Is Premarital Sex Worth It? The Psychological Angle

submitted by Benjamin E. Ketz

June 1, 1997

Why Ask if Premarital Sex is Worth It?

Why even ask is premarital sex is worth it? People have the urge. Sex "feels good." "Everyone's doing it." "What's wrong with it?" Some people need sex to be popular. These are all familiar lines with respect to premarital sex.

Jenny Donegan made sure to voice her opinion on the Internet.1 "A couple that feels that they can take the responsibility of birth control, and have strong feelings for one another, may choose to become sexually active." What logic is this? If the couple has only each other to rely upon for judgment, how valid is their judgment? "Having a partner every week is wrong," she says. But why do people make up such odd lines? Everyone knows that lines have to be drawn, but is it okay to have a new partner every eight days? Can such lines be drawn, or do more concrete lines need to be drawn? Why do people even rebel against the long standing standards of history. Did people forbid premarital sex simply because they were stupid and they liked to suppress their "natural urges?" Why do people now think that life is so different from back then? Why has the respect for the knowledge and wisdom of age been destroyed? Today's society is consumed by confusion, and thus many people seem to make up their own morals. Therefore, premarital sexual behavior needs to be investigated with a critical eye. What do the facts say?

Melanie Saucedo realized that if females (or males) have sex before marriage, then they will not know if their partners really love them.2 That is one reason to look further into the effects of premarital sex. What are the facts? What really happens to people when they have premarital sex? Why do most people engage in premarital sex, while most people would prefer a partner who has not had premarital sex?

In addition to these jumbled questions and arguments, this report has included five interviews that aided in the study. Bubba, for example, said that he initially had sex with people that he thought he was in love with. He became very attached to the person, and then break-ups became horrible. He felt guilty from sex, and after a while, sex lost meaning. Bubba then became addicted to sex. All along, he had an inner pain that drug him down.3 Dale, however, only had premarital sex with one person. Sex came on slowly...he went through all the steps towards sex, and eventually, he found himself having sex. He continued this sexual relationship for years, but all the time, sex dominated the relationship. He never really got to know his girlfriend. Dale was emotionally attached, and sex was the only thing keeping together the relationship. When it finally came to an end, Dale experienced extreme emotional pain and guilt.4

For Catherine, sex was a source of extreme guilt. Sex made her even feel disgusting and hate sex. She thought that she was in love, but she was only blinded by the bond of sex. She was pressured into having sex, but often she did not realize it until afterwards. Sex became utterly meaningless.5 Anna, however, was not as strongly affected by premarital sex. Anna said that she regrets losing her virginity, but now she just has sex to have fun. She lost her respect for sex, and sex is simply a source of physical pleasure. She has not really had any close relationships.6 Cary can no longer enjoy sex because of having premarital sex. She felt extremely guilty from sex, but after losing her virginity, she decided to continue to have sex often anyway. Sex was completely meaningless to her, and she can never enjoy it.7

Defining the Encounter

When discussing the act of sex, many things come to mind. Therefore, a definition is needed...not only a physical definition, but also a psychological definition of sex and some social definitions of it.

First of all, what does this paper mean by sex in the physical sense? This paper limits the physical definition of sex to coital sex. Coital sex is the insertion of the penis into the vagina, and the act may or may not come to a climax (orgasm). Other sexual activities will not be discussed in this report. Sexual activity such as oral sex, anal sex, petting, etc. may have similar effects. They may have those effects to an equal degree, to a lesser degree, to a higher degree (though it seems very doubtful), or to no degree at all. However, this report will not go into those related fields.

Defining sex psychologically is a bit harder. It has been shown that sex is closely tied to the emotions and to the psychological.8 Inside of every person there is (or was) the innate sense that sex is more than just a physical act; it yields more than just physical pleasure. Everyone, at least originally, has or had the feeling that sex is something "special." As Kirk Fontenot puts it, "[sex] is the most complicated act of intimacy."9 It "reaffirms a lifelong commitment to one another."10 Josh McDowell correctly pointed out that sex is not only two bodies becoming one, but it is also 2 personalities becoming one, and 2 spirits becoming one.11 In essence, sex is the coming together of two people, the joining of everything that they are. The Bible says that "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."12 By one flesh, it does not only mean one in body, but the complete uniting of both husband and wife. Josh McDowell calls this uniting "Maximum Sex" and "Maximum Marriage."13 When the two become one, the maximum joy, maximum pleasure, and maximum happiness occur, not only during the act, but during the entire marriage. Sex could be described as a glue that emotionally connects two people. Though it may be a glue that could attach people, more importantly, it is the psychological connection, the coming together of two minds. Sex is the final act of two becoming one, physically, mentally, completely.

