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Author Topic: In need of some Christian advice...
turtle_lady
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I am looking specifically for Christian answers to this question and someone who may be able to relate to what questions are on my mind because I have no idea what Christian websites I could go to in order to ask these questions. This website tends to the needs of all ethnicities and religions and I admire that. It's great to get some other input.

I am getting married in a year. My fiance and I are struggling with our desire for one another. We have had sex in the past and continue to do so although we try our best to abstain. I am currently on Nuvaring and we use condoms most of the time so I am not worried about pregnancy (and if it were the case, abortion is not an option).

Our sexual encounters are few and far between...ranging from twice a month to twice a week. We are not entirely stressed about this at all because we both really want to wait, as Christians, but we definitly slip up once in a while. Sometimes we feel so good, sometimes we feel a little guilty.

We are both hesitant at times, I believe, because we know we are not in covenant yet...we do know that once we are married, it will change very much because we will feel so great about knowing we have taken our vows, saying and meaning FOREVER and consumating those vows with an act only meant for husband and wife and never feel ashamed about it. But here is my question...I'm wondering how it seems there will be some kind of "switch" from feeling crumby to feeling fantastic about sex comparing now to after we get married.

We both are also working on some identity things, getting a firm ground about who we are in Christ, building self confidence and self love as we both have been emotionally abused in the past. I believe this will be a key to how we feel about sex because I know that sometimes I feel like I have had to perform when I should just be enjoying my intimacy with my fiance.

I just want to know how "being in covenant" all of the sudden makes intercourse sanctified and sacred while outside of marriage it is considered completely immoral and belongs on the level of drunkards and murderers (it's in Hebrews somewhere I believe).

I also wonder about "honour." Somehow we are dishonouring each other by doing this before we are married. I just want to know how...we are giving our bodies to each other completely along with our hearts and souls and spirits...but somehow it seems completely invalid without being in covenant with each other.

I am completely in favour of waiting until marriage, I have no problem with this notion because it is a valid notion. You can't just give your body to anybody, even if you love them, then we'd all would have sex many times with many people. I love the fact that there is a first time for husband and wife...but it's just so difficult sometimes!! I don't wish to dishonour God nor dishonour my future husband...I just want to know how these things work. I don't want to get so legalistic about it but I am so confused about how these thing work sometimes.

I am asuming these "yuck feelings" that occur sometimes have to do with problems not yet confronted or solved about how I feel about myself alongside with conviction.

Any mature and professional comments welcome [Smile]

[ 05-15-2011, 08:20 PM: Message edited by: kaylinha13 ]

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~Kayla Christine~

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Britster
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It sounds like you feel guilty about having sex with your fiancé because it conflicts with your values, but you also enjoy it and are starting to question values you hold that sex is reserved for marriage.

I can relate because I was in a very similar position recently. I am also a Christian and want to reserve sex for marriage, and while I hadn't been having sex with my boyfriend/husband-to-be, we had been more sexually involved then what we believe is right.

What you need to ask yourself is what you truly want for yourself, both in your relationship with your fiancé and your Christianity. Do you truly want to stick to your values?

What happened in my case is we talked it over and agreed on new physical boundaries in the relationship because we both wanted to wait for sex and thus needed to safeguard against getting carried away.

Now I understand how you may be questioning the idea of waiting, and there are views that sex is symbolic of the unity of a wife and husband. If you feel that the only difference for you right now between sexual sin and marital sex is the public covenant and find that ridiculous because your relationship is on that level, why haven't you considered getting married earlier?

1 Corinthians 7:9: "But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

I don't think sex between people who are committed and love each other is the sexual sin that is the problem. The outlet of that desire is supposed to be marriage. The trouble happens when there is a long delay between that desire and marriage. Does that help?

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Destinee Carols
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I wish I had advice to offer; alas, I am in a similar position, with the added issue that my significant other and I are nowhere near being engaged.

Sometimes I wonder if sex outside of marriage is another one of those outdated things, like women on their period being unclean. What if it was put in place to protect people who otherwise would have been trasmitting diseases and knocking each other up left right and center? At the same time, I don't know if I'm merely trying to justify my actions, because if what I think is true, wouldn't that also apply to things like homosexual sex? [edited]

On top of that, there seem to be so many stories out there about a variety of things, such as a relationship falling apart because the guy has gotten what he's wanted, or the relationship becomes held together only by the sex, people who regret their whole lives having given away their virginity to someone not their husband...little horror stories that frighten me.

[ 05-16-2011, 08:30 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather
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Just a reminder, please: per our guidelines, it's really important everyone here keep this a safe space for everyone as best we can. That means that saying things here like that one isn't okay with or "for" people of a certain color or gender or religion or orientation just isn't okay.

Please keep this space as safe for others as it is for you. With that in mind, I edited your post, Destinee. You get to believe and think what you want, but when we're in a diverse space where people you aren't accepting of are right here, reading and responding to you (and also staffing the space you're using), please post accordingly, just like you'd speak in someone's home who is different than you out of respect, okay? Thanks.

I also wanted to make sure to leave a couple relevant links for folks here. I'm not Christian myself, so I'm not going to personally respond to this question, since that's what's being asked for, but we do have some responses around these issues (and a couple specifically for you, kaylinha) including from people who are Christian, that may be helpful:

• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/im_becoming_a_christian_how_can_i_reconcile_my_faith_with_my_sex_life
• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/no_seriously_what_would_jesus_do
• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/how_can_i_stick_to_the_promise_ive_made_to_myself_to_wait
• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/words/its_between_god_and_me

[ 05-16-2011, 09:45 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Britster
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If I may, I'd like to respond to one of the articles Heather posted here.

Hugo writes: "One word of warning: sometimes couples in your position make promises to each other to be abstinent, and then, after a week or two, they “relapse”. Often, each person ends up feeling resentful of the other for not having been stronger, or each feels guilty for not having set a better boundary.

So another pledge to “be good” is made, and it lasts a little while, and then you “fall” again together. When you keep making pledges together and breaking them, that does take a toll on the relationship, as guilt or resentment are sure to follow."

