Are young Mormons still “waiting” for marriage?

16 Nov

While browsing around the web tonight (as I am wont to do), I stumbled across this an article about why young Christians aren’t waiting for sex anymore at CNN’s Belief Blog.  And it got me wondering whether young Mormons are still waiting.  In brief the blog post makes the following points:

  • Recent research indicates that about 80% of evangelicals age 18 to 29 admit to having premarital sex and that just under 88% of unmarried adults admit the same
  • The tactics of abstinence only movements, such as wearing purity rings, signing virginity pledges, or participating in public purity pledge ceremonies, appear inadequate to combat challenges like “the saturation of sex in pop culture, the prevalence of pornography and a popular ‘do what feels good philosophy'”
  • While average marriage age in the US has been rising, the marriage age in biblical times would have been significantly younger (and marriages were arranged) so young people wouldn’t have had to wait so long; and a related point the article doesn’t make: being subject to an arranged marriage would remove some of the autonomy involved, which seems to me would create a mindset in which one does not think of sex as something to be engaged in freely based on one’s own desires (especially for young girls)

The blog post ends by asking: “So what should a Christian parent or youth pastor do? How do they convince more young Christians to wait until marriage, or should they stop even trying?”  I’m interested in those questions, but I’m also interested in your perceptions of whether young Mormons are still waiting.  As a teenager I firmly believed that almost all of my peers were sexually abstinent.  I still believe a majority of them were, though I’m a bit more realistic now about recognizing that some of them were very likely sexually active.  But I just don’t feel like I have much of a sense of how common pre-marital sexual activity is amongst Mormons, whether teenage or adult.  Thoughts?

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48 Responses to “Are young Mormons still “waiting” for marriage?”

  1. Kathryn A. November 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Well, as a YSA in the church who happens to be best friends with the biggest gossip in the stake…

    I know who has had sex, when, and with whom. Some of them are rather obvious, but others are surprising (either because they haven’t or because they have). Overall, though? Yeah, they’re waiting. There’s a lot of stigma and shaming towards the people who have had sex. There’s a lot of stigma towards pornography, too (and I don’t have as much knowledge on who’s watching/reading porn). Masturbation also seems to be a big no-no.

    Just don’t judge all Mormon youth/YSA based on my friends and I. Most of us are self-avowed heathens.

  2. older November 17, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    I do think there is a problem when the marriage age is increasing and the emphasis on chastity also increasing. Did you know the age of consent in the Vatican is 12.

    My perception would be that most ysa and mid SA are chaste, the ones I know anyway.

  3. AngstyRay November 17, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    As an YSA, though definitely above the average age for a single mormon female (I’m 25) I feel like the number of mormons who have sex before marriage is actually fairly high, especially the older you get.

    I’m not a virgin and a good portion of my friends aren’t either and the ones who are still virgins are usually only considered such within the realms of technicalities; they might not have had intercourse, but they’ve done pretty much everything else you can do. Course, this might just be the people I hang out with, a more conservative, TBM group might have a lower rate.

  4. K November 17, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Like the previous commenter, I’m a 25-year-old YSA, but I’ve mostly had the opposite experience. While I think many Mormons are having sex before marriage–probably more than I know, given the stigma and shaming associated with premarital sex–most of my unmarried Mormon friends and I are virgins, and not just “within the realms of technicalities.” My highly unscientific, unrepresentative sample includes friends from college at BYU and from my current Midwest YSA ward, and we’re not particularly conservative or TBM. I do have a general sense that, up to a certain age at least, young Mormons are still relatively unlikely to be sexually active. But I think prevalence of sexual activity varies from one place or group to another, and I don’t know what the overall trend might be.

  5. Kalliope November 17, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I’m on the age line between YSA and SA, and it seems to me there’s a lot of not waiting going on. There’s a lot of toe-ing the line and pushing the limits and making excuses. I recently moved out of a house I shared with another YSA (28 or so) because her boyfriend, also LDS, had moved into our house… had actually moved into her bedroom. They claimed that nothing was happening, but it wasn’t true. We lived 5 houses away from a member of the bishopric. Everyone knew exactly what was going on. Nothing was done.
    It makes me wonder why I’ve bothered being chaste…

  6. Katie November 17, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    My seminary teacher told us in 1997 that 40% of LDS teens (i believe it was limited to Utah and maybe Idaho) had fornicated. I would guess those numbers have gone up in 15 years, especially when you extend it beyond teens. I would imagine it seems lower because people hide it or lie about it, or omit the information, especially if it was repented of. On another LDS sex blog, many couples said they had done quite a lot before temple marriage, including intercourse in some cases, and not mentioned it to the bishop.

  7. Anonym November 17, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    My spouse and I both waited until after we were married, although I tried many things sans intercourse during HS. The descision to wait is something that we both regret, at least in some small degree, as we’re still trying to convince ourselves (several years and children later) that sex is “all good” now.

    I had very few LDS peers who admitted to having pre-marital sex, and I was always secretly jealous of them.

