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On both sides of the altar, going and coming, it seems many Christians are wondering if saving sex for marriage either is worth it or was worth it.

For singles, they question the value of waiting especially when many of their peers, and maybe even their future spouse, is out having fun hooking up. It doesn’t seem fair. Why play by the rules and wait when everyone else seems to be getting away with it, having sex outside of marriage with no apparent consequences?

When faced with sexual disappointment in marriage, the question is often asked again, which may be experienced as anger toward God. What was the purpose of waiting if I still have all these difficulties!?! Will I have to live the rest of my life without ever experiencing passionate lovemaking? Maybe I should’ve slept around when I had the chance.

These questions and struggles are certainly understandable and very real. They also reveal the need for a fuller, more robust theology of sexuality then merely saving sex for marriage and true love waits, with the assumption sex will be “perfect” if we do. We need to know why to wait and how to wait. And maybe more to the point, we need to know how to embrace our sexuality as a disciple of Christ in every season of life, whether single or married.

An idolatrous emphasis on marriage and a passive posture of waiting is not uncommon when the single life is defined primarily by waiting to have sex. This is not to suggest we should have sex outside of marriage, but to remind us that the life found in Christ is not limited to marriage.

Additionally, there is a profound difference between faithfully choosing celibacy and begrudgingly saving sex for marriage. When celibacy is part of our intentional stewardship, there still might be difficult days, but we are also able to freely and fully enjoy the abundant life Christ offers. When we are resentfully waiting, we are more likely to take on the immature attitude of envying the promiscuous lives of others.

This resentment can also spill over into the marriage bed when sex is less than fulfilling and we believe God is still holding out on us.

Our choice of celibacy while single does not come with the promise of a ready-made and fulfilling sex life. It is, again, simply part of our faithful stewardship before God, trusting he will be faithful and true in every aspect of our lives, including our sexuality.

Following God’s guidelines for sex does come with many benefits. For instance, we bring less baggage into the marriage bed. However, less baggage doesn’t mean we won’t still have to work at our sex life. It takes a lot of practice to cultivate truly meaningful and satisfying sexual experiences.

And while God does not owe us a good sex life just because we “waited,” he will in his own infinite and mysterious ways reward those who faithfully trust him, both in our singleness and in marriage. We can have a confident expectation that he is bringing us into an intimate, beautiful, and amazing place of passionate living!

And waiting on God is worth it!

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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