Test Drive


**Disclaimer: None of the below is PG-13 or R-rated in my opinion. However, if you happen to get queasy around topics regarding virginity, purity, sex, and others’ opinions, read at your own risk.**

Grab your cup of coffee. We should chat.

The summer before I entered high school (May 1996, to be exact), I was told my parents’ expectation for my future dating habits. That it was okay for me to desire a future mate, but that there were healthier ways to decipher the “in between time” of dating and romance. I was also told that saving sex for marriage was the best way to not only ensure that I wouldn’t get pregnant, but that it would save me from possible relationship issues. Waiting until my wedding night for sex wasn’t the guarantee of “happily ever after.” It was a way to protect me from heartache and build a safety net in a way that sex-with-2-or-3-forms-of-birth-control couldn’t. While I had agreed with my parents’ conclusions before our chat, that conversation was a time where I could let them know whether or not I was willing to be under those rules. I didn’t agree with them because they were my parents and they obviously knew better than me. I had seen enough examples of heartache and broken relationships in family and friends (even though the full story was tamed down for me as a middle schooler) that I saw the wisdom of not just waiting for “someone special” but waiting for marriage.

While I remember the 80s and ALL the awesomeness they had to offer, most of my formative memories are from the 90s. By this point in time, safe sex, birth control, and HIV were being debated as to what degree they should be mentioned rather than actually being taboo topics. School districts were evaluating whether or not to keep their sex ed curricula abstinence-based.

In response to the media glorification of sex, there was a counter-attack launched in 1993: True Love Waits. This was where male and female teens were encouraged to make a pledge that they would wait until marriage to have sex OR if they already had sex, to commit to remaining sexually pure until marriage.

I didn’t own any True Love Waits paraphernalia, but my parents bought me a ring with my birthstone to signify that I had promised them – and God – I would wait until marriage for sex. 16 years later, that promise is still in tact, and not because I haven’t been tempted.

A few years ago, in my late 20s, I was mad. Not at my vow, but at the marketing of True Love Waits. You want to know one of the problems with the approach of True Love Waits: it never tells you how hard the wait can get, especially when your friends and siblings are married and/or having babies.  I have yet to read anything in the campaign that says “Click here if you have kept waiting past the age of 25” or “The 30 Year Old Virgin – it’s actually a good thing.”  See, in my opinion, TLW forgot about encouraging when, year after year, you are faced with being a 5th wheel or going to an event alone. What exactly am I waiting for? Why am I holding out? Am I missing out on something?

Then the youngest child in me wells up and demands – BUT I’M OLD ENOUGH! WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN CHOSEN?!?!

In looking at Orthodox resources, I was pleased with my skim through of this material. It seems real regarding The Church’s teachings, the world, and views of marriage vs. singleness. Of course, there are cute little books that give you ideas for “Dates while you Wait“. Or other titles like “Sassy, Single, and Satisfied.

BAM! That takes care of my impatience.

Then there are days like this past June 24, when an article came to my attention. I’m reminded that the wait is good. That I don’t have to worry about disease or pregnancy. My heart has been hurt in the past, but not in an irreparable and permanent way. And I can tell my physician the exact reason for why I don’t have a strong need for a female annual exam. (I get them, just not as often as you other lovely ladies).

The friend who posted the article had quite the string of comments, one of which was a line that so many of us have heard before that is absolute crap!

Friend of friend on FB: You gotta take it for a test drive before you buy it

Me (enraged): As for “test driving,” a relationship and – dare I say – my vagina, isn’t a car. Having recently bought a car, I’m well aware of this process. People need to equate the first coffee date with the test drive, not sex. Then again, just don’t even talk about relationships as being analogous to cars.

Friend of friend (later in thread): I’d like to have an honest discussion sometime about the difficulty of trying to uphold traditional values, and finding the type of relationship supported by those values, in the contemporary world.

Friend and poster of link: I and every religious single person feels your pain.
Personally, I’d rather be unmarried for the rest of my life that marry someone who wouldn’t have dated me had he known that I “wouldn’t sleep with him before marriage” and made a big stink about how big of a favor he was doing to me that he would keep on dating me even tho I wasn’t going to put out. Not that that’s EVER happened. Ahem. (Reader, I dumped him).

Anyway, better to be single than in an non-affirming relationship. Hard? Of course it’s hard. But the nice thing about belonging to a religious community is that you (hopefully) have the support of friends who are in the same boat as you.

The article and ensuing discussion in the comments section reminded me that waiting was good. Not just because God said to or my parents thought it was a good idea or because it’s, like, super easy to say “no” to sex until you’re married. Because I’m not someone to be tried out before being evaluated for commitment. Because love is built over a lifetime and not solely expressed physically. And taking time to chose whom I will marry without sex clouding my judgement doesn’t mean that I am guaranteed happy ever after, but my hope for a marriage where I love my husband on the days I don’t like him is more likely to happen.

So, to you past or current TLW pledgers: keep waiting and praying. And know that the denial now can be difficult. Very difficult. You aren’t alone, even on the days and nights where you feel it most. I can’t give you any solution for those tough times except that God is still God, the sun will rise in the morning, no matter how cloudy the sky is, and you have a choice – stay put and wallow OR get up and live.

Here’s what I recommend:

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dianne Jones
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 12:43:17

    WELL STATED!!!!!

    Reply

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