Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Which is a Bigger Deal: Marriage or Sex?

Image source.

The #1 rule of purity culture is you can't have sex outside of marriage. Everyone has to be a virgin on their wedding day.

And why is that? Well, you know, because sex is such a big deal. It changes who you are, permanently. If you have sex with someone, it creates a deep personal connection that lasts FOREVER. If that relationship ends, oh man, that will tear up your heart beyond recognition.

If you get married but you've already had sex with a previous partner, it will haunt you FOREVER. I told you, sex is permanent.

And the logical implication is that if you've already had sex with someone or done other "impure" things, you really should get married to that person. Otherwise, if you break up and you have to find someone else, well you've got a big hole in your heart that can never be fixed. It scars you in a way that nothing can heal. I mean, who would want you anyway? I told you, sex is permanent.

(In reality, most purity-culture adherents would deny the idea that "you NEED to get married because you had sex", but it is logically consistent with everything else in purity culture.)

Also: You can't have sex until you're married. So, naturally, people would date fast and get married fast. Better to marry than to burn, ya know.

Again, believers of purity culture would deny that it's a good idea to get married just so you can have sex, but when sex is such a big freakin' life-changing deal, and marriage is the stamp of approval you need for it, and everyone is full of hormones, well, yeah. As Hannah Ettinger said, it's "your whole future on this decision, made in the worst possible state of mind, horny celibacy."

(I'm definitely not saying that every couple that doesn't have sex til marriage is getting married for the wrong reasons. But you have to admit it's an obvious danger that comes with purity culture.)

In purity land, sex is a bigger deal than marriage.

"I thought you guys were doing it, I didn't know you were in love!" My favorite episode of "Friends" ever.

Let's look at the flip side now: the way marriage and sex are seen in mainstream culture- which is of course criticized by supporters of purity culture. "People these days don't value sex!" and "People these days don't value marriage!"

It seems that nowadays, most young people believe it's normal to have sex with one's boyfriend or girlfriend. Also, more and more people aren't sure they even want to get married.

Is it because they don't value marriage? No, I don't think so. I think it's because they really respect marriage.

If you say "til death do us part," you better mean it. That's a really serious thing. And too many marriages end in divorce- so maybe we'd better wait til we're really really sure. Maybe, since marriage is such a big deal, since it's so permanent, it's not for everyone.

Marriage is a bigger deal than sex.

Nowadays, most young people are okay with having sex before marriage, and that means that sex isn't some huge force pushing them down the aisle. It means they can take their time and make a good decision.

In purity land, if you want to have sex- and most people want to have sex- you're gonna have to get married. That's the only option. It's too easy to see marriage as the answer for your sex drive rather than a good and valuable thing in and of itself. Does this view respect and value marriage? How can it? It pushes everyone into the same box.

Everyone except for Mulan, that is. Image source.

In purity land, you have to wait for sex- wait until you know that you're going to be together forever.

But most young people are waiting for marriage- wait until you know that you're going to be together forever.


  1. I think you've hit on a good point - many people in purity culture seem to assume that sex is of greater consequence than marriage. Sex, and not lying to someone by saying "forever" when you have no idea what that means, is transformed into the primary concern.
    As an aside: I really want that chocolate bar in your top picture. Like, I really, really want it. ;)

  2. THANK YOU. My partner and I have been happily unmarried for 20 years, and we sometimes feel like we "value marriage" more than a lot of married people do. As you say, we take that promise seriously, and that's why we don't make it: because our relationship is not always monogamous, and because we can imagine that we might someday have a good reason to split up, we did not promise to forsake all others forever. If we HAD made that promise, we'd be keeping it at all costs.

  3. Yes. And I'm really glad to hear about stories like yours. Purity culture says everyone who doesn't follow (their interpretation of) "God's plan" is miserable. Yeah, it's not true.

  4. Independent ThinkerOctober 7, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    I am married but totally respect your point of view. Thru my own marriage that has thus far lasted 13 years I have learned the secret to a happy marriage is for the couple to find common ground on what happiness means to them. Constantly having other people define what your relationship should and should not be is a recipe for disaster.