A woman explains all of the reasons why she's saving herself for marriage.
“You know what I mean, Gloria, because you be having sex, right?” was the question asked to me by the brown-skinned, round-afroed boy sitting to the right of me in computer class. Now, any other day, if he spoke to me, it would elicit a smile spanning across my face (accompanied by butterflies in my stomach). He was my eighth-grade crush. However, on that day, after that question was asked, there was no smile, no butterflies. Instead, they had been replaced with a furrowed brow and a sassy response of: “No, I don’t know what you mean. I am waiting until marriage to have sex.” I was 13 years old. I was 13 years old and had made the decision to save myself until marriage—and there I was in my seventh-grade computer class proclaiming it, doing so with great confidence.
I was confident—well, somewhat so. At that age, I couldn’t tell you what being a husband truly entailed or explain the nuances of sex. I wasn’t confident in those things, at all. However, what I did know was that I would love him. “Him” being the man I would stand at the altar with, professing my love to before God, our friends and family. I was confident that I would love him in a way that I would never love anyone else.
I was 13, but I had heard it enough in movies and from real-life married couples. You know, the whole “I didn’t know love until I met you,” referring to a spouse as she gazed into his eyes. Taking these cues, I couldn’t imagine—and didn’t see the point in—giving away something that I deemed so precious, so special. I couldn’t offer it to anyone besides the man that I would vow to love through sickness and health, richer or poorer, until the only thing that would separate us was death itself. This kind of love would be one of the three types that would keep me committed to the proclamation I had made so confidently in my seventh-grade computer class.
Years later, I was introduced to the second love: self-love. I had been the friend who witnessed the worry on my friend’s face as she shared that she had contracted an STD. The friend who sat on the phone listening as my friend cried after having had her second abortion. The friend who heard the hurt in her friend’s voice as she said, “He told me to make sure I go get a Plan B pill,” after having had unprotected sex with a guy she really liked.
After being that friend, and experiencing consequences secondhand, I decided I wouldn’t allow myself to experience them firsthand. That protection was rooted in self-love: a love reflective of a mother’s love that protects her child from foreseeable harm. Like that maternal instinct, I loved myself so that I would keep myself from the hurt of a guy ordering me to take a pill ensuring no lasting evidence would result from our encounter. I loved myself enough to spare the shame of testing positive for an STD. I loved myself enough to avoid years of unanswered curiosity, living with a hurt so deep from an abortion. I loved myself enough to stay committed to the decision that would bring that very protection.
The third type of love I embrace is for God. I have always loved God and, because of that, I never really questioned what God commanded of me—I ignorantly obeyed. Some would say that is how it’s supposed to be, but I did eventually develop a curiosity in one of God’s commandments. As I began to gain an understanding as to why God gave commands and guidelines regarding sexuality, it was like God was giving me a heads up. I realized that the commandments that God gave, the guidelines God set, were given in love. God wanted to protect me and, with that understanding, I gained a deeper love for God: a love full of gratitude. It was a love that would allow me to trust God’s will and God’s way—knowing it was for my best.
Love. Love has always had the power of influence. The influence doesn’t always work out in one’s favor. But love has served me well. Love was what influenced me to make the decision to abstain. And it was love, presented in different forms, that influenced me to stay committed. It has been 19 years since making the decision to wait until marriage to have sex. At 32, each type of love still shows up in my life when their service is needed. Sometimes it’s the 13-year-old’s love for her future husband; sometimes it’s the self-preservation derived from self-love; sometimes—oftentimes—it is God’s love and will that keep me rooted in my decision. They all assure me that the decision that I made in a seventh-grade computer class is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.