However, sex does not always have such effects. In an extreme case, when a woman is raped, she is certainly not becoming one with her attacker, and she is certainly not enjoying it. Likewise, sex can be compromised -- sex can treated like a merely physical act. But even if sex is treated only as a physical act, the emotional and psychological aspects still remain. There is an apparent and innate aspect of sex that makes it more than physical. Just as the mind and body are so closely wound together, sex is tied with the whole essence of a person. If a girls is raped, she will have psychological trauma...Why? The trauma is not only because of the violence, for violence is not always present; rather the trauma results from the emotional and psychological aspects of sex. If a person treats sex as only a physical act, there are still certain consequences, for something must happen when a person tries to remove an important part of intercourse. All in all, sex involves the! entire being, and it is the climax of intimacy.

Socially speaking, sex manifests itself in many ways. For the sake of clarity, these varieties will be generalized; although it can be noted that there are a few exception, and there are some situations that may be a mix of the following generalizations. First of all, sex can be split into marital and non-marital (which will simply be referred to as premarital in this report). Also, all relationships can be balanced or unbalanced.

Reiss and Ehrmann agree that premarital sexual relationships can be broken down into ones with affection and ones without affection. If one has "affection" for another, it can be said that he/she is desirous of a relationship for some duration. It is the desire for at least temporary commitment. There exists a sort of emotional attachment that can be called, "being in love." One without "affection" for another is one who primarily concerned with feeling physical pleasure. There is obviously a continuum between affection and non-affection, but the primary distinguishing is that non-affection means the desire of physical pleasures, while affection places an importance on familiarity and emotional attachment.14,15

Affectionate relationships can be broken down to those that are either purposefully temporary or purposefully lasting. No one can foresee the future, but "lasting" relationships intend that they will never separate. "Temporary" relationships acknowledge (but often do not think about) that they will end at some point. Temporary ones may become lasting and vice versa, but the intent of lasting commitment affects the relationship.

In life, there are combinations of these relationships. Many relationships are unbalanced as far as expectations (i.e. one may wish for commitment, while the other desires only physical satisfaction). These unbalanced relationships can be called affection/non-affection or lasting/temporary relationships. (A lasting/non-affection relationship is very unlikely.) Of balanced relationships, every variety exists.16

To further classify any type of relationship (including marriage), the type of love between the individuals is examined. Love can be broken down into three basic categories: "if" love, "because of" love, and "in spite of" love. "If" love is characterized by phrases that boil down to "I love you if you do this for me." "If" love requires that the partner yield something. "If" love can be power oriented or self-gain oriented, but it is always a taking relationship. "Because of" love is characterized by phrases that boil down to "I love you because of those qualities that I like." That love focuses on some aspects of the partner (such as beauty, intelligence, wealth, sexual performance, etc.) "Because of love" may overlook some things, and is primarily concentrated on a few aspects. "Because of" love requires the certain characteristics in the partner to a high degree, and is therefore a taking relationship. "In spite of" love accepts the essence of a person, acknowledges his/her faults, and can characterized by the boiled down phrase, "I love you in spite of your downfalls." In spite of love fully realizes who the partner is, and, though it may be attracted to various aspects of the person, accepts every part of the individual. One with "in spite of" love does not look at what the other can do for him/her, and one such person does not focus on those characteristics of his partner that please oneself. "In spite of" love focuses on how to help the other; it is the selfless love that only cares. "In spite of" love is therefore a giving relationship. These "loves" appear in all kinds of relationships; often non-affectionate ones are either "if" or "because of," while affectionate and marriage relationships are often "because of" or "in spite of."17

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

If either or both of the partners are not virgins, any sexual encounter can result in one or both of the involved catching a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) from his/her partner. To protect from these diseases, there are contraceptive devices. Also, some diseases have antibiotic cures, while others have pain/discomfort relieving treatments.

Although many STDs exist, the primary ones are: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, HPV, Hepatitis B, HIV, and Syphilis.18 Of those, HIV, HPV, and Herpes have no known cure. The others can cause severe disorders and possibly death if untreated. HIV, the best known STD, is the precursor to AIDS. It kills the infected individual by destroying the human immune system, allowing other diseases to attack the weakened body. HPV is the virus that causes genital warts. These incurable warts are not only unpleasant, but they also cause serve discomfort and even cancer.19

In 1993, there were over 7.3 million new cases of STDs each year.20 Of those, over 2 million were incurable21, and about 80,000 were HIV infections22,23. In 1994, AIDS caused one million Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL).24 Based on the statistics, Clarion predicted that by 1997, AIDS will become the second largest annual contributor to YPLL (though it may not cause as many deaths as others, it targets young individuals).25 AIDS is now the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25-44, and one to two adolescents are infected with HIV every hour.26 By 1996, there were 513,486 reported AIDS cases in the United States, and likely many more.27 STDs are very harmful and even lethal.

STDs are just what their names say: they infect people through sexual contact. Some STDs can infect through kissing and petting, like Herpes and HPV; and others can only infect through blood contact or sexual intercourse (both coital and anal), like HIV. Since STDs are infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, or pests), they can only be caught by contact with an infected person.

When HIV first made a large appearance, the primary victims were homosexuals. Next to be infected were the IV drug users. However, there has been recent increases of HIV in the heterosexual community.28 Therefore, those at high risk are those who over time have many sexual partners. All people having premarital sex are at risk of contracting HIV and other STDs.

