This Rule’s a Keeper

The most difficult task in the life of a Christian single today is maintaining purity until marriage. The payoff is perfect love and sex, just as our Creator intended. But if that’s so awesome, why aren’t more people choosing it? And how can premarital sex be so bad if so many people are doing it and loving it? People who were virgins when they married aren’t usually the type to kiss and tell. And when premarital sex goes wrong, no one wants to Tweet it. This awkward silence from both contingents isn’t helping the next generation to decide well on the issue of premarital sex.
Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off is a collection of 17 first-person narratives about successfully waiting for marriage to have sex – or not. Contributors on both sides of the issue candidly share in face-reddening detail what they learned on their way to the wedding bed. Young people aiming to remain pure will be encouraged and learn practical strategies for resisting sexual temptation. Those who wish they had waited will learn that it’s never too late to restore purity with God’s grace.
The following is an excerpt.

This Rule’s a Keeper
By Freda Miller

In my teenage years I began to test the various and sundry rules and values to which parents, teachers and friends had exposed me. It was a time to decide which ones I agreed with and which I didn’t. I watched others and thought I could learn from their mistakes as well as from their successes. I didn’t need to poke my finger in the fire to know I would get burned.
Most of the people I knew had made a lot of mistakes, and sadly, that included my parents. I concluded that while they were both good people in certain ways, they seemed terribly miserable in their marriage. They fought, said hurtful things, held grudges about the past and never seemed to really resolve any issue successfully. Over the years, the wall between them grew higher, and it was plain to me that they weren’t happy. I decided that I wanted my life to be different. I wanted happiness and peace in my life. If I ever were to marry, I wanted to love and be loved. Not like them. I learned a lot about living without regrets from watching them.
Two of the values that I decided to make a permanent part of my life were: To (try to!) make decisions that I would not later regret, and never to engage in any behavior that I would be ashamed to have made public. Maybe the second is a corollary of the first.
Besides these values I had for myself, my parents gave me lots of rules, like “Don’t be seen drunk in public,” and “Don’t come home pregnant if you’re not married.” I may not have liked their rules, but eventually I realized that I couldn’t escape them. Nature has rules and society has rules too. And life is often bound up by a complex interplay of rules that seem contradictory. Love is one aspect of life that’s caught up in this contradiction between the rules of nature and the rules of society. We all want to be loved, especially as teenagers. Nature creates the urge to seek a mate but our Christian values call for purity until marriage. Which do we obey? I remember the day I decided that for myself.
It was a Saturday when I was about 14 and my parents were at it again, screaming and fighting. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I grabbed a book and headed out to my “special spot” in the woods so I could get away.
Sitting there in my escape, I took deep breaths of the sunshine. I laid back and listened to the wind blowing and the birds chirping. I watched the clouds in the sky and tried to clear my mind. Here there was harmony and peace. This was the kind of world I wanted. “God, help me; there is so much to think about.”
My parents were so angry. They exchanged so many hurtful words and then no words at all for days. They were miserable, and so was I. My parents came from dysfunctional homes. I’ve heard it said that girls grow up to be like their mothers and then they look for someone to marry like their father. Is that what happened to my parents? Now I was growing up in a dysfunctional home. Would the same happen to me?
I wondered about love and why it goes wrong. How could I avoid regrets in my love life? I needed to trust in someone and believe in something that went beyond anything that I saw in my parents — and God qualified. In God’s world were peace, harmony and security. What a contrast to my world! I thought about God’s rules for love and dating and knew that purity was God’s will, as well as my parents’ rule (although they didn’t have a lot of credibility as marital counselors at that moment). Maybe purity would be hard, but I couldn’t be sexually active without breaking all the rules, including both of my own — no regrets and no shame. I couldn’t find any way around it — the rule about no sex until marriage became a “keeper.”
As anyone who has ever made one can testify, a purity promise is not easily kept. I’d love to be able to say that I was guided purely by virtue and moral perfection. Instead, foreboding rules hung over my head: “If I get pregnant, they’ll throw me out of the house.” That was a pretty big one, because I knew my dad really would. Then there was, “It’s a sin; I’ll go to Hell.” It came up from time to time, but Hell seemed a long way off.
Those threats were serious enough, but I actually had some other thoughts that reinforced my resolve and maybe they’ll help someone else:
1. How terrible would it be to fall in love with someone and trust him with your most intimate self, only to find out that you had been infected with a sexually transmitted disease from some former partner? To me, passing on an STD seemed the ultimate betrayal. I concluded that the best way to avoid AIDS or an STD was never to sleep around and never date boys who did.
