“Sex is a big deal whether you’re a Christian or not,” says Jocelyn Swalm, a 21-year-old. Whitworth student who has decided to abstain from sex until she’s married. “It’s been proven that sex makes you chemically connected to that person.”
Don’t scoff: Oxytocin is known as the “tend and befriend” hormone, and a study by the University of California suggests that its surge through the body during orgasm could affect human attachment. But for Swalm, avoiding the physical means more time for the emotional. “Sex is not the end-all,” she says. “I want to learn how to deeply connect with someone else.”
That connection even bridged the Atlantic Ocean in the early part of her relationship with her boyfriend. “[He] was in Europe for nine months, so we had time to discuss boundaries and be thoughtful,” she says. “I’ve been more physical in previous relationships, so I knew what we were in for.”
The million-dollars-in-saved-child-support question: Where’s the boundary? How much temptation is the right amount of temptation?
“All we do is make out, which shocks some people,” Swalm says. “We try not to even lay down and kiss — that doesn’t lead to good places.”
Collin Duff, a 23-year-old student at Moody Bible Institute, knows about those places. At 17, he and his girlfriend regularly acted on their randy inclinations. For two years they had sex, and then the relationship ended. And that’s when Duff understood what he had long heard in church.
“Sexual intimacy creates a soul union, a bond between two people,” Duff says. “When you break up and you’ve had sex, your souls are ripped apart.
“I learned that these biblical concepts — the consequences of sin — actually do have an effect.”
This second-take virgin has recommitted himself to absti nence, but he admits it’s even more difficult now.
“There’s a sense of tentativeness when you start screwing around when you’re young. Once you do it, that tentativeness is gone,” Duff says. “It’s easier to be sexual now that I’ve been sexual.”
Titus Szymanowski doesn’t care to learn that lesson the hard way. The 21-year-old Gonzaga student has a girlfriend, and the two do their best to avoid extended moments of privacy.
“We do a good job of not putting ourselves in a dangerous place,” Szymanowski says. “When a couple is alone, things can escalate quickly.”
“People place so much emphasis on sex [that] for people who do abstain, it’s motivation to get married,” Szyman owski says. “But it takes time to get to know someone and find out if you’re compatible.
“At the same time, abstinence is a great way to get to know who a person is, inside and out. When you don’t have sex, you’re forced to know them through other outlets; it opens up another dimension.”
And Szymanowski is happy living in that dimension for now. It’s important to him that he not be required to sit his future wife down and explain that there were others before her.
“Sex is the most intimate way to express love for someone else. I want to make sure I go to that level with only one person for the rest of my life.”