What about safe sex? Unless both partners have never had sex with anyone else, safe sex is impossible...That is a fact in 1997, and most likely will be for a long time. However, there is such a thing as safer sex. Of all contraceptives, condoms are the most effective in preventing the transmission of STDs, and the combination of a condom and the use of Nonoxynol-9 spermicide is the best prevention method.29 It should be noted that some people over-praise the effectiveness of contraceptives. Dr. Ronald Carey30 of the FDA was quoted in exaggerating that even the worst quality condom is "10,000 times better" than unprotected sex. Actually, in terms of preventing pregnancy, the condom has a failure rate of 10% 31. Since viruses are smaller than sperm cells, the condom's effectiveness in preventing HIV is less -- overall, the condom fails 14% - 20% of the time, and with teens it fails 14% - 55%.32 (The higher failure rates are most likely from improper use.) When the best method of protection is used (condom and Nonoxynol-9), the ideal failure rate would be a bit lower, but safer sex is no more than about 7 or 8 times as safe as unprotected sex [that would probably be higher if contraceptives were used better, but application is always imperfect]. Furthermore, many people do not use contraceptives. Education cannot make people use protection. The only safe sex is between two people who have not had sex with any other person.

Other than prevention, science has attacked the problem of STDs by looking for cures. Specifically, science is very interested in finding a cure (or vaccine) for AIDS. Because AIDS is such a large killer, much research has gone into it, and with some returns. Researchers say that they are close to finding a vaccine for AIDS.33 Although it may be a decade or more until such a vaccine could be developed and used on human patients, the news is still promising; though it is unsure as to whether or not the vaccine will really work on humans. However, such a vaccine would likely take several decades to remove AIDS as great threat, and no one knows when a new and more deadly STD may appear.

STDs are definite problems associated with premarital sex. The risks are obvious. However, STDs are only small parts of the problems associated with premarital sex. Premarital sex has many emotional and psychological effects. Many of those bad effects of premarital sex always occur, but it should be noted that premarital sex is physically dangerous.


Guilt can be a powerful emotional factor of premarital sex. Guilt varies greatly with individual, but it is at least temporarily present in most premarital sexual relationships. Of the five individuals interviewed for this report (Cary, Dale, Catherine, Bubba, and Anna), all of them experienced at least some guilt, and four experienced a considerable amount. A psychotherapist has been quoted that she saw clients who regretted having premarital sex "very often," but as to how many clients who regretted not having premarital sex, she laughingly responded, "never."34 Since guilt varies from person, what characteristics make up those who experience more guilt as opposed to those who experience less guilt?

It is has been said that those with any degree of moral conscience will experience guilt after premarital sex.35 Moreover, guilt can be seen as coming from acting against morals. In this case, morals can be equated with standards or respect. Those with high standards with regard to sex or those who highly respect sex are likely to experience a greater degree of guilt. A respect of sex is the way in which sex is viewed. If sex is viewed as something very "special," then that attitude constitutes a high respect for sex. If sex is viewed as just some fun thing to do without anything special about it, then that constitutes a low respect for sex. In other words, the degree of guilt experienced by those having premarital sex is directly proportional to their respect for sex.

[Balanced] relationships without affection are practically always associated with a very low respect for sex. People in those relationships only want physical pleasure. [Balanced] relationships with affection are usually (but with a good sized exception) made of people with at least some degree of respect for sex.

It is necessary to note that even people with purposefully lasting relationships [balanced] will usually experience guilt. This comes from the realization of giving away something special. Furthermore, purposefully lasting relationships are often blind as to the future and the relationship. Even if they eventually marry, they will regret not waiting.

Those with little or no respect for sex experience little or no guilt from premarital sex. However, though they may be free from that emotional consequence of premarital sex, they in turn, make sex into a merely physical action because that is how they treat it. One with a low respect for sex is in a sense saying that sex is only physical (sex is not special). By denying the emotional and mental aspects of sex, they prevent themselves from experiencing any more than physical pleasure. They are trivializing sex, and thus cheating themselves out of the psychological aspects of sex. The physical aspect of sex is only a very small part of the pleasure involved in it. (This idea is explored more in depth in the Maximum Sex section.) All in all, for those who have premarital sex, there is little guilt experienced by those with little respect for sex, but they in turn cheat themselves out of most of the joy of sex.36

Studies have shown that often those who have little respect for sex will likely not gain any respect for sex later, for those who are not guilty at first do not tend to acquire guilt later. Furthermore, engaging in more sexual activity tends to cover up or hide guilt. Most people who originally feel guilty will continue their actions. When people with a fairly high respect for sex engage in premarital sex and thus experience guilt, they deal with it in one of three ways: they hide the guilt, they lose their respect for sex thus relieving their guilt, or they deal with the guilt. Most people either hide their guilt or they lose their respect for sex, and it seems that most will hide their guilt.37

Hiding guilt can be a very serious inhibitor to sexual pleasure. Although guilt may not always be present, it is stored and built up in the subconscious. From there, it not only impedes sexual pleasure, but it also pops back into the conscious mind at times. Some people are plagued resulting flash-backs.

