“Don’t do it.” That’s what I heard growing up. “s*x before marriage is a sin.” For some people, this type of admonishment is enough to make them wait until marriage. For others, it only pushes them into rebellion. For me, well, let’s just say I made some mistakes that I regretted after getting married. Once I became a wife, I realized how I sold myself short and settled for less than the best.
Now that I am a pastor’s wife, I have the privilege of ministering to women of all ages, and one of the topics I cover is s*x and proper relationships. But I take a slightly different approach from the lessons I received as a teenager. It’s not enough just to say “don’t do it” or “it’s a sin.” Negative motivation isn’t working. With the rise in STDs, teen pregnancies, high school drop outs, and s*xual influences from the media, we must broaden our approaches to teaching about s*x.
I like to approach the topic from the perspective of blessing. We usually think about blessings in terms of God working things out in our finances, health, careers, or relationships. These are all wonderful blessings, for sure. However, there is another blessing that no one ever told me about in all of my years of church: the blessing of marital s*x. s*x under covenant and in a loving, mutually-respectful, mutually-responsive marriage will blow your mind! One-night stands, boyfriend/girlfriend s*x, and friends-with-benefits””none of those s*xual encounters compare to the intimacy, pleasure, and freedom found in the marriage bed.
Intimacy with your spouse involves sharing and being vulnerable with each other; having emotional and physical connections that don’t necessarily lead to s*x. Pleasure in a marriage means being responsive to each others’ desires; thinking more about pleasing your spouse than yourself; feeling appreciated and loved before, during, and after s*x. Freedom in a relationship includes trusting each other enough to let go; releasing fears of inadequacy or abandonment; knowing that your actions are blessed and sanctioned by God. True intimacy, pleasure, and freedom take time and effort. They don’t happen automatically after the vows are spoken. The marriage covenant helps to develop them, especially when both spouses are committed to making the marriage work on all levels, which includes s*x.
When a husband and wife decide to grow in intimacy, pleasure, and freedom together, God smiles down on them and gives them what they need, not only to be successful but also satisfied. Why? Because God wants husbands and wives to enjoy each others’ flesh, to connect emotionally and physically, and to be deliberate about being together. He wouldn’t have created s*x if He didn’t. So God blesses martial s*x and equips spouses to experience love like they never have before.
On the other hand, outside of marriage, s*x offers shallow intimacy, temporary pleasure, and limited freedom. It’s like a counterfeit Coach handbag you buy on the street corner. It looks like the real thing, but when you get up close you notice the flaws and shoddy workmanship. Furthermore, you really can’t express who you are during pre-marital s*x because a part of you is worried about getting pregnant, contracting an STD, breaking up, or going to Hell. How come I didn’t get a phone call? How can he/she just move on to the next person? Will he/she marry me? Will God forgive me? Trying to manage all the emotions and drama that come along with premarital s*x can drive you crazy, not to mention leave you heartbroken and bitter.
I recognize that s*x in marriage is not always perfect. Many couples experience growing pains until they get to a place of true emotional, spiritual, and physical connection. Nevertheless, the potential is there to be close to it. As God said after completing the creation, “It is very good.” That’s my message to the women I speak to. Yes, premarital s*x is a sin. Those of us who have been there and done that have the scars, heartaches, and depressing stories to prove that it is not what God wants. But, my message doesn’t just focus on the sin; it looks forward to the blessing. It answers the question, “Why wait?” from another angle.
Consider this: You can either settle for less (the counterfeit Coach bag), or you can have the real thing, which is the best God has to offer. I’ve carried a knockoff Coach, until my husband told me it actually said “Goach.” I walked around thinking I was cute and trendy. Boy was I fooled. My new, authentic Coach, however, looks and feels totally different. The same is true for s*x within marriage. When blessed by God and honored by both spouses, it looks and feels different from anything else. It is one of a kind, the real deal. So why settle?