Should older, single adults still save sex for marriage?

There’s an old article on CNN’s Belief Blog about how young Christians aren’t saving sex for marriage anymore. In it, the writer also says the average age at marriage is much older for today’s people than it was for the people of yore.

“Today,” he writes, “it’s not unusual to meet a Christian who is single at 30 – or 40 or 50, for that matter. So what do you tell them? Keep waiting?”

Frankly? Yes.

Perhaps it strikes the average adult in our culture as unreasonable to expect older, unmarried adults not to have sex, even if they’re Christians. My hunch, however, is that this ultimately only strikes the average adult as unreasonable because it’s the norm for older, unmarried adults to have sex.

It’s the status quo, in other words. It’s business as usual. Which is like saying “the reason you can’t expect older, unmarried adults not to have sex is because older, unmarried adults have sex.”

Which is kind of like saying “it’s a good idea to do the stuff that most people do.” That the reason it’s ok to uncritically do the things that are normal is because they are normal.

But are the normal things normal because they’re good, or are they normal because we’re keeping them that way?

It’s parallel to and an example of this:

“We see that people don’t save sex for marriage.

We see that many men and women lack integrity, or are selfish, immature or dishonest.

We can continue not to date them, or we can lower the bar.

Most people lower the bar.”

It’s normal, in other words, to encounter people who don’t save sex for marriage, or who lack integrity, or are selfish, immature or dishonest. It’s so normal that some people believe that’s as good as people get. And when other people believe that’s as good as people get, they are uncritically content to date them (and when we are content to date them, they date are content being selfish, for instance, or immature or dishonest, lacking integrity or living like it’s impossible to save sex for marriage.).

So it’s normal, in other words, to date people who don’t exactly meet reasonable standards.

But it isn’t normal because it’s good. It’s normal because we’re keeping it that way. And I’m of the opinion that we don’t have to.

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Click here to read the CNN Belief Blog article.

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

  • Age should be irrelevant. Yes, it’s harder. So? The truth of what sex is doesn’t change with how long you have to wait or if you ever get married at all.

  • I agree, insofar as I agree with abstinence at all. If you believe in it, and you’ve stuck it out through your youth, there’s no reason to abandon it when it starts asking decades of your patience.

    • Agreed. To abandon saving sex solely for the reason that you’re older now is also indicative of having missed the point of why we save sex in the first place.

  • Great points. It’s become trendy and routine to talk about such things as ‘fighting the status quo’, or ‘swimming upstream’. But as is apparent in examples such as this, if someone actually does challenge the status quo, or hold to an ideal that is higher than the ideals of everyday society, they are quickly ridiculed, labeled an extremist, and ignored.

  • Anonymous

    Hi.
    Yes. I’ve just hit 40. And i am completely celibate. And it’s magic!
    It’s not about suppression of sexual energy and desire. It’s about transformation of sexual energy (by Divine grace) into new forms of energy: physical, intellectual, emotional, creative and spiritual.
    Sometimes i feel so close to the Divine, i don’t want to have sex ever.
    Other times i imagine being married and being intimate with my wife above all for the creation of new life. And there’s something magic about that, too.
    I think both the fully celibate life and married life (and practicing celibacy at certain times for spiritual life and to improve sex life!) are both magic (in similar and different ways).
    And whatever happens, to remember we’re all united first and foremost to Christ in both a spiritual (prayer life, our actions, Eucharist etc) and physical way (Eucharist, in particular, and more). That’s the real, ultimate magic. To put Him first. To not make gods of others or things or experiences in general – but The Trinity only is God. We put Christ first, in every sense, and everything else falls into place.
    God bless,
    Ed (UK)

    • “We put Christ first, in every sense, and everything else falls into place.” – Amen! Great thoughts, Ed.

  • Bibiana

    I honestly don’t know what to think of this. I believe some people are called to be celibate, and they are still warm, loving, and happy. Look at pictures of Mother Theresa or Corrie ten Boom-they hardly look unfulfilled. But what about those who are unwillingly single?

    • Today’s post is actually vaguely related to your question:

      http://www.arleenspenceley.com/2013/09/q-relationships-what-do-you-say-to.html

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think Corrie Ten Boom was willingly single. I read her autobiography- she fell in love, but he married someone else. Her father understood that she really did love that man, and did not trivialize it. Instead, he asked her to pray and ask God to give her an outlet for that love…and look what happened.

      By the way, my personal opinion is that whole family like the Little Flower (St. Therese), which I understand is going through the process of canonization. If
      the Ten Booms were Catholic, I think they would be canonized too.

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