2. If I told someone “I’ll love you forever,” when I had already “loved” another before we met, how could anyone completely trust that I wouldn’t love yet another later on? Wouldn’t there always be some doubt or insecurity? I believed that if my future husband and I conducted ourselves in an honorable way before marriage — if we could avoid all the pitfalls of hormones and peer pressure — then we each could rely on the other’s promise to be faithful after we married, having already set a trustworthy precedent.
3. I didn’t want my husband remembering how it was to have sex with one of his old girlfriends when he was making love to me, and I didn’t want him to wonder if I was doing the same. I wanted to be the only love in his life, first and forever. Was I insecure or jealous? Maybe — I was only 14, but hey, it worked for me!
4. I imagined how it would feel some day to walk down the street with my husband and kids and run into a former lover. He would recognize me; then he would look over at my husband. In his face, there would be this knowing superiority: “I know things about her, too, maybe things you still don’t know. We had something you don’t. You’ve got my old hand-me-down.” I wouldn’t be able to stand that and I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t be too keen on it either.
Granted, the spiritual content of my rationale is lacking and maybe I’m revealing myself as insecure or even selfish. I don’t deny it, but it also could be that these are some of the real-life, practical reasons that God requires purity from His children. There may be no guarantees when it comes to love, but abstinence goes a long way to inspiring trust between two people, and that’s a solid prerequisite for love and a lasting relationship.
Trust is an essential element in many different relationships and is very difficult to recover once broken. Even under the best of conditions, marriage takes work, but it is so much easier when built on a solid bedrock of faith in each other. I can only imagine how much heartache and stress are added when your only trust is based on promises that are no different than those made before to someone else and later broken.
Sitting out in the woods in my “special place” that day, I came to see that God had a plan for all life, including mine, and I began to trust that He had good reasons for what He did and His seemingly conflicting rules. That day in the woods, I decided I could either be a victim of my circumstances or a victor, and I chose the latter. Though my parents’ marital discord was painful to me, it ultimately led me to look for a better way and to trust God for the answers. He has proven to be the best role model and teacher for how to be happy in life.
Eventually, I met a special person who had also practiced premarital purity and expected the same from his future partner. My purity was a commitment to our future relationship based on the belief that love required trust and it was my pledge to him that I was worthy of that trust. It told him that I wasn’t ordinary and I wanted to be loved in a special way, and his premarital abstinence told me that he wanted to be loved the same way in return. It was and continues to be a special bond between us.
Remaining pure was evidence of my belief that God is smarter than we are, and that if He made a rule about it, it was in our own best interest, even if it does conflict with our God-given hormones that scream otherwise. Purity was trusting that a life lived with as few regrets as possible was a good thing and that there would never be any shame in telling our children that their parents had practiced purity in their dating relationship.
Let me assure you how wonderful it is to look back after over 30 years together and realize how much misery and pain have been avoided because of that one important decision. You may not normally think of measuring the absence of a thing, but think about it now. By God’s grace, I avoided a lot of regrets and pain by following His plan, even though many would argue it was not the natural thing to do at the time. And yet many people I know who did the “natural thing” carry regrets about decisions in their past. Their lives have been burdened by complications resulting from the disclosure of secret behavior, whether a former lover, an unplanned pregnancy, abortion, sexually-transmitted disease or an affair. Add to that the sleepless nights, the constant, gnawing fear that someone will learn the secret and the work of keeping up with all the lies, and the price to pay for casual sex becomes too expensive.
That decision to trust God’s plan for dating was an essential ingredient that both my husband and I looked for when it came to choosing a marriage partner. I knew that I could never marry someone who had been intimate with someone besides me, and that was a good decision of which peace and security have been the outcome. By God’s grace, my prayers were further answered in that my marriage has turned out differently than that of my parents. While we aren’t perfect, we have solid, loving relationships with our children. My husband continues to be my only-ever lover and I believe him when he says he’ll always love me. I don’t have to be ashamed to tell any of that to my children. God’s plan works. God’s plan rules!

This story was excerpted from the new book Purity’s Big Payoff / Premarital Sex is a Big Ripoff, edited by Donna Lee Schillinger. A collection of 17 true stories about love that waited – or not! – for sex until marriage and the consequences of that decision. Learn more at PuritysBigPayoff.com. Now on sale at major online booksellers, through your local bookstore or for a special price of $12 plus free shipping at www.OnMyOwnNow.com, which receives as a donation half of the proceeds of its sales. Also available in Kindle through Amazon.com.
También en español: La Gran Recompensa de la Pureza / La Gran Estafa del Sexo Prematrimonial. Visite www.VivaLaPureza.info.

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