Amazing Sex, A Broken Promise of True Love Waits

“Sex is AMAZING!!”  I don’t know what is more uncomfortable, sitting in wood and metal row chairs in my high school chapel or  hearing a very young youth pastor shout “sex is amazing!”

He quickly followed up, explaining that this was second-hand knowledge because he was still a virgin. Regardless, he assured us that if we obeyed God’s word by remaining sexually pure until marriage, we would have fulfilling and amazing sex.

A valiant effort, because we should be talking about sex.

I appreciate his willingness to urge us to follow Christ in the most personal of ways, but I feel betrayed by his message, and others like it.  True Love Waits is a noble effort indeed, but not everything they told us was true and it lacked the depth and power of the gospel.

They told me there are a number of benefits to abstain, ones that I even agree with to this day: less emotional baggage in your marriage,  reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases (infections?), a lower chance of an unwanted pregnancy.  Amazing sex was one message I heard repeatedly.

Broken Promises

I pinned a lot of hope to this guarantee of amazing sex, because I understood there were many things out of my control.

Even in marriage a pregnancy could be unexpected, but I knew for me that a baby would never be unwanted.

The man I married may not be a virgin, what a bitter pill that was to swallow!  This fact could bringing unwanted emotional baggage as well as risk of STDs/STIs. This seemed unfair, for all my “purity,” so amazing sex was my reward.

It was pretty frustrating, and terribly disappointing when sex was uncomfortable for a long time into our marriage.

I feel betrayed by this message, and wish things had been discussed more openly and realistically.

Theologically inaccurate messages about sex

It drips with theological errors.  It’s very reminiscent of the prosperity gospel which boils down to the notion, “If I do the right things, then God will reward me.”

If I keep myself sexually pure, I will have a great sex life.

Friend, that is not how it works.

You can use your money faithfully according to God’s word and still face financial hardship.  Following the Lord in your lifestyle and extending that to your foods and exercise does not guarantee you a disease-free existence.  You may go into your marriage sexually pure and have issues in your sex life.

I blamed myself when sex was not amazing.

I was frustrated and like many women out there, I blamed myself unnecessarily.

Why wasn’t this working?

Where was the great sex I was promised?

What did I do wrong?

Why were friends who did not wait, not struggling like I was?

For the life of me I could not figure out what my sin along the way had been.  These questions aimed at God were full of anger and were moving towards bitterness.  I just knew I had done it all right,  why was still suffering?  In a very technical sense, I didn’t do anything wrong, but I had several errors in my thinking.

1. I believed a false equation:

Sexual purity before marriage = Amazing sex when married.

My anger came in because I also assumed the converse,

Frustrating and painful Sex = I sinned somewhere along the line.

Here is the truth that I now accept: There are no recipes for life that add up all the time for everyone. I know this to be true because God’s word shows it to us.

Job obeyed and lost everything, he remained faithful even in his loss.  It was God’s prerogative to allow suffering and loss into Job’s life.  Paul had a thorn in his flesh, he pleaded for it to be taken.  God responded that his grace was sufficient for Paul; we have no reason to believe that thorn was taken away when Paul had enough faith.  Finally, in the life of Jesus we see that obedience does not guarantee ease.  Jesus lived a sinless life and he was still mocked, flogged and killed.  He suffered, more than any of us will ever understand. Yet God did not give him a perfect life for his obedience.  Hebrews 11 reminds us of so many souls who were faithful but didn’t see the promise.

Obedience does not guarantee a perfect life.  Obedience did not guarantee me amazing sex.

2. I believed that my husband would compare me to previous partners.

This message was powerful, I can still see the faces of the woman and the man who first told me this.  They told me “If you have sexual relationships, you will always carry them with you. Even when you are in a marriage relationship you will recall your previous partners and probably compare them to your spouse.”

After six years of marriage, I finally believe my husband when he tells me that he doesn’t do this.  This message was so deep in my soul, this awful fear of comparison, that I thought my husband must be lying to spare my feelings.

Here is the truth that I now accept: My husband repented of his sins and literally walked away from his past life.  God redeemed him by Christ’s sacrifice and made him a new creation.  Now, all of that is so hard for our human minds to comprehend, but my husband may walk in the same body but he is a totally different man than he was before.  He does not compare me to women from his past, in fact the thought of those experiences sicken him and hurt him emotionally.

Something to consider: perhaps those faces, those friends, those dear leaders DO still carry the burden of their past sexual experiences.  Having walked away quite scathed by the prosperity gospel, I wonder if they made the same mistakes I have made, and am still prone to make: a reliance on self to overcome sin, rather than Christ.

