Why I Wish I Had Stayed Pure Before Marriage

Staying Pure Until Marriage: Why I wish we had waited

Today, on Wifey Wednesday, we welcome guest poster Darby Dugger, who is talking about staying pure until marriage. And remember: every Wednesday, you can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below!

“We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar.”

Verse 9 from the Expanded Bible says this,

If she is a wall [chaste],
we will put silver towers on her [support and honor her].
If she is a door [ promiscuous],
we will protect [enclose] her with cedar boards [put a stop to her sexual activity].

~Song of Solomon 8:8-9

I love the sense of community responsibility in this passage. Of course, personal responsibility is a must, but so is accountability… especially in the area of sex. For example, as a parent, I take these words to heart realizing that as my children enter into the dating scene (years from now, they are only babies today), I want to build a wall around them. I cannot leave them to practice self-control and abstinence on their own and, truthfully, it would be unloving for me to do so. Without the help of Bible believing Christians, they will fail.

I know this because I failed to stay pure.

I was always a good girl. In high school and college I made wise choices, I did not party, drink, cuss, or even flirt. My faith was what I was best known for, and it made perfect sense that I met my amazing husband volunteering at our church. We both held leadership positions within the different ministries in which we were involved. What attracted us most to each other was how we served the Lord in our individual lives. When we first began our courtship, in order to avoid sexual temptation, we made the choice not to kiss very often.

However, I did not guard my heart.

As I began, steadily, giving my heart away to my boyfriend… compromise began to set in. It entered subtly with our time boundaries: We began to spend more alone time together and, occasionally, I would even stay the night in his apartment. I rationalized that because we were not engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior it was okay. I enjoyed sleeping on his couch because I loved being around him, but I didn’t pause to think about the appearance of sin (1 Thess. 5:22 – KJV) we were portraying to his neighbors or the temptation that was to follow.

Not guarding my heart led to a compromise of alone-time boundaries which, eventually, blurred into physical temptation. About a year after our relationship began, we began to stumble in the area of purity. We both knew it was wrong, we would repent, and strive for purity again, but we were going about it alone.

We deeply desired to do things correctly, but we were trusting in our own flesh not to make the same mistakes we had already made.

Throughout our entire year and half dating relationship, no one that we were close with stopped to ask us how we were doing with staying pure until marriage. I am sure one of the reasons for this silence was people assumed we were doing things God’s way. But we weren’t. Don’t get me wrong, we tried to please God, but we failed. And for us, one failure led to another and another.  Satan began to whisper to me that it was too late to strive for purity in our relationship and, as I believed his lies, I was filled with shame.

It was only during premarital counseling that our minister asked us point blank if we had had sex. Our silence was his answer. Ironically, it was his loving, but firm, response that gave us the motivation to choose differently in our relationship.

It became easier to practice abstinence for the duration of our engagement because we had someone come along side us and encourage us towards the Biblical standard of purity.

After that awkward, but impactful, meeting… my then fiancé and I made the choice to abstain until our wedding night. A choice we had tried to make earlier, but now, with the help of someone else, it seemed possible.

I believed the lie from Satan that because we had made a mistake, God could never redeem it.  Discouragement has plagued my heart from the first time we crossed the line physically until today.  In fact, writing this post, over ten years later, is part of my healing process. Even since our marriage, I have lied to people and told them we were pure on our wedding night. In doing so, I missed so many opportunities for God to use our mistakes to help other people. The purpose of this post, however, is not merely to disclose a buried secret, but rather to share the wisdom I have gained through my mistakes.

1. I learned that staying pure until marriage is incredibly difficult without the help of others.

Truly, I was the last person I thought would give up her virginity before marriage and yet, because of my pride, I never confessed my struggle to another believer. If I had confided in a trust-worthy friend when the first temptations came, I bet our relationship choices would have taken a different direction. Now, as a married adult, I love to come alongside dating couples as they strive for purity. I don’t avoid asking them the hard questions rather than assuming they are making the right choices. Some are more receptive to my probing than others… some have made fewer mistakes than others, but either way, I am offering myself as a partner on their journey to help them remain pure until their wedding night. Premarital sex is a detour from the Divine plan for physical intimacy, and it is never in God’s will for a couple.