I think this is an important consideration. During the time I struggled with what we were doing, I kept making promises to myself that this time would be different or that that time would be the last. And of course when in the moment, my choices did not reflect those promises. And the end result was a heavier burden of guilt and feelings of failure. However, I do believe that people can have the self-control over sexual impulse to keep true to a decision if they are truly settled on that decision.

It all comes back to what you want in your relationship and your faith. Do you want to reconcile your faith to your behavior, your behavior to your faith, or some compromise between the two?

Another good topic to maybe discuss is why you want to save sex for marriage or why you want to continue to have sex before marriage. What do you hope to gain from that experience, and if that is a realistic expectation.

And by the way, it's fine to question what you believe. I was raised with the idea that kissing should be reserved for marriage, and I know people who believe that saying "I love you" should be reserved for engagement. I decided that I thought kissing is just fine, and have kissed both my ex in the past and my current boyfriend plenty.

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turtle_lady
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thank you very much all of youfor your responses. we've given up on making "promises" that we'll do better "next time" or the "next time." it's basically whatever happens...and doing our best to keep out of situations that will compromise our desire to have sex with each other...i wish i could say it were that easy!

many times i have reflected on Paul's message on getting married rather than just burning with passion...well...we ARE getting married! it's just a whole freakin' year away!!! i really in all honesty wanted to get married like that november...but my family wants a nice wedding and my parents are paying practically for EVERYTHING! a year will go by super fast but...i just don't know sometimes. it's a little silly. we don't feel as bad as we used to but i feel like it's black and white...sex or no sex. lingering in the middle isn't doing anything positive for our relationship. there is definitly no resentment or upsetedness with each other.

we tried boundaries and dude, if we're there, we're there...i'd rather just do it all or have nothing at all because kinda-sorta-not-doing-it like foreplay or whatever is just dandy but we know we'd much rather make love than just settle for something to quench our desire.

and having sex before marriage may very well may be an outdated thing, such as thinking sex is an sinful act or periods being unclean etc etc, but i am definitly going by my spirit here too...saying that things should probably be worked out on us before we even delve into the most intimate thing any 2 people could do in the world. i believe that most Christians are for waiting because it's not just "oh it's dirty and just no"...there could be some wisdom here. being with your boyfriend or girlfriend...or even being engaged guarentees no full and complete commitment like marriage does...a covenant one should never ever break. if you guys believe in Christian marriage like i do, then you understand that it really means forever...no potential breakup even in engagement. it's a safety thing for your heart...and marriage is a safe place to practice sex because marriage is meant to be forever.

so i clearly believe in all these strong things to wait...yet i'm still out there having sex with him!! we are human afterall and God created sex as the ultimate symbol of unity; you can't get much closer than that...the most vulnerable thing you can do with anyone.

i guess i can see it as a selfish thing...too impatient and to careless of my actions. letting my body override my spirit. many people would think i'm nuts and say "hey just go for it, you're getting married anyways"...but i feel like it's more complicated than that. i just want to understand why, on a spiritual ground, how sex between 2 people ready to commit is different than those who are already there. simple answers like "because it's not in covenant it is wrong" just doesn't work for me...because i still don't understand. i believe a lot of these questions will disappear when i gt married because i won't feel anymore shame...i'm mixed up between my heart, flesh and spirit. it totally sucks!! and a lot of ppl think kissing should be reserved for engagement and marriage along other things...because kissing always leads to other things...i swear, my pants totally just drop off >.<

i'm thinking i need to suck it up, control my flesh and reconcile my behaviour with my faith...i wish it were easier done than said! it's like having a grand feast set up before you and you are not allowed to have it until it is finished...well...i can smell all the food, it's getting laid out on the table and i'm nibbling away...it's not as satisfying as it will be when the feast is before me, finished and ready for me to indulge in. i gotta be patient and save it for the big feast...no more nibbling on undercooked things, not as satisfying as when it will be fully cooked, delicious and all for me and future-husband-to-be to enjoy [Smile]

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~Kayla Christine~

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Heather
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(kaylinha, I've been staying out of this because you asked for a very specific source of advice which I can't offer, but if you want my feedback at any time, just let me know, okay?)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Djuna
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Hi there Kaylinha! I'm sorry you're having a hard time with this - I understand some of what you're going through. Growing up Catholic, I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile my religion with how I felt.

For what it's worth, I'm secular now, but of course that's only my decision. I don't really want to advocate any one point of view - I say "secular" rather than "atheist" because I don't really have a point of view (or not much of one) as far as God is concerned, if that makes sense. I wanted to say hi because I still do have a pretty decent knowledge of scripture and theology, if you wanted to talk out how you're feeling.

I'm curious what denomination you are? Not all of them actively preach against sex before marriage; it sounds like your particular church does, but if you'd find it interesting I can look up some articles on Christian sexuality for you, certainly.

I found your image of a grand feast and nibbling on undercooked things interesting. What I would say is that what constitutes being "cooked" in that metaphor is a cultural thing. Take steak. Some like it rare, some like it well done. One person's "cooked" is another person's "raw", and yet another person might call that same steak "overdone". To a Muslim, the meat may need to be halal, or it's not edible when the steak arrives; to a Jew, it may need to be kosher. If you're Hindu, steak is off the menu - it isn't "food" at all.

We can apply the same to sex. Some people feel that they're "cooked" and ready to "eat", or have sex, on their wedding night. For others, you become "cooked" (ready) when you turn 18. Some feel ready after dating for a month, some after six months, some after talking to someone new for a couple hours. All those ideas are valid, all those sex lives can be healthy and respectful (of partners and of oneself) if worked at.

Now, if it was me, I'd compare scriptures, preachers, or friends giving advice, to a chef who's telling me how to get my steak cooked. Sometimes, the chef knows better, and they know more about the meat than I do, and it would be appropriate for me to consider their opinion. At other times, the chef is giving advice where it isn't wanted, and it's within my rights to have my steak the way I think is proper. The way I determine whether I listen to the chef or not is by weighing up how my views and the chef's differ, and how much I respect the chef's opinion, and so on.

