I don’t normally watch much TV. I’d rather spend my time watching movies or playing on the computer. But last week I was flipping through the channels, and I caught a short scene from “Hope and Faith,” a comedy on ABC. In this episode, Faith (played by Kelly Ripa) is asked by her niece, Sydney (played by Megan Fox) why she should remain a virgin. The predictable laugh-line came as Faith struggled to give her niece a good reason. If Sydney really wanted an honest answer (assuming she wasn’t just a character in a sitcom), she could have asked me. My response wouldn’t have been funny, but I would have been able to offer some real reasons. Here they are, in no particular order.

First Time

There can only be one “first time” for any activity. It is much better for your first sexual experience to be with your spouse than with the boyfriend or girlfriend of the week. Approaching the marriage bed together as virgins means that this first time will be particularly special and meaningful, shared with your loving spouse. Some people advocate sex before marriage to make sure that the couple is “sexually compatible.” But if you and your spouse come together as virgins, there are no past experiences to cloud your expectations. Sexual compatibility is not likely to be an issue for two persons with no previous sexual experience. You can then spend the rest of your lives finding out ways to make each other happy.

Old Memories

If you choose to have sexual experiences outside of marriage, you will forever keep the memories of those relationship(s) with you. Memories may fade over time, but a simple reminder may serve to send you back to reminisce over a past liaison; whether you choose to or not, you will compare your spouse with your other experience(s). And any such comparison is unfair to your spouse. If you change relationships the way you change your shoes, the idea of commitment may be foreign to you, but a lasting marriage requires a serious commitment from both spouses. Can you be completely committed to your spouse if you have memories of past relationship(s) intruding between you and your spouse? If you are constantly reminded of others, then it will be you, your spouse, and your memories, like a third individual in the marriage. This can be harmful to a lasting relationship if you cannot cast off the past relationships.

Further, even if you consider yourself capable of completely forgetting your past experiences — even if you are so happy with your spouse that you never even give them a passing thought — what about your spouse? Don’t you think he or she will always wonder whether you are comparing him or her to the other person(s) with whom you have shared past intimacy? No one within a marriage should have to wonder whether or how he or she measures up to the competition.

Trust

If you and your spouse come to the marriage as virgins, and you remain faithful to each other thereafter, there will be trust in your marriage. If your spouse is off on some business trip with co-workers, you can trust that nothing will happen if the two of you have no sexual experiences outside of your marriage. On the other hand, if your spouse has had a multitude of sexual partners before you two got married, won’t it be harder for you to trust that nothing will happen when your spouse is away? Do you suppose you might always have a niggling feeling of doubt about what may be happening, knowing that one-night stands have been part of your spouse’s past? You may be the one with a multiplicity of sexual escapades, and you may be completely faithful to your spouse while you are off on some business trip. But won’t it be harder for your spouse to trust you, knowing your past history? Trust is a cornerstone of our modern society, and critical in a lasting relationship.

Health

Now it’s time to touch on the subject of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. If you think that pregnancy isn’t a health topic, you obviously have never been pregnant. When comparing all the various methods of birth control, there is only one method that has proved 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and the spread of STDs — abstinence. Society may want you to believe that sex with a condom is “safe sex,” but the failure rate for condoms is 11%. Failure, in this case, is determined by the number of pregnancies that result. Are you comfortable with a 1 in 10 chance of getting pregnant? That’s pretty high odds for “safe sex.” And it is far easier to pass or catch an STD than it is to get pregnant. The dirty little secret that you won’t often hear is that condoms are not effective against many STDs. You have a much higher chance of contracting HIV than getting pregnant, and with some STDs such as HPV, chlamydia, chancroid, trichomoniasis, syphilis and genital herpes, condoms provide no protection at all. Still want to take the risk of this not-so-safe “safe sex?”

The best environment for a child to grow up in is a stable, loving marriage with a father and mother who are caring and attentive. If you are having sex before marriage, the likelihood of any resulting children growing up in this optimal situation plummets dramatically. Sadly, when a unmarried teen girl is pregnant, the chance that child will grow up in poverty is 42%. If the mother never graduates from high school or gets a GED, that chance rises to 64%. If the mother is married, older, and a high school graduate, the chance of the child growing up in poverty is 7%. Waiting until getting married to have sex is not only good for you and your spouse, it is also good for any children who come along.

There is also another kind of poverty that many children of single parents face, and it is spiritual poverty. Children don’t stay babies forever, and as they grow up in single-parent households — particularly if they are products of teen pregnancies — they will eventually recognize and internalize that their parents did not want them to be born. Teenage parents are particularly susceptible to resenting their children, subconsciously blaming them for the reduced opportunities and the lost teen years that come with being a single parent. Many of these children grow up with physical and spiritual neglect, perhaps loved, but rarely nurtured by parents who don’t know how to be parents and who don’t want to learn.

So far I have answered this question four ways, without once bringing up religion. Faith could have used any one of these reasons on Sydney, but they wouldn’t have been funny, and not being funny spells death to a sitcom. But since real life is not a sitcom, and as I am a religious man, I will give you a final reason — God doesn’t want you to screw around. God has asked each of us to be completely celibate before marriage, and completely faithful afterwards. If we could only do what God has asked, the spread of STDs and the poverty of single parents would be a thing of the past.

So if you are ever asked the same question Faith was asked, you now have five ways of answering.

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