Guilt does not allow for complete freedom in sexuality. Even though it may be hidden, it causes a distraction. This distraction contributes to what is known as a "mental hang-up." To enjoy sexual intercourse, a complete concentration is needed. One needs to focus on what he is doing. A mental hang-up breaks this concentration. Further, guilt prohibits complete freedom in sexuality. Guilt lingers in the mind and takes away from pleasure. In extreme cases, guilt can even make one detest sex in general.38

Guilt obviously impedes all premarital sexual behavior in those who hide their guilt. Guilt makes premarital sex much less enjoyable, but it can also have a great impact on future marital sex. The guilt is then carried on to the marriage (since it has not been dealt with). This guilt then can cause all of the bad effects that it does on premarital relationships.39 If guilt is pushed back in the mind, then it creates a sort of emotional and psychological baggage.40 This baggage stays around until the guilt is dealt with.

Baggage and guilt can all be dealt with, but it is a very difficult thing to do. First of all, one has to completely and truly regret his actions. This regret is not merely the guilt, it is an acknowledgment that he/she should not have had premarital sex. One cannot hide guilt in the back of his mind, rather, he needs to bring it to the front of his mind. Regret is truly being sorry for one's actions. With regret comes a lasting abstinence. Secondly, one needs to accept forgiveness. This is a true acceptance and a true forgiveness. One has to accept the responsibility but also accept a forgiveness for messing up. Lastly, time is required. Time is needed to forget. Time is needed to stop flashbacks. Time is needed to dispose of all the baggage. If there is someone to do the loving and someone to do the forgiving, then with the ultimate help, one can deal with the guilt.41,42

Even if a person can completely deal with guilt associated with premarital sex, some inhibitors to enjoying marital sex may still exist. The person may be able to get rid of all the baggage (with help), he/she may be able (with time) to forget about past experiences and stop having flashbacks, and he/she may even be able to overcome (with help) the distractions, but his/her partner may not be able to concentrate. Such a thing is a very delicate manner, but nearly all people would prefer to marry someone who has not had premarital sex.43 The more sexual experience a person has had, the less desirous people seem to be in having him/her as a spouse. People tend not to trust their spouses if they have had premarital sex. That in turn causes resentment, a lack of respect, and jealousy within the marriage.44 (The jealousy may not be without foundation, for the Kinsey report showed that women who had premarital sex were twice as likely to have extramarital sex than those who had not had premarital sex.45) These feelings of the spouse impede enjoyment in sex, and they hinder the relationship. Altogether, the spouse also has to completely forgive his/her partner for premarital actions; dealing with the guilt alone will not suffice. The relationship has to be extremely strong to overcome these problems, and there needs to be a very open conversation on the topic. Furthermore, time will be needed to make amends.

Bonding Effect

Sex is a kind of emotional glue. The brain and the body are closely nit together, and likewise sex is closely connected with the emotions46. In discussing all of the aspects of the "bonding effect," it is necessary to remember what Therese Crenshaw says: "But just as our hormones can bring us together to love, marry, and bear children, they can also trick us into doing some pretty wild things."47

There are many hormones involved in sex. These range in purpose from altering sex drive and altering sex appeal to increasing enjoyment and bonding the couple. DHEA increases one's sex drive, and it also contributes to being subliminally sexually attractive by way of the sense of smell. Furthermore, it contributes to one's partiality towards another. Oxytocin primarily influences bonding. Its levels rise immensely with intimate touching (especially during sex). This is probably the strongest hormone in bonding, and it is very discriminatory (very high levels with respect to sexual relationships and with respect to mother-child relationships). DHEA and Oxytocin are a powerful combination of bonding. PEA contributes to a sort of addiction to both love and sex. It is the stimulant that causes the feeling of "being in love." Among other functions, Estrogen contributes to the attractive smell of women. Testosterone is responsible for the aggressive sexual drive, and Serotonin acts as quite the opposite (low levels invoke sexual aggression). Dopamine causes desire for pleasure and contributes to sexual addiction.48

All in all, there are a variety of chemicals in the human body that contribute to the bonding of people and the desire or addiction for sex. Frankly put by Ynottony, "After we've had a few successful encounters with someone, our bodies become hooked, because we start producing chemicals that turn us into 'Love Junkies.'"49 Chemically speaking, people can become addicted to others and to sex. Sex bonds the two together emotionally through hormones, and it also creates a greater desire to have sex. This bonding takes place at non-sexual levels, but sex is at the top of all bonding and all desire responses. Sex is the climax of attachment and desire for pleasure. It chemically bonds two people together.

Sex is not only bonding in the chemical and emotional sense, but it is also bonding in the mental sense. It is the most intimate form of affection possible, and with sex comes the knowledge that ones has performed the most intimate action. This knowledge is a giving away of oneself. When one has sex, he/she gives himself self away to his partner. This may not be the case if sex is not held in high respect, but most often, sex is the act of giving one's heart away

This bonding effect can be both a good thing and a bad thing. In marriage, the bonding effect is always good. Outside of marriage, the bonding effect is always bad.