  8. Colleen Donaghy November 17, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    There is absolutely a stigma that leads to real loneliness. I’m 27, a returned missionary, extremely active up until a few months ago and tend to have Mormon friends who are in that same demographic. I started having sex with my boyfriend this summer and feel like I’m the only one ever who didn’t “wait.” My friends are wonderful people whom I would normally tell anything, but so far I’ve only told two of them. I worry about them being disappointed in me, judging me, and judging my boyfriend (who is also friends with a lot of them).
    So I haven’t waited, but in my (limited, anecdotal) experience, most do.

  9. Colleen Donaghy November 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    (sorry, follow-up to my own post…) Most, meaning, of course, active YSAs. I’ve found that most of the people who have gone “inactive” are having sex, or went inactive because they found it impossible to wait.
    Then again, I could be way off. Maybe tons of people are having sex and I just don’t know about it because we don’t talk about it. Who talks about their sex life with their visiting teachers/random person next to them in Relief Society? That’s why I was basing my judgments off of my circle of friends–we do talk about sex (but not necessarily our own sexual experiences).

  10. KaralynZ November 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Eh, I’m not sure what all to say about this. I second anon that I was always very jealous of people who had premarital sex. Including my sister, even though I saw what kinds of problems it caused her in those relationships. My peers in the church I think mostly were waiting. We lived in a small town, so things got around. I know of two girls in my age cohort who had babies out of wedlock and I can guess at two or three more both male and female who were probably having sex, but

    I didn’t have intercourse before I was married. I did other things with my then-fiance, including oral, though this was all after I was a legal adult. That matters to me for some reason. I’m really against teen-sex but I think if you’re 18 or over it’s less of a big deal. I think my mom would disagree. One of her big things growing up was, that as an older single adult, divorced, widowed, never married, whatever , you were still held to the same law of chastity, but some of the people she met at singles activities didn’t seem to think so. But on the other hand I know she had sex before she was married.

    My problem with the notion of preaching abstinence until marriage (other than the whole, “not sure how I feel about the church” thing) is how it is always used to promote the view of sex as something you give to a person rather than an experience that two people have together.

    The other problem is that you can only really choose one way or the other and you’ll never *really* know for yourself how the other half sees things. I mean obviously you can have premarital sex, decide it’s a wrong choice and recommit yourself to abstinence before marriage but I can’t imagine it’s *quite* the same thing. I’m hoping that between my husband and I – one of us waited, one of us didn’t – we can offer our kids an honest look at both sides of the issue.

  11. Zero November 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Used to be you would get disfellowshipped or excommunicated for fornication, but that really doesn’t seem to happen any more, at least not in the area where I live. Bishops here don’t even mess with unmarried LDS couples who openly live together.

    Since local leaders appear to take no notice of “non-abstinence”, it’s easy to see why the young folks don’t take it very seriously…

  12. KaralynZ November 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Actually, my sister was excommunicated for that reason, 4, 5 years ago?

  13. Patty B. November 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Zero, do you mean that local leaders don’t mess with actively practicing LDS couples who are unmarried and living with each other, still wanting to hold callings, bless the sacrament, go to the temple, etc? I find that rather hard to believe but maybe you live in some radically different part of the world than I’ve ever lived in. I do know that bishops aren’t as strict about this as they once were, but I’ve had friends disfellowshipped for premarital sex and precluded from holding callings, praying in church, speaking in church, taking the sacrament, going to the temple, etc. for premarital sex.

  14. Patty B. November 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    I think Kalliope’s question of why she’s bothered to stay chaste when others have not and don’t seem to be punished gets at an interesting aspect of Mormon chastity. It’s meant to be a very public kind of thing. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be the kind of shaming and gossiping that happens when it becomes apparent that someone is sexually active. And the other thing it clearly illustrates is the extent to which we conceive of chastity in terms of being appropriately good and not punished, rather than in terms of deeper more meaningful benefits or consequences of chastity. I find the church’s attitude towards chastity deeply flawed. No matter how much there might be more meaningful philosophical, moral, and social underpinnings to the insistence on premarital abstinence, the way chastity gets taught, the way remaining chaste gets rewarded, and the way breaking the law of chastity is punished tends to completely obscure those things.

    At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be making our decisions about whether or not we’ll engage sexually with a partner based on what other people might think. We should engage, or not, based on the nature of the relationship, what it’s potential might be, what our own emotional and physical needs are, etc. But the church doesn’t really teach that. It can’t. Not when it’s teaching a starkly black and white notion of all sex outside marriage being sin.

  15. Patty B. November 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Then again, I could be way off. Maybe tons of people are having sex and I just don’t know about it because we don’t talk about it. Who talks about their sex life with their visiting teachers/random person next to them in Relief Society? That’s why I was basing my judgments off of my circle of friends–we do talk about sex (but not necessarily our own sexual experiences).

