Tuesday, July 28, 2009

#92 Hoping that the rapture doesn't happen until after your wedding night



It goes that people who've been waiting for marriage want to have sanctioned sex here on earth before going to heaven. In Christian culture it's a running joke that you hope Jesus doesn't return till after you get married. Saying this out loud makes a person in Christian culture feel a bit naughty and worldly while staying safely within a Christian context.

The chances that vestal sexytimes will be mentioned during the wedding ceremony are pretty high among Baptists and non-denominational evangelicals. The pastor is likely to make a statement such as "They completed the difficult task of waiting and now they will enjoy the rewards on their honeymoon," "They have honored their purity and tonight is the night!" or "Jessica has saved her virginity for Nick." As odd as it is that the couple's maiden boning voyage is referenced during a holy marriage ceremony, a random and senseless act of good taste does occur: if the groom did not wait for the bride, this is never mentioned.



The subject of the wedding night is never broached during Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran or Methodist weddings. It occurs strictly in less liturgical, evangelical settings.

76 comments:

Mumsy said...

This is absolutely spot on. It's the exact reason I married the wrong person 33 years ago. God forbid I should have had sex before marriage rather than marry to have sex. And the imminent return of Jesus in 1976 was bearing down on me; I had to get laid first.

Joel said...


The wedding night is never broached during Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran or Methodist weddings.


Well, I can't honestly recall everything at my Catholic wedding, mostly because the wedding night still loomed ahead of us and my thoughts were not concentrated on the priest. But I went to a friend's Russian Orthodox wedding (the liturgy was in English) and I remember repeated chanted references to "the bed undefiled."

Billy said...

I believe purity on both the woman and the man's part to be important. First of all, God said so. Secondly, there can be a lot of psychological issues that come with multiple sex partners; not to mention STD's. I didn't wait, I wish I would have.

jeremy said...

I can't recall how many times I've heard "I can't wait to get married so I can have sex." I hope for their sake they aren't in for a rude awakening.

Ann said...

My favorite part of the "purity" people (as if that only means no penis-in-vagina until marriage) is what I call the "anything but" game. I know lots of secular folk play it, but it is really, really common with Christians. Basically, you do anything but sex and consider yourself a virgin. Some of them actually are successful with this, but are really disappointed in their wedding night because they've created something sex to be something COMPLETELY different from "fooling around." Like, fireworks or something. Oh dear.

Trev said...

I can recall a friend of mine counting down the days he had left before losing his virginity - " 29 days before losing my virginity" he would say with a smug grin - often in front of his fiancee! I would think to myself, ouch...talk about putting unfair pressure on your wife-to-be.

A few months before my wedding he said, "dude, whatever you do, don't pressure your wife into thinking that she has to do it with you on the first night." No shit shurlock.

The Thief said...

I was going to get offended by the idea that pastors always mention the wedding night, being a pastor and all, but then I read the disclaimer including Methodists as those who never mention it at all. LOL.

juls said...

bobby and i had a lutheran ceremony and in true lutheran form sex was not mentioned. i would've died.

if the marriage bed is so sacred should it be treated in this way? i don't think so. it should be revered and respected and no chiding should be made.

i know of some wedding ceremonies where they bride and groom have not kissed and after the ceremony go into a private room and make out. i kid you not- this happens- my friends have been witness. anyway, it all seems to cheesy and unsacred.

keep your pants on people! ;)

Steve said...

I remember Garrison Keillor saying this same thing--he hoped, as a young man, that Jesus would not return before he had done the deed.

BTW, when Jesus speaks of "purity," as in the Sermon on the Mount, he's not referring to sexual purity. Soren Kierkegaard once wrote a book entitled "Purity of heart is to will one thing," i.e., it's single-mindedness. And the early church fathers equated purity of heart with poverty of spirit (see John Cassian).

zack said...

A pre-marital counselor my wife and I met with warned us to keep our wedding night location a secret. Why?...we asked. He said in his church culture, 'the groomsmen' would often find the honeymoon spot and prank/taunt the couple's sex session!

juls said...

Garrison Keillor is not a Lutheran pastor, just a Lutheran enthusiast and critic. Just wanted to clear that up ;)

Roman de la rose and Pygmalion said...

Steph,

As odd as it is that the couple's maiden boning voyage is referenced during a holy marriage ceremony, a random and senseless act of good taste does occur: if the groom did not wait for the bride, this is never mentioned.

