Earlier this month Colton Dixon, who gained fame on American Idol, recently married to his sweetheart, Annie Coggeshall, in Nashville. On the show, Dixon, a Christian, placed seventh but what really got people talking was his interview with People Magazine where he explained that both He and Annie had waited to have sex until after they were married.
In the interview Dixon said, “Anywhere we’ve traveled before we’ve always gotten two hotel rooms. We wanted to remain pure in that area… I believe sex was designed for marriage and knew it would be more meaningful to wait.” Wait. Huh? In fact, many of the comments were either people making fun of them or trying to figure out who does this!
I do quite a bit of pre-marital counseling with young couples and inevitably the conversation goes to sex. It’s actually quite interesting to see their reaction when I tell them some of the recent studies being done are pointing to an increased divorce rate with sex before marriage and co-habitating. Rather than pulling out the Bible, I simply ask, “Why do you think that’s the case?” It doesn’t take much for the both of them in a moment of reasoned thinking to see that the current accepted practice of anything goes doesn’t help commitment in marriage. It actually undercuts commitment.
When we talk about marriage in ways that’s different than seeing it merely as a piece of paper, it starts to sink in that there is something sacred about both marriage and sex. Far from being prude or naive, maybe Christians have a higher view of sex than do others. Maybe it looks like we’re from another planet but actually it’s living in reality. Maybe there’s something about covenant that goes way beyond a piece of paper that socially validates a relationship. In God’s mind, sex is a wonderful gift, full of pleasure and excitement. Yet, it’s so “wild” and powerful that it can only flourish in the right place, at the right time, and with the right person and all of this constrained by covenant.
I always ask couples, “When someone says they are going to wait until marriage to have sex sex, what’s their friends’ response?” Usually, I hear something like, “Good for you!” Yet, what do many of these same people say or think in private? “Bizarre! That’s so strange! Who does that today? What a sexually repressed religious nut!” But then I ask them, “If they were really honest, what do you think they really believe in their heart?” I’ve heard the same answer over and over again from both men and women. Deep in heart of people is the longing, the desire for someone to treat them in that way. “I wish someone would love me like that…”
As followers of Christ, we interact with culture in many good ways! Yet, there are some ways when we will look strange, bizarre, like we are completely out of step with the majority of people. It’s because the gospel flips or inverts the values of the world and stands them on their head. Practicing the virtue of chastity prior to marriage, I think, will be one of the most defining ways that we will look strange to others. Is this hard? Of course. Yet, it’s one of the best ways we can model the self-giving love found in the gospel.