The following is an email exchange between a young woman I've never met, who did NOT hear a Positively Waiting message, but felt the need to express her frustration at "abstinence educators."
Although I did not meet this young woman, I have had this conversation or read articles by adult women who said something similar -- that they wish they had never had "abstinence education."
The point of the activity was to show us that the more sexual partners we had the less 'sticky' our love would be. Like I said, I was in eleventh grade, I was at that age where I absorbed information then went on with my day. I didn't dwell, I simply accepted the idea of 'I'm worth waiting for.'
I'm now in college, sex is all around me, and though I am not personally participating in it, I can't deny that it's a major part of my life now.
This is where the conflicted feelings come in. Recently I've begun to think about that eleventh grade presentation and the 'I'm worth waiting for' slogan. I'm twenty years old, I'm still a virgin, but most of my friends are not. I'd like to believe that this doesn't matter. I'd like to think that the fact that my friends who have had multiple partners are just...my friends. I don't want to look at my best friend and think that he's somehow less worthy because he's had sex with six people and hopes to get a few more in before he settles down. But that's what you've told me to do. You taught me that sex is directly linked to self-worth, that's what you're saying with 'I'm worth waiting for'. You've told me that the people I love are soiled and corrupted because they engaged in a consensual physical activity.
I'm not trying to attack you, I'm really not. I'm just honestly conflicted. This idea was put into my head when I was sixteen. I was sheltered, naive, and the world was a really scary place. I was, in short, young and impressionable. Years later I was chucked into the real world. One full of student loans, politics, apartment rental, and adult sexual relationships, and I'm hung up on this idea that denying myself a basic human desire is the only way I can feel good about myself. It doesn't feel good though. It feels lonely. I just want to feel the warmth and weight of another body against mine without being told that it's wrong.
I'm not attacking you, I just want to know why you did this to me. Why you did this to countless other teenagers that weren't yet sure of their stances and opinions. Why you come into a place they trust and tell them that their natural desires are a shameful thing.
Why did you have to tell me that I'm worthless if I don't wait?
I'm very honored to be the one you reached out to discuss these conflicted feelings with, and I'm glad you decided to ask the hard questions, instead of just rejecting the message.
I'm not a twenty-something. My reasoning doesn't come from what I "hope" will happen -- it comes from the life I've lived. I was sexually active as a young adult, then sexually self-controlled for 10+ years and then married a man I did not have sex with until our wedding day. While I know better than most about the benefits of sexual self-control before marriage, I fully understand that loneliness of not being sexually active and the way it changes how you see people.
First, I want to address how you see yourself: the truth is you are no really more "valuable" than anyone else because you are a virgin -- you are valuable because you are YOU. There is no one else like you --never has been never will be. You are completely irreplaceable as a person. Your gifts, talent and abilities are unique in all creation. That's what makes you worth waiting for, worth fighting for. Not your virginity. If you lost your virginity YOUR VALUE WOULDN'T CHANGE.
That's the point of being "worth waiting for." The person who has the privilege of getting to know you in an intimate way should not see you as just "parts," but someone whose body soul and spirit deserves protection and respect. The truth is in our culture (and more so in the art world) sex has become separated (in practice, anyway) from the spiritual and emotional aspects and devolved into just a "sport."
Second, seeing others as "worthless" or "soiled" because they are engaging in sex with multiple partners, devalues THEM on the same basis. They are not worth LESS because they are not virgins. Their value as a human is the same and doesn't change because of what they do. No one's value is dependent on what they have, what they do or how they look. Each person has value for who they ARE.
Your conflict isn't really Virgin=Valuable, Non-Virgin=Less Valuable. Its about a standard of behavior. It's about handling the conflicts around you according to your personal standards. I'll give you an example: you see people lie and cheat. Do you consider them "worthless and soiled" because of it? Or do you reject that behavior as a conflict with your personal standards? Just because they do it, doesn't make it right for you. If you don't lie and cheat just to get ahead, but you just try to do your best, then you ARE rejecting that behavior. Not the person, just the behavior.
It is the same with sex. Casual (even consensual) sex is a form of using someone to meet your needs. Neither partner intends to meet the other person's emotional, spiritual and physical needs. Even if they both agree "I use you, you use me" -- it's still using someone.
For me, there came a time when I didn't want to be used and I wanted to have more than a physical relationship -- that meant I had to stop using other people. It was very very hard to break those habits: not just the physical ones but the mental ones. I wanted the feel of warm bodies like you, but I also was in the habit of giving myself permission to use people if it suited me.
The faces and bodies of every single person I had sex with are still with me... as are the permanent physical consequences that are inevitable with multiple partners. That means when I am intimate with the Love of My Life, even years separating me from my former lovers, their faces still show up uninvited. My husband and I both have to "manage" those realities -- we do better than most people, but it's not something I would choose if I had to do it over.
The FACTS are the facts -- virgins who marry virgins have the lowest divorce rates and self-report the best and most uninhibited sex lives. People who have multiple partners are more likely to cheat because they have no practice at resisting temptation and have higher divorce rates because they don't know the value of self-sacrifice.
Your single years are supposed to be training for the lifetime relationship to come. What kind of wife do you want to be? Forget what everyone else is doing, decide for yourself. Do you want to be fully committed and bonded? Do you want to be faithful when you are tempted? Do you want to be truthful? Do you want to be unselfish? All of that takes years of practice!
If that IS what you want, then keep your tape's "stickum" as free of other bonds so it can really stick when the time comes. Control your passion and don't let it control you, so you'll know how to face temptation and win. Be conscientious about what you do and you won't have to lie. Don't use people now, if you want to have an unselfish relationship later.
Sexual activity is a BEHAVIOR. It's a glorious total person experience in the context of two people committed to be faithful to each other for a lifetime. "Pretending" its just like tennis doesn't change the fact that it has spiritual and emotional components. I hope you will stop seeing your non-virgin friends as soiled and worthless, and choose to see them as people whose behavior you reject because of your personal standards.
When I was the only non-sexually-active person in the crowd, I remember I had to keep asking myself, "Will that behavior get me what I want or take me where I want to go?" I knew I wanted a deep fulfilling relationship with someone willing to die for me. And it was obvious he wouldn't be willing to die for me if he wasn't even willing to wait for me.
I challenge you to do this... talk to your sexually active friends about what they WANT in a relationship. Then find out if that's what they HAVE. My guess is, your generation is doing the same thing my generation did and getting the same results. My generation is the one who came up with the "Free Love" concept -- and now we know its the reason for high divorce, epidemic STDs and non-marital pregnancy rates, poor bonding between partners and children, and the breakdown of society.
I hope this helps. You seem genuinely conflicted and without support -- I remember exactly how that felt! Please don't abandon your standards of behavior just to feel the warmth of another body against yours... the only one you cheat is yourself.
All the best,