Yes, it's funny, isn't it? That's one problem that caused me to leave the church: the bias towards male privilege, and the issue of sexual purity is only one place where this occurs in Christian dogma. It's unfair to teach young women to wait when their future spouse might not have waited for them. When I found out that the man whom I thought I would marry (but didn't) hadn't waited for me, I felt defrauded. While extolling the virtues of virginity for women, my youth pastors never taught me how to confront this issue. When I spoke to someone in the church, they simply said, "Lots of men don't wait." I think what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If men don't have to wait, why should the girls?

Trev,

I know, right? It astounds me that Christians expect to go from 0 to 60 on their wedding night, especially if they've never even kissed each other.


Mumsy,

Your story is so similar to my mother's that I can't help wondering if you aren't the same person. Even the dates match up. And I agree with you completely. Lots of couples who marry for sex end up getting divorced (or wish they could, if church doctrine won't allow it).

Mumsy said...

Well, have you ever seen your mother and me in the same place at the same time?
Church doctrine (the kind invented by white males, not Jesus) didn't allow my divorce, but God did. That was my turning point in a million ways--from self-righteous, patriarchal church lady to pissed-off recovering fundie. Hmm, do I see a blog in my future?

E. Louise said...

Mumsy, I've (probably) never met you but I like you already. If you start a blog, please advertise it here!

mme. bookling said...

haaahahhhahhaaaaa.


HAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Steve said...

What if the bride did not wait for the groom?

jeremy said...

I wouldn't hold it against the person I ever end up marrying to have waited, but if that were the case then I would want her to get tested. I'd do so too just to be a good sport, unless I end up sleeping around.

Roman de la rose and Pygmalion said...

Mumsy,

Haha. No way to tell, especially since I live far from family and don't see them often. Anyway, I was just bantering with you.

Thanks for sharing your story. I am glad that you were able to come out of your unhappy marriage. You should write that blog.

Monica said...

@Roman:

Totally agree with you. Waiting until marriage isn't my cup of tea but if it means that much to someone else, then by all means. But it has to be equal. My biggest qualm with the whole "practice" is its emphasis on the woman. It's bad enough that in "secular society" - where there's not much concern on total chastity before marriage - there exists a double standard on male vs female sexual entitlement (the whole man with many partners = experience; woman with many partners = slut). But its even worse in a Christian culture that preaches this "virtue" on everyone yet only expects it on one half of the gender scale.

Where are the purity balls for boys? (heh, that sets up an interesting entendre...) Where are the fathers parading their sons and adorning them with purity merchandise?

And another thing that gets me about this ideology (sorry if I'm going on tangents, I just get really fired up about this subject): It's easy to be pat yourself on the back for holding off until your wedding night - and constantly remind the world about this (as they often do) forever and ever after - when you're getting married between 18-21. Considering that the average age of first intercourse is 17, and with over 90% (actual statistic) of the population having had sex by 23, you're not really doing anything out of the ordinary of "secular" standards. You just have a ring to absolve any guilt. I say this because I come from a bible-beltish community where purity vows run ramped. Interestingly enough, a hefty amount of old friends got married nearly fresh out of high school. Their general consensus: "We wanted to do things the right way". Seems to me like fancy talk for wanting to get it on already. To me, for all the rhetoric on the "sanctity of marriage", it seems very unsanctimonious to rush marriage for the main purpose of fulfilling your carnal passions.

In this day and age, where 30s are the new 20s, women have more life choices to explore, financial security via steady career takes a little longer to attain, etc... a lot of marriage counselors highly recommend holding out on marriage until at least your mid-20s. Now, if a couple patiently built up a solid foundation for their marriage and BOTH partners abstained from sex until their mid-20s or later when that marriage finally did happen... then you have some bragging rights. Until then, I don't think they're much better than the rest of us hedonists. Humph.

George said...

I'm not really big into sex or anything, nor am I part of "Christian culture", but I am really glad that I didn't wait.

I got the whole "sex craving" thing out of my system and since I'm less focused on it now, I can devote my time and energy to things that actually matter.

I don't believe that I "haven't lived up to the LORD's standards" or whatever either. If he didn't want me to live my life the way I do, he never should have put me here on earth.

I owe God nothing.

Anonymous said...

I am over 50 and have always lived in the Bible Belt (although I've attended Methodist or Episcopal churches). I had never witnessed this phenomenon until I attended the wedding of a friend of my daughter's in a Baptist Church. Upon the pastor (who was the grooms father!) revealing that the couple had "saved" themselves for each other I whispered to my daughters "TMI" and we all had to suppress laughter. I thought it was an isolated incident of bad taste, but I guess its institutional.

CJ in Texas

Billy said...