That's similar to how we read religious texts. Most Christians, even if they're aware of rules in the Bible against eating shellfish or wearing polyester, disregard those rules, presumably having decided that the rule isn't important. Meanwhile, many of those same Christians look at verses like "thou shalt not murder" or "honour thy mother and thy father" and decide that those rules are important to follow.

And Christians differ on some rules. Some Christians really do "observe the Sabbath and keep it holy"; others don't see that as important to do. You get to do the same with religious rules about sexuality: it seems pretty clear that religious teaching is not all absolute, and through reading and weighing up your own desires alongside what you read, and what you hear from clergy and lay people, you can decide whether religious rules about sexuality are relevant to you and your partner.

Only you two can figure that out, of course; and no set of rules is right for everyone. A Biblical steak might be a little too well-done for me, and my steaks might be too rare for some people.

I could always get used to having my steaks cooked more, if the rare steaks were making me ill, for example, but if I'm really enjoying my steaks and nothing's going wrong there's no reason to make a change. Generally speaking, rare steaks are no better than well-done steaks; a religion is no better or worse than other ways of thinking; one religion is no better or worse than another.

I'm hearing some of what you're saying about what constitutes being ready for sex - if you'd like to share some of your beliefs about sexuality, we could discuss that if you want to. [Smile]

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Britster
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From my perspective, if waiting for marriage to have sex and not feel guilty is difficult for you, maybe moving the date of the wedding should be back on the table. It sounds like you would prefer it to be earlier, but your family wants the bigger, better wedding later. Ultimately, it should be about what you want for your relationship.

It sounds to me like maybe you let a lot of people dictate what your relationship should look like. Maybe your pastor pushes you away from having sex with your fiancé with messages about the evils of premarital sex. Maybe your family pushes you for the traditional wedding they hope for. Maybe other voices in your life push you to have sex. But really, it's up to you. It's your relationship with your fiancé and it's your relationship with God.

Maybe it would help to think about your own voice, and not all the others. Take into account what you want and weigh what is most important to yourself right now. What do you really want? Don't let other people (least of all me) make that decision for you.

However, if it helps, I think you mentioned something about emotional abuse. Did that abuse involve coerced sex or sexual activity? Because I know at least for myself that that can lead to destruction of boundaries. It makes it really hard to say no, especially if one is in the habit of going along for the sake of peace or because it's what is expected. And if this is the case, this is a whole new issue that should be addressed.

Also, be kind to yourself. You can't expect to be a model of sinless perfection. People, even Christians, do slip up and even struggle with long-term problems and additions. Becoming a mature Christian transformed to the image of Christ is a lifelong pursuit. Sometimes there are failures in some areas and sometimes there are successes. But success cannot come from our own strength of will. I think what happens is that so many Christians try to be good out of their own will and so fail. Also remember that the ultimate goal of being a Christian isn't to be "good"- it's about loving God and people. So maybe you're having a hard time in this area, can you think about the areas which aren't a problem? Can you think about how you show love to people on a day to day basis?

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naplement
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You say that the reason you have to wait a year is that your parents want a fancy wedding, and they prefer to postpone it (maybe for getting the money). And so you suffer. This sounds unbelievably wrong to me: it you are committed and ready to marry, then you should, and their wish to have a fancy party is way, way less important than your need to have a guilt-free sexual life (conform the religion you believe in).

you can pay a priest to do the ceremony in half a hour, in a weekday, with the three of you present (maybe some more people are needed, but not much, for the ceremony to be official). It can't be that expensive.

you should talk to them and point out what a load of suffering their plans cause to you and your partner...

and as an example for a compromise, you could marry now religiously, and in a year could celebrate your civil wedding with the official party. And if they respond with something like "but I want to walk down the aisle with you in a fancy dress", this shows that for them, a day of ritualistic showing off is more valuable than a year's worth of happy sexuality for you and your partner. wouldn't that be a teeeny bit egoistic?

what would THEY say if you asked them to 1. do not have sex for a WHOLE YEAR, or 2. keep having it burdened with a heavy feeling of guilt, for a year, just because it would be more convenient for you that way? They would say that you have no authority to decide for them; that it's their business alone; and that their private life is infinitely more precious than matters of money and prestige; and they were right.

you are not the property of your parents. in the worst case, if they don't care about your suffering, you can still choose to marry against their will; you ARE entitled to have a happy life, which doesn't contradict your religious values, and it is their job as parents to not interfere with it.

[ 05-22-2011, 05:22 PM: Message edited by: naplement ]

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naplement
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sorry for sounding so harsh, I'm of course talking about the imaginary version of your parents I have constructed based on very little evidence and not your real ones.

But talking to them about this is vital; they probably don't understand how high a price you have to pay for making the wedding later.

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turtle_lady
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wow, this has come back with a lot of great input! some i agree with, some i don't agree with. let's start somewhere...

To patrickvienna: my denomination, sepcifically, is Apostolic. my pastors are very pro-marriage in the sense that sex should be reserved for mrriage. they are not demeaning or belittling in any way knowing that me and my fiance are struggling with this, but give suggestions and advice which is very helpful...however, still remains this problem. this "cooked" steak is a decent analogy, but when i say "undercooked" i mean something that is unhealthy for me, food that could potentially harm me or just taste plain disgusting and not as good as it could be. i think talking about steak rarity is getting a little too picky. as far as theology and looking up scripture goes, i have done that many many times and i don't get a whole lot out of that. i'm tryng to go based up what my "spirit" says and sometimes it's a full go and sometimes i think it says NO NO NO. i'm totaly thinking it's the context i am having sex in...i think. it really depends. but if you have become "secular," spirit man may be out of the picture right now and it's really difficult to concern without spirit, or a "holy intuition" i suppose. i'm not shunning any advice for that bit whatsoever but it's difficult to discern anything, for me anyways, without having that conscience with me...i think i mix up soul between spirit man often and so i think that is why i am in this pickle.

