I'm not sure what's meant by "freely choosing." I had opportunities for sex before I got married, and chose not to. My choice was based in my moral understanding, which was formed by my upbringing and my friends and family. But I didn't fear violence or financial repercussions from them if I fornicated.

Now that I'm married, I'm ambivalent about my choice. The consequences were not entirely positive physically, emotionally, or relationally. Nor are my moral principles so strong that having stood in them provides sufficient comfort for my present difficulties. I won't say that I regret my choice not to fornicate, but I won't say it was worth it, either.

What I would say to someone who is trying to choose, is that choosing not to fornicate before marriage may have 0 physical, emotional, or relational benefits in marriage. The self-respect of standing in your moral principles may be enough to make it worth it, but expect only that "reward."

Likewise, I've given material gifts and regretted it. I've spend a lot of money or time on the gift, and it hasn't been used and/or appreciated. I didn't expect a tangible return, but did expect certain good feelings. (FWIW, I absolutely do not consider my virginity a gift to my husband.)

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Comment by Penelope on September 23, 2013 at 1:52pm

Also, I hope that I am more pure today than I was when I married - more loving, more kind, more honest, less selfish, less lustful, less lazy. I may have swung too far in the other direction in terms of how far my personal moral outlook de-emphasizes sexual issues, but it is a gross error to equate an intact maidenhead with moral purity; and it is also an error to equate an intact maidenhead with physical cleanliness (in extreme cases, it can be just the opposite).

Comment by Penelope on September 23, 2013 at 1:42pm

I almost didn't approve Ben G.'s comment, because I agree with Vytautas. However, I think it's OK to have enjoyable experiences and be sad when others say they can't share them. If Ben loved the taste of durian fruit, and I refused to try it, him being sad would be a normal reaction. If his sadness were a moral judgment, that would be a problem.

Comment by Penelope on September 23, 2013 at 1:34pm

Ben G: Your practical standpoint is built on sand for most people on AoM. AIDS has become, in practice, a disease of the poor. STIs are treatable and often not preventable through abstinence. By the time I had opportunities for sex before I got married, I wasn't 16. My medical history indicated I was at reduced risk of pregnancy even without active steps to avoid it, and those steps were of course available. Waiting has its own practicalities to recommend against it.

Comment by Vytautas on September 23, 2013 at 1:25pm

"Not viewing your purity as a gift to your husband is sad."

Well, it's not for you to judge. If that's how someone genuinely feels, it is, from my vantage point, pretty offensive to offer your judgment on it. Not everyone is the same and the decision to have or not have sex in a relationship is no one's but the couple's. I find this blog entry very genuine, very real. It's not the stereotypical "I waited and it was great for my relationship" story. Neither is it the other end of the spectrum: "I was profligate and it was great." The world isn't black and white, it isn't made of stereotypes, and people don't fit into neat categories.

Comment by Penelope on September 23, 2013 at 1:21pm

Nate: I struggle with "satisfied." On one level, we should never be satisfied; we should always be striving to be better. On the other hand, contentment is a virtue. But then again, I don't think the sick or hurting should be "satisfied with their lives at present." And choices in these areas can lead to sickness and hurt.

Comment by Ben G. on September 23, 2013 at 12:47pm

My wife was my first, and I was her first, and it was after our wedding. Not viewing your purity as a gift to your husband is sad. I know that for me it was very special knowing that we had saved ourselves for each other exclusively. I can't tell you how many times in our marriage that we've said we are so glad that we waited. I would recommend that for any and every non-married person. Not just from a moral standpoint, but a practical one as well. Does a 16 year old young man have what it takes to provide for and take care of a child with his 15-16 year old girlfriend? Do you really want to have to pay child support as a result of that one night stand? No matter how good if feels, it's not going to feel good if you get AIDS or some other STD.

Comment by Nate Thallas on September 23, 2013 at 12:01pm

Perhaps it's a product of my profession that i think this way, but my philosophy on any major choice is "If i should die today, will i regret not having done this?" Usually that's enough to say "Eh, what the hell." That being said, It is a personal choice, and one not to be taken lightly (I do not regret having had pre-marital sex, nor do i regret that my fiance and I were not each other's "firsts". I do, however, regret the sheer numbers i can claim, in retrospective examination of the emptiness of sex a la boheme.) I suppose the question that must be asked is not so much whether you regret the decisions of the past as it is are you satisfied with your life at present. As the saying goes, "There is not future in spending our present worrying about the past." Best wishes for you and yours Rebekah.

Comment by Penelope on September 23, 2013 at 11:30am

We feel differently. This was in response to the question, "Does anyone ever regret waiting?" or maybe it was an assertion that no one ever regrets waiting. Regardless, my feeling is there are those who regret waiting. I think I've read personal accounts concluding as much. And I may become one of those who regrets waiting.

Comment by C.C. Dolph on September 21, 2013 at 1:08am

I can only offer you my perspective based on my experience. I know I can't reason from my experience to yours or your husband's. So I won't offer any advice. But I feel that I have something worth mentioning anyway.

Though my wife and I did not wait, I was her first. I, for one, do consider it a gift because I love her so much and as an imperfect person I have jealousies. She is also a little jealous. I, however, am consoled by the fact that I am her only one, whereas she has to accept that I have a history. It causes her pain to know that I have been with others, and it causes me pain to know that it hurts her. I feel regret. No one prior was really worth it. I was no one to them then; and I am no one to them now. But to my wife, I am someone very important because I have her heart.  It may seem irrational that she should feel jealous and hurt about my history, given that she and I haven't always known each other, and my past relationships were before I had met her. But I understand that she should feel this way. I am hers, and, as we both feel it in our hearts, I always will be--I always was. It doesn't have to be rational; we just feel it. So in retrospect, if I only knew what it was worth then, I would have waited too. I wish had that gift to give her too.  

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