    This is an interesting thing, too. One consequence of the church’s very stark all-or-nothing approach to chastity is that it does become people’s business when someone violates the law of chastity–ward members do talk about it. In my experience with people outside the church, they don’t talk about it. They just kind of know if they’re close enough to the people. It’s not that it’s assumed. It’s just that someone who is close to the person can put together details to understand the reality. But it doesn’t change anything. MM’s parents know we’re sexually active, not because we’ve told them but because they know their son and have seen the indicators and put two and two together. But they don’t care. Because it doesn’t mean anything about either of our moral characters. So I think in more mainstream cultures people are similarly not talking to random other people about their sex lives; but they’re also not talking (in shocked whispers and judgmental tones) about other people’s sex lives–at least not just the simple fact that other people have sex lives (they might do this about scandalous sexual behavior like an affair or public sex or something). And that makes a huge amount of difference. While Mormons don’t talk about their own sex lives, they do talk (or speculate or wonder) about others’ sexual activity. And that’s what leads to this situation where you can’t just comfortably do what is actually right for you in your own circumstances without paying a very high price for doing so.

    This is a direct consequence of thinking we have the Right Answer to which everyone should conform their behavior. My parents will never be okay with my relationship because they are persuaded that they know the Right Way to have a relationship; they can’t possibly conceive of it being possible that the way I’m conducting my relationship is right for me.

  16. handle with care November 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    I think that should you choose to live the law of chastity,your reason for doing so needs not to be what either the Bishop or the neighbours might do or say as a consequence of you doing otherwise.Whilst these may be significant disincentives,this is an issue of conviction between you,your God and your partner.Maybe a focus on how we might make this a positive choice rather than something complied with out of fear would make us more successful in helping our children have a boundaried,positive sex life.I am so concerned by the furtiveness and guilt associated with sexuality,and would not wish that on any child of mine.I don’t think it has anything to do with real chastity.

  17. Anonymous for this one November 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    I’m on the fuzzy dividing line between YSA and SA, and I’m still a virgin. (And not just on a technicality.) I don’t know about my peers because I don’t have a lot of unmarried LDS friends. It’s hard because I’m sick of waiting. But I’m going to keep waiting because I promised God that I would keep the law of chastity.

    However, if I find the right man and it turns out that he didn’t wait, I won’t hold it against him if he’s repented. To hold it against him after repentance would deny the power of the Atonement.

  18. Anon for this one November 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    I am married, but my husband and I fooled around quite a bit before we were married (no intercourse) and confessed to the Bishop about it. Unfortunately, one bishop said that we were clear and had repented (which was how we felt) but I felt pressured to tell my bishop when I moved home and was set to get married 4 weeks later what had happened. I was forced to push my wedding back because of him, despite what the previous bishop had said. We got married in the temple 6 months later. We didn’t have sex during those six months, but we kept fooling around and didn’t tell anyone. We did, however, have to meet with the bishop every. single. week. We had never done anything with anyone else before.

    I have some guilt about that, as I probably should, but I am still angry for the amount of shaming I got from the bishop for some wandering hands. A friend of ours had the same issue and her bishop told her to be careful and make her wedding sooner.

    I’m glad my husband is the only person I’ve been with, but the church does itself no favors by shaming those who do participate in sexual activity before they’re married. Chastity is intensely frustrating because it’s the ONLY commandment that has an expiration date. The fact that my husband and I were together for months when we confessed and were disciplined and a fresh return missionary and an 18 year old could be ready for sex and the temple after 2 months of dating caused my nothing but rage.

    Like I said, I have some guilt about it, but I’m also deeply satisfied with the sexual relationship my husband and I have now and I think a huge part of that is because we worked our way up to sex instead of going from chaste kisses to everything after a wedding. I also think that it forced us to examine our attitudes about sex in an LDS context and has made us more adventurous.

    (I know think is super long, but I would also like to add that teaching that masturbation is a sin is really unproductive in terms of chastity. Masturbation is normal and I wish someone had told me that so I could have avoided a tearful and utterly embarrassing confession with my bishop when I figured it out at about age 18.)

  19. Billie H. November 18, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    I’m not quite 25, moderately active, and still definitely a virgin (unless you count second base, and I know some who would, unfortunately). When I was younger, I stayed away from sex because I believed it was the right thing to do. Today, I’m less sure. At this point in my life I would still prefer my first time to be with my husband, but I’m getting incredibly sick of waiting. I don’t date much at all, and I’m fine with that for now (I REALLY enjoy being single), but the older I get and the less I date, the more concerned I become about my future prospects. As I’ve aged I’ve even questioned my desire to get married, but never my desire to have sex. I see myself holding out a while longer still, but I think there will be a tipping point.

  20. Anon November 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    Thank you, “Anonymous for this one”. I appreciate your response. I’m kind of baffled by how many people are saying that staying chaste is not “for them”. Really?? God has been been pretty clear on what He expects of us, and what we should strive for. I don’t think there should be shaming or any stigma placed on anyone who breaks the law of chastity and is repentant. As the previous commenter said, that would be denying the power of the Atonement. But chastity (meaning no pre-marital sex before marriage and full fidelity after marriage) is something that God expects of us. Period.

  21. Felix November 22, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    @#18, Really? Chastity has an expiration date? I think the commandment is “abstinence before marriage and fidelty afterwards.” Maybe you meant celibacy?

    In any case, I’m saddened by the number of individuals who seem so willing to walk through one of the basic laws of the Gospel like it was nothing. Granted, fornication between two unmarrieds is far less serious than a family-wrecking adulterous affair, but they stem from the same cause.