3. I lacked understanding of my anatomy in two very important ways.

First, while I was a virgin on my wedding day, I had been sexually aroused long before that night.  Sadly, I was exposed to pornography a very long time ago, and I spent years bound to it.

One of the ways I lacked understanding of my anatomy is related to this experience.  I trained my body to shut off that arousal response, while looking at pornography, while masturbating and eventually while kissing my husband while we were dating and engaged.  While I felt the conviction that looking at pornography was wrong, I somehow thought that orgasming was “wronger” and tried to maintain control of my sin by never allowing myself to experience that.

You may not know much about muscle memory, so I will summarize it.  Our bodies retain our experiences, and just like you can train for a sport, you can train your body to respond the way you want it to respond.  I taught my body that arousal cannot lead to orgasm.

The blessing of marriage didn’t re-train what I’d told my body for years.  It took a long time to recognize that, I was in my second pregnancy when I realized this was part of the problem.  I went through body work and lots of prayer and conversation to start this healing process.

Secondly, I totally underestimated the hymen.  I actually can’t shed much light on this for you either, but that pesky, strong hymen caused me a lot of discomfort.  I wish I understood this better at the time, because I would have given myself a lot more grace to “work” through this issue.

“Well, you weren’t really pure before marriage, you were just a virgin.”

You may be tempted to disregard my entire post because you have noticed that I did act in sinful ways in regards to  my sexuality before I was married.   “Aha!” you may say, “This is why your sex life got off to a rocky start, the whole pornography/masturbation thing.  Your sin caused your pain.”

Have you read Soul Virgins?  I did the summer before we started dating, and it led me to repentance and so much healing.  I agree, I was not pure because our sexuality is so deep and wide and it is not confined to what we do with our genitals.  Please read this book if you have not.  The message of abstinence before marriage is not enough, God wants us to be soul virgins.

At least I had some realistic expectations.

Now these things, didn’t really hurt me because I sort-of understood that sex is just like everything else in life: full of ups and downs.  If we are teaching kids to guard their sexuality and then promising them vigorous sex lives we should probably let them know there will be bumps along the way.

For example: Birthing vaginally requires recovery, and it may not be six weeks on the dot.

Birthing surgically affects women too, just because the baby came from an incision into the womb doesn’t mean she is free of the need to recover (news flash: she’ll still bleed for awhile) she may even have discomfort from her scar healing (this could affect blood flow to the pelvis).

Breastfeeding is a hormonal response which may decrease libido and may also lead to very scant cervical fluid even when aroused (buy this if you face that Sensation Massage Oil).

The exhaustion of parenting may mean you need to sleep more than you need to connect sexually.  And a dozen other things, like loss, death, financial concerns, busy lifestyle.

While special, really fun and emotionally satisfying, sex just isn’t that different from relationships.  Placing too much expectation on it and your partner will lead to frustration.

We must do better, but how?

My one suggestion is this: we need the gospel in every aspect of our lives.  The ones that we don’t discuss because it feels intimate and private, as well as the ones that we don’t discuss because it makes others uncomfortable.

We must be aware of pride creeping into our walk with Christ.  That is what the prosperity gospel really is.  It is rooted in looking out for ourselves, to secure a good life here on earth and looking into ourselves for a process to obtain that good life.

We may profess that Jesus’ sacrifice is the means of our salvation. We often default to pride, believing that our actions maintain salvation and earn us favor.  Our behavior does not secure God’s favor, my correct actions and even my correct motives do not promise perfection.

We are not animals obeying to get a treat from our master.

Pride is stealth and dangerous.  If God works in our hearts to bring the gospel into all of our lives, we can have some hope that future generations, friends, and our children can have realistic expectations of intimacy and sex.

No Major Regrets

I do think because of God’s grace towards us, we brought very little baggage into our marriage.  I am thankful that I have been able to work through all of this in the security of our marriage.

I must interject: it is not the marriage certificate or the staunch determination never to divorce that brings the security.  It is that I am married to and intimate with a man who understands he is nothing without Christ. A man who turns to Christ when there is something he doesn’t know how to handle, a man who always acts patiently and graciously with me.  I’m married to a man who didn’t ever give up on me when my heart was hard and angry about our sex life and who may have literally pushed through some things to bring us to a healthier and happier sexual relationship.

It’s not even about my husband’s admirable character, it is Christ alive in us.  I don’t regret my choices, but I believe as the body of Christ, we have a long way to go to share a gospel message about sexuality.

 

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