2. I learned that remaining sexually pure is equally as hard within marriage as it is before marriage.

Accountability must be brought in. I once heard a DJ on the radio say that if you have premarital sex it is telling your future spouse that you believe in sex outside of the wedding vows and that mindset can lead to higher chances of adultery. I personally don’t know if I agree with this completely, neither my husband or I believed in sleeping around or living together, and we didn’t make a habit of having (or justifying) premarital sex. Purity was simply a struggle at which we failed. However, that does make us more aware of how easily our flesh can lead us astray and how innocently physical temptations can begin. Thankfully, my husband and I have matured in this area and we both have people in our lives who we meet with regularly who help us remain faithful to each other in our thoughts and actions. We have in place many boundaries, which begin by guarding our emotional intimacy, in order to help us “affair-proof” our marriage. We willingly choose to confess our struggles to each other and to other believers. In fact, it is the people who ask us the hard questions who have become our closest friends and allies because it communicates their love.

3. I learned, first hand, that premarital sex has consequences one cannot escape.

Even though my husband and I did strive for purity until marriage for the majority of our dating relationship, the mistakes we made had consequences that lingered long after the wedding night. Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. My husband and I missed out on more than we could ask or imagine by straying from God’s plan for us. However, along with the consequences, God has also offered us incredible grace. My husband and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary this year and, while, for many years sex was a source of contention for us; it is now an incredible and beautiful part of our relationship. God truly can bring beauty from ashes and He has certainly done that for our physical relationship (which brings me to my knees before Him all the more!).

My advice to married readers: Don’t rely on your own strength to keep your marriage bed pure! Invite accountability into your thought life, your internet history, and you physical boundaries with other! Also, invest in those around you who have yet to make it to the altar. Stand with them, encourage them, pray for them, and don’t be afraid to step on their toes. Oh, how my husband and I wish someone had stepped on ours! 

My advice to single readers: Don’t compromise sexually and stay pure. Take it from someone who has walked down a road I will always wish I had not: make wise choices about guarding your heart, avoiding the mere appearance of sin, and certainly abstaining from sexual intimacy before marriage. If you have already made mistakes, I urge you to start a fresh beginning today! It is never too late to hit the reset button. God wants to bless you more than you can ask or imagine. Don’t miss out.

And for all of you: let’s heed Darby’s advice and hold others accountable around us! Let’s ask the hard questions, as she says. Need a starting point? Here’s a post on 10 questions to ask a friend before she gets married.


anniversaryDarby is a wife, mother, speaker, blogger, and author of the devotional, For the Love of Our Husbands. Her greatest passions are promoting healthy marriages and encouraging women to pray fervently for their husbands. Darby believes strongly in sharing her own weaknesses… trusting that God will redeem her sin struggles for His glory. You can connect with Darby via her website www.darbydugger.com.

 

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up your own marriage post in the linky below!



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Comments

  1. Darby, thank you for being so open and vulnerable in this post. I completely agree concerning accountability and mentoring. My husband and I had very strong mentors, right from non-courtship (singlehood) days, through courtship, engagement and marriage. Two couples who were not afraid to step all over our toes, get on our faces, encourage and impart, exercise very tough love. And teach us what real love and commitment was all about. It wasn’t always fun but it was such an anchor, God’s way of taking care of us. It’s so great to know that you are not alone, that protection brings peace.

    I mentor courting couples, write a lot on purity, boundaries in courtship and like you’ve said, not everyone wants to hear about it or accept accountability or mentoring. I feel so strongly about it because I know what it did for us, why it’s important and I wish every couple was willing to be that accountable. Of course there’s a deep need for good mentors as well, but I believe that God supplies needs; if a courting couple sincerely asks God for a mentor, and begins to look for one, God will provide for them.