    It’s SO hard to be good, but the confidence that comes from knowing you’re on God’s side is worth the sacrifice.

  22. KaralynZ November 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Well, Felix, then we need to figure out a way for everyone to have a chance to get married.

  23. Patty B. November 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    You know, I don’t really think the “god said” kinds of comments are productive. All they really allow is self-righteous condemnation of others clothed in a patina of sadness at how sinful everyone is. And, frankly, we don’t know that god said that chastity is absolute abstinence before marriage. For all we know, god said to have sex responsibly and that got interpreted by someone somewhere along the line as “no sex before marriage” and that’s what has survived.

    I’m more interested in hearing actual opinions about the questions posed in the OP:

    Are young Mormons still waiting? why? why not?

    How do you successfully convince young people to wait?

    Do you attempt to convince young people to wait? or do you shift focus to a different tact that still encourages long term fidelity after marriage and responsibility and care before marriage?

    I suppose “God said” could be an answer to the second question, but in my experience it’s a pretty lousy method of convincing people to do something, especially when there are very powerful influences (both good and bad) persuading them to do something else. And I really don’t think that the church’s current strategy is to convince young people not to have sex with a “God said” approach. I think the current strategy is to scare the shit out of people that if they do have sex and are found out, they’ll have to pay enormous emotional and social consequences and that they’ll have to pay spiritual consequences (though I think “spiritual consequences” carries less weight than the emotional and social consequences). I also think that the church, as with most other conservatives’ approaches to sex ed, withholds information about sex itself and the good sides of it while presenting almost exclusively the negatives and some pretty damaging stereotypes (and even deals in misinformation, though I don’t think that’s necessarily done in a malicious fashion), which sets young people up to experience more negative consequences if they breach the commandment than they would if they had done so having been fully informed in a more even fashion about sex, its goods and bads, and how to have sex responsibly. That, of course, just turns all the rhetoric into self-fulfilling prophecies. The “God said” thing is just a nice cover to justify these strategies. While I’m sure it’s often the conscious reason named for people abstaining from sex, I don’t think it’s the strongest (or even close to the top of the list of) reason(s) that actually motivate(s) people to abstain.

  24. Anon November 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    Wow. For a blog that claims to be somewhat associated with the LDS church, that is not even remotely close to LDS teachings/beliefs/philosophies. If one believes in the gospel of the LDS church, and believes in continuing revelation, then yes, we DO know that God actually meant “abstinence before marriage”, and not some “do whatever works best for you” lame-excuse-for-philosophy message. If one does not believe in the gospel of the LDS church or in continuing revelation, then I guess abstinence is not relevant. But as the title of this blog seems to imply, this is a place for people who even somewhat follow the LDS teachings to talk about sex (and I assumed–wrongly, obviously–sex within the context of LDS philosophies).

    I am not one to say that the church is infallible. I see many problems with how things are taught and run. However, I am a believer in the gospel. And that it, at its core, is not teaching untruths. One of the defining characteristics of the LDS faith is to believe that what prophets and scriptures say is what God *actually* says.

  25. KaralynZ November 24, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    I like how you didn’t even read Patty’s last comment. That makes it super special!

  26. KaralynZ November 24, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    My feeling is this – in the temple I made a covenant to obey the law of chastity. Before making that covenant it was up to me to decide whether it was something I wanted to make a part of my life. I was told it was necessary, I was berated, shamed, preached at constantly into believing that I would go straight to hell*, that I would ruin my life and my future relationships and my body and everything else if I had premarital sex.

    Now, I’m glad I waited until I was married to have sex, but I don’t necessarily think that it’s because of all the yelling referenced above. I didn’t actually covenant to it until I went to the temple. Just as we don’t expect people to pay tithing before they’re baptized, I don’t feel like it should be a “This applies to every single person in the entire world regardless of how they feel about the church or not.”

    *or the Mormon version of such depending on who was doing the telling, I grew up with a lot of non LDS people.

  27. Patty B. November 25, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    This:

    “If one believes in the gospel of the LDS church, and believes in continuing revelation, then yes, we DO know that God actually meant “abstinence before marriage””

    Is not necessarily true. I know a lot of Mormons who believe in the gospel and in continuing revelation but who also don’t accept that everything the church currently teaches is a 100% accurate representation of God’s will. Instead, they believe that the church leadership is generally inspired and is trying to communicate God’s will to the church membership and the world more generally, but that as flawed human beings they sometimes misrepresent God’s will. Not out of malicious intent. Not out of some nefarious plan to mislead or do wrong. Just because they are fallen, flawed human beings who make mistakes just like the rest of us. Admittedly, more Mormons take the approach of believing that God just uses the prophet as a human mouthpiece, thereby essentially occupying his body (if only figuratively) and saying exactly what he means in words that no one could possibly misinterpret, but the fact that a majority feels that way doesn’t make it right. I for one think it’s much more likely that the former happens than the latter, since the latter flies directly in the face of Mormon teachings on any number of issues (agency, the fallen nature of humankind, the fallibility of prophets, etc.).

