Pleasure Postponed: The Waiting Game of Pre-Marital Sex

December 4, 2011

Political Theory

               Recent studies have revealed that over 85% of Americans approve of pre-marital sex (Research).   This leaves a lonely 15% to heed the teachings of the Bible and wait for a wedding ring before jumping between the sheets.   So when is the right time to become sexually active?  Can we as a society pinpoint any one milestone, or will this determination need to be made on a case to case basis?  In my opinion, marriage is that milestone for all of us.   In this post I will argue that abstinence is the best route to a long lasting and fruitful marriage.


                If you Google premarital sex, you’ll find a plethora of Christian websites dissuading readers from pre-marital sex on grounds of immorality and devil worship.  My argument will be much less dramatic.  I realize that having sex before you get married doesn’t make you a bad person; it doesn’t mean that you have AIDS and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to Hell.  What it does mean is that you have given your greatest personal gift of yourself to someone other than your spouse.   As a result, one’s eventual marriage will be weaker for the absence of this “first time” bond that helps form the mortar of a strong relationship.   For the 92% of high schools seniors who said marriage was “extremely important” to them (Research), abstinence should be “extremely important” as well.

                There is no doubt that the old horizontal mambo allows two people to grow closer, and therefore it’s an obvious way to proceed when a relationship is going well.  However there may be more productive avenues to accomplish this goal of closeness when one thinks outside the bedroom.   Building a foundation on something other than lust will allow any couple to see through the smoke screen of sex drive and endure its inevitable decay.  Increasingly busy lives and decreased sex drive has led many couples to have sex less and less often as they age (NY Times).  If sex was the foundation of one of these marriages, it is logical that the relationship would follow suit in such erosion.  By putting sex on the shelf, it becomes possible to cultivate attractions based more on communication, quirks and other facets of a persona that resist the corrosive sands of time.   By fostering intellectual closeness rather than physical closeness, pre-marital abstinence is the key to a long lasting relationship.

                Many proponents of premarital sex warn that if you do not go for a “test drive” with your sexual partner you are bound to be disappointed when the day finally comes.   While I realize that sex is an essential part of a healthy marriage, I find this statement ridiculous.   What are these people afraid of?  Unless your Mrs. Doubtfire ends up being Robin Williams, I don’t think there’s any cause for concern regarding the “performance value” of your spouse.  Our species has lasted the millennia; we all have the capacity and aptitude to… well… you know.

                Initially, since this debate has little to do with politics, it’s difficult to analyze this debate using any of the political theories discussed so far in Polsci 101.  However, when considering the human mind and all of its diverse emotions and beliefs as a type of society, with each thought representing an individual, the task of framing up this dilemma becomes much simpler.  A compulsive mind that rides each prevailing emotion could be compared to the Hobbesian state of nature.  In this case, the strongest emotion gets to control the mind’s choice in that instant.  As it relates to pre-marital sex, the hormonal extremes of a theoretical person would carry him/her to have sex as soon as physiologically possible.  Just as humans have developed and grown out of Hobbes state of nature socially, so should they develop their individual mentality.  Just as government has helped our species become more equal and balanced, so could a set of principles and convictions help to govern our own minds and help us become more responsible.  Deciding to remain abstinent is just one of the many convictions required to reign in our volatile minds and protect us from the injuries of impulse.  For an individual who adheres to the principle of abstinence, it is easier to protect against the mental and physical backlash of urges toward premarital sex. 

                Rousseau’s social contract theory upholds that people do not know their real will, and need a governing body to imbue their ideals and aspirations.  To accomplish this, Rousseau proposes the use of religion as a vehicle for communicating and enforcing such values.  As it applies to pre-marital sex, religions such as Christianity help dissuade citizens from having pre-marital sex and help them to accomplish their own real will, which is to save themselves from an unhealthy marriage based too heavily on sex. 

                Setting personal limitations such as abstinence enable individuals to govern their own minds more effectively, and in so doing allow them to attain greater satisfaction in life.  In this case, does the hard work of abstinence pay off in the fruit of a truly successful relationship?  