To Britster: it is quite true, unfortunately, that i have a lot of voices coming in and out of my life about sex. it's special and meant to be shared with only one person...and if it's supposed to be with one person only, the love of your life, then why not get married? that is the ultimate commitment of monogamy. it is not some "fairytale" ideal of being with only one person...i believe that is how it is meant to be which is why people end up getting married anyways. the fact that we go through several partners and have sex with them with no intention is detrimental to one's heart...it's how life is these days, and i was part of that, but it's not always like that. i like the idea of marriage only, but my body screams against me! (spirit before flesh should be the right way to go though). with emotional abuse, well it was never as bad for me...but i come from a "fight hard, love hard family" and sometimes that involved harsh words, which can be really harmful to a sensitive person who needs more positive than negative things said. i needed more "eveything is okay, you can do it" encouragement more than "suck it up and get to it or you'll fail if you don't" kind of encouragement. therefore, i just ended up being way too hard on myself about everything and still am and it really hurts me because i feel like i have to prove something to my family all the time. that and at a young age, my younger sister bullied me out of her own insecurity about image and whatnot since she was always te pretty one. we're both much older and none of that happens now since we're closer and more mature but overeating was a stupid solution to deal with that sort of insecurity and now i am overweight...a stubby 5'2 girl at 163 lbs [Frown] in my past relationship, this eventually lead to SEX being a source of comfort and a source to make me feel good about myself...i thought it would make me feel loved. of course when my rude awakening came when i realized it did none of that for me and kept trying despite knowing it was not working for me. i guess i am still coming out of that and maybe i can't differentiate between the 2. that is a sidenote haha but that was part of my insecuity/emotional abuse. my fiance's as much worse in childhood, growing up with the drama of a father who was an alcoholic and drug user and same thing with his older sister. i am very happy to say that both were saved from drugs and alcohol after becoming Christians [Smile] unfortunately, his father passed away this past January, cause still unknown. we are glad though that he was saved from all that before he passed away. but you can imagine the kind of things going on in a house like that with a stressed out and huting mother, crazy father and older sister and protecting and even younger sister...whom is turning 13 this year. it's been super tough but...we're so glad we've found each other to help one another out through all this. we're Godsent to each other [Smile] but you can imagine some of the stuff that has affected our views of sex, since Derek went through his own battle with wrongs views of sex before he became a Christian as well. also, i don't hope to be a model of sinless perfection...not at all. i wish to honour God and what God has for me. of course i know that i slip and that is why i take comfort in knowing His mercy is new everday with grace i am so undeserving of. i just don't want to take advantage of that. i know i cannot be "good of my own will" and that is why i am supposed to call on God and He will help me through this...i am never able to do anything of my own will lol, i'd never do anything if that were the case. i do my best to love and shine Christ's love by doing just that to others through everyday actions...but i guess it's about honouring God and what He has given me.

To naplement: being a Portuguese woman...there are so many people to suck up to and please, it's just plain stupid. i REALLY REALLY REALLY wish i could say that i could back out of it all, change the wedding date and elope...that would be so ideal for me...but all that to calm my conscience about sex? i have the rest of my life after i get married to have sex...but it is totally a year away D: it's SO much more complicated than getting married next week and i could totally do it if so many factors weren't involved. first of all, eloping would be the biggest slap in the face to my parents since weddings are about families coming together and i wish to honour my parents sine they are pretty much paying for this whole thing and especially if they weren't totally 100% into my geting married so young with no money. i want to honour my parents with this wedding...too, if we get married with all these foo-foo-shi-shi people, they will give us money for a great start in life...ufortunately for that to happen, this wedding has to happen. and wedding for me and fiance means being married and being married therefore means we are now ONE and are safe to practice sex within the boundaries of marriage...sex outside and prove to be disastrous, especially if separating is possible. many people view marriage differently and that divorce is an option if need be, and in some cases it is (abuse, etc.) but it means FOREVER to me because it is sanctioned by God...any violation of marriage or covenant back then (not just Biblically, but in tribal instances too) meant death, execution. Separating from yourself is like death...which is why if a spouse dies of old age, the other usually soon follows suit. as far as "suffering" goes, i couldn't just tell my parents that i am suffering form not having sex and it's killing my conscience...that would mean nothing to them. they are Catholic but it is more of a tradition than a lifestyle and so i could probably, confidently say that their response would be "well, just have sex now, but be careful." either that or...that there is more to marriage than having sex (which is totally true) and 'rushing into marriage' just for sex is the wrong thing to do. and that would be the wrong thing to do, especially if you're not ready to get married. well, i definitely want to get married, not because i want to have sex, but because i want to spend my life with Derek and work in partnership with him for the rest of our lives. but if we got married now...we have no money, so we'd have to nowhere to go. i will NEVER move in with my parents or his. no way. i just finished school and derek is in his first year of university and i plan to take my masters in a year or 2...that complicates things even more. so we need money to move somewhere...but we have none at the moment. i guess it's be difficult to get married and have no place to live [Frown] that is another reason for another year's wait...money </3

AFTER ALL THIS, i can see i have all these great views about how sex should be and how it is to be kept in the covenant of marriage...but why is it that i struggle with this? i am believing different things in my head and in my heart and the two are colliding all the time. thank you everyone for your input...it really makes me feel btter to know there are others that care and wish to help me out.

also, Heather, i'd be curious to know what you'd have to say, even if it's not from a Christian point of view. i am wondering if this is more than just 'Christian guilt', thinking it has more to do with insecurity and believing in who i am. it is not just me in this pickle, it is both of us. maybe i am making this more complicated than it ought to be, but what do i know haha. it seems so simple but it's so not!

[ 05-24-2011, 08:22 AM: Message edited by: kaylinha13 ]

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Heather
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Kayla: this is a lot to take in all at once (not a criticism!). But one thing I think that maybe might help you out here, which I confess is something else I personally am just not going to be a great help with, might be thinking about what marriage really means to you. Not to your family, but to YOU.

