Well I recently came across a certain article. In it, the writer described how she had taken a vow of sexual purity at a young age, to avoid pre-marital sex, to save herself sexually for marriage. She had succeeded in this, she had managed to find a husband whom she described as a feminist, they married young, but after her marriage she regretted taking the vow. The vow was encouraged by her super-religious family and church, and now she has rejected religion altogether; according to her you can’t have both sex and religion, and she has decided to choose sex over religion. According to her, the fact that churches like hers encourage sexual purity is simply a way to control female sexuality. I don’t want to link to the article because I do not want to give it any publicity. However, in this post I hope to show the opposite viewpoint, that actually, embracing sexual purity and avoiding pre-marital sex is very, very legitimately feminist.
Firstly, let me concede that yes, there are some people and there are some churches who would want to control female sexuality, and male sexuality too, actually. In the church you can find pretty much anything – please do not get me started! So even though sexual purity is a good thing, ultimately what is in their hearts is the yearning to control you, rather than lead you to freedom in Christ. This does not in and of itself invalidate Christ, or the Bible. In the same way there are people who use genuine words of the Bible in the opposite spirit to the Bible, on pretty much anything. This is just one example. So if you do happen to come from a religiously controlling background, by all means release yourself from the control, but still cling on to the words of the Bible – because the Bible is truth, and it is life. Please please please believe me that if I did not one thousand percent believe it to be true, there is no way I would be wasting my own time reading it and quoting it, much less encouraging anyone else to waste their time too.
So now let’s talk about how sexual purity is the most feminist choice you can make. Actually, this is not exclusive to women only – it is also the most healthy choice you can make for yourself as a man too!
Let’s talk first about what we actually mean by feminism. By feminism here I mean making the best choice for yourself, that will promote your own welfare as a woman, and respect that innate dignity as a human being made in the image of God, where you as a woman are empowered to make your own decisions for yourself.
First things first: God is not – absolutely not – inherently anti-woman.** God created all people with inherent dignity. He created women to be made in His image as surely as He equally created men this way. Where many men have historically treated women as being less than human that is definitely not in line with who God is, even where the supposedly Christian church may have participated in this. God loves you as a woman (and also as a man). He created you for a fantastic purpose, to know Him, to walk in His power, His truth. His ways are higher than our ways. His understanding far exceeds our own. He loves us even more than we love ourselves! So you can safely trust that anything that God commands you to do will be the very best choice for you. It might not seem that way in the short term. It might require sacrifice, restraint, or self-control. But almost invariably in the long term, you will look back, and you will be grateful that you obeyed God. So where God Himself commands us to reserve ourselves sexually for marriage – yes, men as well as women, we can trust that this is for our own good, even if some churches try to use this to control people, especially women.
Sexual purity means realising the reality of sexual attraction, and setting boundaries for yourself. The world around us seems to shout that sexual “feminism” means being sexually promiscuous, freely sleeping around. This is what it means to own our own sexuality! To assert it as and when we feel like, with anyone we feel like, even people we have just met. Sexual purity means choosing to obey God instead, to avoid all sexual interaction before marriage, and choosing only to express ourselves sexually in an exclusive marriage.
Let’s talk about safety. Let me relate to you a story that I read a few months ago, on the Guardian, I believe. This story does not contain anything overly violent, but it illustrates a point. This woman met a man through a dating app – which one it is irrelevant, even if I could remember! And after a very brief length of time, she agreed to meet up with him, and they slept together consensually. He was an architect. (That will become relevant later.) Now she had come to write this post for the Guardian because apparently he had “stealthed” her. I had no idea what this means. It was the first time I was coming across that term. I don’t really want to spell it out right here, here is a link to what it means.
And I thought to myself:
“Lady, you’re sleeping with someone you have just met! You’ve not given yourself a chance to assess anything about him – his character, anything. And you are making yourself so physically vulnerable to him. You would not do that in any other regard, would you – you would not give someone the details of your bank account when you have met them for 5 minutes, you would not give them the keys to your house. So why is it OK in terms of your body?”
