I am 29 years old, and I have never had sex. Not even close. My decision to practice chastity implies that I never will, unless or until I am married. Which means if I do get married, I won’t have any sexual “experience.”
So a young adult who reads my blog once asked me the following question:
“Why would you want to have an awkward wedding night?
I don’t. Nobody who saves sex saves it because they want the wedding night to be awkward. The reader’s question is probably rooted in a fear that sexual inexperience will result in awkward or “imperfect” wedding night sex. This disturbs a lot of the people I’ve encountered who have responded with shock or pity to my decision to save sex.
But their discomfort with sexual inexperience at marriage is normal. I expect it out of the culture that prefers preparedness for a wedding night over preparedness for marriage—a culture that probably doesn’t even discern the difference. It’s a culture that is curious as to why I can enter marriage without any sexual history and be undisturbed by that.
I’ll tell you why: because we don’t have to be disturbed. Entering marriage without prior sexual experience expresses confidence in our commitment to each other, and not knowing what to expect authenticates it. A couple that won’t save sex because they don’t want to have to communicate on their wedding night isn’t likely to communicate well in a marriage.
Entering marriage without sexual “experience” is a choice worth making for the following reasons:
In holy matrimony, very little depends on wedding night sex.
If you marry in the Church, you agree to love and honor each other all the days of your lives. This is a process. Just as you will need to grow in love in thousands of other ways throughout your marriage, a couple will likewise need time to learn how to best express physical love to each other. It’s not something to fear, but to anticipate with joy.
Authentic love transcends sexual inexperience.
Love is patient, and kind, and doesn’t dump you because you lack sexual experience. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. A couple that has entered a marriage based on authentic love has been given a safe space for trial and error, in which they can discover the mystery of sexual intimacy together.
Chaste living strengthens your ability to love
By saving sex for marriage, chaste couples gain experience in patience, self-mastery, fidelity, and other forms of intimacy that ultimately will serve to strengthen their marriage.
The pursuit of virtue is worth sexual inexperience.
Chastity is a virtue. It’s a decision we make over and over to do the right thing regarding sex, which we as Catholics define as a sacred, physical sign of the vows a husband and wife made at the altar. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, “the goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.”
The virtues require us to wait and work in a culture that “doesn’t wanna,” to live lives that don’t align with what the world around us values, and to risk, by being chaste, what some fear could be an “awkward” wedding night. But you know what? That’s worth it, because it’s part of our efforts to become like the one who created us (who created us able to love the same way he does). And that isn’t awkward at all.
Arleen Spenceley is author of the book Chastity is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin (Ave Maria Press, Nov. 2014). She works as a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. She blogs at arleenspenceley.com. Click here to follow her on Twitter, click here to like her on Facebook, and click here to follow her on Instagram.