What's Wrong With Sex Before Marriage?
Q I'm a 16-year-old Christian who recently gave up my virginity. I waited until I really loved my boyfriend, and I knew he loved me. I don't think sex has anything to do with the fact that you're married or single. I think it's a choice each person has to make by asking themselves if they're prepared for the outcome if something goes wrong. I talked to my partner about the possible outcomes. We used protection and nothing bad happened.
My boyfriend broke up with me recently. I know it wasn't because of sex, it was just because we had grown apart in our relationship. We're still best friends and we talk all of the time. I still don't regret anything I've done because I know I loved my boyfriend, and I always will. So why do people judge me when they find out that I'm not a virgin?
A You feel criticized by people who learn you aren't a virgin, but you might be surprised to know that some people feel criticized for just the opposite reason—because they've never had sex! It depends on who is doing the criticism, and what their philosophy is. In America today there are at least two very different philosophies of sex.
You've done a good job articulating the way sex is seen by many, especially on TV sitcoms, in most movies, and in supermarket magazines. The key to this philosophy is the individual—his or her likes and dislikes, his or her choices and responsibility. In this view, sex is a way for individuals to enjoy each other. Each person must decide individually whether to make love or not, with whom, and for how long. The only constraint should be whether they're prepared to handle the consequences. You can't avoid some risks, so you ought to face them honestly, minimize them if you can, and take responsibility for the results, whatever they are. If you should happen to get a sexually transmitted disease, or become pregnant, or decide you're not meant for each other, those are just the breaks of the game. Most likely you'll move through a number of sexual relationships before you find one that gives you lasting satisfaction. (And some people never find that, but keep moving from one partner to the next.)
If you follow this philosophy, there's no reason to blame you for losing your virginity. If someone had a baby and didn't take care of it, or contracted AIDS and whined about it, that would be wrong. But there's nothing wrong with what you've done—if you believe this philosophy.
I follow a different philosophy based on Christian truth and Scripture. The key to this philosophy is relationship. Sex, according to this view, is the way for individuals to bind themselves in a total relationship, in which two people become a single loving unit for the rest of their lives. In other words, sex is all about marriage and family. Your individual choice remains important, but it doesn't remain supreme forever. You become "one flesh" with a member of the opposite sex, by choosing to marry. Sex goes with a commitment. You lose a certain amount of freedom, a certain amount of individuality. But you gain a lifelong partner and soulmate.