Sex and Seventeen

For some reason, even though we have cancelled our subscription and no longer pay for it, every few months a Seventeen Magazine lands in our mailbox. The pop of color and twinge of teen no longer interest me the way it used to, but yesterday in a moment of boredom I decided to flip through its contents.

One article caught my eye: The Sex Files

The feature included confessions and reflections of senior girl’s feelings about their sexual encounters. The noble aim was to help girls have some background knowledge to make decisions that won’t get lost in the heat of the moment.

Here are the statistics that stood out to me:

– “You may think you should just ‘get it over with,’ but 84% of girls say its okay to graduate high school as a virgin.”


– “59% of girls who have hooked up have regrets about it.”


– “The younger girls were when they lost their virginity, the more likely they were to regret their decision.”

It is interesting to think back to my view of sex at seventeen. It wasn’t really too long ago, in the grand scheme of time, but I have crossed big mountains and borders in my opinions  over those years.The funny thing is that the year I was seventeen was probably when I first started on that trip, because I started that year with one point of view and ended up in a completely different camp.

Summer before my senior year I turned 17 (I have one of those annoying late birthdays compared to everyone else). I was dating a guy who was a year older than me so he was about to go to college in the fall over 2000 miles away. We were optimistic, or at least I was, about the possibility of long-distance success. Sadly though, I would’ve done almost anything to please him. I realize now that my self-confidence at the time was down in a crater somewhere, but a womanly word would rocket me up to feeling important in his eyes. I was also under the impression from my high school peers that you had sex when you were in love, but I still waited because I was never really sure.

Thanks to God, the relationship ended. I am incredibly lucky it did too, otherwise I probably would’ve been one of the 59% who regretted their decision. I thought I had been in love, so the breakup shattered me into confused pieces, but God gave me a ladder to climb out of my crater and find what true love really was.

The next summer, before I turned 18, I was dating a new guy and felt like a new person too, but this time it wasn’t because of him that I felt different, it was because of God. For once I felt that I was on a path God lead me towards, even though that meant leaving in the fall to go to a small Christian school over 2000 miles away. My view on sex and love had flipped because it no longer depended on some guy, but on God.

Seventeen Magazine found that 84 percent of girls say it is ok to graduate high school as a virgin – though I doubt that is what they think their peers would say. Yet I wonder how many of those girls actually did graduate as a virgin. My guess is not all of them, and I bet that their regrets about that decision is probably why they say it would be ok for others to do so. They know that in high school, we are just too young and naive to really understand what love is, which is why we don’t understand sex either.

It took me awhile to realize it, probably because my youth group didn’t talk about sex more than telling us not to have it, but now I know what real love is because I haven’t had sex. Waiting has given me clearer vision to truly understand God’s love and plan for my life.

Last week we talked about how we must decide our reasons for abstinence on our own for it to really stick. That can be helped by mentors and friends, but it truly is a decision we must formulate for ourselves.

My own personal reasons could ramble on forever but I will summarize them in four short points:

  1. I should reflect God’s image and holiness in everything I do, especially how I conduct myself sexually.
  2. I better understand the commitment of marriage to last forever when I know that sex is what unites two people into one representation of God’s love and commitment to us.
  3. I can’t trust my hormones (aka the “natural feelings of attraction”) to tell me what love is because things can change.
  4. By not having sex I am better able to understand what love really looks like with God and with each other – love that is selfless, love that can stretch across thousands of miles, love that can truly last forever.
There are a lot of points in between those points, and I certainly still have a lot to learn, but I hope this helps you to think about your own reasons for waiting (or not). Don’t follow the definition of sex and love that culture or your friends tell you – again this is why it is important to go to the boundaries and redefine those things for yourself.

What are your reasons for waiting or not?
How has your definition of sex and love changed since you were seventeen?

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