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I Want to Remain a Virgin

Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

  Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. Responses must be received by midnight September 4, 2011

Katherine entered college with a very high standard for herself regarding sex. She is proud of her choice to remain a virgin until marriage. Now she has met the most amazing guy during the fall term of her freshman year. Max, her boyfriend, believes physical affection and even sex are important ways of showing how much two people care for each other. He has pressed Katherine to express their growing romance sexually, but so far she has said no.

Should Katherine revise her beliefs about sex because someone she respects and wants to have a deep relationship with believes differently? His views are probably the mainstream views among their friends, she realizes.

Should Max keep pressing her for sex? Is his bringing it up often a legitimate part of his wanting to express his love for her? Or do his frequent suggestions show a lack of respect for her beliefs?


Some resources you may find useful:

A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

More College Hookups, but More Virgins Too

10 Truly Shocking Stats on STDs and College Students


Photo by AWKWORDrap available under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

Comments Comments

Kati Carson said on Aug 30, 2011
Max should leave it alone. His repeated asking is a kind of pressuring. He can say what it means to him and then let it go. If she's ready, she can bring it up, but until then, let her be comfortable. Having sex before you're ready can have many negative consequences. If he can't respect her desire to not have sex, they should break up and if it means that much to him, they should break up as well. Both parties should be comfortable with the relationship, and if they can't manage that, there's not enough holding it together. - Like - 4 people like this.
Andrew Hartman said on Aug 31, 2011
To begin, you should always find someone who will respect your opinion and decisions regardless of his own beliefs (immoral or illegal habits/opinions notwithstanding). If he loves you, he will wait until marriage for you. Period. If he breaks up with you because you refuse to have sex, then clearly he loved sex more than he loved you (because he's willing to leave you to find it). Here are a number of reasons to stay a virgin; or at least wait until marriage to have sex with your current partner: 1) Sex brings you closer together. People argue that this is a reason to have sex now, but honestly, it's a reason to wait. Your level of intimacy needs to match your level of commitment; why give someone the highest level of intimacy (sex) when you cannot offer the highest level of commitment (marriage)? A couple breaking up after actively having sex is much harder, and potentially emotionally damaging. 2) Habits build association The more you use something for pleasure, the more you associate pleasure with that item. What this means, is that if we regularly satisfy our sexual desires with the same person, we will begin to associate sex with that person; in marriage (when you are committed), this helps maintain monogamy, because the couple will desire each other as they associate sex with each other. But for a premarital relationship, it will make a post-breakup almost unbearable, because when you begin to feel your sexual desires, you will start to desire your previous partner. Many have been led to believe this to mean "I must still love him/her because I want them sexually" but it's simply your mind concluding "Every time I was horny before, I was satisfied with that person. I'm horny now, so I need that person." Breaking this association is one of the hardest processes. These two reasons seem to rely heavily on the assumption that your relationship will end. Clearly, if you end in marriage, then being closer together and associating sex with each other was a good thing, right? Well... 3) You have no guarantee you will get married, especially if you give him the milk for free. The purpose of a relationship is to see if someone is right for marriage, or (for some) just to "have fun." In both of these cases, breakups are a very real possibility, and there is no guarantee that this guy will stay in your life. Like I said in 1), your intimacy needs to match your commitment. If you aren't committed through marriage, what is going to keep him from running off? What's going to keep him from finding someone better (or from YOU finding someone better)? Breakups are very real, and very likely. If you can't commit to someone through marriage, then you shouldn't give them the intimacy that is reserved for it. - Like - 12 people like this.
Deepti said on Aug 31, 2011
Max and Katherine have different points of view regarding sex. I dont think it's my place, or anyone else's (except Max's and Katherine's, individually) to judge the legitimacy of their perspectives. In my mind, it's as valid to believe that sex, rather than being tied to marriage, is an important part of any healthy romantic relationship, as it is to feel that sex should be reserved for marriage. Given this, Max and Katherine shouldnt try to impose their beliefs on each other. I'd suggest, instead, that both explore the reasons behind their convictions. Why does Max feel sex is essential to a relationship? Is it possible, as far as he's concerned, to express affection and love in other ways and still maintain a strong bond within the relationship? Could he be happy and secure in a relationship that didnt involve sex? Similarly, what are Katherine's reasons for waiting until she's married to have sex? Are her beliefs a personal choice, or is she possibly just going along with what her family believes? If, after exploring his/her point of view individually, either Max or Katherine chooses to adopt the other's perspective, whatever decision they mutually make seems fair to me. If, on the other hand, each discovers strong reasons for his/her beliefs, I dont think it would be fair to continue the relationship. Just as it wouldnt be right for Max to press Katherine to go against her deeply-held standards (which would probably result in a great deal of regret afterwards) it wouldnt be fair for Katherine to expect Max to remain in a sexless relationship if his view of intimacy in a romantic relationship involves sex. - Like - 4 people like this.