    But that’s really not at issue here. And, frankly, discussions of whether or not the sister wives or the blog in general count as “Mormon enough” aren’t really what we’re interested in. We’re interested in having an open, honest discussion about anything to do with sex from a Mormon perspective. If you don’t like a particular post and the conversation around it, I suggest you simply move along. Casting judgment and proclaiming your dismay isn’t all that productive.

  28. Head of Shiz November 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Hi all,

    Male-lurker here. I appreciate the respectful dialog on the the part of the sister wives here. You guys rule. As far as the questions go, I waited and so did my wife. I actually sometimes wish we hadn’t as we entered marriage so woefully unprepared that our sex life really suffered for the first ten years or so. When I finally got over hang ups about sex and started reading books then it got much much better. Although there is no official sex ed in the church that I know of, there seems to be an overarching negativity associated with it, to the detriment of many members sexual and mental health in my opinion.

    As for the TBMs that comment on how clear everything is and that we have prophets and everything is black and white for them. Good for you! I wish I was that way too actually. Unfortunately for me though, and many other members of the church, we don’t believe that every word that the leaders speaks is revelation or God’s will. I rarely, if ever, hear anything constructive said over the pulpit about sex by any of the leaders of the church except the same victorian era mantra of “Keep the Law of Chastity” in spite of contemporary science’s findings about masturbation (that it ain’t all bad), and in spite of a completely different cultural environment.

    I know the knee jerk reaction is “well, the Gospel/church never changes…” to which I respond “PAHLEEZ!”, do some reading and get back to me on that one. That leaves us (I suppose you could call New Order Mormons, Liahona Mormons, Liberals, unorthodox, whatever mormons) to use logic, or reason, discussion, and the Spirit to sort out how we desire to live our own lives, dictating our own course, and hopefully traveling in the right direction. I have a hard time believing God would give us these marvelous brains and then expect us to not ask “why?” when we are lead to believe anything by an external source.

    Hope that made sense and that I’m not unwelcome on your board as I find it fascinating…course if I am unwelcome then I’ll continue lurking but not posting…take that!

  29. Fanny A November 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    You’re very welcome here, Head of Shiz, though I think your comment is full of good stuff and not shiz.

    I agree completely- if we hand our minds over to anyone- even our leaders, we are disobeying the core principle of agency and our own divinely created intelligence. Of course we should listen- and then decide for ourselves how to implement what our leaders tell us.

    It astounds me how often this is rolled over in the rush to be blindly obedient in all things.

    Also, Sister Patty, EXCELLENT comment. I couldn’t agree more.

  30. KaralynZ November 27, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    You’re very welcome here, Head of Shiz, though I think your comment is full of good stuff and not shiz.

    Seconded, though I think he’s referencing the Book of Mormon leader who was beheaded by Coriantumr. ;o)

    I really *really* wish there was some official precedent for Unorthodox Mormonism like the Jewish community has.

  31. May November 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    I’m 32. When I was in YSA wards a few years ago I would have been *astounded* if I had found out that people were having sex. But that’s because the ‘sin next to murder’ rhetoric really worked on me and I assumed everyone else was convinced they’d be damned if they so much as touched themselves. Until that changes (which won’t be anytime soon) I imagine a large portion of YSA will stay abstinent, not to mention the shame surrounding it as was mentioned in other comments.

    Temple endowments may factor in there – the LoC commandment freaked me right out. I had my endowments, and once got a little too ‘handsy’ with my non-LDS boyfriend and dutifully reported to the bishop. I was floored when he said, “Don’t do it again, check back in two weeks.” I was prepared for the worst, and thought I would lose my recommend, callings etc. That’s when I started to wonder, “Whoa, if I didn’t get ‘in trouble’ for that…why on EARTH have I been beating myself up for occasionally masturbating???” And that was the last time I told a 50 year old man about my sexual activity. 🙂

  32. Head of Shiz November 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    I am in fact referencing the beheaded Shiz, that story is horrible and cracks me up, so I took the name for myself when haunting blogs. I guess I’m unorthodox to the extreme but have no intention of leaving the church…woot. MAybe they’ll oust me one day though, we’ll see, theres been a bit more “all or nothing” rhetoric lately, maybe they’re trying to get rid of us. Anyway, Fanny you managed to say in a short and succinct paragraph what takes me pages. It all hinges on agency for me. Even this question about waiting. Karalyn, I’ve found most people in my ward and my bishop are really cool about me not being in lock step conformism with them…lets hope there is a move toward inclusion on lay members part (fingers crossed).

    Back to the topic. I had opportunities presented me to have sex with a few different people before I got married (I wish I could say they were throwing htemselves at me all the time but lets be real) but I just didn’t do it. I can’t say why I just felt it was something I needed to wait for, although I was and still am infinitely curious about human sexuality. Was it social/cultural programming? Indoctrination? Fear? or was it valiance or moral courage as the mormons would like to label it? Probably a combo of all of the above and more. Individuals are just that, individual, and a one size fits all approach is not always going to work, especially when it comes to sex.