The emotional bonding of sex is obviously good in marriage. If the relationship was originally rationally based, the bonding of sex does not blind individuals since the relationship is already well-founded. This bonding helps to keep couples together during bad times. It brings the two even closer in every respect. It is a boost to intimacy, and it helps in compromising. The bonding from sex is one made to last a life-time even though the physical joys of sex may diminish. Sex is the completion of oneness between the two intimate individuals. Sex brings the two together.50

Outside of marriage, bonding from sexual intercourse is very hazardous. This bonding causes blindness, irrational behavior, emotional pain, and psychological baggage.

Premarital sex means sex before complete intimacy, before an established life-long relationship. Thus it causes bonding between two people who are not one mentally or personally. In marital sex, people first get to know each other, become intimate, and then top it all off with sex. However, in premarital sex, the bonding of sex comes before intimacy. Consequently, sex dominates the relationship. It is the only thing [or most nearly so] keeping the relationship together [though the involved individuals are hardly ever cognizant of the shallowness of their relationship until after its conclusion]. Because sex is the ultimate physical intimacy, premarital sex prevents furthering of other intimacy that was already skipped over. However, sex still forms a strong bond and can thus blind the involved. They may be fooled into marrying due to the bonding, even though the relationship will be inevitably rocky (considering the lack of foundation). Combined with bonding, guilt may push people into marriage. Sex can make one think he/she is in love because sex blinds (especially those with a fairly high respect for sex).51

Premarital sex contributes to irrational behavior. Just like drugs, sex is addictive. Even though the physical enjoyment diminishes, the urge increases with quantity. It is the sexual chemicals at work here. The emotional and psychological downfalls of premarital sex increase with quantity of sex, but sex is addictive.

The emotional pain of breaking a sexual relationship [where sex is held in some respect] is enormous. This pain dwarfs many other sources of emotional pain. This pain was quite obvious in all but one (Anna, who had little respect for sex) of the interviews. The breaking of the bond of sex (a bond of life-long strength) is very painful, even though the breaking is quite inevitable.

Whatever the relationship may be, premarital sex leaves emotional scars and psychological baggage for each participant to carry along in life. A great deal of this comes from the bonding. In the non-affectionate relationship, the ones involved carry around the memory of the experience. They have broken the physical attachment, and they carry the memory of each experience to the next. With non-affectionate relationships, these memories build up greatly and form strong impediments to concentration during sex. In affectionate relationships, the amount of memories (number of partners) is often less, but their impact is greater. Sex is a giving away of one's heart, and the memory of such an action is lasting. The pain of the separation is lasting. These all form baggage which causes pain in life and barriers to enjoying sex.52

Dealing with the aftereffects of bonding is much like dealing with those of guilt. One needs to feel utter regret, and one needs to accept forgiveness. One needs both help and time. Dealing with the bonding differs with that of guilt by a greater emphasis on the necessity of regret. The hardest part of dealing with guilt is to accept forgiveness, while the hardest part of dealing with a sexual bond is the regret. One needs to completely give up the emotional attachment and even regret the emotional attachment. That is the only way to put the past out of one's mind. Otherwise, a married person may fantasize about one who is not his/her spouse. This can only be dealt with by complete regret. Just as with the guilt, one's spouse must be involved. One must know that his/her spouse regrets his past, and one must accept that to overcome baggage in sexual intercourse and in the entire relationship.

In addition to the bonding effects of sex, premarital sex actually robs marital sex of the emotional aspects of bonding. Sex is the giving away of oneself, and it is the epitome of physical intimacy. When a married couple share this intimacy, the bonding is boosted, but when there is premarital sex, that intimacy is impossible to every recover.53

Furthermore, the law of diminishing returns factors into play. That law can be compared to tolerance, for just as drug users build up tolerances to drugs, everyone builds up a tolerance to pleasure. It is not the same, but it is a good analogy. The first time that one does something really enjoyable, one will never forget it. It will always be there in one's mind. The first time one has sex is the most special. Some people think that the first time is special, and all the rest are the same. However, the enjoyment does not drop, rather it diminishes. Over long periods of time, one gradually gets used to sex, and it becomes less thrilling. The loss of one's virginity is something never forgotten, and the first time is very special. Likewise, the following times slowly diminish in speciality, but in maximum sex (see below), there is a oneness that makes the special last forever.54

Physical Programming

The sexual biology of humans suggests that, if only for physical reasons, people should only have one sexual partner in their lives. This conclusion can be easily drawn from something known as sexual programming. When humans first encounter sex, they are programmed into physically enjoying and performing it in that way. That fact is well known by sex therapists.55

In whatever people do, they are programmed. That is the way the human mind works. This is especially true for physical actions. Once someone learns how to ride a bike, he keeps that knowledge; and he is then able to always ride a bike, even if he does not ever practice; he might even think that he forgot how to ride a bike, but he will always have that knowledge in his Cerebellum. For the same reasons, handwriting can be identified as its owner's. This is because the knowledge or memory of most physical actions is implicit, and this memory stays with everyone (who does not suffer from certain brain damage).56 The Cerebellum, which extends from the rear of the brainstem, controls most physical actions, and it controls them in a subconscious fashion (i.e. people can ride a bike without thinking about it).57 The first several times that one performs a physical action, he/she is being programmed. After that, he/she performs the action subconsciously and sort of sits back enjoying the ride.