And then she was hammering on the fact that he was an architect, as if the fact that he was a well-paid professional should have meant that he was incapable of acting selfishly or inappropriately.
Now please hear me well. This is not to say that what he did was right. Of course it was wrong. Rather I am pragmatically acknowledging that we live in a world where many people don’t keep their promises, where many people lie outright – he may well even have been lying about being an architect. Surely by a certain age, and definitely any age when you’re old enough to be experimenting with online dating, it is not unrealistic to expect you to know that you cannot simply just trust someone based on what they say and you have to take time to get to know someone before you can fully trust them?
So what he did was bad, and abhorrent, but candidly, when you are making yourself so physically vulnerable to someone you literally do not know, it could have been so much worse. And with internet dating, it sadly often is.
What is more “feminist”? To deliberately put yourself in a position where you could easily get raped, or killed, or both (and many people, male and female, have met these fates) – or to avoid that as far as is possible? To make sure that by the time you physically make yourself vulnerable to someone, you already know that he is trustworthy and he is going to treat you well? Obviously this advantage would be negated if you go ahead to marry someone that you’ve only just met. It is not the marriage here that is magic, rather it is taking the time to make sure that you know someone thoroughly before you embark on a relationship with him.
Let’s talk about being a single mother. Do you think that this is fun? The most emphatic assertion of your feminism? Because people who actually are single mothers often express it differently. Now clearly, there are a few different paths to becoming a single mother. Sometimes married mothers are widowed. Sometimes, mothers who were married get divorced. Perhaps these instances are largely unavoidable (see below). However, becoming a single mother through sexual promiscuity is definitely avoidable. To be honest, life as a parent, and specifically a mother is immensely difficult anyway, even if you have a partner or a husband who is fully committed to you and your family and parenthood. Why would you compound this by voluntarily taking the risk of becoming a single mother? The financial hit that single mothers take is enormous. I’ve read countless accounts online and often the only thing you can do is shake your head for the sake of these people. Many of the men that these women casually sleep with before adequately getting to know them will turn out to have cheap character. This is why these men will not hang around to even provide financially for their own children. Naturally this only worsens the financial situation of the mothers, left to bring up the resulting children all by themselves.
Some single mothers somehow manage to overcome it all, do an outstanding job, possibly excel in their own careers, become financially well-off and bring up children who themselves excel, children for instance called “Barack Obama”. However these are outliers. In most cases, it is unspeakably difficult and this relentless difficulty is consistently reflected in the life outcomes of children from single-parent backgrounds.
Perhaps you are not the kind of woman to become a single mother because you’d be more likely to have an abortion? OK, let’s talk about abortions. Actually, let’s not. Confession: I used to be the kind of person who went around talking about abortions and how bad they were. I am still emphatically pro-life. And yet, all this outspoken pro-life, anti-abortion evangelism stopped suddenly when I went to university. Why? Because there, for the first time, I realised that I would be coming into contact with people who had actually had abortions. No longer would it be a theoretical debate. And I realised how much pain it would cause to people who had already been through this immensely difficult thing, to have the object of their pain thrust into their face again and again. And for many people it is extremely painful. Even where they rationalise it to themselves that it was the best decision that they could have made, even where they push it to the back of their minds and try to carry on with their lives, as most people will surely do.
If anyone reading this has had an abortion, or has been party to an abortion, perhaps as the father of the baby, I’m not trying to re-activate this pain. Actually many married couples have abortions, while many unmarried couples and single mothers keep their babies. So this is not just about pre-marital sex. All the same this is not something that you would voluntarily put yourself through, if you could help it. I put it to you that the emotional pain of abortion completely outweighs the pleasure of the sex that created the baby.
Let’s talk about Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Do we need to say much on this subject? Let’s just move right on.
