The Problem of Male-Centric Abstinence
I was taught abstinence at my Christian high school and college. I was primarily taught that the goal of abstinence was to “save myself” for my future husband. My very real, tangible, daily, sexual desire was on hold for some mystical, vaporous ideal of a man. I hadn’t even considered how it would affect me that women now marry later – into their late twenties and early thirties, if at all. It didn’t matter how long I would have to wait for sex, I would wait as long as need be, because the nucleus of my sexuality was a man. In my heart of heart’s I believed: It’s my job to practice abstinence, so that I will be pure for the man God has chosen for me to marry. I owe my future husband the gift of virginity.
After college, I sometimes crossed some of my own sexual boundaries when dating. In time, I started feeling distant from God. I soon realized that the ideal of my future husband wasn’t motivation enough for me to want to abstain from sex. Even worse, this concept was causing me to idolize sex and marriage in ways that were toxic to my spirituality. My value on abstinence wasn’t Christ-centered. Like so many of the religious paradigms discussed in God and Boobs the book, my abstinence was male-centric.
Praise God that my erroneous thinking about abstinence was corrected before I got married! I don’t say this sarcastically. I am truly grateful that, years before marriage, God transformed my thinking so that I did not have intercourse for the first time with the notion that my virginity existed to serve my husband.
Even though I was no longer “saving my virginity for my husband,” I was still a virgin. However, when I got married at 30-years old, my sexual status didn’t matter to my husband. This was a harsh reality, I admit. But, it was a reality that served to reinforce my new-found belief: My female sexuality isn’t male-centric.
Now, the focus of my sexuality is the same as everything else in my life. It is my relationship with God. God is the fixed center of my being – the all-inclusive, compounded truth and meaning for my existence. Christ is everything.
I believe the Bible says that sex is intended for marriage. I’m grateful for the experiences, good and bad, that helped me to practice abstinence. After believing in abstinence for all the wrong reasons, I was finally able to believe in it for the right reason.
I learned to own my sexuality. I wasn’t abstinent because I was scared of sex or intimacy. I wasn’t abstinent because I wrapped my reality into a toxic fascination with romance. I wasn’t abstinent because I thought that having sex would demolish my self-esteem. I was abstinent because I believed God said it should be so, because I want the Bible to guide my decisions, and because crossing certain sexual boundaries made me personally feel distant from God.
If you choose abstinence, I encourage you to check your motives. Keep Christ central to your sexuality.