    Thankful for your sharing today. I know it will help many! I’ll be sharing it.
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…Beyond the Wedding Night – 7 Tips for a Healthy Sex Life in MarriageMy Profile

    • Thank you, Ngina! I felt God’s prompting to write this post about six months ago, and let me tell you I didn’t want to write it. :) So, my prayer is that is will benefit people in their different seasons of life: encouraging those single to remain pure and encouraging those in the season ahead of them to ask the hard questions).

      As I have reflected back, I do think one person asked us how we were doing, but that was long before purity struggles so the answer was honest and caused no need for alarm. After that, as much as I wish someone would have asked, I also had a responsibility to speak up. I didn’t have a regular mentor, but did have older, women friends that I could have approached. Sadly, as usual, my pride got in the way.

      I am so thankful that you write so boldly on boundaries and purity. Keep it up! And thank you, again, for commenting. I appreciate your encouragement.
      Darby Dugger recently posted…Ban BossyMy Profile

  2. Darby, thanks so much for sharing this! This definitely gets added to waitingforintimacy.com. Many thanks for speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) on this challenging subject for so many of us.

    • Thank you, Greg! My prayer is that God will use these words and that they will reach those who need to read them. With that said, I appreciate your sharing of this post and your encouragement.
      Darby Dugger recently posted…Ban BossyMy Profile

  3. Thank you Darby for your post today! I know the struggles that I had on this same subject. And now with our first baby on the way I sometimes think about how to teach her and mold her into making the right choices. This is one of those that I think about. Thank you for talking openly and bringing reality into focus!
    Cassie recently posted…Giving Thanks through It AllMy Profile

    • Thank you, Cassie! Yes, I too am looking for ways to encourage and equip my children to make better choices than I did! I will be praying for your wisdom in the matter when I pray for myself in that area. Thank you for your kind and encouraging comment!
      Darby Dugger recently posted…My Greatest RegretMy Profile

  4. Roger C says:

    I appreciate your sharing your experience. I also want to ask you, however, about a different perspective. Are we making chastity too hard? I ask that from this perspective. What did it mean in the 1st century to be chaste? It probably meant that a girl/boy who reached puberty around 14 (later back then because they had less nutrition) would have to be chaste until about 16 or 17. The period of chastity was about 2-3 years, maybe even less for girls.

    I agree with all of your points about promoting chastity as parents but my experience was similar to yours and I don’t really know if any amount of encouragement would have been enough to remain chaste for 4 years in college. I met my future wife when she was a freshman in college (I was 3 years older) and we married the summer after she graduated. I knew that I was going to propose to her about 9 months after we met. In our case, I think that to remain chaste we needed to marry earlier.

    That may sound like a cop out to many Christians but I do think that emotion and physical desire will often take over given enough time. Is asking chastity over more than a couple of years for people in their late teens and early twenties too high a bar? We can help young adults to meet that high bar but we can also work on lowering it. I really think that part of the solution is being more open to our children marrying younger.

    I think it’s also important to stress chastity over virginity (I am sure you agree). A couple should still be motivated to refrain from sex even when “they have done it before”. “Purity” in some people’s minds can be associated with virginity in which case a single act makes someone permanently impure.

    • Sheila says:

      Excellent thoughts, Roger. Thank you. I’ve often wondered about the marrying young thing, too. I believe we should be raising our kids to be mature enough to marry younger, but it’s also hard when they’re not financially independent yet, because I think marrying when parents are still paying the bills also sets up a negative dynamic. I guess the long and the short of it is that we should be raising kids from 14 on to make their own money and be as independent as possible so that more is possible when they’re younger.

    • Jennifer Vaughn adds poignant thoughts on this as well:

      http://delesmuses.blogspot.com/2011/10/thoughts-on-1-corinthians.html

    • The key to saying pure before marriage is to be realistic about the strong desire for sex which God created in us. Dating to find someone should definitely not be hurried, but once a couple has committed to getting married the wedding engagement period should be relatively short.

