tempted, you’re hearing in your head all these messages–
you’re going to fail, you can’t resist, it would be SOOOO good, it’s hopeless!
Why not start filling your head with Scripture instead? When Jesus was tempted, He fought back with Scripture, and you can, too! When you’re going through a hard time in your Christian walk, now’s the time to pull closer to God. I’ve got a list of the 50 best Bible verses to memorize, and if you focus on those, and learn a new one every week, and keep reciting it, you’ll likely find it easier to fight back against temptation! And there are some great verses, too:
Ultimately Waiting Until Marriage Is a Heart Issue
Ultimately, though, you can put all the boundaries in place, and all the accountability in place, and none of it will work if you’re not seriously committed to waiting. I did wait because the idea of NOT waiting was never an option. I grew up always knowing I would wait, and even though it was tempting, we did. We were alone together in my apartment, and we still waited. At some point you either have the self-control or you don’t. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t put boundaries around you, but I guess I’m not as adamant as some of the people on my Facebook Page, because I really do think that it’s ultimately a heart issue. You need to decide INTERNALLY to wait, and you need to just be sure, within yourself, that this is what you’re going to do. I really like this reply by one woman:
Internal motivation vs external rules will carry you much further. I know a lot of folks are saying you should not be alone, but I don’t see that as a healthy way to spend the weeks/months leading up to marriage at ALL. My husband and I were engaged for over two years (he was in a strict military academy for 4 years, and was not allowed to marry or live off base until graduation). We were alone all the time, but stayed active with our church, multiple Bible studies, and just set our minds to waiting until the wedding. We were both virgins when we married, and relied more on the grace of God than rules we set for ourselves.
I do think that if you’re really struggling, setting up rules like don’t be alone, have accountability partners, don’t hang out in bedrooms, etc., are definitely a good idea. But, to be honest, my husband and I didn’t have those rules, and we waited, because we were also immersing ourselves in Bible studies together and praying together and serving in church together, and we were just totally committed to waiting. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, and I think we all have different temptations that we’re prone to. But ultimately deciding to wait until marriage for sex is a heart issue, and external rules will only take you so far.
What do you think? What do you recommend for couples who want to wait until the wedding? Let’s talk about it in the comments!