Sexual Integrity

Too Excited

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By Mandy L. Hall, VP of Operations, Phoenix

Recently I saw a TV commercial that stood as a friendly reminder to get tested for STD’s and STI’s.  While I agree with the importance of getting tested, the way the writers went about it was nothing short of heartbreaking.  They chose several people to be the face of this commercial, including all demographics.  One part that stood out to me was a couple lying in bed and they said something along the lines of, “We meant to use a condom, we just got too excited”.  Whoever cleared this commercial is either completely ignorant on what was being spoken about, or they are callused enough to trick the American population, including our youth, that condoms make it safe to have sex with someone and not get a sexually transmitted disease or infection.  Let alone the fact that those infected support our medical community with over 14 BILLION dollars a year (and that was over a decade ago).  Here is an FAQ off the Food and Drug Administration’s website that I found particularly interesting.

“When used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV. They are also effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are transmitted through bodily fluids, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, they provide less protection against STDs spread through skin-to-skin contact like human papillomavirus (genital warts), genital herpes, and syphilis.
Although highly effective when used consistently and correctly, there is still a chance of getting HIV if you only use condoms, so adding other prevention methods can further reduce your risk.”

At what point do we get to in order to think, “Ya know, this person is just worth the risk.”, instead of, “I’m worth the wait!”?  Now, I’ve known people that have gotten married, knowing their future spouse had an incurable STD, and they were willing to take that on because of the lifelong commitment they were agreeing to.  They are a perfectly happy, healthy couple that I adore, but they both suffer the repercussions of one choice, made by only one of them, one night, years before they were married.  Even though they were never able to conceive, they have a beautiful family that only the Lord could have put together so perfectly.  

The problem is, our society as a whole lacks commitment on so many levels.  Vows mean very little these days and a pledge is merely words.  Kids are thrown out with the trash and sold off for parts.  There is a reason why today there are more than 35 STD’s and STI’s and in the 60’s there were only 2 major ones that were seen.  Coincidentally that is when the “Free Love” Movement took place and now our society is paying the ultimate price.  I can only imagine where we might be 10 years from now….. 

The mistake isn’t when you are too excited to use a condom, but when you get too excited, don’t use discretion or self control, and give a permanent piece of who you are away so earnestly or nonchalantly.  A piece that should belong to your future spouse and may, in fact, affect the rest of their lives if you choose unwisely.  News flash: It’s not just about you.  If you want to land a relationship where your counterpart thinks about you, considers how decisions will impact you, and chooses what is best in regards to you, don’t you need to do the same for them?  It’s time to raise your relational expectations.  YOU ARE WORTH THE WAIT!

If you would like to have an honest conversation on what healthy relationships look like and what sexual integrity means for you, we would love to meet you right where you are at in life and walk the journey with you.

NOTE: This article is not intended for those who are in abusive relationships, or being forced to participate in sexual acts against their will.  That is a different topic for another time, but to you I say, “GET OUT”!  Please contact us immediately if you need help.

30, Flirty, and Abstinent

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Written by Mandy Hall, VP of Operations, Phoenix

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to meet up with my beautiful friend Rachel to talk about her decision to remain abstinent until marriage.  When I say beautiful, I mean a bombshell that has been engaged twice (we’re talking karats!) in the past 5 years, had serious relationships in between and who has been pursued harder than a buck in hunting season during the course of her adult life. She has found compatibility with church-goers, volleyball players and match.com-ers. It hasn’t been easy, but through it all, she’s managed to hold out for her future husband.

M: Rachel, how old are you?
R: 35½    

M: And you are still a virgin?
R: Yes.

M: That is seriously amazing!  What is your driving force behind that decision?
R: Honestly, it’s obedience.  I know that is what the Lord wants for me and what He asks us to do.  It would be much easier to just give in.

M: Being in your mid-30’s, do people think you’re crazy when they find out you’re still a virgin
R: Oh yeah.  They usually don’t believe me.

M: And you have been engaged twice before?
R: Yes, in the past 5 years.

M: Why did you break it off?
R: I knew deep down they weren’t the one for me, but I just went with it and ended up prolonging the inevitable.  

M: Do you regret calling it off with either of them?
R: No.  It would not have been a good marriage if I went through with it.  They were good guys, just not right for me and I wasn’t right for them.

M: How did you address the “no sex before marriage” with both your fiance's?
R: Right when I start dating someone, I let them know upfront that sex is not something I will compromise on and they need to decide if they are okay with that.  As for my fiancés, luckily both of them were big on convictions and never even remotely pressured me to give in. They both set physical boundaries that they knew they needed to prevent themselves from going too far.

M: What is usually the response?
R: Some guys bail right away, others say they were fine with that, but then tried to convince me to give in.  Some guys tried to stick around, but said they couldn’t do it anymore without sex. Even Christian guys tried to convince me that we should be able to at least do “other” things and that it wasn’t really sex.  Some even withheld emotional support or physical interaction that I need in a relationship (I love to cuddle) because I wasn’t giving them what they wanted and needed.

M: How did you handle that?
R: It made me angry that they felt like it justified selfish behavior, when what they were asking me to do goes against my morals, belief system and self worth.  

M: Have you ever felt like giving in?  
R: Yes and no.  Part of me just wants to say forget it, it would be so much easier to just get it over with, but a bigger part of me knows that there is a good reason behind remaining abstinent and I just have to trust that God knows better than I do and He tells us to wait until marriage for our own benefit.

M: What reasons do you think that is?
R: Protection from emotional, physical and spiritual pain.  Regret and disease. Giving it all up for nothing in return.  No commitment.

M: Do you have any tips for anyone struggling with remaining abstinent?  
R: Don’t settle.  Stay faithful to your values, because it will pay off.  Go with your gut when you feel it isn’t the right person.  

M: What boundaries do you put in place and how do you enforce those boundaries in order to not go too far?
R: I know who I am and I know how intense I can get with kissing and cuddling before it starts to go the wrong direction.  I tell my boyfriend to do the same. If he can’t handle much before wanting it all, we do minimal amounts of kissing. I have to respect his boundaries and not cause him to stumble.

How do we get to a place where abstinence is the new “normal”?  It’s by education and teaching that self control is a choice. How are those who never discuss the topic of sex, with adults who care about their well being, really to know what to expect and what it’s supposed to be about?  Did you know that Living Hope Centers has a youth outreach program that goes into our schools? Our STARS program has been impacting local youth in the White Mountains for almost 3 years now. It is our goal to train up our youth in life/occupational skills and self worth.  If we can help guide them to paths of unhindered, successful decision making for their future, they can impact their peers to do the same and bless their future spouses by telling them, “You were worth the wait.”