      My wife and I got married and continued to finish college together as a married couple. Mainly because of our supportive parents and church pastor who did not agree with the societies trending ideology where young men and women are pushed to get their college degree and career going before they marry. There was no way my wife and I would have gotten all the way through all those college years with staying pure, geez wiz we did not even make it all the way through our year and a half engagement without messing up.

      She was 18 and I was 22 when we got married and now we are approaching our 19th wedding anniversary with a blessed marriage. Plus even with being married at a young age our careers turn turned out better than we ever planned for ourselves. I am currently a Software Engineer, and she is a Preschool Director.

      Also to help our boys we are teaching them the same priorities that we put God and family first and that education and careers are to be supported of having a family not a priority that overrides them. And as the opportunities present themselves discussing God’s version of the birds and bees with them so when they are at the point of strong desire they are equipped to try their best at waiting until they are married.

    • Alchemist says:

      I think you are falling in the expecting kids to fail trap. God knew all times when the Bible was written. He is unchanging and so is his word.

      I agree with Sheila about marrying young. But there is absolutely no reason that you can’t have your college kids just get married. Why should you wait for some arbitrary milestone (graduation)? You’re supporting them anyway. Why not continue your support and help them honour God in the process. It needn’t be weird. Presumably you give your kid a set stipend for rent and food and stuff. Just keep doing it.

      I’m 27. By boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years and we’re doing pretty well. We don’t really do anything but quick peck kisses and hugs. It’s not easy. But we do have very clear boundaries and accountability. I live with my sister and he lives with a friend. So there’s no hanging out alone in an apartment for hours. We actually spend very little time alone together in a private place. Most of our time is at work or with friends and family. Our alone time is outside, on bikes, walking, going on coffee date, rock climbing ect. Pretty hard to get physical when your in a public place all the time. We also have strict time boundaries. Mostly since both of us work 12 hours a day 6 days a week. But still.
      Our lives are deliberately organized that it would be pretty difficult for us to sneak off and have sex even if we wanted to.

      So, yes it’s hard. But for the love of God; Talk to your kids. All the time. Sex/ purity/ abstinence/ guarding your heart talks shouldn’t be once off when the kid turns 11. It should be an ongoing conversation from 4 years to adulthood. It should be as natural as any other topic in your house. Don’t send your kid to school without knowing where babies come from. Give your teen good books to read about dating/ courtship/ purity ect. Tell your kids they will really, really, really want to have sex. This is normal and good. But they can’t rely on willpower or holy spirit power or whatever. They need to draw boundaries before they even begin dating and be willing to defend them.

  5. I love this post! My husband and I also had sex before we were married, which resulted in me getting pregnant my very first time out the gate. It was a deeply shameful time for me at the time, especially having been involved in a leadership position in my church.

    Fortunately for me, in some ways, I was unable to hide my sin and do had to face it head on. It took years for me to really get over the lie that God couldn’t use me because of my sin and what really helped was volunteering for a crisis pregnancy clinic in my area promoting alternatives to abortion (because that thought definitely entered my mind the day I found out).

    Today we have been married over six years and are expecting our fourth child. God has definitely used my experience to be able to speak with other girls in similar situations and had continued to bless our family, despite the many mistakes we have made on our journey
    Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie recently posted…3 Things We DON’T Miss About Living in a HouseMy Profile

    • I love how God ultimately uses everything–even our mistakes–for good!

    • Oh, Sarah! Thanks for sharing!!! Yes, Satan fed me that same lie that God could never use me which is why I buried the secret so deep! What a beautiful story God is writing in your life… and yes, using even our mistakes to bring Himself glory. Thank you, again!
      Darby Dugger recently posted…My Greatest RegretMy Profile

  6. Thank you for this post! This was an encouragement to me to encourage someone I know to stay pure. They’re getting married soon & they came to mind.

  7. Leigh Sullivan says:

    STOP STOP STOP saying “sexually pure until marriage”. We are not automatically sexually impure once we marry. Talk, especially to our young people, about staying sexually pure. Period. While single, once married, if widowed – whatever stage and situation of life one is in.