I say that because it kind of sounds like this is another area, much like sex, where you've got some conflicting thoughts and ideologies that seem to be putting you in a difficult place. For example, in one respect, I hear you saying that, to you, marriage is about being right with your spirituality, while in another, I hear you saying it's about money/financial survival and satisfying your family members. Those things, to me, sound at odds with each other.

I guess what I'm really suggesting you think about, at its core, when it comes to marriage is the same thing I'd suggest trying to get sorted out when it comes to sex, which is trying to find some harmony between your beliefs and your practical reality. For instamce, with sex, the whole time you've been talking about this since you've come to Scarleteen and asked about it, I hear you talking about very much enjoying yourself in a lot of ways and having a very active sex life you want, but at the same time, feeling like you shouldn't be doing that or feelings that way. But the thing is, you are experiencing what you are and feeling what you are. So, with those things in such opposition to each other, where can you find harmony or compromise? If you're not going to choose to change your choices to be sexual with your partner, but also aren't going to choose to maybe adjust your beliefs, there's really nothing to do but to feel conflicted (a feeling I'm actually not sure marriage is even going to make go away for you, honestly). In other words, something's got to give here for you to feel differently, as you have been feeling this way for a very long time now.

Seems like it's similar around marriage: you want X thing, other people want Y thing. You have this set of beliefs around it, and values, but then this other bunch of things stands counter to that. Again, something's got to give or get adjusted/adapted, or you're just going to stay stuck in a constant push-me/pull-me.

Do you know what I mean by all of this?

(Too, have you yet discussed either of these things, at all, with anyone in your church or congregation? Have you two ever talked to your minister/pastor/reverend about these struggles and asked for some advice or counsel to consider?)

[ 05-24-2011, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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turtle_lady
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Thanks Heather. It is a constant push and pull feeling...it's beyond frustrating. I am talking to someone from my church (when schedule permits for both of us) consistently but I think I have more questions than I can handle any answers to.

Sex is "bad" before marriage. Sex is "good" after marriage. I just want to know why. I do believe marriage is good because it's a bond both parties agree to and that the only way out is a death...it's a sign of ultimate commitment. That is why I favour marriage. What I don't understand is how in my current situation, right now, on the brink of marriage, it is still considered "sin" because I am not married. The only answer I can think of is that it is "safe for our hearts" because having sex with someone and then having it broken off is really painful and not something we should have to go through. Believe me, I've gone through that severing and it is painful. But now that I am getting married, my heart is pretty well in a "safe place" because as soon as we make that commitment, the only way we will be able to separate from each other is by death. We both believe that. I can understand abstaining while casually dating...but I am about to be married. We love each other now, love is not a sin and this love will not change after we get married. I think I'll probably have to talk to my pastors about this but I feel ashamed in their presence talking about this over and over (though they definitely don't make me feel that way). I was just hoping I may be able to find some concrete Christian advice, or other, that could help me nail these things in the head...UGH. I apologize now if my questions are too repetative or just plain annoying...maybe I just need to kick myself in the head and just give it up...but the passion and love in my heart want to express this and I don't want to feel ashamed of the greatest expression I could show to the only other person in the entire universe, my fiancee. I am confused because my love for him will not change...the only thing that says we can't share this bond is money, an appartment and a marriage certificate. JUST WHAT THE HECK IS IT ABOUT MARRIAGE THAT MAKES SEX SO SPECIAL??? grrr...

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~Kayla Christine~

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Heather
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So, I can talk to you about some of this, but the thing you and I, specifically, are going to run into is that our understandings and beliefs are different.

For instance, I know that for about half of all people who get married, anullment or divorce is a way out (or just staying married but not really paying attention to each other anymore), not only death, and that money and property has been the primary issue with marriage as an institution for all of history. I also know as someone who works in sex that a lot of people who have sex in marriages don't experience it as special, or as more or less special than outside of marriage. I also don't personally believe in the concept of sin (even though I understand it intellectually and know other people do), so that's obviously going to be a very tricky one for me to try and address with you. [Smile]

I don't think you're being annoying, and don't think you need to apologize for anything. What I think is just that maybe you have certain beliefs and experiences that aren't in alignment with what you think you're supposed to believe, which is a very common experience for many, many people. (Which is also why I'd pay attention to the suggestion a bit further up from someone about maybe also looking into denominations/churches which are more in alignment with you: they're out there.) Given how common an experience this is, and how very, very few people don't adhere to the Bible or other religious doctrines to the letter, especially around sex, I also think you're not going to find the kind of cut-and-dried answers I think you might be looking for. All of this is about individual interpretation and individual ethics and values, so there never is any one answer, just your answer, your choices, your beliefs.

[ 05-25-2011, 07:43 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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turtle_lady
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Thanks again. It really all does come down to what I believe huh? I suppose so, in a way. I know that I felt these same guilty feelings even before I became Christian so I couldn't just brush them off either way. I know I'll get there, I am not at all worried. I won't say that the "guilt" may not dissipate completely after I get married but I do feel that some of the tension and 'shame' will perhaps leave, knowing that I can completely and fully enjoy my husband, in my own apartment by ourselves [Smile] I look very forward to that day. Even reading some instances in Christian sex books about couples who didn't wait and how they resolved it. It's good stuff. I'll figure it out!! [Big Grin]

As far as divorce of anullment goes, that isn't really much of an option for me or my future hubby once we decide to stick it out for life...of course, things like abuse of any kind I think calls for a consideration of those things but this is why we're learning to accept and learn how to deal with our differences before we get married, before we jump the gun so we can avoid situations like divorce and anullment. Just like there is a way out of suicide, there is a way out of crazy situations...we work them out, there is always a way. Maybe I'm completely naiive about these things but I watch my parents and my uncles and aunts and grandparents and through all the shitty drama of it all, not any of them of gotten a divorce...I like to look up to role models of marriage and apply it to my own future one, especially my pastors' marriage.

