Stepping Back from the Brink

By Laura Johnson

I grew up in a Christian family and never thought much about sex, until I went with my church youth group to hear a presentation on purity. I never heard anyone talk about sex in such a straightforward way before.
I always assumed I would save sex for marriage because I believed in God and had been taught that waiting until marriage is God’s will. The speaker pointed out that having a vague notion that one will remain pure is not enough. A person has to be purposeful in avoiding sexual temptation. Even though I felt I would never struggle with that, I signed the card the speaker handed out. It was called the Purity Promise Contract. It said: “On this ____ day of __________ in the year ______, I, _________________, vow to God and my future spouse to remain sexually pure until the time of my marriage. I realize that God created sex for the husband and wife relationship and that sex outside of this marriage relationship violates God’s perfect plan for my life. With this in mind, I hereby make this vow.” I signed at the bottom. (This contract is a free download at http://www.puritypromise.com.)
When I got home, I briefly showed it to my parents, then hid it in my jewelry box. I believed I would not fall to sexual temptation, and I was almost embarrassed by the boldness of the words written on that card. It sat in the same spot for a couple of years before I bothered taking it out again.
I remember being intrigued by the thought of giving myself completely to another person. It was scary and desirable at the same time, to be that vulnerable with someone. I wanted to find that one person to spend the rest of my life with. What kind of person would he be and how would I know if I had found him?
When I turned 16 and was allowed to start dating, my parents gave me a purity ring. The ring had a heart, a cross and a key intertwined. They told me it symbolized the key to my heart; that I was not supposed to give myself away until I had married the man God wanted me to. I thought the ring was beautiful, but I will admit that sometimes I was self-conscious about wearing it. Sometimes at school I would cover it with my other hand. Even so, I still didn’t think sexual temptation would be something I would struggle with.
I got something else on my 16th birthday too — my first boyfriend. I met him at a Bible quiz meet. He was cute, nice, excellent at Bible quizzing and his whole family went to church regularly. Also, he was pursuing me like crazy — what more could I ask for! So we started dating.
We didn’t see each other that often because he lived in another town. He drove, but his parents were very strict about where he went. And my parents were very strict about how I dated. Outside of seeing each other at quiz meets, most of our dating consisted of him driving to my house and us spending time together with my parents nearby, if not in the same room. He always wanted to hold my hand, hug and have his arm around me, squished as close to him as possible, but I was not comfortable with all the PDA — especially around my parents. When we were alone it was another story. I was more than happy to accept his physical affection.
We dated for over a year, and in that time, twice he grabbed me in places he should not have. Each time I looked at him and told him that I was not comfortable with that. The second time I told him that if he did it again, I would have to seriously consider breaking up with him. Eventually, I did break up with him, for different reasons. I thank God that I was able to respond correctly and that He kept me from being in any worse situation. After that, I went a long time without dating anyone steady — I was looking for the right guy. My early experiences reinforced my belief that I could handle sexual temptation — a false security.
At the point when I entered college, I had not had much interaction with people who were big on sex. In high school, I had been pretty selective about my friends, but in my freshman year of college, I was assigned a roommate — a person unlike anyone I had met before.
My roommate thought I was a phony, and that I couldn’t possibly be as nice as I seemed. She determined that I had an ugly side and that she would unleash it by antagonizing me. She later admitted that she had made it her goal to try to provoke me to anger. One of the ways she would try to provoke me was by talking about sex. I never knew if she had sex before marriage, but she would talk about sex in ways that made me uncomfortable — dirty, nasty ways, with no respect for what God intended it to be. And the friends she brought over to our room aided and abetted in her efforts to bug me about sex.
One night, one of those friends burst into our dorm room with blood all over her shirt — she was scared to death. We could hardly understand the words coming out of her mouth, but finally pieced it together. She had been giving a guy a “job” and something had gone wrong. We directed her to go to the bathroom, pull her shirt off, wash her hands and arms off and come back to our room with a clean shirt on. When she came back, the conversation went another direction, away from the incident. Still, I couldn’t pretend to be okay with what had transpired.
As the sex conversations continued and I made more friends who were not virgins, it became easier for me to act comfortable with what was going on around me. I had convinced myself that I should be accepting of others’ choices, and that it would not affect me personally. I was wrong. I became desensitized and found myself watching movies I never would have watched before, participating in conversations I would not have participated in and thinking about things I never had thought about. I learned the truth about slowly becoming what you surround yourself with.
My future husband, Adam, and I began dating at the beginning of my sophomore year. He was everything I dreamed of in a man — kind, compassionate, talented, a people-person, funny and a man of God. I knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. And just knowing that put a completely different spin on things. I had heard of other girls losing their virginity because they thought they would marry the guy. I remember thinking how crazy that was because time and again the couples broke up. The girl was usually crushed. Now it was my turn to be tempted by the idea of being together forever. Was it really wrong to have sex before marriage if the net result was still only one sex partner for life?
Adam and I had wonderful dating experiences! But there were times when we found ourselves alone at night, kissing, in the dark, and boy those lips felt good. When hormones take over, thought processes become blurred, and there were times we overstepped the boundaries we had set up for ourselves. Afterwards, we felt terrible regret. I would look back and say, “If only we had not…” And yet, we never had sex. God always gave us a way out, and I thank Him every day that we did not give in and have sex.
Adam got a job about five hours from where I was still attending college. I believe that was part of God’s way to prevent us from giving into temptation. We saw each other about once a month. It got harder to say good-bye each time he left, and again, we pushed boundaries. Even though we were not having sex, I felt so guilty each time for pushing boundaries. I knew God forgave me, but it was hard for me to forgive myself and let it go. That suddenly changed at the funeral of my prayer warrior, a dear elderly lady.
After the funeral, her husband of 65 years put his hands on my shoulders and said, “She loved you so much! She prayed for you every day, and I will continue to do so. Forget about the past. It doesn’t matter any more. We went through the same thing. God is going to do something great in your life.”
I was amazed. This man had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t have realized what he was saying. To this day, I believe God was speaking through him. It encouraged me tremendously and settled the issue in my mind.
Adam and I got married after dating four years. I was able to wear white on our wedding day. I relished the fact that I was able to give my husband something that I had never given to anyone else and never to him before: myself, fully. I love that we do not have to worry about whether we might be comparing each other to previous sexual partners. Since we were both virgins, we learned together and were okay when things didn’t work out Hollywood-perfect.
I’m also so grateful to not have the baggage that premarital sex brings into a marriage. I hear stories from others about what they have to deal with because they did not wait to have sex. One acquaintance developed an STD in her late 20s. She had been sexually active since puberty, but the disease delayed manifesting itself until recently. She is still young and unmarried and now she has to deal with managing the symptoms, as well as telling her fiancé what he is going to have to deal with when they marry. More commonly, it seems that my acquaintances who have had premarital sex are afraid their spouse will cheat on them. There is a lack of trust in their marriages and they always fear the worst. Or they themselves are the ones thinking, “The grass is always greener.”
My husband and I have full confidence in each other and I feel free to give myself completely to him. I know that this is a direct result of saving ourselves for marriage and making God the center of our marriage. With Him all things are possible!

This story was excerpted from the new book Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off, edited by Donna Lee Schillinger.
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.
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 http://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 http://www.VivaLaPureza.info.

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