    Sometimes I’m glad I waited, sometimes I wonder if I things would have been better if I hadn’t. In the end doesn’t really matter, I did what I did and its worked fine for me. Hopefully you’ll all find satisfaction in your own choices. Love your blog sister wives, thanks for letting me join the discussion.

  33. handle with care November 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I think it’s time to have our cake and eat it.

    I love the idea of waiting for sex until you are ready for commitment.I think it’s really quite sexy.All that sexual tension stuff,all that energy.

    But I think that can come out of a place that worships sex and the union between the woman and the man,that sees sex as a cosmic creative force,and a lot of fun to boot.It can come out of loving sex,and wanting us all to have great,powerful,mind altering sexual experience.That’s what I want for my children.I’m not about to teach them that it’s dirty,bad and evidence of their fallen nature.It’s a powerful force that we learn to bridle-to ride-through developing sacred parts of our souls.

    I’m not holding my breath ’til this is taught from the pulpit,but I do think that it’s a fruit of the Spirit.

    I see sex as evidence that God loves His children to have a cosmic experience whilst in the flesh.I see it as too sacred to be played with by the uninitiated.I understand that this is tough,and I let my children know it’s going to be hard.My intention is to be sex positive in all my communications.And then they get to choose what they do with that,and I have to live with their choices in a loving manner.

  34. Enna November 29, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    I know this thread is old, but I just wanted to throw out another opinion. My hubby and I didn’t wait for marriage, but we did wait until we were committed to each other. When we first started dating I told him about the temple covenant and asked if it was okay with him if we waiting until we were married to have sex, and he was very supportive. But he did ask why it was important to me, to make that particular covenant, and I spent about 6 months trying to figure out the answer to that question.

    Long story, short, I never came up with one. So I changed the question to this: what do I think is important for a sexual relationship? And the best I could do was: 1. Consenting adults, 2. Trust, 3. a level of comfortability that allows us to already speak very frankly about sex, and 4. a commintment to this person based on love and respect.

    We hit #s 1 – 3 fairly early, but when I realized I wanted to marry him, and felt good about #4, I told him I didn’t want to wiat anymore.

    Frankly, I’m quite glad we didn’t. I was expecting to feel a total loss of the Spirit, lots of guilt, and maybe even have bad things happen to me, but none of that happened. We went on to get married and have, so far, had an amazing marriage, still based on the same 4 criteria (consent, trust, comfortability, and commitment). Of course there’s a lot of love thrown in, too!

  35. Enna November 29, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Oh, and regarding the original topic, I guess the take away for me was that the way the church teaches chastity just doesn’t hold up after the scare tactics start to wear off. I would be much more in favor of a doctrine surrounding a responsible and mature relationship with sex rather than the all or nothing approach we take now (nothing now, all after marriage).

  36. SingleE November 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    But how do you “wait”, while still having a healthy attitude toward sex, and still be worthy of a temple marriage? The idea of “progressive sexuality” (is that what it’s been called here? I can’t remember) is great, but it has to stop *somewhere* in order to keep the temple recommend. So how do you do it?

  37. handle with care November 30, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    I think if it matters to you,then it matters.

    If you consider that this is an issue between you and your perception of a Father in heaven,then that is a reason to reign your passion in,difficult as it is.

    I think that’s the only reason that’s going to cut any ice when it gets right to the line-it’s one of those issues that makes you decide where you are,and take responsibility for that,and in that sense can be a very creative tension.

    And I think if it matters to you,then you may want to draw that line high as an act of compliance with the concept of chastity.I’m personally interested in being pretty whole hearted about the commitments I make,which is not to say that always works out.

    I know my feelings about my children’s bodies was that they were and are sacred and holy-if I could have wrapped them up and kept them safe for ever with impunity I would have done that.But since they are here to make their own choices,I have to live with that.But I reflect that Heavenly Father must have those feelings towards us,and I care about hurting Him.I think that’s the only stuff that is strong enough to keep you on the right side of the line,when you ditch the guilt and fear.

    Being wholehearted about your commitment to your enjoyment of your sexuality together when the time is right for you is one of life’s bigger decisions.

  38. Gwen January 6, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    I’ve noticed that a lot of the teens and single adults seem to be experimenting with other methods of sex aside from intercourse. I’ve heard some teens explain that oral and anal still mean you are a virgin and could get married in the temple- or at least the teens seemed to think so. I’m aware that a lot of teenagers also don’t get a lot of really good and accurate information about what it means to be chaste and virtuous.
    I think a lot are waiting to have vaginal intercourse, but I’m not so sure about oral and anal…

  39. julesgodson February 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    There’s a flipside to the waiting question I’m not sure I’ve seen here — people who rush into marriage. Along with the Q of whether premarital is wrong should be the Q of how the taboo affects judgment entering into one of the most important decisions of one’s life at an age where the hormones run hot *and* one doesn’t really know much about sex. In other words, losing virginity is a lousy reason to get married—but it happens.