Thank you so much all for your input...there's a lot to digest here [Smile]

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~Kayla Christine~

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Heather
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quote:
It really all does come down to what I believe huh?
I'd say it most certainly does. You've probably already noticed, in Hugo's advice answers to you and the input from other Christians here that very clearly, all Christians don't believe the same things or make the same choices.

While I'm not Christian, I do have my own spiritual belief system and tradition, and one thing I can add is that it's my experience, and clearly the experience of a lot of people whose spiritual practices have any basis in something pre-established (as in, not of their own making), that part of our journey in any spiritual tradition/practice is figuring out how to apply whatever that system or tradition is to our own lives. In other words, that process, that constant process, IS part of all of this and is part of a spiritual life. Not just getting to whatever conclusions you wind up making, or whatever actions you choose, but the practice of going through all that thinking and feeling and discussion as a process in and of itself.

The same goes for making any kind of life choices, including those that have nothing to do with religion or spirituality. It's not just getting to whatever our right choice is -- or making a mistake, and then learning from that -- it's also about the value of the process of trying to find our own clarity and clarifying our own ideas, beliefs, ethics and values.

Do you know what I mean?

[ 05-26-2011, 04:14 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Britster
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Kayla, if it helps, I know what you mean when you ask what's so special about marriage to make the sex so special.

I think the problem is that quite honestly, Christians don't have a clear response, so many of them for pre-marital abstinence will make arguments stereotyping pre-marital sexual relationships or are just plain wrong. For example, "if you have sex before marriage, your marriage is more likely to fail"; "if you don't wait for sex, your honeymoon won't be special"; "if you have sex before marriage, you are giving pieces of your heart away to someone who isn't your husband"; or "if you have sex before marriage, you will get bored with sex after you're married". These rationalizations are everywhere.

However, they aren't necessarily true and very probably aren't. A couple who had pre-marital sex may have problems in their marriage, but they may not be related to premarital sex. Or maybe they are, but that connection is not true for everyone. And the same goes for the other arguments.

I personally suspect that the reason the Bible promotes sex as within marriage is that it is a physical demonstration of the unity of a wife and husband which symbolizes the relationship between Christ and the Church. But I'm just guessing. And if and how this ought to affect our behavior, particularly in tricky situations like your own is a personal decision.

So it does all go back to your personal beliefs on the matter, because, as this thread shows, there's quite a variety of Christian beliefs! But you are very right to question those rationalizations for the defense of pre-marital abstinence.

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Heather
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(If any of you want some historical information to kind of put what the Bible says about sex and marriage into context through that lens, I'm happy to add that. For example, it's probably sound to remember that when it was written, it was most common to get married in one's early-to-mid teens, which likely had quite a lot to do with few people living over the age of 35.

Mind, what's historically accurate and relevant doesn't mean anyone doesn't get to believe whatever they do per their own choices around these things, but it can give some valuable perspective to chew on sometimes.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtle_lady
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this is all quite valuable and interesting stuff to me guys...i never thought i would get so much great support!

Heather: I do know what you mean, I think. We have our own ideas and choices and we want a lifestyle to match it but I'm not always sure about that because what we like and what we want may not always be the best thing for us. I would advocate abstinence during dating because marriage isn't even on the radar unless the couple is engaged...then again, I'd encourage them to wait just a LITTLE bit longer because they're almost there...that is if they are getting married right away. So I don't even know myself, I feel like a hyprocrite and full of contradictions [Frown] I'm sure there are some religions and churches out there that advocate smoking marijuana (ie, Ratifarianism) but I don't think that makes it right. Even though smoking marijuana does something spiritual for them, perhaps healing, it is, as far as I am concerned, a recreational drug. I am not always sure that changing religion or sect to fit what I want is always the best solution...if I could find a religion that loves EATING and it doesn't matter what food, I would love that...only, it would slowly kill me. And some cultures advocate lots of eating because it has to do with honour or other such things (believe me, I come from a Portuguese household lol, it's sometimes dishonourable not to finish everything on your plate or even ask for more...so silly haha). Even a year ago, I thought there was nothing wrong with flirting or masturbating to whomever came across your mind...little did I know that was what brought my to my emotional and physical affairs with other men in my past relationship...being insecure even with a man who loved me. Flirting brought me into the arms of other men and masturbating to other men brought my attention to others other than my man which screws up a lot in my mind, making men only sexual objects to me. It never did me any good...and Jesus does say that those who lust after a man/woman in his/her mind creates adultery in his/her heart...I want my mind and body only on my darling love and when another man enters my mind, I do well to shoo it out. Without everything I've learned at my church, I would not have understodd my "harmless" thoughts about flirting and masturbatiung. These thoughts would not have been changed without what I've learned now. Of course I don't really have a problem with masturbation unless it becomes too much and you fill yourself completely on something false, yourself, that isn't your husband/wife or fiance. (Then there is what I've learned to be called 'santified masturbation' I think, when your spouse is gone for a long time...ahh so many complicatios lol). But where I am has brought out a lot of good in me and has promoted what I believe in and I am working through so many things, partnering with others in my church. I love where I am...just...stll struggling with sex. Just as my fiance is struggling with his own form of lust problem through trauma resulting in his mother telling he will never please another woman because he is like his father. If anything, I would for my fiance, just wait until he feels totally right with himself, or least much more so than he does now to put his heart and ease and to recover completely from his addiction.

