Virginity Pledges for Men Can Lead to Sexual Confusion — Even After the Wedding Day is a paper sociology doctoral candidate Sarah Diefendorf presented August 17, 2014 to the American Sociological Association.
She interviewed 15 young evangelical Christian men after they made a pledge to keep their virginity and documented their struggles to keep their vow. Several years later, she reconnected with them after 14 of them married. Instead of embracing the gift of sex, the men continued to have sexual issues.
Diefendorf argued, "These men have gotten so used to thinking about sex as something negative that they bring those concerns with them to the marriage bed."
People make virginity pledges for a variety of reasons, not all of them religious. For example, they may simply think abstinence is the easiest and best way to avoid STDs. An unwanted pregnancy may have changed a friend's or relative's life in a negative way. They may be so soured on marriage because of their parent's that they've sworn off marriage and kids until a special someone changed their mind.
At any rate, if you've focused on the so-called evil of sex to keep yourself celibate until marriage, it can wreak havoc in your new intimate relationship like it did for the young evangelicals. Regardless of the source of uncomfortableness, here's 6 steps to feeling sexually comfortable after your virginity pledge ends.
Step 1: Examine the love in your home of origin.
I often pass out a certificate in my classes saying, "I guarantee if you fail to examine both of your homes of origin before marriage, you'll scrutinize your in-laws' relationship when problems arise. Only then, it will probably lead to bitterness."
How do I know this? Nearly every time a man or woman consults me about a marriage problem, they begin with, "When he/she was little, his/her mother did…. And his/her father was…." The resentment toward the in-laws is extreme.
But I'd like to ask these men and their wives: How did your parents solve problems? Did they scream at each other or sit down and talk? Did you see your parents hug and kiss? Did they tell you they loved you? Did they ridicule you and put you down? Did they scream at you? Did you want to leave home as soon as possible?
Most telling of all, I'd like to ask: Where you forbidden to talk about what went on in your home? Do you hug and kiss your parents and tell them you love them? Or have you moved across the country to get away from your parents?
If your answers show you grew up in a defective home, expect problems. So Step 1 is to be honest with yourself and your mate. Talk about how love was expressed in your home. Then work together to create a better marriage than your parents had.
Step 2: Talk about sex before and after marriage.
Diefendorf said, "There's little support [from the church] in figuring out sexuality in married life, and these men don't know how to talk to their wives about it." She quoted one of the young men saying, "For me to come home from work and say, 'Hey, did you like last time?' I mean that would be, that would be such a weird question for me to ask."
I don't support the common religious practice of preaching hell, fire, and damnation to scare people away from premarital sex. Instead, in my Song of Solomon classes for ages 11 to 99, I talk about the positive aspects of lovemaking to create a desire to enjoy a wonderful sex life in marriage. Diefendorf's paper highlighting all the hang ups these young religious men took to their marriage beds adds credence to my view.
Besides that, I emphasize in my classes how the young maiden in the Song of Solomon gave her mother credit for teaching her that sex is for women as well as men. Her mother taught her how to satisfy her husband when she got married. Instead of listening to a lot of harangues about sex and men, she grew up looking forward to marriage…and sex.
Because of her healthy view of lovemaking, the young maiden and her boyfriend talked about what they wanted in marriage. They promised to be passionate lovers for each other. The maiden even told her fiancé that she planned to initiate sex after marriage. She could hardly wait for him to fondle her breasts! At the same time, her boyfriend told her that he respected her virginity and pledged to help her keep it.
The thought of a young couple speaking so frankly about sex before marriage strikes horror in the hearts of many religious people. Their way may encourage virginity pledges, but it gets in the way of couples enjoying married sex.
If you didn't learn how to talk about sex in courtship, then more than likely, you’re going to have problems talking about it marriage when someone is unhappy. Then it can result in anger and tears. To help turn the sex talks into a mutual benefit for you and your spouse, move forward to Step 3:
Step 3: Turn the discussion of sex into exciting homework.
"Once married, Diefendorf found these men encountered trouble. Instructed by the church to keep problems 'in the dark' after marriage. The men reported feeling like they couldn't discuss sex with their friends and that they didn't know how to comfortably broach the subject with their wives."
Obviously, this is a spiritual problem for these young men and they won't be satisfied with anything less than a Biblical answer. Fortunately, there is an answer in the Song of Solomon which, over the last 10 years, has become increasing popular among both Christians and self-declared heathens.
The theme of the Song of Solomon is all about establishing an emotional bond in courtship before entering into a sexual relationship. That should be the purpose of a virginity pledge before marriage — to give the couple time to build an uncomplicated emotional bond before they start having sex after marriage.
I've been teaching the Song of Solomon for over 40 years and am continually amazed at all the sexual teaching that has always been there, but has only recently come to light. For example, only in the last 35 years or so have scientists discovered that the brain is the most important sexual organ.
Yet the Song of Solomon has patiently taught this principle for over 3000 years. I teach in my books and classes, "If you develop the right attitudes, your body will take care of itself to give you glorious orgasms, whether you're a man or a woman." If you want to know more about the literal interpretation I take and get a synopsis of the story line of the Song of Solomon, you can read my Overview.
