Why is sex so much more attractive before or outside of marriage then it is within it?
Is this honest question a good one to ask amongst Christians? Often times this is what people believe and think, but simply don’t say it out loud. They silently meditate over these questions, because talking about them is seen as “unholy” and “inappropriate”. However, open and honest questions have never scared God. In fact, it is quite the opposite, He is waiting for us to take these first steps, so that He could share His thoughts and wisdom about such issues, with us, taking us deeper into the truth that He shares with us in His Word.
In response to the opening question, I would like to start by saying that the belief that sex before marriage (or within a relationship that doesn’t even lead to marriage) is vital for every human being,- is a very popular and widespread mindset in our society today. Young people start having sexual relationships from the early ages of 13 and 14- they are actively taught about contraception and how to avoid unplanned pregnancy, and sex has become a topic that is discussed very publicly, and seen everywhere: in movies, advertisements etc. And the idea that you should enter into a marriage without having any “experience” or not seeing if you and your partner are “compatible”, seems almost frightening. Nowadays, talking about saving yourself for marriage is seen as very rare and unpopular, while others simply do not think a person’s virginity and purity are things to be preserved or valued.
My aim isn’t to portray sex as something bad, shameful or something to hide away from. Sex was actually given to humanity as a gift from God! “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant…” (Genesis 4:1) That’s right, the Creator of the heavens and earth, who we know as God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, created people in a way that their primary physical needs would be met this way, and that this would be what pleasured them. Everyone knows that a healthy and balanced diet, is what our bodies need to feel good, or that rest is vital for us to stay healthy and feel energised and happy. Open and honest communication and relationships are also what we desperately need in order to stay sane- hence why we live in families and communities, to avoid the fear of being alone or separated from the outside world.
Sex is no different- it is of equally high value to a person, something that delights us and fulfills our lives. Because of it, new generations, families, communities and even nations are formed. So why is it that we cannot enjoy it freely, when, where and with who we so please?
The interesting part is that when God created us, from the moment we are born, He placed in us certain needs that need to be met in order for us to survive, such as: food, the affection and comfort of someone who loves us, sleep and rest. Sexual intimacy is something that comes along a lot later down the line, when a person begins to mature and starts to gradually understand who they are as an individual. This means that there comes a specific time in a person’s life when their interest and engagement in sexuality begins.
For instance, let’s compare sex to fire- fire is very useful and sometimes necessary, yet also something that is mesmerising and almost beautiful, but only while it is safe. A fire’s warmth has been something treasured by people from the very beginning- fire is also seen as a symbol of comfort and safety. It is always nice to remember those precious moments spent together with friends and family in front of a camp fire, or sitting down together in the comfort of our homes, the warmth of candles or a fireplace burning, creating that peaceful and comforting feeling.
However, this same thing that brought joy, can also cause great havoc and fear when left out of control. It seems like only yesterday that the 2017 tragedy of the fire of Grenfell Tower happened, with people jumping from windows, and fear and devastation all around. 71 people died that night, 203 people lost their loved ones and their homes. This kind of fire is frightening, and shows us just how quickly it can ruin and destroy everything in its path.
So, it seems that we understand that fire and water require boundaries, yet what are the correct boundaries for sex and how do we keep to them? God’s word provides us with a very simple answer, returning us back to His wisdom in creating us. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: ““Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”” (Matthew 19: 4-6)
Here, Jesus talks about the union of two people, or how we would understand it today- marriage. The Bible clearly shows us that the boundaries for sex lie within a marriage- when two people (a husband and wife) become one flesh, and that His plan is for us to have one marriage, and one sexual partner throughout our lives.
So, let’s return back to our original question- why is sex so much more attractive before or outside of marriage? Well, just like in the garden of Eden, why was Eve so drawn to the one fruit that was forbidden, and not to what she was allowed to eat? We cannot forget that we are constantly face to face with the one who is a master of seduction and persuasion, who shows us only a part of the truth, in order to deceive us. When talking about sex before marriage, one vital thing is very easily missed- that sex is not just a physical act, having no other consequences. When a person comes together with someone physically, they are giving not only their bodies, but their emotions, forming subconscious “soul ties”, that are much more powerful then we think. They bind people’s hearts and souls together, leaving behind a part of them that they can never get back. This not only refers to a broken heart, negative emotions or relationship experiences, but to the soul ties that remain with us, restraining us, and preventing us from moving forward into healthy relationships. To some extent it can be said, that every sexual experience poisons a person’s soul, and hardens their heart, when each relationship ends. And even if they don’t end, but the couple does not enter into a marriage, this still negatively affects their quality of life.
A study by Harvard University shows that:
1. Women who marry and do not get divorced:
a) are less likely to suffer from depression, compared to those women who do not marry or just cohabit with a partner;
b) are less likely to become the victims of crime;
c) are less likely to experience domestic abuse or violence;
d) have a higher self-worth.
2. Men who marry and do not get divorced:
a) earn more money (though they have the same qualifications as those who aren’t married);
b) live longer;
c) have a higher self-worth then those who aren’t married or live with their partner;
d) are less likely to get sick or injure themselves.