So, it's TMI to announce that a couple has remained Pure for one another. But it's not TMI to have graphic sex scenes in movies? Howard Stern is not TMI? Pornography? Wow, talk about a double standard. I think that if we should celebrate anything sex related it should be that two people were disciplined enough to save themselves for one another.

George, hope you reconsider you last sentence.

I believe that purity is a total abstinence from any kind of sex (vaginal, oral, anal, etc.) Purity has much to do than just penetration. Purity on the man's part is also just as important as purity on the woman's part.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm old fashioned, but yes, I do consider it "TMI" and in extremely bad taste to discuss the prospective sexual activity of the couple at a wedding ceremony!

CJ in Texas

Anonymous said...

personally, i think it is tacky and rude to say such things at a marriage ceremony. :( (even if it is true) i just think it is too much information. their sexual relations is between them an their Maker. not the rest of the population. egads.

Steve said...

And what if they've lied about "saving themselves"?

stephy said...

Yeah, you never can know for sure if they're telling the truth or not. Which is about right, since it's no one's business anyway.

Steve said...

Absolutely, Stephy. That's why I loved the stories above about "TMI."

stephy said...

I wrote a little more about the wedding ceremony overshare in this post. http://www.stuffchristianculturelikes.com/2008/08/12-saving-your-first-kiss-for-your.html

stephy said...

Oh wait, I put the wrong link - this is the one on overshare. http://www.stuffchristianculturelikes.com/2008/09/45-purity-rings.html

George said...

Billy,

After reconsidering my last sentence, I have come to the conclusion that I, in fact, do not "owe" God a thing.

I did not ask to be put here on this earth and to experience a life full of various types of suffering that just serve to make me uncomfortable and unhappy. Because of this, I find it extremely laughable when people try to tell me that "God disapproves" of any way that I live my life, because I am honestly not a wicked person by any means.

Yes, I have made mistakes and may have done people wrong, but who hasn't? I felt remorse for what I may have done because I was capable of considering the fact that I wouldn't have liked to be on the receiving end of certain actions I've taken, but that's called "learning from your mistakes" and every single person in this world has done so in one way or another.

I don't need to go through life being a slave to lust or materialism, but on the same token, I don't have to walk around wringing my hands and putting the wishes of some outdated, oversimplified, tribal deity before my own wishes.

I'm not afraid of God the way that so many of you are, and once I die, I'm not going to be "answering" to God because he should already know and understand exactly where I am coming from. If he stills decides to punish me in light of this, then he's a jerk and I don't want to spend eternity with him anyway.

stephy said...

Thanks for writing your feelings, George. I hope no one will try to shame you for them, as Christian culture is wont to.

Anonymous said...

I think the difference, to me anyway, between TMI at a wedding and TMI at a movie or Howard Stern show or what have you, is that if you go to a movie or listen to HS, you probably have at least some idea of what you're getting into. And if you decide you don't like it, you're free to leave the movie or stop listening. But you don't really have that option at a wedding. I would hope the wedding would be more about two people committing their lives to each other, and not how much action they got prior to that day.

Becca

Amy said...

What started out as a funny, lighthearted take on the almost Pharisaical rules modern Christian culture imposes on itself has deteriorated into a Christian bashing fest. The posts themselves aren't usually the problem, but the comments are extremely disheartening to me. Where this could be a fun forum to "sharpen iron" it seems that all most people want to do is bash biblical Christianity.

Don't get me wrong. There are DEFINITELY things wrong with our culture's take on what is Biblical truth. The thing is, almost all the arguments I hear are driven by what one feels, and not what the Bible says. One doesn't personally like spanking, so they aren't going to do it. One doesn't personally think abstinence is necessary, so they aren't going to do it. What happened to living your life through the lens of the Bible? We aren't told to live life biblically as long as we're comfortable with it. No, we are called to follow His word no matter what we feel about it.

I only want to remind everyone that being a follower of Christ isn't something that we get to pick and chose. If the Bible says not to have sex before marriage, then don't have sex before marriage. Being a Christian isn't about taking the easy way out. That doesn't mean we won't make mistakes, but there are going to be ramifications for those mistakes. All I ask is that you reassess how you make your choices. Is it so you will be happy or so that God will be glorified?

stephy said...

But can we dry hump before marriage? :)
Honestly, that's the point. Where do the little rules become idols? What does faith look like? When do these assertations Christians so confidently make become blasphemous?
Being a Christian isn't about taking the easy way out, but neither is not being a Christian. You have to weigh everything if you're going to have any integrity and be a whole person. I think many Christians don't weigh things against each other and fall into the culture without thinking.

George said...

