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Today I am going to write a blog post that I have been meaning and wanting to write for a LONG time. It concerns this saying – I don’t know how many of you will be familiar with it: “Why should a man (or “he”) buy the cow, if he can get the milk for free?!!” This is a saying that is popular in some churches as a kind of slangy way to encourage ladies to not sleep with guys before marriage (or “give them their milk”) as this then removes the incentive to get married (“buy the cow”). This is the kind of phrase or saying that pops up for instance in Christian online forums among young cool Christians, a kind of colloquial way to express a common-sense message, without resorting to the “thees and thous” of quoting from the King James Version of the Bible, for instance.
Now let me make it clear, yet again, that I am TOTALLY committed to sexual purity before and during marriage. I certainly hope that there won’t be any substantial period of my life after marriage, but if so, then after marriage too. If there is any boundary of what is considered “acceptable”, then I aggressively monitor my behaviour to make sure it remains 10 degrees higher, so that it never even strays near the boundary. Two weeks ago I confessed how I once crossed my own boundaries of conduct with a very provocative dance – but thankfully this did not stray into any genuinely dangerous territory. The dance in question remained very fully clothed and in a very public place with very very many people there. It was unspeakably embarrassing to apologise to the guy afterwards. I still wince whenever I think of it. But regarding girls and guys, there are many far worse things that can happen than embarrassment.
So yes, I am fully committed to sexual purity.
And yet, I absolutely DETEST this proverb of the cow and milk. Why? For a number of reasons. Some of them will probably be quite simple for anyone who really knows me to work out. However, the reason that I hate it most, is because it does not NEARLY go near enough.
The first few reasons I hate it: reasons of sexism.
Hello, let me get this straight – I am not a dumb animal waiting for a man, any man to “purchase” me. When you are trying to sell something, do you care who will buy it? All you want is that the person should put down their money. And yet in marriage, I definitely do care about whom I will marry. A few men might walk forward, clutching their wallets, and I will say “Put away your money! You are not a suitable candidate!” I am not a dumb animal. I am a fully functioning human being, with human initiative. I can make my own decisions, and draw my own conclusions. I am also not passive. I am not just sitting here waiting for someone (anyone) to decide my life for me, or come to claim me. I exercise judgement in making my own decisions, and the right guy must be walking along the path that I too have chosen in life.
Also, it’s not the case that he is going to be the only one doing the buying, or making the commitment. I too am making a commitment to him, after all. I am also making a commitment not just to him, out of all the guys in the world, but also to remain married – even if there were no other guys in the whole world. So I am also “putting my money down”. If anything, a better analogy would be an exchange of cattle – “Why would you expect him to give you his bull, if you will let him have your cow’s milk for free” – or something better – except of course that I am not going to take any bull from anyone!
Secondly, more importantly…
OK, I appreciate that some people might be thinking “OK girl, it’s an analogy!” Ladies, this one is directed at you particularly. If someone, a Christian man, would take your milk (or sex) from you, for free – then he is not the husband you want. (I appreciate that this next bit is quite radical!) The analogy seems to suggest that you should not be giving him sex but trying to get him to marry you. Let’s think about that for a minute. If he accepts sex from you or if he WOULD accept sex from you (for free, when he knows he shouldn’t), then do you think the act of marriage would suddenly wave a magic wand over him (or a magic Bible, rather!) and make him into a pillar of sexual propriety? If he would accept sexual offers before marriage, why would you imagine that he would suddenly stop accepting these, just because he is now married? It is a sad fact that many people do not pursue any standards whatsoever in their relationships. Some women, even some supposedly “Christian” women, have not the slightest problems about chasing after married men. Some other women might feel guilty to some extent – but would still go ahead and do it anyway. (Ditto guys and married women). I think that we should just accept that other people are going to make up their minds to seduce our spouses – or us – and just accept that as a fact of life. This is all the more true as illicit sex is one of the weapons that the devil seems to use very successfully against Christians, and he hates Christian marriages as he knows the power that two people can have when they stand together in unity. And yet I dare to dream of a marriage that is full yes, of sexual passion, but also, by God’s grace, unassailable sexual purity and fidelity on both sides – mine and my husband’s.
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.