Students wait for marriage

Cody Simon, junior in animal ecology, and Hannah Zimmer, sophomore in English, are waiting until marriage to have sexual intercourse. They both have religious backgrounds and respect that of one another. Their advice for people who are not sure if they should wait is to wait instead of making a decision you might regret later.

Hayley Lindly

College can bring one-night stands and long-term relationships alike, but a few ISU students are choosing to save sex for marriage.

“Within the informal, nonscientific polling that we do with clickers in the Human Sexuality classes, we typically see responses related to abstinence close to 20 percent consistently from semester to semester,” said Amy Popillion, senior lecturer of human science and family studies, in an email. 

“There is variation anywhere from 18-25 percent depending on how the question is worded.” 

Popillion said that while some students choose abstinence for religious reasons, there are a various other reasons why people choose it as well.

Megan McFarlin, senior in psychology, and Hannah Zimmer, sophomore in English, are students who have decided to choose the road of abstinence because of their Christian beliefs.

For McFarlin, it took coming to college to make the official decision to wait. She became a member of the Salt Company and also attends St. John’s, an Episcopal church, by the campus.

“I didn’t always believe in doing this, but I think since coming to college, I really have gotten more faithful. I started to go to church a lot more and became more focused on scripture and really learning what God wants for my life,” McFarlin said.

McFarlin also said she believes God created sex as the ultimate bond between two people, therefore she only wants to share that bond with one person in her lifetime.

Zimmer was instilled with the belief that having sex before marriage was wrong from a very early age. She grew up in a nondenominational church that had very conservative views.

“Something that was obviously taught in church as I was growing up is that sex should be saved for marriage because it is something that you are supposed to share with only one person, and that is your husband or wife,” Zimmer said. “I think that a lot of the rules in the Bible are set there for your benefit.”

The definition of abstinence can differ from student to student. 

Some people who say they practice abstinence are referring to engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors as long as it doesn’t include vaginal/penile intercourse,” Popillion said.

“So these individuals might participate in heavy petting, mutual masturbation, oral sex, and/or anal sex and still label themselves as abstinent; whereas, others who give themselves the same label may interpret it to be absolutely no physical contact including deep kissing and of course, a wide number fall somewhere along that continuum.”

McFarlin and Zimmer both have a set belief on what it means for them to save themselves.

“For me, I define sex as vaginal intercourse and anal intercourse,” Zimmer said.

McFarlin doesn’t believe in any sexual activity before marriage.

“I don’t believe in even fooling around. I guess you could say the orgasm before marriage,” McFarlin said.

Since coming to college, Zimmer has found a greater support system in her friends, even if some of them aren’t following in the same path.

“The moment when I really realized that I wanted to save it for marriage was in college where I felt like [a] strong woman, that I could say that was something I was waiting for and I didn’t feel pressured by whoever I was in a relationship with,” Zimmer said.

Although she does not recommend having sex before marriage to her friends and peers, Zimmer makes it a point in her life not to judge others.

“I try not to condemn people for having sex before marriage. I don’t think you should judge people, because they sin differently than you and I see it as a sin, but some people might not,” Zimmer said.

McFarlin has friends with different beliefs, but they are supportive of her decision to wait. However, she also finds strength in her Bible study group.

“It’s nice because I have my Bible study. I have girls who are trying to follow the same path as me, and we hold each other accountable in all aspects in faith, not just this one,” McFarlin said.

Cody Simons, junior in agronomy and Zimmer’s boyfriend, has chosen abstinence out of respect for her.

“It wasn’t really an issue for me to cope with,” Simons said. “I guess it was all just a part of who she was and I liked all of her, not just parts of her. The fact that it was her wish didn’t really have any effect on me; I was totally fine with that. I think in the long run, that it’s probably made our relationship stronger, and so I think that it’s a good thing that we abstain.”

McFarlin encourages those who are thinking about abstinence, but aren’t sure yet, to go ahead and pursue it.

“If there is someone out there who is kind of on the fence or just doesn’t know that there are other people out there, I would tell them that you are not the only one and I think there are more people than you think trying to do this,” McFarlin said.