    I wouldn’t mention this but for a young woman I met when I was a teen. She was an ophthamologist’s assistant. I was learning to use contact lenses. Basically we spent a lot of time in close quarters teaching me to stick my fingers in my eyes. She was a truly beautiful woman with brilliant blue eyes and I was immediately smitten (I was 16 and impressionable). For some reason (flirtation?) she confided that she was getting married “because I’m a Mormon and if you’re not married you just can’t do too much.” Perhaps because she nearly stopped my heart by bringing up her designs on a sex life, she made a permanent impression. I hope the union was successful despite the intrusion of libido.

  40. KaralynZ February 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    I agree that this happens more often than might otherwise happen outside the church. As much as I hated the long-distance relationship my husband and I had before we got married, it was reassuring to know that the relationship was still solid when we had 2000 miles putting a cooler on the hormones. But I also know people who have rushed into marriage because they’ve reached a certain age and feel they’re running out of time.

    yet another thing I worry about how good my parenting ideas are – if I had a choice between a child marrying someone I knew was horrible for them and having premarital sex, I’d rather they have premarital sex.

  41. fireball February 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    I married at 33 and was blessed to find a 34 year old man who also was reserving himself for temple marriage. Living in an area where the LDS population was fairly remote, it was slim pickings, so I combed the world searching for this man and found him 3000 miles away from me in a similar situation. Somehow through our long journey searching for our eternal companions, the Lord saw fit to preserve us for one another. We had nearly 4 years of marital bliss (albeit childless) before he suddenly passed away. Approximately a year and a half later, I was able to remarry another outstanding man who was striving to raise several children on his own. I found myself falling deeply in love with new this man in a way I never imagined possible as I had with my first. I was grateful to meet another man who upheld the law of chastity in his life.
    Prior to meeting my first husband, I had times where I became so frustrated by my non-married status (which for me, also meant abstinence). I did have occasional tantrums with the Lord, especially the older I got. But hanging on with all my might (praying & fasting, with support from my family) led to greater blessings I could never have conceived. I give thanks each day for the Lord blessing me with a man that I love beyond measure, and who loves and honors me. I testify that by striving to obey the law of chastity, incredible blessings flowed into my life that I otherwise could not have realized had I gone with a relationship based mainly on infatuation where pressure was placed on me to engage in premarital sex. As hard as it was, I knew I had to put God’s laws first if I intended to have an eternal marriage and not counterfeit intimacy. In the end, the reward of waiting was just a million fold what I may have settled for if I didn’t have faith. I could easily have been lost to realizing a temple marriage with a man I had a far deeper attraction with physically, spiritually, mentally, etc… Even after losing my first husband, it feels the Lord has gone far beyond comforting me, and has dealt me a double portion of blessings as He had done with Job.

    I am now pregnant with my first child, and I hope to install in her a great reverence and celebration for her, as well as for others’, bodies. I am just awe-struck at the miracle of life that is forming inside me right now! This child represents to me the glorious designs of an eternal Creator who sanctions sexual intimacy only within the bonds of holy matrimony out of incredibly abiding love for us, and a desire for us to obtain His level of eternal joy in family life! I hope and pray for my daughter to date worthy men who honor virtue. Reading some of these posts fills me with great apprehension of bringing her into a world where virtue is all but ignored, and at times, outright mocked. We had a temple marriage in our family recently, our nephew returned from a faithful mission and married within less than a year. We observed a few in our circle mocking him for his decision.These were young men that had chosen to not serve missions or seek wives, but instead opted for promiscuous relationships free from responsibility. Observing these 2 worthy people make eternal covenants over the temple alter of our God felt as though heaven could barely be contained. What a test of faith to live in a world where many “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) As parents, we will do all we can to prepare our child, and pray our efforts be blessed that we may abide the day when Christ returns, that we may dwell in His righteous kingdom free from evil influences. I bare testimony that Christ our King atoned for each of our sins, and pleads to the Father on our behalf.

    I found this quote today that I shall close with: “We, as spirit daughters of heavenly parents, need to ensure that Satan is continually cast out of our hearts, minds, homes, and families. We, as women of Christ, need to forge intimate relationships with others that involve Him. We, as daughters of Eve, need to distinguish good from evil and partake of physical intimacy only within the sacred ordinance of marriage. And as we do we will co-create intimate relationships that are truly out of this world!”
    – “Personal Purity and Intimacy” by Sister Wendy Watson, 1999 Women’s Conference

  42. Jules Godson February 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Thank goodness you chose matrimony over sanctimony.

  43. UtahMark February 28, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    Well said, Fireball.

  44. KaralynZ February 28, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    But for every story like yours, there are a hundred women out there who will never find that “perfect” Mormon man to marry.

    You can go all righteous and say “Well then they will be blessed a hundred fold in the next life for staying pure” or some other crap like that, but it’s not fair for anyone who HAS married (let alone twice!) to say that to someone who is single and may never find a spouse.

  45. Jules Godson February 28, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    @ KaralynZ: Perfect. You focused on a couple of good thoughts while I find myself sifting through hundreds.