Margarita R said on Aug 31, 2011
Max is pressuring Katherine too much to go beyond her comfort romantically and this is not very ethical of him. According to A Frame Work For Ethical Thinking, it can be hard to establish what to base our ethical standards on, but some approaches are offered. The "Rights Approach" suggests that the ethical action is the one that best protects and respects the moral rights of those affected. This fits Max's and Katherine's situation precisely. Katherine has the absolute right to decide when she wants to engage sexually with another person. Max's pressure is not protecting or respecting Katherine's moral rights or her beliefs.Katherine should definitely be proud of her making the choice to remain a virgin until marriage. By doing so she is practicing the "Virtue Approach" of ethics. She is probably wisely considering one of the questions that this approach uses:"What kind if person will I become if I do this?" By considering this Katherine is using ideal virtues that provide for the full development of our humanity such as honesty, courage, tolerance, love, integrity, self-control, and prudence. Meanwhile, Max is ignoring the certain virtues mentioned in the framework such as tolerance and fairness. Katherine shouldn't revise her beliefs or choice to preserve her virginity. What may require some revising is her relationship with Max. If she wants to maintain and develop her relationship with him, she should firmly address the limits of their romance. If Max is a loving and ethical person and also sees a future relationship with Katherine he should comply. If he truly considers sex to be a crucial part of a meaningful relationship then his views conflict with Katherine's too much for their relationship to continue. Katherine should not let her idea that his views are mainstream among their friends affect her decisions. From grade school and beyond we are advised to not give in to peer pressure. According to a study described on, students perceived their fellow students were more sexually active than they actually were. Whereas the rest of the students assumed greater numbers when surveyed, only 22% believed their classmates had one or no sexual partner. Katherine's personal beliefs should remain the primary source of decision making in this situation. According to the article provided above, More college Hook-ups, but More Virgins Too, casual sex relationships have been on the rise lately on college campuses and at Fordham University one female student feels males have the upper hand by numbers and thinks they feel no need to date rather than have short term sexual relationships. What are the girl to guy ratios like at Katherine's school? Could Max be one of these guys with the upper hand? The article also states that students who claim to be virgins are also increasing. Maybe more students are fortunately beginning to make the right decisions. I can see Katherine being proud to say she was part of that group. The third article provided is certainly one to include in considering Katherine's and Max's situation. It says one in four college students has an STD. That alone is devastating, but it gets worse- 80% of those who have an STD don't experience noticeable symptoms and are likely to continue to spread the disease. Katherine can save herself from winding up as a sad statistic by sticking to her ethical reasoning. One of the first steps is provided in the Framework for thinking Ethically. Katherine should recognize and face the problem at hand, then make sure she has consulted with all groups and individuals necessary or those that would be helpful. This could be people she trusts like an older sibling, a parent, a counselor, and ultimately Max as he is the other involved. Katherine will then find which decision poses the least potential harm to herself and others. She should realize she initially made a good choice in wanting to remain a virgin until marriage and she shouldn't let the standard she set for herself slip. I agree that physical affection or sex may be a link between two people that shows how much they care for each other but it certainly is not the only way to show your love. After reading about all the casual sex that occurs on campus, I advise Katherine to carefully evaluate whether sex with Max would benefit or harm them individually and as a couple, as well as the community. - Like - 7 people like this.
Natalie said on Sep 1, 2011
"Should Katherine revise her beliefs about sex because someone she respects and wants to have a deep relationship with believes differently?" She shouldn't necessarily revise them, but she should revisit them and think more deeply about why abstinence until marriage is important to her. Is she blindly following a list of dos and don'ts set by her religion or parents, or is this a decision she's made out of her own conviction? Katherine should also consider the physical relationship she and Max already have. I have met so many young Christians who claimed they were "waiting until marriage", yet have engaged in just about every sexual act (oral/manual/anal/mutual masturbation) other than vaginal intercourse. Where does Katherine draw the line? Making out? Groping? Or further? Wanting to reserve certain sexual acts for marriage and not others is a legitimate perspective, but if that's what Katherine and Max are doing, Katherine should stop trotting it out as though she's made the choice to "remain a virgin" until marriage and be more clear and honest about the acts that she wants to reserve for her wedding night. "Is [Max] bringing it up often a legitimate part of his wanting to express his love for her? Or do his frequent suggestions show a lack of respect for her beliefs?" Max has a right to initiate the conversation. Even Katherine acknowledges that his attitude towards premarital sex is more mainstream. It's perfectly reasonable for somebody in a romantic relationship to want to have sex with their partner at some point. In this scenario, we know that