    Marriage is not a free license to go sexually wild – well, it sort of is, I suppose, but it’s a limited license, limited to the one you marry. Could we prevent divorces if we spoke more of lifetime sexual purity?

    • Hey Leigh! I don’t think saying, “Staying pure until marriage” is implying that we are impure once we marry. Not at all. And, my second point in the post above discusses the challenges of staying sexually pure within the context of marriage because, of course, that is of the same vital importance. I think we agree, but just use different words to express our point. Thanks for commenting.
      Darby Dugger recently posted…My Greatest RegretMy Profile

  8. Such a brave post! Sex is an issue that should be talked about more in the church today. Not just about what should NOT be done, but also what SHOULD be done. I love the fact that you brought up staying honest and accountable with others that we feel safe sharing our personal lives with. That would help so many couples who are also trying to stay pure. My husband and I didn’t have sex, but we definitely crossed the line several times and felt awful every time it happened. It would have helped to have someone there to talk to about it.
    Jamie recently posted…To Those Who Have Ever Been Hurt by the ChurchMy Profile

    • Thanks, Jamie! I appreciate your grace and kind comment. I totally agree that sex should be talked about more (which is why I LOVE Sheila’s blog)! Yes, vulnerability is vital to marriage’s health – not only between man and wife, but with other believers who will help hold the couple accountable. Thanks, again!
      Darby Dugger recently posted…My Greatest RegretMy Profile

  9. Denise Porter says:

    Interesting read. I waited till 30 then fell off the wagon…

    I think it would help if there was strong teaching on this topic. Also parents that weren’t scared to talk about it. My Mum’s sex talk consisted of handing me an encyclopedia with a bookmark in it at the Sex article. So it wasn’t something talked about.
    I have always thought it would have been easier if someone was there to say what is right and what is wrong and if kids weren’t wondering how far they could go before crossing the line. Legalistic — this is okay but this in not — kind of thinking. You think you can “handle it” but end up playing with fire. I ended up marrying the fellow I lost my virginity to and am sure that if we hadn’t been physically involved we would not have wed. 13.5 years, two children and a divorce later, I have regrets ….

    • Hi Denise! Oh, I agree about there needing to be strong teaching on this topic. Not only what we should avoid, but the WHY behind it. Granted, that is hard to explain without experience marital intimacy, but to teach about the blessings that come with waiting. And, yes, involved parents is a must. I am sorry for your personal regrets, but just remember there is no pain the Lord can’t redeem! Thanks for commenting.
      Darby Dugger recently posted…My Greatest RegretMy Profile

  10. Thank you Darby for sharing your heart and being so open with us on this sensitive topic! I am just so encouraged by you and by Sheila’s continued transparency on this topic!

    My husband and I met in church after our college years, and had both engaged in premarital sex before meeting each other. Once we knew we were on track for marriage we began planning a quick wedding (6 month turn-around from the time we were engaged), but that still wasn’t fast enough (the battle with the flesh is so real!!). After much prayer and overcoming issues I had stemming from pride, we decided to get married before our wedding date. It wasn’t easy and our decision was not well received by many of our loved ones, but we set out to honor God! Though we knew it wouldn’t erase the mistakes of our past, we refused to be bound by our transgressions. We did seek counsel and I’m so glad that we humbled ourselves enough to recognize the weakness of our flesh, and begin our union in the way the Lord intended.

    I encourage anyone reading this who may be caught up in lustful temptation to repent, seek WISE counsel, and remember that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ! It’s not too late to make the choice to honor Him!!

    Blessings to you all, and btw, the hubby and I celebrate 4 years tomorrow! :)

    I share more of our story here: http://lifeofaministermom.com/2013/05/08/first-came-marriage-happy-3rd-anniversary-babe/

  11. Thıs ıs a very touchıng and realıstıc story. Our mıstakes are there to help others. Am really askıng God for the grace to be sexually pure wıth my fıancee, we try not to see to avoıd such. We are battlıng wıth romance. We have been prayıng but sometımes ıt feel beıng apart ıs the only way out. We should be gettıng marrıed next year. I dont want the romance to contınue. It makes me feel far away from God. We are both tryıng and prayıng. Any advıce?