Amy,

Something that you're forgetting is that regardless of whether anyone likes it or not, the Bible is always going to be interpreted differently by everyone. When I was coming up, a lot of kids I went to school with were pleading with me to read the bible on my own, I did, and after years of constantly thinking about what I was reading, I reached the conclusion that I posted here.

I don't come here and comment with the intention of "bashing" anyone, because a lot of times I've been awake late at night watching youth-oriented Christian programming through glazed and bloodshot eyes, wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

Why I couldn't force my mind and life to conform with how those young people were? Why didn't I have those feelings of fear and zealous devotion? Why didn't I believe that God was going to bring the hammer down on the good people around me who didn't live to "glorify god"? Even worse, why didn't I care enough to "witness" to them?

Because you can't force a square peg into a round hole.

God made me who I am with the foresight that I was going to turn out exactly the person who is typing this response right now. My whole feelings on not "owing" God anything? Yeah, he knew those were going to be there too and still put me here on earth. If he is the alpha and omega of existence, why is he going to be angry with me and punishing me for behaving and thinking the way he designed me to? It is akin to me building an engine which will last for 500,000 miles, but later being angry and breaking it because in order for it to last so long, it can only reach a top speed of 80mph.

To me, the concept of "living one's life through the lens of the Bible" is a fallacy at best, since you and I will never have the exact same experience in the way we perceive the world around us, if that makes sense.

Billy said...

George, I kind of understand where you are coming from. Sometimes I go through what I call "spiritual stagnation" where I get lazy and wonder why I am the way I am. I seem to struggle with the same stuff over and over and get frustrated. I don't judge you and no one one earth has the right to either. I hope that your perspective changes and I hope that you want that as well. If not, it's your life. "I (Billy, and I don't speak for everyone)" think that we should all be greatful for just enjoying God's common grace such as rain, a cool breeze, nature's beauty and love. I realize that you feel like you don't owe God anything, but what is even more true than that is that God doesn't owe us anything either, but yet those who even deny His existence (I'm not talking about you) enjoy His common graces.

Steph, I think dry humping would fall under this category as well. Like I said, purity is much more than just sex. I have a friend in which he and his wife were "virgins" when they got married. Every one applauded them for this. But one time when we where hanging out having some beers he told me that they had done just about everything else except vaginal sex while they were dating. It bothered me that they were taking the credit for being virgins, but I think they missed the point. I was not a virgin when I was married, neither was my wife. However, we both have many regrets about our past now. I'm not one to bash anyone or else I would be a hypocrite. By the way Steph, do you have a brother in Charlotte? If so, I think I go to the same church as he, although I've never personally met him.

Suzanne said...

What most unsaved people don't understand about Christians is that we don't wring our hands and live in fear of God's wrath. When God saves someone and they are born again, the desires of that person's heart change. We obey Him joyfully, not fearfully. The things I used to love I now hate, and the things I used to hate I now love... through no effort of my own.

As for inappropriate talk during a wedding ceremony of the intimacy between a husband and a wife... No pastor worth listening to would do such a thing.

Laura Toepfer said...

Dave Ellis Dickerson told a great story germane to this topic which is available as a podcast. Well, somewhat germane. It's a great story about being 30 years old and leaving fundamentalism and trying to learn about sex. You can find the link here. http://davidellisdickerson.com/2009/04/big-news-too-early/

George said...

Suzanne,

to quote you on something:

When God saves someone and they are born again, the desires of that person's heart change. We obey Him joyfully, not fearfully. The things I used to love I now hate, and the things I used to hate I now love... through no effort of my own.


This did not happen to me, what exactly makes me different from "everyone else"?

Kate said...

Amy,

Do you also kill your disobedient children and lock yourself in your room for 7 days until you're not unclean every time you have a period? No? Well then you're cherry picking too. The Bible specifically SAYS that stuff, so that's not just my interpretation.

I gave up the whole Christian thing because I cannot reconcile the often contradictory Bible and the tenets of Christianity with my own intelligence. Before that, I was a pretty good Episcopalian though (and I still like the church because we did things like help the poor and accept gay people, and they didn't get all up my ass about abstinence). I know a whole lot about the Bible, and I think if you actually read it, you understand that there's just no way you can't cherry pick.

Happily Nonreligious said...

I'm finding great delight in this site and have added it to my reader. Thank you, Stephanie.

I'm a happy church dropout after giving everything I had to the church for my first 30 years of life. I waited until marriage, married "the perfect guy," etc. My father (a pastor of a conservative evangelical church) conducted our wedding service. My Perfect Husband and I did everything "right."

