Giant Male Virgin #4: The Patient Pastor

Boilerplate reminder: there has been a good bit of chatter about this series going on, through email, facebook, etc. The overwhelming majority of the responses have been positive. However, agree or disagree with me or the guest posters, I do want to repeat a point I made in the original post for this series. We're talking about what these Christians believe is best. How many Christians actually manage to do what is best? By the very nature of the way I've asked the questions, these men have succeeded (to one degree or another) where others have failed. Not one of them will not confess that this is by God's grace alone. Nobody's is saying anybody here is better than anybody else. They are saying that obeying God is better than disobeying, and they're sorting that out. But without any of the wishy-washiness that masquerades as piety these days. So please don't be offended.

This post is part of a week-long series of first-person guest posts on male virginity amongst Christians. This post is by a pastor known simply as "one pastor I interviewed". One of the most interesting parts of his story is how long he waited before getting married. All the other men posting this week married in their early twenties, including me. Not this stalwart.

Q:You were a virgin until you married. How old were you at that time?

I was in my mid-thirties when I got married.

Q: If a [Christian] man is not a virgin when he marries, how big a deal is that?

It's a very big deal.

If the man's sexual experiences include someone other than his wife, that means he has a lot of other women -- and a lot of other experiences -- he can compare his wife to. It's entirely possible that in some way his wife will not measure up to one or more of these other women.

If he's had sex with a bunch of women, chances are, too, that he's "learned" some "lessons" about sex -- and they may be entirely the wrong ones.

A Casanova doesn't have to be a great lover. He isn't interested in sticking around after the sexual act. He's interested in his own pleasure and then he moves on. That is to say, so long as he has his orgasm, he doesn't care about the woman -- though chances are that in the hope he will stick around, she might even pretend that he was a great lover. So widespread promiscuity is horrible training for marriage.

But even if the man has had sex with only one woman, the one he eventually married, it still means that his sexual life was divided into two phases, illicit and licit -- and the illicit phase had certain thrills that came from the very fact that the act was sinful at the time. Once married, however, not only is there all the guilt of the past relationship to carry into the marriage, but there's also a training of sorts that gets carried over -- good sex, exciting sex, is illicit sex. But when you're married, your sexual relations are lawful and therefore they lose the excitement, the adreniline rush, the "will she or won't she" that characterized premarital sexual experience. And the only way to get that back is to have an affair.

Now having said all of that (and I could say more about guilt and how it affects men long after the sin), I should also add that God is very gracious, that a man who has fallen can be restored, and that if a woman finds a godly man who did fall prior to marriage but who is now walking in repentance, that previous sin shouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker. What he's doing with the sin is more important than the sin itself.

Q: I've noticed that people have a hard time believing a young man could stay a virgin by choice. That is, that sex is impossible to resist for any length of time. I'm sure that it was difficult, but how difficult was it, really? What kind of struggle was it?

Sex is certainly possible to resist. The difficulty, though, is not just resisting having sex. You can set up boundaries, refuse to be alone with a woman or guard the circumstances in which you'd ever be alone with her, etc. You might just not be around anyone whom you find attractive. There are a number of factors.

But what's harder, I think, is dealing with other sexual temptations (lust, sexual fantasies, pornography). A guy can be committed to not having sex with a woman and may not have a girlfriend or whatever, but at the same time be bombarded with other sexual temptations which he finds very difficult to resist -- all of which could also make it very difficult to resist if, say, a sexy woman came on to the guy. That is, the sexual fantasies are training in infidelity.

Q: You must be some kind of wuss. So must other "wait 'til we're married" guys. What do you say to that?

Nope. A lot of guys say they want to go all the way with a girl, but they really want to go only about six to eight inches. If they wanted to go all the way, they'd woo her and wed her and have babies with her and provide for her and get up in the night to take care of her and those babies and eventually, if they don't die first, bury her.

And it takes more of a man to do that than to simply have sex with a woman.

Q: How would you compare the dynamic of being a virgin until 35 to that of a man who marries in his mid-twenties?

I'm not sure I can answer that well, given that I have experience of the former but not of the latter. But I would think that a guy who marries earlier would have less of a struggle in some ways. But it's hard for me to put into words....

In general, though, Don Miller is correct in his Blue Like Jazz (which I found to be a mixed bag: some good stuff, some bad stuff, and some squishy stuff down at the bottom).

He has some excellent chapters on being single, and he points out how when you're single for a long time, your personal bubble expands to fill your whole house, even your whole existence. His mind, he says, was like a radio station stuck on one channel: "K-Don: All Don, all the time."

The longer a guy is single -- unless he's deliberately squelching his self-centeredness -- the more and more selfish he'll become.

Sex is pleasurable, but it's also (in a sense) work. It is supposed to involve putting someone else ahead of your self. But if you've been training yourself in selfishness over the course of years and years and in every sphere of your life, then you're likely to be selfish here, too.