According to most polls, about 90 percent of the population believe in God, and about 80 percent believe in Jesus Christ as God. So for people who want to follow God’s commandments it’s reason enough to know that God has designated sexual intimacy as a “wedding gift” given only to those who are legally and lawfully married. But, are there additional benefits in saving sex for marriage – beyond obeying God’s command? Yes! There are many.

The purpose of this article is to provide compelling reasons for all of us to understand the wisdom in saving sexual expression exclusively for husband or wife to whom we are emotionally connected and lawfully committed. Sex is worth waiting for, worth learning about, and worth developing solely within the intimate, committed and connected relationship that exists only within marriage.

Parents can also use this information to effectively teach their teens to remain free of the emotional and physical entanglements of out-of-wedlock sex. Parents will learn how to teach and empower youth to understand the significant advantages of saving sex for its rightful place in marriage.

What are some of the compelling reasons to save sexual expression for its exclusive enjoyment and fulfillment within marriage? Saving sex for marriage:

(1)    Indicates trustworthiness
(2)   Provides a profound sense of accomplishment
(3)   Builds confidence and self-respect
(4)   Avoids emotional turmoil and heartache
(5)    Avoids regret
(6)   Develops self-discipline
(7)   Shows maturity
(8)   Provides physical and emotional safety – from STDs and unwanted pregnancy
(9)   Decreases depression and suicide, and increases overall happiness
(10) Reduces divorce

1)  Saving sex for marriage indicates trustworthiness. Trust is the foundation of a strong and healthy marriage. To be trusted is an honor bestowed when correct choices are made over a period of time. Reserving sexual expression for marriage demonstrates a significant degree of trustworthiness. If you can be trusted to save sex for marriage, then you can be trusted with almost anything!

Trust is the antidote to “relationship insecurity.” If you have succumbed to sexual temptation outside of marriage, it plants the question in the mind that maybe it could happen again with someone else. Having made good choices in the past is a strong indicator of future marital fidelity. It’s not that trust is impossible after yielding to sexual enticements, but withstanding sexual temptation keeps cracks from forming in the marital foundation.

2)  Saving sex for marriage provides a profound sense of accomplishment. Those who save sex for marriage may share something in common with those who run a marathon, or who climb Mount Everest – a huge feeling of accomplishment. The enduring satisfaction of having accomplished something difficult, often in the face of great adversity, provides a solid foundation for the soul, and a continuing reservoir of genuine contentment and confidence.

The quick thrill of succumbing to a sexual experience pales in comparison to the permanent thrill of overcoming great odds to maintain sexually purity for marriage. A profound sense of accomplishment can also come from starting over, at any point, to remain sexually pure until marriage.

3)  Saving sex for marriage builds confidence and self-respect.Withstanding the pressures to engage in premarital sexual activity bolsters one’s confidence – especially knowing that such an accomplishment can be difficult. The personal thrill of succeeding at something that many say can’t be done adds strength to one’s confidence and abilities. Confidence in self provides a quiet strength and assurance against the winds of adversity that attempt to blow us over.

Respecting oneself, and others, enough to wait to engage in sexual relations only within marriage also builds self-respect. To respect oneself means to appreciate, to esteem highly, to love. As teens face life’s challenges with resolute determination to save the gift of sexual intimacy for marriage, they develop greater respect for themselves. Self-respect is thus a cause and a result of remaining sexually abstinent before marriage.

4)  Saving sex for marriage avoids emotional turmoil and heartache. Sharing sexual intimacies outside of marriage inevitably invites emotional unrest and heartache. Anyone who has ever been used for a night of momentary pleasure knows the emotional pain associated with such indulgences. Deception, regret, and self?disgust often accompany the experience of inappropriately sharing sexual intimacies with another. Peace of heart and mind is the rich reward of saving sex for marriage.

5)  Saving sex for marriage avoids regret. Nearly eight out of ten girls and six out of ten boys regret their premarital sexual activity – and wish they had waited. [1] One young woman told her mother that she thought the relationship with her boyfriend was “the real thing,” so she agreed to have sex with him. But she soon learned that he was not the “real thing” and wished she had not given away that intimate gift. Young adults continue to incorrectly believe that each new and exciting relationship is “the real thing,” only to be deceived and disappointed yet again.

6)  Saving sex for marriage develops self?discipline. Every exercise of sexual restraint builds character and discipline of mind and body. Developing ever-greater degrees of self-discipline provides freedom from, and power against overwhelming appetites, passions and addictions, and lays the foundation for future fulfillment within the intimate relationship between husband and wife.

One father told his young adult son that while self?discipline was important before marriage, it was even more important after marriage. Given the intricacies of sexual fulfillment and the challenges that many couples face, I would agree that self?discipline – mental, emotional and physical – is vital for anyone to develop in order to have a successful and satisfying marital relationship.

7)  Saving sex for marriage shows maturity. Maturity is the ability to understand the consequences of our actions, and to show a pattern of making wise choices. Saving sex for marriage shows wisdom in keeping one’s self away from compromising situations – away from the fire – knowing that there will come a perfect time and place for fully experiencing the intimate passion of the act of marriage.

Keeping one’s self from sexual indiscretion is not only an indicator of self?discipline and maturity, but also helps keep a proper focus in life. Getting caught up in boyfriends/girlfriends is fleeting in nature, and can eclipse the enduring value of educating minds, and developing talents and skills.

8)  Saving sex for marriage provides physical and emotional safety – from STDs and unwanted pregnancy. So-called “safe sex” before marriage is a myth. Sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy are real dangers. Saving sex for marriage is the best course of action to keep oneself free of the physical and emotional consequences of premarital sexual activity. Condoms do nothing to protect one from the psychological ravages of sex outside the bonds of marriage. Freedom from worry about these potent pitfalls is worth saving sexual intimacy for marriage.