We can come to one conclusion, that people who live according to God’s plan and marry, and aim to maintain this marriage- are seemingly happier and much more successful.
Now, just how enjoyable sexual intimacy is within a marriage, ultimately depends on the quality of the relationship between the couple. If there is respect, understanding, honesty and the feeling of safety and security among them. The purpose of sex is to fulfill your spouse’s needs and not the other way around- to seek your own satisfaction and pleasure at the expense of the other person. This is something that is completely unnatural to our egocentric fleshly nature- and will require our efforts to learn and practice. However, if couples individually live in relationship with God, they will grow closer together, and will experience greater intimacy, grow more sensitive to each other’s needs, have greater respect for one another, and naturally experience more pleasurable sexual intimacy. And likewise, the opposite will happen- if a marriage is full of disrespect, arguments, misunderstanding, hurt and unforgiveness. This kind of relationship pushes couples apart, and enjoying sexual intimacy is not even a question, due to the distance that has been created between them. That is why I believe that when people do not maintain a healthy and loving relationship with their spouse, they allow the myth of sex being more pleasurable before marriage to stay alive. Though in reality, this is not the case at all.
“Differences are a blessing”
In my garden, I had planted two small hydrangeas into two wooden flower pots, that I had recently bought from a flower shop. I then placed them outside, near the windows looking out to my garden. They had once flowered beautifully, but now, for the past few months they simply grew new leaves, but no flowers were in sight. I started to think about getting rid of them, as the beauty I was expecting from them, was nowhere to be seen. “It’s probably a bad type of plant”- I decided.
Around the same time, bugs had ruthlessly begun to destroy one of my other beautiful plants, that despite my efforts, I was unable to save. The chemicals I had used killed the bugs, but the plant was still too weak to be saved and I had to throw it away. I was left with an empty flower pot, full of soil, which I didn’t want to throw away, because here in England, soil and compost can only be bought. So this pot remained outside, and during Autumn and Winter, the rainy seasons had left the soil overly damp and seemingly damaged.
When Spring came, I decided it was time to tend to my garden again, and I began by replanting the two hydrangeas- one of them into the flower pot with the old soil I mentioned above. I really had no other options and didn’t want to spend money on new soil and flower pots. After a few weeks, I noticed that this very plant began to change, and very quickly began to spout new long shoots, grow new leaves and soon, began to flower. This same plant was almost unrecognisable, standing tall and proud, beautiful and majestic. The other hydrangea was also changing and growing more beautiful, but nothing in comparison to the first.
As I watched all this happening before me, I began to think, that if I had thrown away the old soil, it would not have created such a magical result- it had just the right acidity level that the hydrangea needed, and it would never have become my garden’s most beautiful plant. Instead, they took from each other what the other needed- the plant needed the soil’s abundant moisture to flourish, and the soil, after giving away it’s abundance, became fertile and was able to bring new life.
Is this not the same in our lives? When two unique individuals come together and form a family, they give each other what the other person lacks and needs. Though these two people may be completely different- (one may be of calmer temperament, dislike change and need more time to make decisions, and the other fiery, energetic and needing change), they are able to complement one another, giving, without making demands, and sacrificing themselves to serve the other person. When this happens, is it not likely that both of these individuals will flourish, and live a wholesome life, enjoying it to the full? In these moments, is God’s wisdom not the most apparent- that we are called to serve, help and support others in times of need, instead of trying to change the people closest to us into what we think they should be? It seems that two completely different things (like the damaged, overly damp soil and the lifeless plant in my story), can come together and create something perfect. Without the opportunity to complement one another in such a way, neither would have fulfilled their potential, and together, become the beautiful creation that I can now enjoy every single day.
“Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.” (Psalm 35: 9)
Do you find yourself still able to stay at peace and rejoice when you hear a doctor’s terrifying diagnosis; when your teenager doesn’t come home at night; when your neighbours go on holiday and you on the other hand, have recently lost your job; when you need to move out of your home but have nowhere to go?
Nothing can satisfy us and renew our strength like a personal word from God given to us each new day, or an encounter with the Holy Spirit. It is at these times when we truly realise the goodness of God, though our circumstances may only get worse, we must trust that He will keep His promises, and his help and protection will not pass us by and come at just the right time. When we take that step of faith, as though walking on water and yet cling to God, trusting that He will be with us and fulfill all that He has promised- that is when we experience true freedom. We are not only no longer afraid to drown, but we can be refreshed by the water, our strength is renewed- and we can experience true peace and rest, in the situations that seemed impossible to overcome in our lives.
If we feel as though the battle is just too hard to fight alone, let’s allow God to fight for us and do the impossible that only He can do- and we will be saved and refreshed like never before. “ ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’ ” (2 Chronicles 20: 15-17)
Don’t ever forget that the joy of the Lord is our strength! And no matter what happens in our lives, let’s continue to pray that God would be our firm foundation- the one whom we can trust.
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