Turns out that My Perfect Husband and I had terrible sexual chemistry. Without going into too much detail, I'll say that sex was consistently disappointing and sometimes plain awful. (I didn't even have anything to compare him to! Even in my naivete, I just knew that it wasn't good. And it didn't ever get any better with "practice.")

After several years, I left the church and, later, my marriage. I cannot express how much happier I am now.

I really wish the church had a policy on sex that was a little more realistic than "have sex with only one person for your entire life, unless that person dies." I am extremely chaste even now in my post-Christian life. I am not interested in meaningless sexual encounters. But it would have been nice to have a greater awareness, going into marriage, of what our sexual relationship would be like. Our marriage suffered greatly because of our sexual inexperience and naivete, along with the loneliness that went along with that condition.

Suzanne said...

George,

Let me say one thing specifically before I attempt to answer your question. My heart has changed, but not my sinful flesh. I still sin, so don't think I'm saying that since I became a Christian I am now all of a sudden perfect. Far from it, in fact. But my heart has changed, and that is one of the evidences of salvation. I desire to please my Savior and in that way show some small measure of my gratitude to Him. See Romans 7:14-25 for Paul's description of his own war against sin.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." Is that not the natural result of a person seeing their sinful nature and inability to save themselves who has been saved by Christ? Have you fully understood your sinfulness? How many times have you lied? Stolen? Lusted for someone other than your spouse? Used the Lord's name as a cuss word? Been angry at someone?

And knowing that you (and I) would do all those things, Christ died for you anyway. That is the most amazingly kind thing that anyone has ever done (or will ever do) for you! How can that not change the desires of your heart?

I believe that churches are FILLED with false converts: people who said a prayer, walked an aisle, got baptized, etc. who have never repented of their sin and trusted the Savior alone for their salvation. You all know who I'm talking about. You just know them as hypocrites (because they are). They are cultural Christians who go to church on Sunday, bring a hot dish to the potluck, then go home and live like heathens until next Sunday.

George, I'm not the salvation police and I'm not saying that you're a false convert. However, every Christian is told to examine themselves to see if they are in the truth (2 Corinthians 13:5). Do yourself a favor and examine yourself. Read through 1 John. If you feel comfortable with your salvation, great! Stop listening to the accuser of the brethren (Satan) and his lies. God will fulfill every promise He has made to us. You are no longer a child of wrath and DO NOT have to live in fear of judgment.

If on the other hand, you feel uneasy about your salvation after reading 1 John, consider your sins and the price Jesus paid to free you from eternal punishment. You have racked up a sin debt against God, and Jesus paid your fine by taking on human form, living the perfect, sinless life, and taking the punishment you (and I) deserve on the cross. Repent of your sins; don't just apologize, but forsake your sins. Confess to God your need of a Savior and trust in Jesus alone for your salvation.

In Christian love,
Suzanne

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute Suzanne... not to split hairs with you here, but if being angry at someone is a sin, as you tell George in the first paragraph,then your boy Jesus did NOT live the "perfect, sinless" life. I forget the exact chapter (since I'm out of it), but he definitely got pissed at the moneychangers in the temple.

Not to mention the vengeful wrath in general of the Old Testament God. I mean he pretty much spends all of it killing people out of spite.

Billy said...

Anonymous: Anger is not a sin, Ephesians 4:26 say not to let anger control you. Personally, I like getting angry every now and then, reminds me that I am alive and that I still care about things dear to me.

I challenge all of you to check out Elevation Church's web page at www.elevationchurch.org. Check out this past Sunday's sermon on "if I have a glass of wine and I cuss and I wath rated R movies, am I going to hell." My pastor first answered the question with "well, if you do it all at the same time, yes. But if you spread it out over time, no." He was only joking, but our past series called "Cowtipping" covered some of the sacred cows of the church that the church needs to kill.

One of my favorites quotes from Pastor Furtick (whom Steph is very fond of) was "my personal preference is not absolute truth." Wow, how many Christians make a black and white issue out of a grey area? Pastor mentioned how ridiculous it was that some Christians are in McDonalds supersizing their fries while criticizing the person smoking in their car in the drive through. There are many more passages in the Bible about inner pride than there are about drinking for instance. Anyway, just a thought.

Suzanne said...

Billy,

I agree with your comment about inner pride. It is the inner heart condition that condemns us, not just the physical acts. That is precisely why I brought up the anger issue. 1 John 3:15 says "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." A lot of people don't know that God looks at our hearts and intentions, not just the acts. It really reveals the depth of our depravity.

In any case, I think I've said all I intended to say and will now excuse myself from the conversation.