Sometimes when you talk to people who have slept with lots of people, they will express regrets. But many times, they will laugh about how much fun they have had. But there is a hollowness to it. I believe that this is because deep down, we know that we were not created for this. Our spirit knows that we were created for something noble and pure and beautiful. Our spirit knows that by indulging in these promiscuous acts we are simply cheapening ourselves and our purpose. It is this disconnect between what our spirit knows and how we are acting that causes us to feel down or depressed. It is not just women; men also cheapen their souls through sexual promiscuity.
And now let’s finally talk about sexual purity. Yes, it can often feel like such an ordeal to walk away from someone to whom you are deeply attracted, to keep your hands to yourself when you would rather stretch them out. And yet, my goodness, on balance, after the event, I am so happy that absolutely nothing happened with any of these men. From what I have come to see of them, I know that I would have been filled with immense regret. I was recently thinking of Mr Uni Guy, and remembering how much I liked him. And yet, as much as I liked him, and as gracious as he was to me, it is now so obvious to me that he and I have such different values. But I was so crazy about him at the time. At the moment I am crazy about Mr TDA. And I quite like being crazy about him! However I’m approaching this with an open mind that he might not be the best one for me either. Who knows, X years from now it might be totally clear that he and I could never be well suited either, crush or no crush. This is why I am doing everything I possibly can to be sexually obedient now, so that I am not filled with regret in the future. If it does happen, however, that I finally manage to sufficiently twist God’s arm, and He gets tired of my prayers, and just wearily says “OK Tosin, just take him!” then obviously my hands and my fingers can be unleashed at that point with no regrets whatsoever.
For myself, I smile because I don’t have things in my past that would cause me regret, but I do have things in my future that I am looking forward to. I’m so filled with optimism that it might yet be Mr TDA. If not him, then hopefully some other man. If there is no husband at all in my future then powerful singleness awaits! Any which way, it is something exciting to look forward to.
Going back to the article writer from the beginning of this post,
Our lady seemed only to be thinking of her (excellent) current situation and extrapolating that back into the past. “How much extra fun I would have had if all along I had been sleeping with a man like this!” She did not seem to consider any of these very very realistic possibilities that may well have happened if she had “owned” her own sexuality. What if I got pregnant? What if I had caught an STD? What if I had felt forced to have an abortion? What if the men I slept with turned out to be absolute jokers, and filled me with regret about touching them? What if someone physically attacked my life? I’m sure that if she had assessed her current reality with all these other possibilities, all very very probable, then she would not think negatively about her choice to remain sexually pure.
*Admittedly, after “the fruit incident” with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden God did curse womankind with painful childbirth and having to submit to husbands. However, those things are a fact of life whether or not we choose to believe in God. What I mean is that, even if because of God’s curses against women in Genesis, you chose not to believe in God, that would not change the fact that childbirth is extremely painful or that women generally have to submit to their husbands.
**And yet perhaps even some of the “unavoidable” paths to single motherhood can sometimes be avoided.
Let’s think of embarking on a relationship with someone, perhaps getting married, conceiving a child, or a few, then breaking up with that person for whatever reason, but largely through unacceptable character traits of the husband or partner. For instance if the man beats you, and you decide to escape. Or if he has very bad substance abuse issues, or if he himself is sexually promiscuous. This is where getting to know someone really well before entering a relationship with him, is extremely important. Perhaps in some cases, men can be so cunning that even if you got to carefully know them for ten years they would still be able to hide these negative traits from you. But in far more cases, I’m sure, time will very predictably tell its tale. If you only gave enough time to get to know this person, you would very quickly come to see that this marriage would only end in disaster/single motherhood for you – and you would take yourself out of that potential relationship in favour of one that would be more stable.
The same also goes, actually, for being widowed. There are definitely some activities that a man might undertake that might make him more likely to die young. One very obvious example is if he is involved in criminal activity, like drugs, or a gang. Or if he loves dangerous sports, or if he for instance smokes and drinks very heavily.
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