- - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

“I’m a public speaker,” I said expecting the usual follow-up question.

“Oh that’s cool. What do you speak about?” the blonde, green-eyed, model-esque 20-something inquired.

“I talk about saving sex for marriage,” I said. Silence. There were three guys at the table with us looking at me as if their brains were computing a new idea or forming new neural pathways in that very moment.

One of them asked, “So, do you practice what you preach?”

“Yes,” I responded. Although what I do is not preaching. It’s more like introducing or suggesting.



Abruptly, the blonde asked, “Wait, are you a virgin?”

“Yes.”

“You’re too pretty to be a virgin,” she said emphatically and almost sympathetically.

It was one of those weird, lopsided compliments that leave you speechless. You’re too pretty to be a virgin? What? Does that mean if someone is considered pretty (whatever pretty means) then they shouldn’t be virgins because surely someone wanted to have sex with them at some point? And if someone wants to have sex with you then do it, because you’re pretty and pretty people are not virgins. If someone is pretty then there is no excuse, whatsoever, for that person to be a virgin. What I have learned in life is that having sex does not always go hand in hand with attractiveness. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more about willingness, than attractiveness.

The questions started flooding in about how, why, where and to who I speak. Then one guy said, “I think that’s cool and all, but I just can’t do it.”

That’s usually how the conversation fizzles out. This lifestyle will not be for everyone, no judgment there. I believe that people can, and will, do the things that they really want to do. It is about willingness. I realize that what I speak about is outside of the norm for my generation. One time, I was speaking to a group of eighth-graders in a south Dallas suburb. A student came up after the presentation and said he thought he had to have sex now and did not know he had an option to wait. At the same school, a black girl said that she thought waiting for marriage was for white people.

It’s becoming more and more taboo for people to try to wait to have sex until they’re married. One reason is because people just don’t get married like they used to. Some won’t wait because they don’t ever want to get married.

What it means to be monogamous is looking different these days. People may have a longtime partner, but may not necessarily marry. In 1960 almost three-quarters of the Americans were married, that dropped to about half by 2008. Roughly two-thirds of young adults in their 20s were married in 1960, but 2008 saw only 26% of 20-somethings married. The marriage trend is on the decline. That could be because the sentiment towards marriage has changed. Today, many Americans believe that marriage is becoming obsolete. If Americans do marry it’s later on in their 20s. In the 1960s the median age for a woman to marry was 20 and for a man, 22. In 2011 the ages rose to 26 and 28 respectively. I know from experience that it gets harder to wait the longer you wait to marry.

Not everyone wants to get married or should get married. Marriage is definitely not the end all be all. Neither does it determine anyone’s value. We were not all placed on the earth to simply aspire towards marriage. No. It is a gift, a choice, and can be a very beautiful union reflecting infinite love and grace between two willing adults.

For millennials who want to get married, there are still challenges in waiting until the wedding day for sex. The media plays a huge part in our view of sexuality. The movies and TV shows we watch, the ads we see and the songs we listen to all influence our thoughts about sex, whether we realize it or not. The media has convinced us that expression of sexuality is what defines masculinity or femininity. We hear lyrics suggesting that feeling like a man or like a woman are as a result of someone performing some sexual activity on said man or woman. Why is that? Why should my ability to feel like a woman be dependent upon what a man can do to or for me? “Oh that’s right, it’s because I’m pretty.” The same is true for some guys where losing their virginity is almost a rite of passage. “You’re a man if you’ve had sex!” I know a lot of men that have had sex who are not yet a man. Teenage guys, and sometimes girls, may view their virginity as a burden, and will go after whoever is willing just to get rid of it.

Our culture trivializes sex in general. “It’s not a big deal, it’s just sex.” A friend of mine said at this point in her life her greatest reason for waiting for sex is not spiritual and it’s not fear of STDs or even unplanned pregnancy. It’s the fear of being so vulnerable with someone and the relationship doesn’t last. Sex is the most intimate, personal form of bonding, the closest you can be with anyone else. But these days, millennials just don’t view it that way. We are the narcissistic, selfie generation of “Netflix and chill” with Junebug/Nae Nae this weekend and next weekend it’ll be Rallo/Ke Ke because after all sex is all about me. So when the hormones are raging and the philosophy of sex has become trivialized day in and day out it’s harder to wait, even if there was a goal or reason to wait. In the moment, that goal could become too lofty, too distant, and too unreasonable.

Why should I wait if I’d be more accepted if I don’t? It’s true; in today’s culture a person is generally more accepted if they are sexually active. Sometimes my presence makes people uncomfortable once they realize what I do. I think people think I’m judging them. No, I think people are judging me, by thinking I’m judging them. I could be wrong because I don’t know what they are thinking. I have lost friendships because of how I choose to live. One ex-friend told me that I reminded her of God and she didn’t want to be reminded of God so she asked me to stop calling her. OK. I have single friends who are sexually active and ones who aren’t. We all love each other and respect each other’s decisions. I’m not sure why people can’t still love and be friends even if you disagree or live different lifestyles. I do know we all like to be accepted, in our cultural group, within the sexes.

I think about the eighth-grader who said she thought waiting for marriage was for white people. Maybe she felt pressure to have sex because that’s what she saw in her cultural environment. She had obviously heard of waiting before, but not from black people or thought it to be something for white people, some privilege they had to choose to wait to have sex or to marry at all. There is some truth to the fact that whites tend to marry more. Marriage rates have fallen in general in the U.S., but with blacks it has fallen the most. In 1960 61% of blacks were married, but in 2008 Pew Research Center found that 32% of blacks were married compared to 56% white, and 50% Hispanics being married. Black women are the least likely to get married and black children are 3 times more likely to grow up in a single parent household compared to white children and twice more likely than Hispanics. This could be the environment that the eighth-grade girl was living in. How could she wait if her environment and the media are telling her that her sexuality is her greatest commodity and her body her greatest asset? It’s deeply rooted in the daily messages we receive from the media, culture, and environment.

Living this lifestyle is a decision that I make constantly, not just years ago when I was a teenager. It is perfectly normal to want to be accepted, though not everyone will. That is okay. There will always be people that will accept others for who they are and the choices they make. So I need no sympathy statements from overly concerned fellow millennials about my appearance and sex life. It was the first time anyone has said, “You’re too pretty to be a virgin.” Well, in that case “You’re too pretty not to be.”

Angela Christine is a traveling public speaker who helps young people avoid the risks of sexual activity, drugs and bullying. She holds a master’s degree in media and communications from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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