“Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God,
myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually
abstinent from this day until the day I enter a
biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from sexual
thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to
At the age of 10, I took a pledge at my church alongside a group of other
girls to remain a virgin until marriage. Yes, you read that right — I was 10
Let’s take a look at who I was as a 10-year-old: I was in fourth grade. I
played with Barbie dolls and had tea parties with imaginary friends. I
pretended I was a mermaid every time I took a bath. I still thought boys were
icky and I had no idea I liked girls, too. I wouldn’t get my period for another
four years. And most importantly, I didn’t have a clue about sex.
The church taught me that sex was for married people. Extramarital
sex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it. I learned that as
a girl, I had a responsibility to my future husband to remain pure for him. It
was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me,
because he didn’t have that same responsibility, according to the Bible. And of
course, because I was a Christian, I would forgive him for his past
transgressions and fully give myself to him, body and soul.
Once I got married, it would be my duty to fulfill my husband’s sexual
needs. I was told over and over again, so many times I lost count, that if I
remained pure, my marriage would be blessed by God and if I didn’t that it
would fall apart and end in tragic divorce.
trusted. Everyone knew I’d taken the virginity vow, of course. Gossip is
the lifeblood of the Baptist Church. My parents were so proud of me for
making such a spiritual decision. The church congregation applauded my
My church encouraged me to do so, saying my testimony would inspire
other young girls to follow suit. If the topic ever came up in
conversation, I was happy to let people know that I had taken a pledge
met my then boyfriend-now husband, I told him right away that I was
saving myself for marriage and he was fine with that because it was my
body, my choice and he loved me.
did anything remotely sexual, guilt overwhelmed me. I wondered where the
line was because I was terrified to cross it. Was he allowed to touch
my breasts? Could we look at each other naked? I didn’t know what was
considered sexual enough to condemn my future marriage and send me
straight to Hell.
pledge until we got married. In the weeks before our wedding, I often
got congratulated on keeping my virginity for so long. The comments
ranged from curious (how in the world did you manage?) to downright
disgusting (I bet you’re going to have one busy wedding night!). I let
them place me on the pedestal as their virginal, perfect-Christian-girl
had promised that day when I was 10 years old. I stood in the hotel
bathroom beforehand, wearing my white lingerie, thinking, “I made it.
I’m a good Christian.” There was no chorus of angels, no shining light
from Heaven. It was just me and my husband in a dark room, fumbling with
a condom and a bottle of lube for the first time.
uncomfortable the first time. What they didn’t tell me is that I would
be back in the bathroom afterward, crying quietly for reasons I didn’t
yet comprehend. They didn’t tell me that I’d be on my honeymoon, crying
again, because sex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was
married and it was supposed to be okay now.
my virginity was gone. My parents, my church, my friends, my co-workers.
They all knew I was soiled and tarnished. I wasn’t special anymore. My
virginity had become such an essential part of my personality that I
didn’t know who I was without it.
tried not to kiss him too often or too amorously so I wouldn’t lead him
on. I dreaded bedtime. Maybe he’d want to have sex.
happy because I loved him so much and because I’d been taught it was my
duty to fulfill his needs. But I hated sex. Sometimes I cried myself to
sleep because I wanted to like it, because it wasn’t fair. I had done
everything right. I took the pledge and stayed true to it. Where was the
blessed marriage I was promised?
just couldn’t do it anymore. I told my husband everything. My feminist
husband was horrified that I’d let him touch me when I didn’t want him
to. He made me promise I’d never do anything I didn’t want to do ever
again. We stopped having sex. He encouraged me to see a therapist and I
did. It was the first step on a long journey to healing.
and God will love you so much and be so proud of you, they told me. If
you wait to have sex until marriage, God will bring you a wonderful
Christian husband and you’ll get married and live happily ever after,
they said. Waiting didn’t give me a happily ever after. Instead, it
controlled my identity for over a decade, landed me in therapy, and left
me a stranger in my own skin. I was so completely ashamed of my body
and my sexuality that it made having sex a demoralizing experience.
heal, I realized that I couldn’t figure out how to be both religious and
sexual at the same time. I chose sex. Every single day is a battle to
remember that my body belongs to me and not to the church of my
childhood. I have to constantly remind myself that a pledge I took when I
was only 10 doesn’t define who I am today. When I have sex with my
husband, I make sure it’s because I have a sexual need and not because I
feel I’m required to fulfill his desires.
is used to control female sexuality. If I could go back, I would not
wait. I would have sex with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I wouldn’t
go to hell for it. We would have gotten married at a more appropriate
age and I would have kept my sexuality to myself.
culmination of my experiences: If you want to wait to have sex until
marriage make sure it’s because you want to. It’s your body; it belongs
to you, not your church. Your sexuality is nobody’s business but yours.