Where Do You Stand on Premarital Sex?
Originally Published: July 3, 2013
Revised: March 18, 2016
In my sex ed class during my freshman year of high school, we had to read a textbook that said something like, “There’s nothing wrong with waiting until marriage to have sex. It shows maturity, wisdom and respect for oneself.” I remember thinking that that was such a ridiculous statement, because it implied that those who didn’t wait until marriage were immature, unwise and didn’t respect themselves.
The overwhelming majority of the population—95 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute—does not wait until marriage to have sex. If that’s the case, are most Americans immature because they decided to have sex before marriage?
In reality, it’s totally unfair to judge people by their number of partners or whether they want to wait until marriage to have sex. Deciding when to have sex and who to have it with is a personal choice. And as long as it is consensual, then I believe it is unacceptable to say people are immature or have low self-esteem for choosing to have sex before they’re married.
Not to mention, not all couples can get married! As of now, 37 states do not allow same-sex marriage. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. In the coming years, the tide will hopefully turn, and all Americans will be able to marry who they love, regardless of orientation or which state they live in. But it’s impossible to say when that will finally happen. Until then, it’s impractical for many LGBTQ people to wait until they’re married to have sex, because they aren’t allowed to get married in most states.
It’s totally unfair to judge people by their number of partners or whether they want to wait until marriage to have sex.
Reasons to Wait to Have Sex
While most Americans have premarital sex, there are many reasons why someone might choose to wait, if not until marriage, at least until they’re older.
When asked about waiting until marriage to have sex, Summer, 17, of Huntington Beach, CA, says, “I want to do it with someone who I love and who loves me, someone who I trust.”
Monica, 17, also of San Jose, CA, agrees. “I believe sex is a really important, serious and intimate thing that you should take seriously.”
But love and intimacy aren’t the only reasons why Summer and Monica say they want to wait until marriage. They both also mentioned the possibility of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or becoming pregnant as a reason they’d prefer to wait.
“As far as health reasons go, I’d like to play it safe and lower my chances of catching any STDs,” Summer says. Monica adds, “Even if you use a condom or birth control, there is still a chance that you can get an STD or get pregnant…You have to take into consideration the fact that a byproduct of sex can be children, so you have to be responsible. I personally don’t think I am ready to have a child until I’m married. Although I understand that other people do not have the same beliefs and I’m fine with that.”
These are perfectly good reason to wait, but if you choose not to wait, getting tested for STDs, as well as always using condoms, dental dams or birth control, drastically lowers the risk of an unintended pregnancy or contracting an STD.
Waiting Isn’t Right for Everyone
I don’t see anything wrong with having sex outside of marriage, because sex outside of marriage is sex, and sex within a marriage is sex.
Seventeen-year-old Carly from Sacramento, CA, has a different view. “When it comes to waiting for marriage I personally don’t think it’s right for me. It would be too hard, and I’d feel like the whole reason I’d be getting married would be for the sex aspect. But that’s just me and the way I work.”
I personally do not believe in waiting until marriage. I don’t see anything wrong with having sex outside of marriage, because sex outside of marriage is sex, and sex within a marriage is sex. I wouldn’t want to get married to someone not knowing if this person is sexually compatible with me.
Having premarital sex or not does not make you a good or bad person. The problem is if you try to force your beliefs on those who do not feel the same way you do. Respecting other people’s boundaries is key to having healthy relationships, and the choice to wait or not is entirely up to you. As Carly says, “I respect people who wait, and I respect those who don’t. It’s a personal decision, and I believe it should be up to you and your partner.”
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