For His glory, not mine,
Suzanne

Anonymous said...

The whole point of saving yourself until marriage has less to do with "because the bible says so" than it does with getting hurt and various other things.

The problem with Christians today is most don't question what they were taught to believe. Like it's taboo to ask questions about God. Sure, no sex til marriage, but WHY? Even before the age of STD's, there was emotional baggage. If one person has sex with another, they become much more emotionally attached than they should. It creates this fantasy that you're living this life that you're really not. And when it ends, as so many relationships do, it's going to hurt a lot worse than it needs to. That was the original purpose of waiting for marriage. It was sacred. But the problem is the church has made it exclusively about sex. I don't know where anywhere in the bible it says that having sex is a sin, and yet some churches make even married couples feel bad for participating. Jesus wanted His followers to have pure hearts and pure minds. Pure minds don't spend all of their time thinking about sex, and with that it should be a lot easier for them to just wait. But, it's a step most Christians step over. "Well, I waited until marriage so it's okay." Okay, but how many times did you talk about it before then? How hard was it to keep your commitment? Where were your boundaries and why did you have them? It's not just about what the rules are, but WHY we have the rules. That applies everywhere. My parents used to tell me if I was going to be out late, to call and let them know. Why? Because my parents care about my well being and worry about where I am. It's a common courtesy.

It's a lot easier to follow the rules when you actually know why you have them. And God's rules aren't designed to make life a hassle, though sometimes we feel as if they do. They're designed so we may live the best life we can with as little pain as possible.

-M

stephy said...

When we create rules that the Bible didn't mandate and strive to follow these rules, we are doing what the Pharisees did.

George said...

It's a lot easier to follow the rules when you actually know why you have them. And God's rules aren't designed to make life a hassle, though sometimes we feel as if they do. They're designed so we may live the best life we can with as little pain as possible.


Thank you Anonymous, You stole the words right out of my mouth... err, right off of my fingertips

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, and oh so true. I was so absolutely certain that Jesus was coming back by 1985 that I panicked and married the first guy I lusted after. I was just hoping we could get it on and sneak in a kid or two before the rapture. Which Could Be Any Day Now! ;-)

I was just at a Nazarene (fundy) wedding last Saturday and there were TWO references to the wedding night shenanigans during the ceremony. ("There's going to be some OVER TIME tonight!" the pastor declared.)

It was really tasteless. Not to mention the groom stuck his head up the bride's dress while taking off the garter. Yikes - so glad to have left all that behind for the free life.

SkepticChick

Ann said...

I think the commenters who talk about how there are practical reasons for waiting for marriage are right. However, it's not a black and white issue. The argument of "it hurts more when you break up" may not be entirely valid. I know plenty of Christians who've saved themselves for married, but it still hurt them a great deal when a relationship ended. Breakups hurt, whether or not sex is involved. I'm not saying that sometimes sex never creates an extra bond, but I don't think it's always the case.

Still Breathing said...

I've come a bit late to this conversation, having been on holiday, but still want to add a few points.

The Bible is not very clear about sex outside marriage (in places it implies sex and marriage are one and the same thing) so we tend to interpret what we read in the light of our own social morals. My wife and I did "save ourselves" for our wedding night but that may not be the correct path for everyone.

Anger is a response to a threat to our values. God gets angry when we don't treat each other properly and so should we. I have had issues with anger in my life but I still feel it is right to be angry about world poverty, unfair trading practices, people trafficking etc.

Sex is mentioned in the traditional marriage service - what do you think "to have and to hold" means?

Amy said...

I typed up a loonngg response that for some reason did not post. I have a 3 month old who has been up for days teething and a 3 year old who makes the energizer bunny look tired. I don't feel like rewriting it!

Kate,
In a nutshell, the Bible does say those things, but it says it to a particular group of people. You are supposed to interpret scripture by using other passages to clarify. The Bible is it's own interpreter because it is the author of truth. So while we used to have to lock ourselves away because of uncleanness, that has passed away with Christ's becoming the ultimate sacrifice. Anyway, like I said, I typed up a long response and it's gone now. Suffice it to say you aren't supposed to cherry pick the Bible. You're supposed to use Hermeneutic principles to rightly interpret it.

t clair said...

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this.

Love your blog.

Holly said...

One amazing phrase: Vestal Sexytimes. OMG I laughed and laughed. Your blog is awesome! And so accurate its scary.
Do one on the Guitar Playing Guy at Christian Weddings. Theres always a Singing Guitar Player who reminds you of Kermit the frog. Or the Interpretative Dancer at Christian Weddings. There's sometimes one of those, too. AND the Unity Candle. All evangelicals get married with the Unity Candle. I hate the Unity Candle.

