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.

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

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