Warning: Mature theme. If you are under 13, please let your parents read this first and then discuss it with them at their discretion. If you are over 13, I’m not going to go into graphic detail. You know what I’m talking about.
I knew this post had to be next in the Inner Beauty series, but I’ve been putting it off all week. I’d much rather talk about something light and fluffy or be outrageously funny (to myself, if no one else). But alas and alack, it appears the only way I’ll flush this topic from my mind is to blather on about it on the global interwebbings for all to see. Yay. So here I go.
Purity. There’s just something so super-great about knowing that your spouse is interested solely in you, and that he/she has kept his/her sexual focus diverted from everyone else. If you’ve been around church people much, you’ve heard of this notion of “saving yourself” for marriage and you’ve probably assumed we’re talking about virginity. Yes and no. That concept is a worthy framework for this conversation, but there are some broader issues that should be addressed.
Let’s start with that particular framework. As a teen, raised in a Christian family, thoroughly educated in Biblical teaching via frequent church attendance and Christian grade school, I was 100% committed to the goal of being a virgin bride. I naively assumed that all of my peers and siblings were on the same page, having been raised in the same context and taught the same Christian standards. Therefore, I thought all the harping on the topic was unnecessary and offensive. Silly me. It turns out, I was in the minority and not everyone around me was as committed to virginity as I was. So my message on saving yourself until marriage is three-fold:
- If you’re a teen and your parents harp on you about not having sex, listen to them. Better yet, listen AND talk. There are lots of reasons why keeping sex just for you and your spouse is an awesome idea, so if “that’s what the Bible says” isn’t a good enough reason for you, go ahead and dig deeper. Ask your parents. Ask a trusted uncle or aunt or teacher or youth leader. I promise these conversations are way less embarrassing than the ones about unexpected pregnancies, sexually-transmitted infections, porn addictions, or ‘getting caught’.
- If you’re a parent, go ahead and harp on (– uh, I mean, lovingly encourage and remind) your kids. I’m still kinda mad that my parents didn’t fully trust me, but now that I know trust was broken by people around me, I suppose I can’t really blame them for doing their best to keep me safe. A harping parent is better than an ignorant parent.
- If you think this whole virginity idea is archaic and naïve, I’m not going to list all the pros and cons that you’ve heard countless times already. I will just say that all the protection and precautions in the world can’t safeguard your innermost being from damage. Whatever romantic expectations or experiences you have of sex outside of marriage, they pale in comparison to the purity of a completely safe and untainted marriage relationship.
And now to fill in the framework a little bit.
I know of many couples who have decided to find creative ways of having their ‘needs’ met while still claiming that, technically, they are still virgins. Don’t fool yourselves. If you are compromising your innocence regarding sexuality, then you are compromising your purity and you are robbing your marriage relationship of that purity.
Next up: the real point of what I wanted (didn’t want) to talk about: porn. There is oodles of evidence – anecdotal AND scientific, Christian AND secular – that says porn messes with you. We now know that watching porn causes physiological changes in a man’s brain – it’s like training his brain to be turned on by looking at pictures, and the more he exercises that muscle, the stronger it becomes. Eventually, his dependence on that type of stimulation surpasses his need for human interaction and relationship. His own wife, no matter how gorgeous she is, can’t satisfy his needs anymore. This is horrifically damaging to his sexual health and, of course, to his marriage.
The studies that I’ve heard about all pertain to men and visual porn (pictures and videos), but I have a theory: if such manufactured stimulation can trigger physiological changes in a man’s brain, it can probably have the same effect on women, too. I fear that there are a great many women (Christian women, too) who trick themselves into thinking that their reading material isn’t porn because it isn’t a picture book. I’m happy to throw “Fifty Shades of Grey” under the bus as my target example here. I haven’t read it and I will not read it. But I’ve heard enough about it to know that it’s a whole lot about sex and there are a whole lot of women who think it’s safe to read it and get turned on by it and use those mental images to enjoy sex with their husbands more. This is not okay. It’s not healthy, it’s not wise, and it taints the purity of marriage.
Same with the movie “Magic Mike” (under the bus you go!). We, as a society, welcome such a progressive movie under the guise of women’s liberation and artistic expression. We think these books and movies are fun and harmless and helpful for spicing things up in the bedroom. But we are playing with fire – or maybe playing with heroin is a better analogy. The initial lure is tempting, but the outcome is devastating addiction.
Just as “Playboy” has been messing men up for decades, I am suggesting that this relatively new (or at least newer to the status of social acceptance) arena of women’s porn is also going to wreak its havoc on healthy marriages.
Sexual purity is beautiful. It’s downright intoxicating. If you want to turn your spouse on and be turned on by your spouse, commit to keeping your marriage pure from any form of stimulation other than what you and your spouse create together. It’s worth it.