Sex, as a physical action, is programmed. In essence, the physical aspects of sex are learned behavior from the first several times of sexual intercourse. People are programmed to perform and enjoy sex in the way that they first performed and enjoyed it. In an extreme cases, one person reported that he could only have an orgasm when he robbed a bank, and some women were only able to have orgasms after eating large meals.58 Dr. Evan Duval said that sexual programming is "difficult to break."59 Dr. Gerheart Burks, a developer of the computer, reported that he developed the computer from the human body.60 In a sense, a computer's programming is derived from human programming. People are programmed by the first several times of experience.

This programming differs a bit between males and females. Girls are programmed to respond to the actual touching of their partners. Girls are primarily aroused through affection and caressing. In order to enjoy sex fully, they are dependent on a familiarity of touch. Guys, however, are more dependent on sight. They can become programmed into being maximally aroused at the sight of their first partner. Furthermore, both males and females are programmed to the respond maximally to the sexual performance that they experienced in their first several times. In fact, some women aren't even able to have orgasms with their husbands because were programmed earlier.61

There are various physical downfalls of premarital sex. This sexual programming causes one to only maximally enjoy sex (physically speaking) with his/her first partner (if they had sex more than just a few times, otherwise one may be programmed by a few people, programmed by a combination). Sexual programming also causes one to only maximally perform to the taste of his/her first mate. The difficulty resulting from having sex with one who is not the programmer may range from complete dissatisfaction to simply a lesser degree of enjoyment.

Sexual programming naturally incurs more difficulties. Since one's performance and enjoyment (physically) during sex are determined by programming, people compare later partners to previous ones. It is impossible to not realize that the physical enjoyment is less than before, and this realization causes tremendous psychological baggage. The comparison breaks concentration and hurts relationships. The comparison can also make sexual performance a large factor in determining a mate. This comparison may cause unsound judgment. Furthermore, the fear of comparison exists. One fears that his/her partner will not enjoy him. Through all of this, sex becomes a sort of competition. Comparisons often make sex hard to talk about, and they always hurt the unity and intimacy of relationships.62,63

As Dr. Gerheart Burks says, there are very few people who can overcome the physical programming of premarital sex.64 However, the programming can be undone sometimes with time and open communication. First of all, all psychological baggage needs to be dealt with (see Guilt, Bonding, and Other Psychological Downfalls). Then, there needs to be an open conversation and intimacy between husband and wife. Comparisons have to be discussed and discarded. All aspects of sex need to be open in conversation.

Other Psychological Downfalls

There are various other psychological downfalls of premarital sex, and one paper could not include them all. This section will focus primarily on unbalanced relationships. Those unbalanced relationships are the cause of extra emotional and psychological pain. It is necessary to note that premarital sex is an invitation for unbalanced sexual relationships. Premarital sex is having sex before the establishment of the relationship, and without the establishment, unbalanced relationships easily occur.

Before discussing the unbalanced relationships, it is necessary to note that the well-known sex researcher Alfred Kinsey recommends for people to have premarital sex. That is an interesting recommendation, but it is not nearly as peculiar as his sole reason for the suggestion. His reason is that his statistics show that most girls do not have pleasant experiences the first few times of sexual intercourse, and that his statistics show that the majority of men will not be patient with women when it comes to sex. One does not have to be bright to see the invalidity of the argument. First of all, if any married man cannot be patient with his wife, then the marriage is a fluke and a failure from the start. Secondly, the unpleasantness and the impatience is most likely caused by premarital sex and the unbalanced relationships of premarital sex. If a man has already had premarital sex, then he is more likely to be impatient (as he would be rushing into a familiar experience rather than a new one). A female is most likely to enjoy premarital sex much less than marital sex (in comparing first times) because of the guilt involved with premarital sex that nearly every girl experiences at least the first few times.65

What happens in the affection/non-affection relationships? First, how does the person who wants commitment feel? Possibly, the person may try to force the relationship. The person would likely then feel insecurity and frustration as his/her partner slips away. Then, the person may keep trying harder to push the relationship (vicious cycle), or he/she could suffer from the feeling of an unfulfilling relationship. This causes a mutually unenjoyable and painful relationship. Eventually the relationship will end. This person will likely feel bitterness and a sense of being used. All this carriers over to become emotional pain and psychological baggage. Usually, this all causes a mistrust, disdain, and disrespect for the opposite sex.66

Next, how does the person who does not want commitment feel? This person may be pushed into a relationship. If that happens, the person will likely feel as though he/she is being trapped. This may cause mistreatment of the partner, and it leads to a bad relationship. If the person blows off the relationship early, the person's physical needs are not met, and there is an unfulfilled feeling. This all comes together to make emotional pain, psychological baggage, and bad feelings towards the opposite sex.67

Through all of this, people try to keep up reputations. The images that they wish to portray take away their freedom. People are often plagued by many influences. The influences themselves may be the sources of other emotional pain and psychological baggage. Self esteem plays a big role. DeLemater and MacCorqudale believe "that some self-images might be associated with extensive premarital sexual behavior."68 This role of sex in self esteem puts an obligation on a special thing. That, in effect, takes the enjoyment out of sex.

