Wait for Marriage
Slice of cake

I was raised in a Christian home/school/church/college environment that emphasized purity culture and female dress codes, abstinence, and thus, judgement and shame. This was paired with a lot of silence around sex and there was no discussion of issues such as pleasure, consent, alternatives to monogamy or heterosexuality, etc. Many couples attending my Christian college in the Midwest married very young, including me. The campus security was known to drive around local motel parking lots and attempt to “catch” unmarried couples engaging in sexual behavior, which was grounds for expulsion. While my future husband and I were afraid enough of judgement from God, our parents, and the school administration to creep up to the line of penetrative sex, but not cross it, before marrying, the freedom to then have sex was undeniably a factor in our marrying at a much-too-young 20, partway through college.

Spoiler: the marriage lasted about five years, until it was clear that we were forming into two very different people with differing ideologies.

Neither of us were perfect, but I remember thinking about a year into marriage that if we hadn’t made that commitment already, I would have ended the relationship, as our still-developing adult values were obviously not a lasting fit. While our parents had cautioned whether we were too young to get married, the unrealistic, abstinence-focused framework we both grew up with simply did not allow for any other expression of sexuality, which played a major role in this decision.