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What's the best way to encourage people to save sex for the covenant of marriage? Mark Regnerus, author of Forbidden Fruit, Richard Ross, co-founder of True Love Waits, and Donna Freitas, author of Sex and the Soul suggest the best way to help.

Premarital Abstinence: Focus on Calling

Mark Regnerus

Human sexual development has not kept up with our preference to have more education, financial security, and life experience before marrying. On the contrary, the time gap between sexual maturity and marriage is the highest it's ever been.

In response, evangelicals muster popular perspectives on courtship and what clothes can and cannot come off and when. The lack of an authoritative message about sexuality is not lost on youth. Many don't mind that there is no shared story about sex. It makes the lowest common denominator easy to abide by.

Premarital sex will always be alluring. Sex, after all, does what it's supposed to do. It bonds. It makes us want more: more relationship, more security, more sex. That is the reality of its unchanging nature.

What we can change, however, is our widespread misunderstanding of how marriage happens. Christian scholar James Olthuis reminds us that entering into Christian marriage is not a light switch that's flipped on at the wedding, but rather a process in this intended order: a pledge of fidelity, reliability, integrity, and friendship between a man and a woman, a covenant between the two persons and God, a communal recognition of the marriage, and sexual consummation.

In one sense, there's no such thing as premarital sex. There is only non-marital sex and marital sex. When couples skip some of the steps, it's the job of the church to make sure the others occur, or to call non-marital sex the sacrilege ...

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In the Magazine

January 2010

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