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May 6, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Click here for video of the Huddlestons and Rafa Nizam talking about abstinence.
In a world flooded with sexual messages, waiting to jump in the sack can be frustrating, but these Columbians treasure sex’s emotional connection because they are grounded in their faiths. To them, the pleasure, security and emotional connection that come with the anticipation of sex outweigh the sexual temptation.
Sean and Nicole Huddleston went to see Austin Powers on their first date just before their junior year of high school. Powers might be a sexual dynamo, but he certainly didn’t set the pace for their relationship. They abstained from sex until their wedding night five and a half years later. The two always planned to wait, and the choice they had already made separately transformed into a commitment to each other. Still, waiting was work.
Nicole says that in college, as they became more serious as a couple, society’s messages about sex being informal started to hit closer to home. “We had already made that level of commitment to each other, and it was worth it to us to overcome that level of temptation and wait until we were married,” she says.
Even though it was almost certain they were going to spend the rest of their lives together, the couple continued to wait; after their engagement, the two refrained from any sort of sexual interaction until the wedding night. “We’ve committed like five years to this already, so what’s the next six months going to be?” Sean says. “That’s a drop in a hat compared to what we’ve already committed to.”
The high school sweethearts held on to both each other and their promise throughout college. For the Huddlestons, sex involves levels of love and trust that are only found within marriage and union with God.
“We were consistently trying to choose God’s will over our own,” Nicole says. “We’re trying to do that in all aspects of our lives, not just in the intimate relationship choices that Sean and I make together.”
Wait to date
For Muslims such as MU freshman Rafa Nizam, abstinence involves avoiding all things God has forbidden. That eliminates drinking alcohol, gambling, viewing pornography and, perhaps most important, premarital relationships of any kind — even dating.
“A lot of times you don’t see Muslims dating or even interacting too close with the opposite gender to keep a safe distance,” Nizam says.
By maintaining purely professional relationships with anyone of the opposite gender, he keeps physical sexual desires far from the top of his list of temptations.
“One thing I find very important about abstinence is that it’s like an investment for the future,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to get involved with any of this before marriage because I feel it would devalue my wife. She deserves better than that.”
Muslims believe God forgives their faults, but abstaining protects the dignity of both the family and the community. To avoid scandal, they involve their families in the engagement process. Nizam has witnessed the success of parental involvement with engagements through his older sister’s marriage.
“They built a friendship before marriage,” he says. In fact, the couple never interacted privately until they were married.
Nizam’s brother-in-law’s family approached his parents and suggested a marriage for his sister and their son. Before the wedding day, they talked over the phone, and he sent her gifts. But the two were rarely left alone without a chaperone until their marriage. Now, they’ve been married for five years and have an 8-month-old girl named Inaya.
Nizam hopes that he’ll take a similar path, but he expects to meet his future wife on his own. When he finds the right woman, he plans to approach his father and the her family about the engagement after Nizam has hinted the idea to her.
At K-Life, a youth ministry for Christ that helps kids from different churches network, John Pearson and Stacey Akers teach teenagers to seek sex’s deeper matrimonial purpose.
“You could have sex outside of marriage, but you’d be robbing yourself of this gift from God,” Pearson says.
Akers tells the young women she teaches to draw personal boundaries with the young men they date. God, she says, left guidelines for sex in the Bible, and she hopes to give the young women the strength to follow them. In the first book of Corinthians, Paul reflects on love, respect between a husband and a wife and the idea of the body as a temple.
“It’s something that you’re meant to do with your husband or with your wife,” Akers says. “It’s not meant to do with anyone on the side of the road.”
Although Pearson has waited for marriage, it’s not easy. “I’m currently in a relationship, and I think anybody’s lying to you if they say they didn’t want to have sex,” he says.
Pearson says that by abstaining from sex, he can get to know the other person on a deeper and more personal level. “It gives you something to look forward to when you get married,” says Pearson, who got engaged to his girlfriend on April 29.