This article is a response to the popular blog post titled “I Waited Until My Wedding Night To Lose My Virginity and I Wish I Hadn’t,” written by a girl named Samantha. You can read her full article here: bit.ly/truelovewaits.
Samantha writes about the church she grew up in, a church that caused a lot of damage in her life. Whether Samantha misunderstood the message the church spoke or whether the church members told her lies, I’m not sure, but Samantha wrote an article about why she remained a virgin until marriage and why she regrets that choice. Unfortunately, the imperfect people of her childhood church created problems for Samantha despite their best intentions. The message that Samantha received was not what the bible really says. Rather than growing in an atmosphere of grace and love, she was subject to rules and fear.
My heart breaks for the pain that Samantha had to go through; the way her young heart was handled was wrong and damaging. Jesus does not try to keep hold of people through fear, but rather draws them to himself by his gift of grace and mercy at the cross, demonstrating his great love for us. Because lots of young people are reading this article and taking what Samantha says as truth about the church and its position on sex, I’d like to post some biblical truth in response. I address specific quotes from Samantha’s article below.
1. You won’t go to Hell if you have sex before marriage.
“Extramarital sex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it.” –Samantha
It’s true that sin leads to death, but I’m thankful that God doesn’t leave it at that! Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Samantha was able to keep her pledge of purity due to “an unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt.” The reality is that we are going to sin; we can’t escape it. We’re humans and we’re going to mess up every day, but thankfully we don’t need to carry our guilt around with us; the truth that Samantha doesn’t speak of is that God forgives. If you have sex before marriage, God doesn’t turn his back on you. I’ve sinned in my life more times than I can count, but I keep turning to God for forgiveness. When you turn from sin and turn to God, he forgives you.
2. It’s not about our actions.
“I stood in the hotel bathroom beforehand, wearing my white lingerie, thinking, ‘I made it. I’m a good Christian.’” –Samantha
The truth is, we’ll never be good enough on our own. No matter how hard we try, we will always sin. We’re not perfect. The church is not perfect, because it’s made of imperfect people. But God is perfect. God is good.
Our worth is not found in being a “good Christian”, it is found in Christ, who lived the perfect life we couldn’t. We will have sinful thoughts, say sinful things, and commit sinful actions. We’re human. That’s why God sent Jesus, who lived without sin, to be an offering for our sin. We don’t have to be perfect because in the end, we’ll fail. Instead we have to accept the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice and the fact that God forgives our sins. That’s the only way we can be blameless, not by trying on our own. We trust in Christ’s finished work, and we live in a way that is pleasing to him out of love, not obligation.
3. God’s plans are best.
“I was told over and over again, so many times I lost count, that if I remained pure, my marriage would be blessed by God and if I didn’t that it would fall apart and end in tragic divorce.” –Samantha
There are verses throughout the bible that call us to flee from sexual immorality. What isn’t found in the bible is a verse that says “if you remain pure your marriage will be blessed by God, but if you don’t it will fall apart and end in tragic divorce.” If this isn’t in the bible, than why is it so important to remain sexually pure before marriage?
The most important answer to this question is that God’s plans are best. God is greater and better than we can even comprehend. The bible says that He has good plans for you, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God, who is so great we cannot even wrap our minds around it, has good plans for us! A part of these plans involves us being sexually pure before marriage. I have many friends who can testify to the blessing of waiting until marriage to have sex. Saving sex for a healthy marriage environment keeps our hearts and bodies from the pain and harm that can come from extramarital sex. I trust that the God of the universe knows better than me, so I try my best to be lead by Him into his good plans for my life. I will mess up along the way, but instead of abandoning me, God keeps pulling me closer.
4. The bible calls all of us to remain pure, not just females.
“It was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me, because he didn’t have that same responsibility, according to the bible.” –Samantha
As I said earlier, there are many verses throughout the bible telling us to “flee from sexual immorality” and to “let the marriage bed be undefiled.” However, there are no verses in the bible that says this applies to only women. In fact, one such verse is written specifically to Timothy, a male: “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Timothy 2:22). Any person or church who says that men have less responsibility than women in regards to purity is lying to you.
5. Husband and wives belong to each other.
“When he did [want to have sex], I obliged. I wanted nothing more than to make him happy because I loved him so much and because I’d been taught it was my duty to fulfill his needs.” –Samantha
When we get married, it’s true that we no longer have complete authority over our own body; we now share it with our spouse, but not at the expense of ourselves. Married or not, we are called to honour God with our bodies. This doesn’t mean unwillingly giving yourself to someone. You have to first of all respect your body.
1 Corinthians 7:3 says “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” First and foremost, the bible instructs men to fulfill their marital duty to their wives. This includes respecting their wives. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25), and Christ loved the church so much that He gave his life for us! That’s a huge responsibility. Samantha goes on to say in her article that she hated sex and didn’t enjoy it, but she continued to oblige to her husband. Marriage isn’t only about pleasing your husband. Husbands and wives belong to each other and must respect each other, not just the wife to the husband.
6. Gossip is not Godly.
“Gossip is the lifeblood of the Baptist Church.” –Samantha
A church that is full of gossip has strayed from God. The bible tells us not to gossip: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up” (Ephesians 4:29). Samantha was afraid to sin because she believed that the entire church would gossip about it. That’s not a healthy fear. We should do what is right because of our love for God, not because we fear what others might think. The church should be filled with people who build us up, give us grace, and don’t gossip about us.
7. The church needs to teach young people about sex and forgiveness.
“They didn’t tell me that I’d be on my honeymoon, crying again, because sex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was married and it was supposed to be okay now.” –Samantha
Young people often get told the message that sex is sinful before marriage, but we can’t leave it at that. What about all of the young people that do have sex before marriage? Coming to youth group every week to hear about how sex is sinful isn’t going to help. We need to make sure that our young people know about the forgiveness and love that God has for them, about the fact that their sins can be washed “white as snow,” and that they can wear white on their wedding day and not feel guilty about it (Isaiah 1:18).
We can’t constantly hear that sex is “dirty and wrong and sinful,” as Samantha experienced, and then be expected to completely change our mindset on our wedding night and give ourselves to our spouse. That’s not how our brains work. The fact is that sex is not dirty, wrong, or sinful. After all, God created sex. He created sex to be good within the bounds that He intended. We need to remember this fact and encourage our youth to look forward to sex within marriage rather than causing them to fear it.
The church should be a place that is safe and full of grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness. We should be encouraged to follow God’s ways by his love poured out over us, not by fear. That’s the gospel; that God made a way for us to be made right with him because we can’t do it ourselves. It is the free gift of grace from a God who loves us. He is our creator and he knows what is best for us.
I am thankful that Samantha shared her story, so that we can learn from it and talk about it. I hope that this response can clear up any misconceptions about the church and about God. I hope that we can continue to dialogue about these important issues and find healing for the hurts that have been done.
To the churches I say this: be careful with the precious children you have been entrusted with. Do not manipulate them and instill fear in their hearts in order to create desired behavior. Teach them about God and biblical truth, not twisted rules. Do everything out of love, not out of fear.
To those who have been hurt: God is good, he has good plans for you, and he wants the best for you. I am sorry for the hurts that people have caused you. People are imperfect; everyone is in need of a saviour. Don’t give up on God because of the failures of imperfect people. He loves you more than you could ever imagine.