Sexual Ethics Foundation: Engagement

If a Christian couple wants to practice proper sexual ethics, what do they do in the engagement period? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Engagement is an important time. It’s one of the most tense moments I think in a guy’s life when he prepares to pop the question. I remember going to the mall with my then roommate and he went to jeans stores and I went to jewelry stores. I don’t know if he knew I was going to them, but I think he got an idea if he did of where things were going. I also remember overhearing someone at work talking about seeing Allie and I together saying things like “wonderful couple. Perfect together. Incredible how God works things out. Probably going to get married.”

Now I had called and asked her parents for the blessing before I popped the question. Of course, they knew where things were going. Her mother helped supply me with the stone, which was a family heirloom, a lovely pink sapphire. They knew all the details. (And yes, I’m telling this story because I just like telling it as well and now there’s a permanent record of it)

Before the time came, I was going to several co-workers and showing them the ring. I had everything planned. Allie was going to spend Christmas with my family. I was going to pick her up at the airport in Charlotte on Christmas Eve. I had to work until Noon that day. I got off work and went straight to the airport. Her flight was to arrive at 1:04. I got there around 12:30. Her flight arrived at 12:48.

Now you must understand I call my Allie, Princess, regularly, so there was a statue of Queen Charlotte outside the airport. It’s a continuous fountain with a star-shaped pool around it. I took her out there with the lines I’d been preparing for all ready to go. (And guys, I had practiced this routine in front of her picture in my own bedroom most every night before the big day.)

So as we get out there I’m fumbling in my pocket. I want to make sure I open the box the right way and the ring doesn’t come out. She’s looking around and then I say a line I’d been preparing for some time now. “So Princess, have you ever thought about being a queen?”

“Only if you’re the king.”

(Dang. What a great response.)

“Well I guess you’ve made this easy for me.”

To this day, I still remember her stunned shock as I got down on one knee and opened up the box with the ring in it and asked “Allie Licona, will you marry me?”

And it was a moment of shock and surprise as well for at that moment my cell phone went off. Of course, Allie said yes and I ignored who it was thinking it had to be my Mom who calls at the worst possible times. Half-right. It was a Mom, but it was her Mom. She wanted me to know Allie’s plane had arrived early.

It is a story that will be forever used as a piece of taunting.

And of course, when I first introduced her to some members of extended family and friends when we got to Knoxville who had never met her, I had us walk in with my hand around hers covering the ring. I introduced her and then said “As of X hours ago, she’s become somewhat more important.” I’d then lift my hand to show the ring and dive out of the way of all the women who wanted to rush forward and see it.

The next few months involved constant wedding plans over and over with me learning very quickly that it was best to go with what made Allie happy. Weddings are made for the women mostly after all. The honeymoons are where guys take charge. (Guess which one I planned for the most)

So in discussing sexual ethics, things change a bit at dating.

No. Not with behavior. The same rules apply. Chastity until you say “I do.” But at the same time, you are going to be spending the rest of your life with this person barring no extreme circumstances or cold feet, so this is the time that you should spend preparing.

Every woman definitely needs to get herself examined by a gynecologist beforehand and be preparing. This is also a time to start discussing what you want to do with children for instance. You’re preparing to spend the rest of your lives together after all!

In pre-marital counseling, there should definitely be talk about preparing for the wedding night and beyond. Couples need to learn to be more expressive in their language and preparing themselves for what they desire. I often recommend couples get books like “Intended for Pleasure” or “Sheet Music” or “A Celebration of Sex.”

It’s also important to realize both men and women have desires. In our church culture, we often make it that men are just big walking hormones and women are perfectly innocent and never have any sort of sexual thought whatsoever. This is a disgrace to both men and women.

There is no doubt that men are usually more driven in this area. Still, that does not mean it is all we think about. (After all, if someone gives me enough time, I can think of something else we think about, usually…) On the other hand, women have desires too, and it’s okay for them to have those desires. There’s nothing unnatural about that.

Too often, some women have the idea that they are to have no desire whatsoever and when it comes to the wedding night, it is hard for them to flip the switch and suddenly become someone with desire. (Men who have waited for marriage on the other hand often times seem to have no problem learning that this is something they can enjoy)

I encourage men to find a guy that they can trust to talk to. (It can be awkward talking to your own Dad and it would be even more awkward to talk to your future father-in-law) I was fortunate to have a number of people who stood in the gap and today often try to give candid talk to young Christian men I know who are preparing for marriage and let them know they can ask me everything. Of course, I don’t give any personal details whatsoever. I just give general advice and recommend them the works I recommended earlier.

I also think it’s important for women to do similar. Mature women should talk to younger Christian women about to get married and let them know what they can expect. A woman especially needs to know how vital this area is to the joy of her husband. Of course, that’s not to deny that this can be and should be a source of great joy to the woman as well. However, it’s my thinking that the man gets joy out of the physical mostly (Though that does transmit to the emotional) and the woman gets more joy out of the relational. (This is not to deny that she has physical joy. She does and should.)

And of course, enjoy yourselves in this time. You’re preparing for one of the most important events of your life. Note that this is a scary time as well as it should be. (I think I got an hour of sleep the night of my wedding) Also realize that the wait you have been observing will be worth it. There is a beautiful gift meant to be observed and celebrated in marriage, and you can look back with no regrets.

In Christ,
Nick Peters