Britster: I have come across some of those responses myself and I don't believe a lot of those...I know those who have waited and had difficulty, those who had sex beore hand, had difficulty as well...and i know couples who waited, had a great time and those who didn't wait and still had fulfilling experiences. I think the whole "giving pieces to someone who isn't your husband" is completely true, that is if you know you are having sex with someone who will not be your husband. Granted, I thought I was going to marry the last person I was with before my fiance now but nothing pointed to marriage other than we were together for 5 years...that can really mess up a person [Frown] same thing with my fiance...he had 3 girlfriends before me, 4 sexual partners but only one did he have sexual intercourse with...I am still dealing with that but I do know we have only eyes and hearts for each other (as long as we do our best to keep away fom any situations with dangerous opportunities)...as we are both Christians now, we greatly regret those experiences because we so wished we could have been the only ones for each other...so I can see having sex even outside engagement as dangerous for our hearts but...engagement and marriage, not so much. Grrr. So yeah, I do know that it was probably easier to wait back in those days since everyone was so frickin young and maybe not even ready to have sex...unless you were those promiscuous girls or prostitues like some of the girls I met in grade 9, you were most likely a virgin...I was a virgin until I was 18 years old (though I had sex for all the wrongs reasons which really hurts me now [Frown] ...another side not heh). I probably would have been married at that age back then (unless you count oral sex, then 17). And I do totally believe that I shouldn't believe whatever I want because this seems like it's becoming a god in my life, seeing as I focus on it all too much but yeah...some Biblical reference wouldn't hurt for some valueable perspective to chew on [Smile] I just think...if I have to fight for some answers against what I have learned in the Bible or what God's right idea of sex may be, it is not a fight worth having...then again, He is a rational God and would not just leave me in the dust with all this desire and all these questions...so I will have my answers whether it is to wait or to do as I see fit. Again, if I don't have my fiance's full agreement on this either, I would feel horrible going ahead. We're both still figuring this out...baaahh.

[ 05-28-2011, 11:38 AM: Message edited by: turtle_lady ]

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~Kayla Christine~

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Stephanie_1
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Turtle_lady: I've pretty well stayed away from posting in this thread, because it's an area that ya'all are looking for a pretty specific source of advice/ collective of thoughts, but just needing to jump in here a moment with a reminder.

Please - per our guidelines, it's really important everyone here keep this a safe space for everyone as best we can. I say this here because in your most recent post some of what you said labels people (such as saying people that were in 9th grade that had sex were promiscuous girls or prostitutes) is not okay here. Readiness is not dependent upon age.

As Heather said above: Please keep this space as safe for others as it is for you. You get to believe and think what you want, but when we're in a diverse space where people (have made decisions that were right/comfortable for them) you aren't accepting of are right here, reading and responding to you (and also staffing the space you're using), please post accordingly, just like you'd speak in someone's home who is different than you out of respect, okay? Thanks.

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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Jill2000Plus
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I just want to jump in here and say that I'm in a committed relationship that's lasted for over a year and I've thought about other people than my boyfriend while masturbating many times and I would never cheat on him, plus, when I have had crushes on other people they haven't gone away just because I'm primarily or even entirely thinking about my boyfriend during masturbation (which is quite often the case as well since often all I want to think about is him anyway), the one time I thought about cheating on my boyfriend was when he said he thought he might be falling out of love with me and there was this nice guy I knew (though he has a girlfriend so even if I had actually been willing to cheat I wouldn't have wanted to screw up the relationship between him and his girlfriend, I would have found somebody single), and the basic point is that yeah, I sometimes thought about him while I masturbated (though I still thought about my boyfriend a lot) but what was driving that higher than normal desire towards him was my feelings of loneliness and desire to be held and loved and intimate with someone at a time when I thought that was all going to go away with the person I loved (and still love), we've resolved it all now and decided to stay together (yay happy ending w00t!), I guess my basic point is that even if you find that thinking about other people seriously makes you want to cheat by itself, that doesn't mean that's true for everyone, in other words, what you're saying isn't going to make everyone think "yeah, this religion totally understands me" because that isn't the experience of a significant number of people, I'm not saying you're actually trying to proselytise here, just making a general point about not generalising. I want to second the advice given above that your family is making you go through a lot of misery for something that is relatively unimportant (even if they don't know it), and it would be good to talk to them about it.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Stephanie_1: It was absolutly not my intention to call any grade 9 girls "prostitutes" or promiscuous or other. I believe I had a specific girl in mind from my junior years at highschool who completely freaked me out about sex at so young an age. I was not generalizing or calling sexually active young girls by any such names purposefully, I did not mean to at all...I hope I offended nobody [Frown] On reading back into it, it completely sounds terrible. I mean no offense to anyone [Frown] [Frown] [Frown] I want to post in a safe space for absolutly everybody, I never mean to discriminate against anybody...geez, I feel terrible!! [Frown] <\3

Jill2000Plus: I am not generalizing how masturbation works for everybody, but with my experience, it did no good for my heart and it did no good for my fiance's heart. That is all. I am not saying anyone who masturates to people other than their significant other is a horrible person by any means, it is their business. I know what I know to be true in my heart and I know that thinking about other men in a sexual manner dishonoured and disrespected my significant other indeed very greatly and it lead to other things. It may not be true for everyone but it did no good for me. I follow my heart and spirit on this one.

I appoligize if I used any strong language to offend anybody in this message board. [Frown] I am just trying to figure out my own thing and I would appreciate professional feedback and support only. This is an entirely touchy subject for me...I hope to get what I can out of this but if discussing matters that touch on my spirituality gets too out of hand, I may just leave that at the door and discuss whatever other questions I have. I do not want to feel condemned for believing some of the things I do. I don't believe I am "high and mighty" or above anyone else, just putting it out there, because I think differently about sexuality and indeed am still struggling with it. I'm just like everyone else, trying to get by and understand what's goin on.

With these boards, I am able to ask more questions of myself and reflect on feedback, so thanks again for your input and support. Again...so sorry for anything I did to make anyone upset [Frown] [Frown]

[ 05-29-2011, 09:16 PM: Message edited by: turtle_lady ]

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~Kayla Christine~

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Stephanie_1
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Turtle_lady: Thanks for the apology and we don't think you purposefully meant to do so, just need to let people know when something they said could possibly make this a less safe space so they can be aware of that wording possibly being a problem in the future. Sometimes we all say things wrong, or thinking back on someone or something in our past comment and it's read into differently than we meant it. As well, it's especially prevalent in places like this where we can't see reactions of others, fix our wording so easily, or really explain if something we said sounds differently before someone else comes alone and has already read something into it.

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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turtle_lady
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I understand. Thank you for reminding me of these important guidelines.