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6 Comments on “Pleasure Postponed: The Waiting Game of Pre-Marital Sex”

  1. rachdavidson Says:

    What really amazes me about your post is how different people’s opinions can be. While I think what you say is legitimate, I just strongly disagree, and I think that is so interesting. In my mind, sex is a turning point in one’s life. It is a learning experience, a kind of right of passage in one’s youth. I think it is probably the first time that a teenager, or adult makes a decision for themselves. They know when they are ready, and they act on it. Having sex for the first time is acknowledging that though there could be awkwardness, you are willing to accept it and still act on what you want. To suppress this feeling, and wait until marriage, is to instead accept societies decision and not make your own.

    I still find it fascinating though how strongly we could disagree. I have never really encountered someone with such different views than my own. I come from a small, sheltered community, where everyone typically feels the exact same way as I do on certain issues. And while typically I like to think I am right, it makes for a much more interesting world, where everyone does not agree with my views. As we have learned, discussion is the way to truth, and we can only have discussion when two sides of a situation are present. It is a good thing that views can be so different, because this means that more and more solutions to problems will be provided.

  2. chadmach Says:

    To know if abstinence pays off in a relationship, it would probably depend on the people involved. Everyone is different from each other so, I think to say that everyone needs to abstain from having sex until after marriage is an unfair restriction of people’s rights. We learned earlier in the year that Mill and Socrates would most likely be supporters of human autonomy. Which means that we as humans can set our own goals and act on our own reasons. If people really want to have sex before marriage, then they should because as humans we should be able to decide things for ourselves. Of course, just because one person decides that they want it does not mean they get to force another person because this would then violate a persons right to be autonomous.

    I think that on the above comment, I would have to disagree that if someone was to wait till after marriage to have sex then they would be accepting societal norms. I would actually say the opposite, considering that most of our peers probably have had pre-marrital sex and are okay with that. So instead, having sex may actually mean not making your own decision, it may mean that you are doing something when you aren’t actually ready.

    • parijog Says:

      I completely agree that everyone should have the right to choose whether or not they will abstain on having sex. I am not proposing that we instate laws forbidding premarital sex, I am simply encouraging my peers to consider implementing this “law” on their own minds. And while I realize that everyone matures at different rates, and may be ready sooner than others, I still believe that considering oneself as ready should only come after marriage. As Rousseau pointed out, we don’t always know what is best for ourselves, so maybe we may not really be ready when we think we are. Therefore I propose premarital abstinence as a tool for ensuring one is ready when he/she makes the leap.

  3. zschmitt17 Says:

    Pre-marital sex is becoming more common because people are getting married later than in the past. Back in bibical times woman were married off at the ripe age of 14 or 15, about the time that their bodies are ready to have children. It would not be that difficult for them to wait a year or so before they can have sex. Even 40 or 50 years ago people were getting married straight out of high school. Again that is not that long to wait before you can have sex. But these days people are encouraged to get married later, to go to college and be able to provide for yourself instead of relying on a significent other. People are becoming more and more self dependent and that could be why pre-marital sex is going up, because they want to make this decision for themselves instead of going by what their parents have always told them.

    I am for sex before marriage because I do not see it as giving another person a part of yourself. You can have sex just to feel good, not to feel close to the other person. Also many people feel that it is ok to have sex if you love the other person and are comfortable with them. A long time girlfriend for instance would be alright if you two hooked up even though you aren’t married.

    The quality of a marriage does not have to go down because you both loss your virginity to other people. Your partner would have known about it long before you even decided to get married and if it bothered them then they would speak up and address the problem. It wouldn’t just appear after marriage, it would be present during the dating process and if it is a big enough problem the two wouldn’t get married.

  4. mikerwagner Says:

    This is an increasingly less controversial topic in modern day society. As one of the comments above stated, as we as a society wait longer and longer to get married its becomes a long and longer time frame in which young adults need to wait. i have no doubt this is a large factor in the increase in premarital sex. However a few of the points above need to be analyzed on a deeper level.