If you find the sex-talk hard, a good place to start is by studying the Song of Solomon together. This takes the discussion out of the "you always" and "you never" realm and turns it into an intellectual adventure with the possibility for some exciting homework in the bedroom.
Step 4: Overcome the 'beastly by romancing like the animals'.
The evangelicals continually lamented over the "beastly" when sex "occurs outside of marriage." In fact, "the newly wedded men also expressed surprise that sexual temptations continued to taunt them." Their language is a holdover from Victorian morals. The Victorians viewed a man's sexual desires as animalistic. They also taught that a man was ready for the grave at 45. Now couples can be sexually active in their 80s and older.
The "beastly" aspect of sex was spread far and wide during the Victorian era by medical doctors. They propagated this teaching because they had no understanding of the emotional aspects of sex or the role of the brain. Scientists only recently discovered the beneficial hormones of love that flood the brain during sex through studies involving MRI and SPECT brain images.
Once when I was at my brother’s Texas longhorn ranch, I observed his bull snuggling with one of the cows and licking her face. I asked my brother what was happening as I always observed the bull bullying the females at the feed trough. My brother said, "He has romance on his mind. After he's wooed her, they'll disappear into the trees."
After licking the cow's face for a while, the bull would try to mount her. She would have none of it, and he would go back to licking. After several days of this, the bull and the cow disappeared. Later that evening I saw them in the pasture again. This time the female licked the bull's long nose. He closed his eyes in pure rapture. These animals took the time to bond both emotionally and physically.
So, get rid of the beastly by taking time to romance your mate and strengthen your emotional bond. Spend time together talking and listening to each other. I bet when you put down your handheld device and quit checking your emails or texting your friends and look into each other's eyes — and really listenm— that your body will reward you. Why don't you try it and see what happens?
Step 5: Wake up to your (wet) dreams.
Diefendorf reported, "The newlyweds also revealed that they continued to think of sex in terms of control, and how the so-called beastly elements of sex — temptations by pornography and extramarital affairs — do not disappear with the transition to married life."
Masturbation, pornography, and cheating can be difficult to overcome, and the young husbands may need professional counseling. Experiencing an orgasm through these activities greatly imprints the brain and changes how the person experiences pleasure. Essentially, the body learns to prefer solo sex over coupling with the mate.
Surprisingly, the solution is to yield to wet dreams. In fact, the Song of Solomon describes two of the Shulammite’s wet dreams. Likewise, the Old Testament doesn't condemn wet dreams, but regulates them with the laws of cleanliness. These laws discouraged teenagers from developing a habit of masturbation and pushed them toward early marriages.
Dr. Archibald Hart explains in his book The Sexual Man: Masculinity Without Guilt, "There was a time when boys relied on nocturnal emissions (also called wet dreams) as their major outlet. Not anymore. . . . Masturbation has taken over what wet dreams used to accomplish." He said older men have more wet dreams than teenage boys, which indicates the shift to masturbation from wet dreams probably stems from the schools promoting masturbation.
A male's wet dreams release the buildup of semen through nocturnal ejaculation. A female's wet dreams discharge a more subtle form of sexual tension through natural movements of her pelvis for a nocturnal vaginal orgasm. Single males and females often wake up to orgasmic peaks of pleasure which do not require masturbation to complete. The body knows its job. I discuss this complex subject of wet dreams in my two books God’s People Make the Best Lovers and The Song of Solomon Love Triangle.
Now that you're married, give your body permission to enjoy waking up to pleasant, but perhaps less intense, wet dreams. This will encourage you to look for lovemaking opportunities. As you stretch and yawn, tell your lover, "I woke up horny this morning, can we shower and go to bed early tonight?" Or smile to yourself and start the morning flirting and touching to create a spontaneous moment of sexual pleasure.
Step 6: Have fun with breast orgasms.
Diefendorf revealed, "There's little support [from the church] in figuring out sexuality in married life, and these men don't know how to talk to their wives about it." The truth of the matter is the wives are just as confused about married sexuality as their husbands.
Here's one of the secrets about female sexuality in the Song of Solomon that defies traditional church wisdom. A casual reading of the book shows the Shulammite refers to her breasts many times in her sensual talks with her boyfriend. She promises the Shepherd, "I'll readily initiate lovemaking. My breasts tingle and ache for you. My nipples stand erect at the thought of your loving touch"
A wife who is comfortable with her sexuality grows into a multi-orgasmic woman with many erogenous zones. But her breasts are especially full of love waiting to respond to her husband’s affection.
Instead of slapping your husband's hand and telling him to quit groping, embrace this gift. And you don't have to save your breast orgasms for bed. Enjoy them any time of the day. Snuggle on the couch and engage in love play while watching a movie. It can be very arousing. Give yourself permission to blend all aspects your femininity and masculinity together in sexual experimentation and delight.
Now it's time for you to draw your own conclusions…. preferably in bed with your spouse.
More sex advice on YourTango:
- Spiritual Sex: 10 Erotic Commandments
- Sex Positions Men Love
- Sex Stories #119: 'The Night I Roofied Myself'