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~Kayla Christine~

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Heather
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Also? I think that the bonus of making space safe for everyone is that you don't have to worry about being condemned for your beliefs, because then no one does. [Smile]

A really easy rule of thumb is just to keep things with ""I" statements, and make them about yourself and your own experiences, rather than applying them to anyone else, or talking about all people. Know what I mean? The extra bonus with that is that that approach also tends to be much more helpful in finding our own clarity with things. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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turtle_lady
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Totally. That helps a lot. Thank you <3

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~Kayla Christine~

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Britster
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quote:
Originally posted by turtle_lady:
I just think...if I have to fight for some answers against what I have learned in the Bible or what God's right idea of sex may be, it is not a fight worth having...then again, He is a rational God and would not just leave me in the dust with all this desire and all these questions...so I will have my answers whether it is to wait or to do as I see fit. Again, if I don't have my fiance's full agreement on this either, I would feel horrible going ahead. We're both still figuring this out...baaahh.

I've been holding back my responses to some extent because I know that Christian beliefs vary. However, it seems to me that this is an issue of trust versus desire for you. Do you trust God with the sexual aspect of your life?

I'm sorry to say this, but it seems to me that you know what to do, but you don't want to face it. And believe me, I've been there myself oftener than I'd like to admit.

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turtle_lady
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Please, please, please do not hold back. I am not looking for someone to tell me I am right or to assure me that what I am doing is right. I want the truth. Truth.

Bam. You just asked the right question and it cut deep. Real deep. Do I really trust God with my sexuality? No...I guess I didn't. That was the slap in the face that I needed. I really needed that...and that's all it took.

Deep down I really do know what I have to do...and whatever I have in me right now that's so desperately holding on to thinking I need sex right now is getting me nowhere in this place. I am terrified to face it...because it means that I'll have to face my deepest insecurities. I need healing...and sex will not cover that for me.

I need to be in a place where sex is something I can share with my beloved without anything to hide from and with the right heart. I am not there yet...I am so desperately looking for a reason to keep going...but I don't even know why. I think this has stemmed from a long history of prooving myself and being afraid of loosing my identity as a woman...something like that. I'm not even sure...but I know I need some healing before I can delve into something so impacting such as sex without an unprepared heart.

I must trust God with the sexual aspect of my life. He created it afterall [Smile]

Thank you, thank you, thank you...THANK YOU! ^_^

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~Kayla Christine~

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CoatRack
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I have refrained from commenting on this thread because you asked for Christian advice and, while I do a lot of religious sex ed work both in and out of a Christian context, I do not identify as a Christian.

That said, your last post made me want to offer up a different perspective. I will try to approach this from a Christian angle.

There's this absolutely silly little song. It goes

Physical, Sexual, Spiritual bodies
Physical, Sexual, Spiritual me
(x 2)

God gave me
Sexuality
Healthy, holy sexuality
(x2)


God /gave/ us sexuality, just as He gave us free will. And we are expected to use that free will that He did give us to do the best we can in our lives, using His word as guidance for our thoughts and actions. In 1John 4:8 we see that 'God is love.' That simple. God is love. Specifically He is the Greek word “Caritas.” An all encompassing, all powerful, love without limits or judgment. God is THAT kind of love. And we, in turn, were made in His image. We were made in the image of that beautiful love, that caritas, that version of how we love at our absolute and very best.

And when a new child is born that love that God has for all other people doesn't diminish for them so that He might love this new child. His love expands and envelops. And, again, we were made in His image. With that ability to love and be loved.

So we have two things going on here, right? We have free will and we have love. We have, then, the free will to express that love.

And then there's the fact that even if we accept that the Bible is the infallible word of God it's still an old, old document. In the days before blood tests and paternity testing and when progeny was really, really important it was necessary to know who your children were because they were how your genes and your physical stuff (land, livestock, etc) was carried on after you were gone. Bloodlines were a heck of a lot more important then.

My minister is also a folk singer, and I LOVE the chorus to one of his songs:

You can be anybody you want to be / you can love whomever you will / you can travel any country where your heart leads / and know I will love you still. You can live by yourself / you can gather friends around / you can choose one special one. / And the only measure of your words and your deeds / will be the love you leave behind when your gone.

The song isn't about God. But it's about love, and being loved for who we are as individuals instead of what somebody or society wants us to be. I really think that God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be good people and to love our neighbors and our enemies as ourselves. And he wants us to live a love-filled life. I think that love can be sexual, spiritual, platonic, and friendly.

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Britster
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Wow Kayla, I'm so excited for you.

And if I may say, it does happen from time to time that we start putting our own desires first, and most of the time we don't notice until there's a problem. And I was able to mention this because it very recently happened to me:

I have been planning for quite some time to spend the summer in China to fulfill academic requirements and to meet my future in-laws. And it seemed like God had opened the door because I was able to get a 90 day visa which is apparently rather miraculous. But two days before my flight, I got sick. At first it was an annoying sore throat, but I prayed about it and other people prayed about it. I just got worse- the next day I had a high fever, and it was only worsening as the day went on regardless of prayer. I must say that I felt like I couldn't trust God because I felt like that plan I had made was the best option for me, and God was allowing it to come to ruins. The experience forced me to see that I had been putting my desires and goals ahead of trusting God, and it was a very difficult one to face. In the end, it turned out okay as we were able to get tickets for a flight next week instead and I learned an important lesson in trust. But I dare say in a couple months or so I'll have to address the same problem elsewhere in my life.

I'm sharing this story so you don't feel alone. Trusting God and giving all of one's life to Him can be really difficult, especially when one really really wants something and that thing is a good thing and is from God like sex. I don't know if it's something much talked about by Christians. I think most Christians including myself believe that we must always trust God and be spiritually attuned and so put on an act, and that's a problem.


The other thing I wanted to mention is that at first I thought the waiting period for you could be a problem, but maybe it could be a good thing? It sounds to me that you feel you need some healing in that area. And if I may say, now would be the best time to work through those problems maybe with the help of counseling while you don't have the pressure of having to have great married sex.

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