I am not saving myself for marriage. (I’m saving sex.)

I’m not saving myself for marriage.

First, I know no follower of Christ who thinks any of us can save ourselves. Secondly, to say “I’m saving myself” when you mean “I’m saving sex” equates who you are – and therefore your worth – with sex. But your worth is wrapped up in nothing except your existence. It is intrinsic.

So I’m not saving myself.

But I am saving sex.

I should add that the “save” in “saving sex” is not the same as the “save” in “saving the meatloaf for later.” Although I am waiting to have sex, when I say I’m saving sex, I don’t mean I’m “putting it off.” I mean I’m part of an insurrection (albeit it a tiny one) that’s redeeming sex. Refusing, in other words, to treat it like it isn’t sacred.

This isn’t to say sex is not the gift of self. One spouse does give the gift of him or herself to the other, and vice versa, in sex. But I think among the ones of us who have decided to wait until we’re married to have sex, the gift that we give in marriage is misunderstood when we think the gift we are giving is sex.

The gift is the partnership. The constant state of being there. The permanence. The merger of two lives and families into one. I could go on.

Sex is definitely part of it, but it isn’t it.

While saving sex may protect people, physically, emotionally, spiritually, in our hyper-focus on what saving sex does for me, an important truth has been neglected:

Saving sex protects sex.

Sex in our culture, generally speaking, is more about getting than giving. The world says part of it is important (pleasure), and while that part of it is important, I think all parts of it are important. But the world also says parts of it aren’t always necessary (i.e. unity beyond the biological, or fertility). And the world tends to tell us that we who wait are wrong because “everybody’s doing it.”

Because in our culture, “consensus determines rightness or wrongness.”*

But it’s like marriage. “Marriage is a sheet of paper” is parallel to “sex is not sacred.”

Marriage isn’t “just a sheet of paper” because a lot of people suck at it. Marriage is just a sheet of paper when you treat it like it’s just a sheet of paper.

Sex isn’t “not sacred” because 98% of women and 97% of men** don’t reserve it for the context of marriage. Sex is not sacred when you treat it like it’s not sacred.

This is why you could say the people who wait until they are married to have sex, and the people who would get married but never do, and the people who would like to have sex but are celibate because of what they believe about sex, and even the priests and nuns who keep their chastity vows have this in common:

They are all saving sex – redeeming it – by treating it like it’s sacred.

And it is.

- – - -

*From page 26 in Peter Kreeft’s book Back to Virtue.

**According to a National Center for Health Statistics study published in 2011.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10254315970336710941 Catholic Mutt

    Wow. Really. That last line, is amazing. As someone who is saving sex for marriage (and who knows if I’ll ever get married), that means a lot to me. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10491697393912488934 Arleen Spenceley

      Thank YOU, so much, for reading. I’m glad to know you got something good out of it. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17387150710832825105 David Helms

    Whenever one of my friends says “oh, we’re not getting married because marriage is just a piece of paper” I typically respond with “Then what’s the big deal then, get the piece of paper.”

    They want the intimacy without the commitment because commitment is scary. As a married man, I’ve thought allot about this and why it’s important. Relationships are hard, and the ones that are most worth having require the most work. Marriage is powerful in the way that you are saying to someone “when we met you were a stranger to me, now I am legally making you my family.” Also as humans when things get hard we want to run. Why I love my marriage is that there is not escape door, no easy way out. When things are bad I HAVE TO work at it. That’s why we say “for better and for worse”. Because there are days when I’m at my worst and so is she. And we forgive and things get better.

    Now the sex part…what is at the core of sex? intimacy. When you are absolutely the closest to another human being. Actually inside them (or them inside you) this is when you are naked literally and figuratively. To spread that out, to cheapen it casually. To say I don’t want your intimacy I just want to feel wanted cheats ourselves and our current and future partner.

    Sorry for the long rambly comment. Good work!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10491697393912488934 Arleen Spenceley

      Great thoughts, David! Thanks so much for sharing. Re: sex, one of the best points about the sexual urge that I’ve encountered comes from the book I just blogged about recently, called “Men, Women and the Mystery Love.” The writer points out that the sexual urge is designed to orient us toward the other. In other words, the purpose isn’t to get want you want but to shift the focus off of self and onto the beloved. How we indeed cheat each other and ourselves when we use sex selfishly.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17387150710832825105 David Helms

      Well said!

  • Amanda B.

    I appreciate the way you have approached this issue. I believe it is important to reserve sex for marriage, but I also believe it is deeply flawed to put it in terms of “Saving it for my future spouse”.

    I’m single. I hope there’s a future spouse in the picture–but I don’t know that. I’m not guaranteed that. “My future husband” is a poor motivator, because he may not actually exist. I don’t want to struggle through self-control for decades in pursuit of a fantasy, only to end up burned out and bitter that it was all for nothing.

    But if I “save sex”, as you put it, because I honor God (and not an imaginary man) with my body, and because I respect what He created sex to be–that’s a different story entirely. That’s a motivation that is sustainable through every season of life. That’s something that can actually lead me into gratitude and awe at the plan of God, rather than resentment for blessings seemingly withheld.

    Thanks very much for bringing this perspective to the table.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10491697393912488934 Arleen Spenceley

      Wow! Great point, Amanda. Thank you. Comment of the day.

    • http://www.rivka-ferox.blogspot.com/ AspieCatholic girl

      I agree completely. One of my friends tells me that if I wait til marriage, I might just end up not getting married, because I’d wreck my dating life and never get to the point of someone wanting to propose. My social life is actually pretty lousy. It is possible my friend is right.

      The answer is that I’m not abstaining because of my potential relationship with a man, but because because of my relationship with God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16001347657793536777 Ed Murray

    Arleen, maybe we don’t save, maybe it’s God who saves us from ourselves?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00987705026752987023 Mike Anthony

    Dear Arleen;
    It is SO Wonderful to hear a woman say that they are saving yourself for marriage!
    As a Christian I wish I could have said I did that, but I am so proud of you as a woman and a Believer in Christ Jesus! God Bless you, and Godspeed!

    In His Love, A Christian Gentleman,
    Michael Anthony

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10491697393912488934 Arleen Spenceley

      Thanks so much, Mike!