(Part 1 of 4)
The topic of sex was always a bit taboo in Egyptian households, and the old-school parents shied away from discussing it. So during my teen years the Coptic Church knew it had to step in. There were endless Sunday School lessons I sat through that talked about dating, relationships, and sex. As much as I dreaded some of them, they were much needed. They went something like this:
“Oh so you want to date? Why? To get married? Are you ready, or old enough for marriage? Or, do you just want to have fun? Are you going to stay pure? Do you know how sacred intimacy and sex are? No? Okay then, no dating for you.”
They were straightforward and firm, they got right to the point. Our servants pleaded with us to wait until the time was right, and thank God they did.
Fast forward to a few years later when I am now in the servant’s shoes; I heard one of my girls say something along the lines of, “I don’t think I’m going to wait for marriage to have sex, if it happens before then, it happens.” Her nonchalant attitude towards sex broke my heart.
She did not know how precious her body was. That it was meant for one person only, her future husband, who will treat her like the queen she truly is. She did not know how sacred and beautiful sex can be. She did not know how vulnerable you have to be in front of the other person, and that vulnerability only belonged in the loving space of marriage. She did not know that it was created by God himself, not only for procreation, but also for our pleasure. And that if it was done at the wrong time, it can have seriously ill consequences.
Honestly, I don’t blame her. Everywhere she turns, in TV shows, in movies, in social media, and popular western culture in general, she sees a misconstrued image of sex.
Sex is a wonderful gift given by the One who knows all our desires. It is not just a physically pleasurable act, it is a deeply emotional one as well. It is the most intimate exchange two people can have with one another to express their love; that's why it's also referred to as “love-making.”
When two people stand before the altar on their wedding day and become one by the Holy Spirit, they are meant to become one in every sense of the word. They become one spiritually, emotionally, and yes, physically.
Besides the obvious consequences of having sex at the wrong time, like STDs and unplanned pregnancies, heartbreak, guilt, and shame might be things you'll struggle with.
I’ll never forget that one time I was at the high school girls ECCYC (East Coast Coptic Youth Convention) when a girl sent an anonymous letter to the Q&A panel. She wanted to share her experience with us so we can learn from her mistakes. Her letter told us of how she started seeing a boy in her high school, a boy who told her he loved her no matter what. He whispered all the right things into her ear (remember what I told you about that?). One thing led to another and they had sex. Shortly afterwards he left her. She was devastated, to say the least. Not only devastated that he broke up with her, but because she did something that she swore she would never do, and it can never be undone. You can hear her despair and shame through the words of her letter. I felt for her, and prayed that God would make her new, like He promises.
That was a reminder to all the girls who sat in that retreat session to be very careful of their actions, and that straying away doesn’t happen overnight. The devil leads us away one baby step at a time.
One time when I was a student at NJIT I had a male partner in one of my science lab classes, which was not uncommon considering I was one of the few females in my civil engineering classes. We had to work on the lab reports together. Every week we would meet somewhere on campus to work on it. One time he texted me to meet him in the dorm hall, a place where I had studied before in the study lounge. I followed him after I entered the building, but noticed he was walking in a different direction. When I asked him where we were going he said, “To my room, there is a desk in there.” I immediately stopped and firmly told him I was not comfortable with that. He quickly turned red and proceeded to the study lounge. Needless to say, the rest of the semester was pretty awkward. Maybe he really just wanted to study in his room. I guess we’ll never know.
The point of that story is to remind you to always be on your toes, and to never let any man pressure you into doing something you are not comfortable with. Design your boundaries, and don’t allow yourself to be comfortable with anything that may defy your purity.
For the ladies who are reading this and have already had sex and are living with regret, please keep reading.
There is no sin too great, or action too shameful that cannot be forgiven. You were created by a forgiving and merciful Father who will never stop loving you. Let repentance and confession cleanse you and make you new. Saint John Saba says, “Repentance makes adulterers into virgins.” Maybe you can no longer hold onto virginity, but you sure can attain chastity. If you don’t believe me, just go check out the story of St. Mary of Egypt.
So in simple terms, get up, repent and confess. Trust in God and that He can take any mess and turn it into a remarkable masterpiece. Contemplate the beautiful words of St. Paul when he says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
This is the first post in a four part series about purity & relationships.
Part 1B - Listen up Boys, We're Talking About Sex
Part 2 - Purity Isn't Just Virginity
Part 3 - Embracing Singleness
Part 4 - God's Timing is The Perfect Timing