    First of all, I was raised Catholic. I was raised in a household that strongly encouraged abstinence. So i understand the argument that says “save yourself for your spouse”. But what if is it that I am saving? Is the act of having sex for the first time with someone I married to saying “I have never loved anyone on this level before.”? Thats the way Ive always viewed it. But Im starting to realize that in modern day society, where sex is glorified, and it seems a large majority of the population is having sex regardless of whether they truly love the person or not, is almost devaluing the act. If 99% of the world didnt believe in abstinence and continued to to have premarital sex, the social understanding that sex was a “special gift” for someone would be virtually nonexistant. If I stopped shaking hands and telling everyone who wanted to shake my hand that I was saving my handshake for someone who deserves it the most, it would be weird. So what is it that separates sex from a handshake? What is it about the two acts that make one so much more controversial than the other.

    One aspect would be the possibility of reproduction. If you are having sex and not using contraceptives (condoms, sandwich bag, whatever…) thats dangerous, and dumb. Go ahead and respond to this comment arguing otherwise, id love to hear that argument. Its dumb. But can you really argue that using contraceptives eliminates that risk? Is it possible? Thats the question. If it is even remotely possible..000000000000001% chance. Theres a chance. Im not saying you should be paranoid and try to anticipate every possible scenario. no one can do that, and we should not live our lives that way. But I bring this up to take you down a thought process. What if she does get pregnant. You got a kid.

    You can argue abortion and contraception and adoption and unexpected parenting til you are blue in the face. But bottom line, you can’t say that any of the above are good things. They aren’t necessarily bad. Im not saying the are bad. But no one gets abortions for fun. No on puts their kid up for adoption for fun. And obviously unexpectedly becoming a parent…keyword unexpected.

    What Im essentially saying in this long winded comment. i don’t subscribe to scaring someone into abstinence and I dont even subscribe to abstinence to give a “special gift”. I advocate abstinence for the sole reason of “If you aren’t ready to support a family, don’t risk it.”

  5. srhilu Says:

    Before I begin, I think it needs to be addressed that no relationship can flourish without some sort of physical closeness. Whether a couple is married, engaged, or dating, the key ingredients of attraction and sexual intimacy are unquestionably required for a relationship to thrive. Physical intimacy should have at least some sort of priority. Otherwise, there would be no discernible difference between a platonic friendship and a romantic relationship.

    However, if these ingredients are the cornerstones of a relationship, then the respect of that relationship and the act of sex itself is too easily compromised. A fiery relationship based primarily on sex is destined to fizzle out more quickly than a relationship built on a more sound foundation would. I believe that sex, an unbelievably complicated three letter word, is something that earns its place in a relationship only when both members of the couple are emotionally prepared to handle the responsibilities a more solid sexual relationship carries. In my opinion, this comes after marriage. Granted that the decision to engage in sexual intercourse is one that we are all entitled to make on our own, abstinence until marriage should be encouraged because too often, premarital sex is synonymous with premature sex.

    Yes, sex can (and, frankly, should) be a means of satisfaction. But it absolutely needs to be about more than that. Satisfaction from sex should not come solely from selfish needs; it should come from knowing that you AND your partner enjoyed the experience and grew closer from it. This is not to say that sex before marriage cannot be appreciated in this way, but let’s be honest- do both of you really enjoy sex after you realize that the condom broke or that you forgot to take the Pill earlier that morning? Is sex really all that pleasurable when you find out that your current hookup has slept with 5 other people in the past 3 months, and those people slept with even more people? Just thinking about that makes me cringe. If you don’t think this should be that big of a concern, Google images of “trichomoniasis” and see how you feel after that.

    In no way am I trying to dictate what any one person should do. However, I firmly believe that the decision to begin having sex before marriage should be the product of a very thorough and informed thought process. Sex is something that should be enjoyed, but it should also be cherished and respected, whether married or not.

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