    I was facetious, but do think that much as following the One True Path does not guarantee success or virtue—too many marriages may lead to infidelity, violence, addiction, etc.—failing to follow it does not guarantee failure or vice. The marriage or the sex is what you bring to it, and your virtue is the combination of your success and failures. Surely success is in partly a blessing beyond our control – the original writer acknowledges lots of luck besides the blessings “earned” through virtue – surely our sins are simply part of the package. Moreover to assert that premarital sex is the same as promiscuity, that it turns on “a relationship based mainly on infatuation where pressure was placed on me to engage in premarital sex,” that it is “counterfeit intimacy” – all hallucinations with no basis in fact or the person’s actual experience – is to tar millions with a very broad brush. And these declarations smack much more personal comparison, of feeling superior, than a genuine interest in helping others. Hence sanctimony, the flattering of oneself at the expense of others.

    Virtue should be central to any decent person’s life. Sin exists inside and outside of marriage. Blessings are not quid pro quo — or you’re doing it for the payoff, not the inherent reward (“blessed in the next life”?), which is wrong. Marriage is a wonderful thing — when done right, with luck and hard work. Sex is inherently neither good nor evil; it is a vessel we fill ourselves. And last, abstinence until marriage doesn’t make you a nice person.

    As someone who grew up in a life that was “wrong” in so many ways, not least for having a single mother (yes, they were married; he left), I know the price or, in my case, resentment that is generated by insisting on having an in crowd and an out crowd. It would have been nice to have everything work out on the straight and narrow, but I don’t think that it didn’t condemned, and even less so that it would have been better not to have been born. Don’t stignatize people who do the best they can with what they have. There’s good reason the Bible dwells so much on human failings and redemption.

    Leave them stones on the ground where you found them, count your blessings, and give your neighbor a hand.

  46. Kat October 1, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    I am here for a friend’s sake. I stumbled across this blog in my search for an answer or two for my friend who desperately wants to get to the Celestial Kingdom, but feels she is unworthy, because of some sexual encounters she has had in her life. Her last encounter was last month, which led to another of a few confessions over the years for which this has been a temptation for her. The end result was that she was disfellowshipped. She is already feeling the shame and judgement from her congregation and is feeling torn between wanting to be at church and avoiding church functions because of the pain and shame she is experiencing as a disfellowshipped member. I know first hand what this is like, because I too was disfellowshipped for the same reason when I was 22. I had occasional encounters with premarital sex from high school to this point. In my case, the pain and shame was so great I fell away from the church. I have since found a different spiritual path that I feel very happy and comfortable with. It is tempting for me to tell her to stop attending the LDS church, because I see the huge emotional toll it has taken on her (even to the point of her crying every time she sees her daughter and feeling guilty about her and wishing she had given her up for adoption!), but I find instead wanting to help her understand or believe that the Celestial Kingdom is still within her reach in spite of her “sin.” To top things off, she fears she might be pregnant from this event last month. I am pretty sure the Celestial Kingdom is always within our power to achieve, regardless of past sins, but do not want to guide her wrongly. I have been away from the church for too many years to remember. She doesn’t feel like she has anyone in the church she can talk to that understands her situation as well as I do. So, I have been chosen to advise her and she feels she will never attain the highest level of Heaven with this creeping up in her life every few years. What do I tell her? Please help.

  47. AnonForNow October 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Kat–
    I’m so sorry that your experience, and your friend’s experience, has been so discouraging. Christ is eager to forgive virtually any sin we commit, as long as we’re trying to follow his example. When the leading Jews of his day brought him a woman “taken in adultery,” and encouraged him to condemn her, instead his was kind, sensitive, and encouraging to her. (John 7:53-8:11)

    As Christians, we all need to do a better job following this example. (Most bishops are generally really good at helping people understand that Jesus is their biggest fan, and that he loves us enough to DIE for us. And if he was wiling to die for us, of course he will forgive us as well. Unfortunately, there are a few bishops that come across as judgmental or harsh. That’s NOT the was Jesus is.)

    As this post alludes to, extra-marital or pre-marital sexual encounters are not uncommon at all in today’s world. The rest of us have other serious weaknesses we wrestle with.

    The Celestial Kingdom is absolutely within the reach of you, your friend, and anyone else who struggles. We need to get past the negative self talk, the judgmental attitudes, and see ourselves as God sees us. http://mormonchannel.org/video?v=910947676001

    A child learning to walk doesn’t beat himself up every time he falls down. He just accepts it as part of the learning process.

    When I was a young adult, I’d done some things I wasn’t proud of, and was unsure if I needed to talk to my bishop about them. Gathering enough courage to talk to the bishop was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever done–and the hardest part of the repentance process. And you and your friend have already done that!

    Discouragement, depression and despair come from the devil. Asked how many times he’ll forgive, Jesus answered “seventy times seven” (Matt 18:22). He says he’ll “remember our sins no more.”

    “Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

  48. Kat June 21, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    AnonForNow, Thank you so much for your beautiful response! I appreciate the answer you gave to me on this troubling subject. I wanted to give you an update on my friend. As it turned out, she was not pregnant. She moved to a new ward and Stake, where she had a new Bishop who was much more understanding. She completed her repentance process and went to temple preparation classes and now she has been going to the temple and doing baptisms for the dead. This is the first time she has ever been able to go to the temple and she feels renewed and has new purpose in life. I thought you would like to know.

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