Kate said...

Amy,

I mean, you call it interpreting with hermeneutic principles, I still say cherry picking. Because if you take out the old testament because Jesus died for our sins or whatever, that kind of also takes out the abstinence, spanking your kids, and anti-homosexual that a lot of Christians cling to.

Not to mention a lot of the new testament talks about how "God's law doesn't change from different perspectives" (I'm not religious anymore, can't cite you directly but I think it's actually in the gospels). So... God's law doesn't change unless people can magically interpret the perfect word of God to mean something different through different passages?

I just can't reconcile the idea that an all perfect God would leave the interpretation of his (pretty confusing and contradictory) word to the multitudes of corrupt people that can easily take advantage of good people who just want to have faith.

Amy said...

Just to clarify..I did not in any way mean to imply that the whole Old Testament doesn't apply anymore. It's still very much valid. I meant your specific example of going away during one's period is no longer valid because there are no longer laws of clean and unclean.

Still Breathing said...

Amy,

Please remember that Jesus reduced whole of the Old Testament (which oddly didn't even exist in His day) Law into "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." - no more and no less.

stephy said...

That's so beautiful, Still Breathing.

Rebecca said...

Why don't Baptists have sex standing up?

It might lead to dancing.

(you've probably heard this one)

Still Breathing said...

But Rebecca ewr can't have it lying down or we'd drown ;)

stephy said...

Haha! I've always heard "Why don't Baptists have sex standing up? Someone might see them and think they're dancing." Love it.

CC said...

Seriously, what I can't understand is how Church Christians make such a big deal about sex, and not having it until the right time, so into the "thou shalt nots" - completely ignoring the "thou shalts". Sex is sex, natural, human, end of subject. Now spend a little more time trying to get your heads around the daily living of the supernatural, like being there for those who need you, going out of your way to care for strangers i.e.: people NOT sitting in your church, caring for the sick, orphaned, speaking good, bringing peace instead of wars and strife, etc etc. And yes, it is all summed up in "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.....and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Done.

Still Breathing said...

Well said CC. (This time without spellling misstakes)

Anonymous said...

What about those of us who don't get married until our forties, not through choice I might add? Should one wait until one has reached the menopause? That doesn't seem quite right.

Btw, some older ladies at my church seem to think anal sex is wrong. Is that normal amongst Christians?

Still Breathing said...

Anonymous,

Thinking about your first 2 questions I don't really have an answer but it did bring to mind a friend at church who married in her late forties and within a month her husband was very ill with liver failure. She once told me she thought she was asexual - I don't have an answer except to think life isn't always fair.

Regarding you last question I suspect a) it is normal and b) it may, or may not, be cultural.

Kari said...

It's so tacky to talk about sex at a wedding ceremony. Leave that to the best man speech. I read a posting on the subject from one of those "advice on manners" ladies, and she said that in polite society, we assume the bride and groom are virgins unless there is proof to the contrary, so there is no reason to bring it up.

Still Breathing said...

Kari,

Surely it is the assumption that they are both virgins that is the reason why the subject is alluded to during the ceremony.

Mum of Two said...

My sister just forwarded me your link with the caption "I think I found a new favorite blog". Lordy (LOL)...I haven't laughed this hard in a LONG time! Through a lot of yours posts, I wonder if you are somehow reading my thoughts...but no...that would be against "our" religion. Possession, perhaps? HAHAHA!!! Thanks for putting MY thoughts and feelings where all can see. You're brilliant!

Anonymous said...

love this article. because it's ridiculously true. even though I regret getting down with my girlfriend (though never again despite the fact that it was fantastic), it has extinguished a bit of the unfulfilled antsiness in me. so I guess now I'm a bit more rapture ready, of course while in a state of bitter repentance.

toujoursdan said...

I am also an Episcopalian and long time reader of this blog. Kate captured perfectly the reasons I left conservative evangelicalism. EVERYONE cherry picks Scripture. Jesus cherry picked Scripture. St. Paul cherry picked Scripture. Why be in denial of it?

You have to cherry pick scripture. It's a series of manuscripts written over a 1,500 year span in 3 languages by hundreds of authors who were in an evolving and changing culture with an evolving and changing view of what God was. Martin Luther correctly said that the Bible's books and verses are not equal in faith formation or ethics. The idea that they are, is a modern (19th/20th Century) evangelical belief.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with cherry picking scripture. The question that needs to be when? Why? And most importantly, to what intent? That was often what Christ's point was.

