I am a man in my early 20s, and I am engaged to a wonderful, godly woman. We are both virgins, and we have tried to carry out our relationship according to your biblical dating principles. We have not even kissed.
We are very attracted to each other, but I am very nervous about sex. I’m worried that we might have issues because of inexperience, and I don’t want my worry to cause the issues. I know my fiancée is nervous, too. What should we do if things don’t go well at the beginning?
This is a really important topic — and I know it’s a somewhat difficult question for you to ask — so thanks for writing. Let me offer a few thoughts that I hope will be encouraging and helpful for you and your fiancée.
First, you’re not alone. The topic of one’s own inexperience, nervousness and questions about sex is a really uncomfortable topic for most people, so a lot of people just don’t talk about it. Because of that, it’s easy for people in your position to feel like they are the only ones who have these questions and worries, but I assure you, you’re not.
Just about every single person headed into marriage has some worry or nervousness or question about sex. Those questions and worries are in no way limited to people who are sexually inexperienced. Where one or both people have had sex before marriage or have otherwise sinned sexually, the questions and worries are likely different ones from yours (and frankly, more difficult to deal with for the people involved), but they still exist. I mention all this simply to say that questions and even worries about sex headed into marriage are extremely common, if not universal, and you and your fiancée should not be embarrassed that you have them or feel like you’re the only ones. Keep that in mind as you summon the courage to seek counsel from people you trust on this topic, as I suggest below.
Second, don’t forget that sexual inexperience before marriage is a really good thing that reflects obedience to Scripture and the will of God. First Corinthians 6:18 instructs God’s people to “flee from sexual immorality,” which all sexual activity outside of marriage is. First Timothy 5:2 tells us as men to treat our sisters in Christ with “all purity.” And Song of Solomon admonishes us not to “stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (that is, in marriage).
Our hyper-sexualized culture tells men and women alike that they are hopelessly uncool, repressed failures if they don’t show up as a sexual expert on their wedding night. The opposite is true. To enter your wedding night as sexual novices — and to grow together in that area of your lives and marriage, exclusively with one another — is exactly what God intended when He gave us the gift of sexual intimacy. I praise God that you and your fiancée are both entering your marriage as virgins. What a wonderful gift that is to be able to give one another.
Third, remember the three most important words in your question — “at the beginning.” Sexual issues that are just a product of inexperience almost always get worked out in short order. Odds are things will begin to “go well” (to use your phrase) very soon, and your learning and growth in intimacy together will strengthen your marriage.
OK, then, a little practical advice. First, don’t put too much pressure on yourselves regarding the wedding night itself. If it happens on the first night, great, but if not, no big deal. A fair number of people find that after planning and participating in a wedding and reception, they are totally exhausted that first night and not quite ready to take on their first sexual experience. Some people also find it helpful to be physically intimate right away but to work up to intercourse over the first few days. All that is fine! The marriage bed is “undefiled” (Hebrews 13), and as long as both of you are comfortable with what’s happening and seeking to love and serve one another unselfishly, there’s no particular “right” or “wrong” way to handle the honeymoon. Closely related to the “no pressure” idea: Keep your sense of humor. It’s sex, not nuclear diplomacy, people.
Second, as awkward as it might be at first, find a married believer you trust (of the same gender) and talk through your worries and questions. As with any other area of life, it can be extremely helpful to get questions answered and just hear from a more experienced brother (or sister) in Christ that you’re not the only one who’s ever had these questions or worries, and that things will be fine. The more open and honest, the better.
Finally, while there are many terrible books about sexual intimacy, there are a few worth checking out. CJ Mahaney’s Sex, Romance and the Glory of God offers a great practical and biblical approach to romance and intimacy in marriage, especially from the perspective of husbands trying to care well for our wives. And while I don’t typically encourage people to spend a ton of time on explicit, technique-oriented materials, Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn is a really good practical resource.
Congratulations on your engagement! I will pray for the Lord to establish and build your marriage for His glory’s sake.
Copyright 2013 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.