Katherine says no the first time the issue is pressed, but it doesn't say whether or not Katherine left it up in the air with a "no" in that one moment or if she clearly expressed her desire to wait until marriage. Max may have still left under the impression that Katherine is not opposed to premarital sex and perhaps he thought that she would consent at another point in the relationship. If the issue keeps coming up because Katherine is acting like the deferential woman she was socialized to be and not openly expressing how she feels about premarital sex, then the onus is on her to communicate her beliefs more clearly. If Max is fully aware how Katherine feels and keeps pushing sex anyway, then yes, his actions are less loving and more disrespectful. That said, if the two of them want to stay together, they both need to figure out how strongly they stand behind their convictions. If neither party feels willing and able to change for their partner, this difference in opinion is irreconcilable. - Like - 5 people like this.
Jesse said on Sep 1, 2011
Katherine seems like a sweet but innocent flower which has not completely bloomed. If she is ready to bloom that needs to be her decision and she should never feel pressure from someone who loves her to pollinate her. Pollination is a sacred act by bees or humans. Katherine needs to think about her garden and the seeds she is planting within. However, Max the magnificent needs to consider manure or miracle grow in order to hustle up the blooming process. In conclusion, 50 bucks in the bank!!!! shorty what you drank! Jwhite out from cali. - Like
Amber Medina said on Sep 3, 2011
Of course Katherine should be thinking about STD's and the possibility of becoming pregnant but the real question she should be thinking about is her relationship with Max. Katherine believes she loves Max and he loves her but if he loved her wouldn't he understand and respect what she believes in. Katherine loves him and respects him so shouldn't he be showing as much respect for if he loves her. Katherine should really be thinking about how much love she's willing to give someone who doesn't support her faith or her values. sex is a symbol of love and shouldn't be given to somebody who doesn't love you 100% percent back. What I'm trying to say is Katherine should reexamine what love is before she even thinks about sex. - Like
Brittany H said on Sep 4, 2011
Clearly, if she's been saying no and he keeps pressing, that's a sign that she should not do it. She's not ready. She shouldn't have to change her values for him especially if he's causing more stress on her. He's not being supportive or open to her feelings. So I think that, she should do what she feels is best for HER, not Max, not her friends, but for HER. If he doesn't like it, he can go on somewhere else. There are plenty of good guys that can respect her feelings and beliefs. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Cameron said on Sep 6, 2011
Frankly, I find Max's actions appalling, and I am shocked that Katherine calls him the "most amazing guy" if he is pressuring her for sex all the time. How can he be an amazing guy when he clearly has no respect for her boundaries, privacy, or personal opinion? In some cases it is true that sex can enhance a relationship, but not if one of the partners has to be convinced! If Katherine gives in, she will be showing Max that she values his desires over her own convictions, and Max will know that he can get away with anything. In fact, the best way to strengthen their relationship would be for Max to accept Katherine's viewpoint, and show her that he cares about her as a person, and not just someone he wants to have sex with. If Max cant do this, he is obviously not the person Katherine seems to think he is. If a relationship can only be maintained by having sex, the relationship is clearly not worth maintaining. For Katherine, attempting to remain in a relationship with Max by giving into his demands is not worth giving up her right to make her own decisions. - Like - 1 person likes this.
David DeCosse said on Sep 6, 2011
An old friend used to say jokingly that you know it's time to stop seeing a therapist when pretty much the only issues left to deal with are those having to do with sex and family. Let's face it: Those issues abide forever. And college is a key time in life when we are challenged to start taking responsibility for all their complexity. Katherine wants to remain a virgin until marriage - on the face of it a highly honorable intention. The obligation is clearly on Max to honor that intention: If nothing else, the principle of "do no harm" requires it. Speaking of sex as "harm" may seem jarring in the context of a mutual, loving relationship. But where the sex may be loving to Max, it would be far more complicated to Katherine. And in those unsought complications lies a measure of harm. Sex is rooted in emotion, biology, and rationality. It can move us more than we move it. Through sex we may experience the transcendent. We may also find ourselves captive to desire. There are time-honored ethical traditions about sex. But it's also the case that the whole idea of an ethic for sex can seem as futile as writing rules for an intimacy-that-can't-be-captured-by-rules or lassoing a wild horse. I hope that Katherine uses her time in college to honor her conviction about sex and marriage and to embrace the passion and mystery of sex. I hope Max allows her to do that - by honoring her conviction. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Miriam Schulman said on Sep 8, 2011
Thanks to all who participated last week in what turned out to be a respectful, interesting, thoughtful look at the issue from both sides. Our winner was Andrew, who argued that "your intimacy should match your commitment." We had several great comments this week that weren't eligible for the prize, which is a good excuse to go over the rules. Comments from anyone associated with the Ethics Center are not eligible. Also, the prize can only go to a current college student. That does not mean we don't welcome comments from anyone who wants to participate, whether or not they are eligible to win. - Like
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