Every day I’m at work, my friends at the flower shop ask me about my religion and lifestyle. I seem to be the only Mormon they’ve ever been in the same room with, and they find my lifestyle fascinating. And every time they ask, I get another opportunity to think about my religion from a different perspective. My understanding of my religion is starting to have many more facets.
One conversation that stands out is the day they asked about premarital sex: absolutely none, I said. They seemed to accept this for me, but what about my husband? they asked. Again, absolutely none. This one they just couldn’t accept. Are you trying to tell me that in this world, in our time, with all the movies and TV shows and songs and billboards and magazine covers and the internet, a man can just wait until he’s married? It is hard, but absolutely possible.
To me, waiting until marriage doesn’t seem weird at all–it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. But in the world we live in, that way of thinking isn’t intuitive. Almost every movie, almost every TV show, if it doesn’t show the situation explicitly, implies that that’s just what people do from the day they’re “ready.”
So how then are there so many people (Mormons and otherwise) that are still able to abstain from sex until they are married? I didn’t get a chance to explain all of this at that time, but it started me thinking that it’s not just a one-sided thing–it’s not just “I’m going to wait to have sex until marriage but that’s the only thing that will be different about my lifestyle.” There’s so much more to it than that. The decision to abstain from sex until marriage starts with what kind of media you allow yourself to participate in, what kind of jokes you laugh at, how you look at people of the opposite sex and what you’re thinking about–mostly, it starts in your thoughts.
It’s hard to wait, but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if we had given into the messages and images and behaviors all around us. We had to be on our guard literally every single day–we discussed “rules” that would help us stay true to our goal, like limits on how long we kissed, we never laid down together, we tried not be in secluded places; and we tried to focus on just being together, not on how much we wanted to do other things. I am confident that it’s all of the “little things” we did to try to avoid temptation that actually kept us from crossing the line –how much harder would it have been to stop if we had let ourselves get to that point in the first place?
I think what I’m trying to get across is that it’s hard–everyone in the world would agree on that. Sometimes I felt like it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it’s possible. I want people to understand that we’re not somehow deficient in hormones or something–it has everything to do with making the decision to wait until marriage, and then taking the measures we need to so that we can reach that goal together.
Our church has some guidelines that are written technically for the youth, but that I have read over and over and consider them still for me. Feel free to check them out.