Throughout the paper, psychological baggage is discussed. This is carried from relationship to relationship, and it builds up. It can be dealt with by the methods described in the previous three sections.

Having premarital sex tends to lessen one's respect for sex, and it tends to diminish the enjoyment of it. Premarital sex hurts relationships. Premarital sex causes emotional and psychological pain, and this pain is carried on into marriage relationships. Abstinence helps the enjoyment of sex in marriage.69

Maximum Sex

Maximum sex, as Josh McDowell calls it, is the best sex possible.70 Others may call this sex "total sex,"71 or they may simply describe its awesomeness and its superiority to other sex.72 However, all agree that the difference between maximum sex and other sex is all the difference of enjoyment and meaning in the world.

"No matter how skilled and exotic and explosive a merely physical sexual experience may be, it cannot begin to match total sex. Total sex involves the completion and conjoining of total personalities. It merges the minds, the emotions, and the social and spiritual selves of a couple, as well as their two bodies. The two truly do become one."73

As stated in the description of sex, maximum sex is all that sex can be. Maximum sex is much more than a physical action. Maximum sex is the coming together of the essence of two people. The purpose of sex is unity, and maximum sex fulfills that. Moreover, as will be shown, the ways to have maximum sex actually come from what makes maximum sex superior.

To explore the reasons why maximum sex is far superior to other sex, look at a quote from a psychology book: "Men and women can achieve orgasm alone, yet most people find greater satisfaction while embracing their loved one."74 Men and women were meant to be together. That is a major and enduring theme of life. One man and one woman were meant to be husband and wife, and that is what biology shows. Both men and women have the innate desire to have union with one of the opposite sex. They desire to have complete intimacy and become one. They desire this to be complete. Sex, therefore is made for the unity. The unity is not made for the sex, and that misconception is the cause of the pains of premarital sex. If sex were the goal, then it would be the only requirement. However, it is the compliment of unity. It is the completion of intimacy. People desire love, intimate love. People need a oneness, and man and woman come together to complete the oneness. As Smedes says, "Our sexuality always leads us beyond the physical stage to a more personal need: we are driven inexorably into a desire for personal, intimate involvement with another person. The glandular urge, it turns out, is the undercurrent of a need for sharing ourselves with another person."75

The actual act of maximum sex is much more enjoyable than other sex. That is because the act is without any psychological baggage. Furthermore, the act is not merely physical, it is the experience of intimacy. Maximum sex is the act of becoming one. When two have an already established complete intimacy, maximum sex is the freeness of that intimacy. Maximum sex is physical bliss, emotional bliss, and spiritual bliss. Maximum sex the completion of character from oneness with one completely intimate.76

Maximum sex does not stop at the action. It is a life-long relationship. It brings pleasure to daily life. Maximum sex lasts, for it is that oneness between the two involved. Because of that, the joy of sex does not end after the resolution phase, rather the joy of sex continues for the duration of the relationship.77

How then is maximum sex achieved? Obviously, there needs to be a complete absence of psychological baggage. Furthermore, there needs to be a complete and utmost respect for sex. Next, there needs to be an established life-long relationship. This relationship must be complete in intimacy and which maximum sex will be the compliment. Furthermore, this relationship must consist of a giving love, a sacrificing love. The relationship must be based on "in spite of" love. All these come together to make maximum sex what it is. Maximum sex is the life-long oneness of two people, and that is not possible without the complete, baggage free intimacy. Intimacy cannot be real unless it comes from a giving love. That is maximum sex.78

Maximum sex is obviously impossible in premarital sex. It is not impossible after someone has had premarital sex, but very few people are capable of it. It requires a lot from both husband and wife. Sex is for the unity of two.


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Carry [Pseudonymous]. Interview. 23 September 1995.

Catherine [Pseudonymous]. Interview. 5 August 1994.

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---. "Mission II."

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Sex is not merely a physical act: sex involves the whole person, mind body and spirit (essence of person). Sex is special, for it is the giving away of one's heart; sex is the epitome of physical intimacy.

Premarital sex is never a good thing, as it always has lasting and negative emotional and psychological effects that far outweigh temporary physical pleasure. Abstinence is not the withholding of present joys, rather it is the ensuring of true pleasure. Abstinence helps a marriage, while premarital sex hurts every relationship.

