As a professional soccer player, I spend a lot of time in locker rooms. And with locker rooms, there are inevitably locker room conversations. While there are times when the locker room is a familiar and comfortable place, I loathe the times when the banter turns to sex and women. That’s not because I’m prudish, but because my views wildly differ from 95 percent of those around me.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to do is maintain sexual purity, but I stay true to that for two reasons. First and foremost, I do it because of the biblical outline God has provided for us. God created sexual guidelines so that we don’t lose our focus on Him (1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). The Bible also says that sex should be something shared between a man and a woman committed to each other through marriage (Hebrews 13:4). I believe those truths, and they direct my sexual journey. But the second reason I maintain sexual purity is because I view sex in a much different way than the world views it.
We are told over and over through movies, television and pop culture that sex is something that can be thrown around as currency. We’re told that sex is a way of proving that you love someone, that you’re committed to him or her, or that you simply think they’re attractive. But I believe it’s the exact opposite. Sex isn’t a way to prove your love to someone; it’s a result of the love and marital commitment you have with someone. Sex is an intimate part of life that we can’t afford to undervalue.
Brave New World
I had this misconception that women would be attracted to a man like me who values trust, commitment and respecting a woman. But with a world full of promiscuity, rape and lust, I quickly realized that not every woman has this perspective. Many men are the same way: We use sex-talk to spur our “manliness” competitions, to drive our locker-room conversations and show our pride amongst other males. If we could only choose to reinvest our pride in things that actually matter: things like honesty, love and open-heartedness.
I don’t want to give into what the world is telling me about sex and relationships. Instead, I pray that I’ll have the strength to forge my own path and stay true to my own beliefs — no matter what the locker room talks are about.
I grew up inside a locker room. And to this day, I basically live inside the locker room. I’m faced with the struggle of sexual purity every day of the week, and it never becomes any easier. It’s always going to be a challenge, but I’ve learned that I can make it less challenging if I focus on two key actions:
1. Be brave. I was always afraid to tell people about my values regarding sex because of how they might think of me or what they might say to me. And when I joined my first pro team, I simply refused to talk about sex. For a long time, nobody knew I was a virgin or how differently I treated women and sex compared to most guys. After about a year with that team, I finally told some people how I lived.
Quite frankly, I was shocked at their reaction. Most of the guys wanted to talk about my convictions rather than talk about my limited sexual experience. Of course, there are those who made a big deal of it and there were some who made fun of me. But I quickly learned who my true friends were and whom I would never have respect for.
2. Speak with your heart. Every time I joined a new team, it became easier and easier to share intimate parts of my life with teammates. At this point, I’m very open about who I am and what I stand for. It became easier because I stopped worrying about how the outside world would view me and started, instead, to speak with my heart.
Trust me — living your life in a way outside the norm is not easy — whether that’s in sexual purity, nutrition, lifestyle, habits, political views or faith. Not everyone will agree with you. Not everyone will understand you. But the most successful people in this world are the ones who dare to believe, to create and to dream differently than the rest of the world. So while I know it’s never going to be easy, I’m counting on it being worth it.
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways” (Psalm 119:37, ESV).
Christian Eissele is a professional soccer player in Finland, following his dreams while pursuing his faith and finding out more about who God is. He is passionate about sports, writing, making videos and learning about the world.