    • Thanks for being vulnerable, Shola. Yes, I would encourage you to continue to pray and strive together for abstinence until your wedding night! Talk to someone at your church or a close friend who can help you in this journey. Don’t attempt it on your own! You won’t regret choosing to abstain, I promise! I will be praying for you.
      Darby Dugger recently posted…My Greatest RegretMy Profile

  12. It sounds like everything worked out fine for you. Your life sounds fine. There were no negative consequences to your lack of purity.

    I notice when people grow older, they want to control the actions of others. Unfortunately, trying control someone’s sexuality is like trying to stop the tide. That is why the rate of teen pregnancy for evangelical Christians is far higher than for other groups. When people try to control teens’ behavior (even via guilt or religious admonitions) it makes the teens act out. Trying to build a wall around your teen will likely have the opposite effect of what you wish.

    You had your fun. You made your mistakes. Do not try to stop your teens from making their own choices, or you may be unhappily surprised at the result.

    An Older Mom

    • I just want to point out that that stat is incorrect. It’s wrong for two reasons: it bases the definition of evangelical on people’s self-report, rather than on actual markers of being an evangelical (so if you call yourself a Baptist, you’re an evangelical, even if you only go to church on Easter); and it doesn’t take into account the fact that those who do self-report as religious are far more likely to carry a pregnancy to term than those who don’t. They simply have far fewer abortions.

      I also think you’re coming at this from the position that “what’s good for you is good for you.” That’s not something that I agree with. The only standard we have that’s real is God’s code, and He’s very clear about sex. So this isn’t about being mean to the younger generation; this is about teaching them truth and helping them avoid some mistakes they’ll regret later!

    • There were actually lots of consequences… I discuss some of those in the article above. And I hope I didn’t portray my premarital sex as fun, but rather, confessing how I strayed from God’s perfect will for my life. Yes, He has offered me grace, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big deal that I sinned. I love my children too much to “assume” they will make the right choices. I am not going to allow them to spend the night at their boyfriend’s house and “hope” they don’t cross the line physically. I can’t say for sure how I will handle their teenage years, but I’m learning as much as I can from older women (Sheila is certainly one of those) in how to talk to my children about sex, and other temptations, and I want them to know I am there to help them in this journey. I want them to stay pure until they are married because God is clear about His design for sex and I know the consequences that comes from disobeying. I want better for my children so I must partner with them!
      Darby Dugger recently posted…Pray-Day ThursdayMy Profile

  13. Great to read this article. My husband and I agreed early on that we would wait for marriage, but we ‘went it alone’ without accountability and we stumbled. We would do like you and repent and try again, and fail. It caused much guilt and heartache at the time, and in recent months I have really been struck by regret as I’ve watched couples reach their wedding day in the way I wish we had. It makes me very sad that we forwent something that we can have again. We made excuses (lies) to ourselves we shouldn’t have (we ‘knew’ we would get married anyway, so weed still only be with each other etc).
    I do think that there is something to be said about timing as well. My husband and I met at 18 and married at 22, but he wanted to propose after 6 months and his father said he wasn’t allowed to, he was rushing, conversely we had friends who were engaged after six weeks, married the following year and 6 years down the line are as strong as ever. If God is in it and prayer and support are a big part of the relationship extending the timescale unnecessarily can make it much harder for the couple. I know another couple who met as 13/14 year olds. They were permitted to start spending time together to get to know each other better at 16, but her parents wanted marriage to come after university at 21. They eventually relented to engagement at 18 and marriage at 19 realising that for two young people to be drawn together for 8 years and never overstep boundaries was maybe more of an ask than they should make if they were confident those two young people had been raised mature enough to follow God and be married. Chastity is hard, it’s not going to be an easy choice, but we can certainly make it harder than it needs to be in the choices we make for ourselves (loosening boundaries over time alone) or the rules we impose on our children.

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