9)  Saving sex for marriage decreases depression and suicide, and increases overall happiness. Sexually active teenagers are significantly more likely to be depressed and to attempt suicide than are those who wait. [2] The psychological (mental/emotional) consequences of premarital sexual activity are often ignored, but studies show that greater happiness and peace is possible for those who save sexual expression for marriage.

10)  Saving sex for marriage reduces divorce. If you want to reduce your chance of divorce, remain sexually abstinent until married.Studies clearly show that those who remain virgins until marriage have a much lower incidence of divorce.[3] This is likely related to the trust and commitment shown by saving sexual intimacy for your husband or wife.

How Parents Can Help Teens Save Sex for Marriage

What can parents do to help teens understand the profound advantages of saving sex for marriage, and help their teens commit themselves to do so?

1) Believe it’s possible and expect that your teens will. Many people, including parents, believe that young people are simply not capable of waiting to have sex until marriage. This is not true.


Many young people can and do wait until marriage to engage in sexual intimacies. Parents must first believe it is possible for teens to wait – and that their kids will. If parents don’t really believe it’s possible, then neither will their children.

Many parents wish their kids would wait, but are not confident that they will – either based on their own experiences or the well-advertised perception that “everyone’s doing it.” Everyone isn’t doing it! And many youth do wait. Just as youth are expected to wait until they are a certain age to receive a driver’s license, they too can save sexual expression for a certain time and place within marriage.

Teens intuitively know whether their parents think it’s possible to withstand the pressures to have sex, and will often prove us right (for good or for ill). Handing out a condom does little to instill confidence that teens can and will wait. Parental beliefs and expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding teenage sexual activity. Parents must believe sex is something worth waiting for, if they want to be effective at convincing their children as well.

2) Talk to your kids about sex. Open and honest conversations about sex are vital to helping your teens save sex for marriage. Conversations need to go beyond physical consequences to include emotional consequences as well as reasons to wait. Kids whose parents are willing to talk to them about sex are less likely to engage in premarital sex.

Parents are still the most influential factor in teens’ decisions about sex. [4] Parents have a responsibility to make popular that which is good by openly encouraging youth to wait. Teens need to know what you think about sex before marriage, and need to feel your confidence that they can wait!

Parents may think their kids already know what they think about sex, but studies show that parents’ messages may not be getting through. [5] Parents need to be very clear that they believe youth can withstand the pressure to engage in sexual activity, and are fully expected to do so! Parents also need to be there during the critical teen years with lots of love and support – coupled with the recurring message that they can and should wait.

Teach your kids that sex is a wedding gift reserved for husband and wife after marriage. Teach the advantages of waiting. Help your kids gain the edge by facilitating their decision to save sex for marriage. Studies show that adolescents who make “virginity pledges” are less likely to engage in any form of sexual activity. [6] Parents can help teens make these important decisions.

3) Meet teens’ needs for love and acceptance. How strongly teens feel connected to their parents and loved by them is not only key to teens being receptive to their parents’ counsel, but is also key to their saving sex for marriage. Teens that feel loved and accepted in the home are less susceptible to sexual temptations outside the home.

Spending time together – especially one-on-one – and having regular, positive conversations about their lives help teens feel connected and willing to obey parental counsel.

4) Help teens keep familiarity in check. Good parenting is a time and energy-intensive job! Parents must stay close enough to their teens to be able to help them keep opposite-sex familiarity in check. Getting too close to a member of the opposite sex is similar to the emotional intimacy husbands and wives develop, which can lead them into sexual intimacy. Keeping relationships at a friendship level until young adults are ready for marriage will help them stay off the slippery slope that can inadvertently lead to inappropriate sexual intimacies before marriage.

God’s wedding gift is just that – a gift for husband and wife to enjoy within the divinely designed relationship of marriage. Youth whose needs for love are sufficiently met within the home, and who are taught about sex as something special to be saved for marriage can most definitely succeed at saving sexual expression for marriage.

Those who have saved sex for its exclusive enjoyment within marriage, or who have, at some point, changed their ways to reserve sex for marriage know of the profound sense of accomplishment, the self-confidence, self-respect, self-discipline and trust, as well as the emotional peace, and physical protection that can be their rich rewards. Those who save sex for marriage can also be absolutely sure that sex within marriage will be the best they’ve ever had!

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Laura M. Brotherson, CFLE, is a marriage and family life educator certified by the National Council on Family Relations, and is the author of a groundbreaking book on physical intimacy and marital ONEness entitled, And They Were Not Ashamed – Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment. For more information visit www.StrengtheningMarriage.com. Laura welcomes your comments at Laura@StrengtheningMarriage.com

Notes

[1] National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “Not Just Another Thing to Do: Teens Talk About Sex, Regret, and the Influence of Their Parents,” June 30, 2000.

[2] Heritage Foundation, “Sexually Active Teenagers are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide,” June 2, 2003.

[3] Edward O. Laumann, John H. Gagnon, Robert T. Michael, and Stuart Michaels, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago. 1994, 503?5.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, http://www.teenpregnancy.org/keepprrl.html, quoted in “Culture Fast Facts,” March 15, 2002, The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, www.cpyu.org.

[5] Robert W. Blum, “Mothers’ Influence on Teen Sex: Connections That Promote Postponing Sexual Intercourse,” Center for Adolescent Health and Development, University of Minnesota, 2002.

[6] Lawrence K. Altman, “Studies Rebut Earlier Report on Pledges of Virginity,” The New York Times, June 15, 2005.