I have many friends who have jumped the gun before they have gotten married (heterosexual and homosexual) that I don't believe were sinning at all. A marriage ceremony isn't magic. It's merely a public recognition of a relationship that already exists. For most of Christian history people didn't get married in a church. They moved in together and formed "common law" or defacto relationships. Marriage was the last liturgy developed by the church. The first recorded Christian marriage ceremony didn't take place until the 12th Century and church marriages weren't made mandatory until the Council of Trent in the 16th Century. Sadly, most evangelicals seem to know little about the history of marriage and believe in some fantasy past where almost everyone waited until their wedding day, had a big church wedding. Only the rich did that.

Great blog. Love the satire. Love that it gets under our skin and makes people think.

Rhonda said...

Abstinence prior to marriage in the Old Testament was mandated due to the patriarchal society. It was necessary for men to know that any children that were born were his children. Much of tribal law was written into the Old Testament. This is why so much of Jewish law is so similar to Islamic law, it's the related history of desert tribes turned into religion.

Sven said...

If anyone is tempted, he should never blame God nor accuse Him of tempting him, because God does not authorise nor approve of sin. He is also faithful and with the temptation He will provide a way of escape. Let's face it, no one is forcing us to commit evil, no one is forcing us to watch or even direct filthy magazines or movies. We sin, because we want to. It looks appealing at first, but afterwards, we realise how stupid we were for taking the bait. That is where repentance comes in, it turns us from our sins and directs our hearts to a new course of action. It carries on throughout life as we learn to deny ourselves and say no to evil. It doesn't mean perfection, but a steady growth in holiness leading towards ultimate glorification. There are bumps along the way, but they are short lived and we recover from them quicker as we seek God's face. Also remember that the sexually immoral shall not inherit God's kingdom, read 1 Corinthians 6 verse 9 to 11. Sad that God's truth is maligned like this, just because we find it inconvenient to our tastes. No point in saying we have faith, if our deeds deny God's truth. If your are convicted about your sins, go to God in repentance and He will restore you.

gwen said...

Well, my husband and I both waited until marriage, AND, sex was mentioned in our Catholic wedding homily because we purposefully chose the Eph. 5 reading. No, we're not fundamentals:) The Jesuit minister brought the purity of faith, mind, & body together to show the mutual self-giving and self-sacrifice needed in marriage and the marriage bed.

With that said, I, too, have observed an everything-but mindset in Evangelical Christianity---one that by no means prepares either spouse to enter into marriage (any part of marriage) with the best mindset. This makes me more grateful for the whole Catholic teaching on Theology of the Body...food for thought.

But even if we had not waited, which I believe would have been a mistake, it would not change the transformative nature of marriage and the need for a unique lifestyle to be lived post-wedding.

That is perhaps the big thing here---marriage isn't a free-for-all or a reward for good behavior. A call must precede it, and whatever mindset and behaviors practiced prior to the wedding most certainly direct the nature of the marriage itself.

Geosomin said...

I've always found it tacky too. I was glad at our wedding that my Uncle married us and wehn I mentioned to him not to mention anything about the wedding night during the ceremony he just scoffed and said "why would I - that's so tacky"

And it is. Sex is great but it is not the purpose of marraige...setting it up like that makes for all sorts of screwed up relationships.

Anonymous said...

Saving yourself for marriage?! Hahahaha!

The idea of the virginal bride is SO 19th century...so Wodaabe tribal culture...so third-world, pre-arranged marriage...as in "I'm selling my daughter at premium price to the highest bidder because she is still virgin"!

O my gawd. As if this weren't the 21st century!!! Women are not property to be talked about like prize cattle. The CHristian church is run by a bunch of male chauvinists. The apostle Paul was the biggest of all. don't get me started...

Michelle

Brittany said...

It's so difficult. A lot of Christian sexual cultural norms ARE predicated on 19th century, 16th century, and 4th century (among tons of others) notions of sexuality. It's old school, many times archaic, almost always maddening, and yet we have picked (at least for a time) to be a part of this culturally-rich tradition. As I've studied American Christian sexuality, it's made it easier for me to study sex as objectively as possible to contextualize it all.

God help anyone who tries to tell me I cannot do something solely because of my gender, or make comments about preserving my "purity" so that I have some sort of higher social capital, but at least I have the underpinnings of understanding where that person is coming from.

Trust me, I've gone through my stages of anger, sadness, grief, dismissal, and reunion with these ideas. "Cognitive Dissonance" is my mantra these days. It's not always easy to think and talk about and study these things, but I think we probably should.

Some of us are trying to do that, and you can be a part of an extended conversation: http://givemesexjesus.com/