Behind the sexual urge is actually the desire to be completely intimate with one life-long soul mate. Sex is actually for the purpose of aiding a relationship. Sex is the completion of oneness of two individuals.

Guilt is a common factor in premarital sex. Those with a high respect for sex will experience a great amount of guilt. That guilt is the cause of a great amount of emotional pain. Those with a low respect for sex will not experience much guilt, but they will not be able to get anything more than physical pleasure from sex.

Sex is a very bonding and addictive action. Those who engage in sex tend to become extremely attached to their partners, and they desire sex even more. This bonding causes blindness and emotional trauma in premarital sex.

When one first has sex, he/she is programmed in how to perform and enjoy sex. This programming causes one to only fully enjoy the programmer, and it causes accompanying emotional pain.

Many premarital relationships are unbalanced relationships. These unbalanced relationships further the emotional and psychological pain.

Guilt, bonding, programming, and unbalanced relationships cause emotional and psychological baggage. This baggage hurts relationships and it forms barriers to enjoying sex. Baggage can be dealt with by regretting the premarital sex (and all that implies) and by accepting a forgiveness for one's actions. With time and help and with the support of the spouse, the baggage can be removed.

Maximum sex is the greatest possible joy from sex. Maximum sex greatly exceeds any pleasure from other sex. Maximum sex is not only pleasure during the act, but it is also pleasure during the entire relationship. Maximum sex gets its pleasure from what it does: it unites two people into one. Maximum sex brings two bodies, two personalities, two minds, and two spirits all into one. That is the true joy and meaning of sex.

Maximum sex is only possible in a relationship that has complete intimacy. That relationship must be based on selfless love. Each person involved must have a high respect for sex, and they must be free from psychological baggage.

Premarital sex is not at all worth it.

1 Jenny Donegan (Internet: opinion).

2 Melanie Saucedo (Internet: opinion).

3 Bubba (interview).

4 Bubba (interview).

5 Catherine (interview).

6 Anna (interview).

7 Cary (interview).

8 William J. Fielding, Love and the Sex Emotions (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1959), 25-73.

9 Kirk J. Fontenot, "Mission II" (Internet: Virgin Resistance, 1997), 1.

10 Ibid, 1.

11 Josh McDowell, "Maximum Sex" (Address: Virginia Tech, 1972).

12 The Bible, New International Version, Genesis 2:24.

13 McDowell.

14 Ira L. Reiss, Premarital Sexual Standards in America (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1960), 117-145.

15 Winston Ehrmann, Premarital Dating Behavior (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1932), 242-243.

16 Steve Kohl, "Sex Outside of Marriage" (Report: State College, PA), 1-3.

17 McDowell.

18 "What Are STDs?" (Internet: Duke University, 1994).

19 Masters, Johnson, and Kolodny. Human Sexuality. third edition (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1988), 593.

20 "Annual Incidents of STDs in U.S." Journal of American Medicine (June 1993).

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 "Statistics Refute Suggestion That AIDS Gets More Than Its Fair Share" (Internet: Clarion).

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 "HIV/AIDS & High-risk Behavior" (Internet).

27 "June 96 AIDS Statistics" (Internet: HRS Pasco County Public Health Unit, June 1996).

28 Ibid.

29 Masters, 577.

30 Marty Klein, "The Sex Lies of the Religious Right" (Internet: opinion).

31 Masters, 193.

32 "Premarital Sex and Abortion" (Internet).

33 "AIDS Vaccine Could be Close to Discovery," CDT, 18 May 1997.

34 Alice Fryling, "Why Wait for Sex" (Address: InterVarsity Press, 1995).

35 "Premarital Sex" (Internet: Midnight Cry Ministries).

36 McDowell.

37 Reiss, 111-121.

38 "Premarital Sex."

39 Ibid.

40 Kohl.

41 "Premarital Sex."

42 McDowell.

43 "Premarital Sex and Abortion."

44 "Premarital Sex."

45 "Premarital Sex and Abortion."

46 Fielding, 27-28.

47 Theresa Crenshaw, The Alchemy of Love and Lust (G. P. Putnam's Sons: 1996)

48 Ibid.

49 YnottonyJ, "Sex Chemicals" (Internet).

50 McDowell.

51 "Premarital Sex."

52 Kohl.

53 "Premarital Sex and Abortion."

54 McDowell.

55 Ibid.

56 Myers, Exploring Psychology (New York: Worth Publishers, 1996), 237-239.

57 Ibid., 48-49.

58 Ibid.

59 McDowell.

60 Ibid.

61 Ibid.

62 Ibid.

63 Kohl.

64 McDowell.

65 Ibid.

66 Kohl.

67 Ibid.

68 DeLamater and MasCorquodale, Premarital Sexuality (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1979), 27.

69 "Premarital Sex and Abortion."

70 McDowell.

71 "Premarital Sex and Abortion."

72 Fontenot.

73 "Premarital Sex and Abortion."

74 Myers, 322.

75 Selected Topics in Huam Sexuality (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988), 4.

76 McDowell.

77 Ibid.

78 Ibid.