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Switzerland

Confessions Of An Unusually Chaste Swiss Woman

Esther G. fell in love at the tender age of 16. She didn’t want to have sex, however, unless she was married. And she didn’t want to marry until she was much older. And so she waited – for about 10 years. Was it worth the wait?

Is pre-marital chastity worth the wait? (mark sebastian)
Is pre-marital chastity worth the wait? (mark sebastian)
Bettina Weber

ZURICH – A new movie by Swiss filmmaker Mirjam von Arx explores the "Purity Movement" in the United States. Titled "Virgin Tales," the documentary centers on fundamentalist Christian Randy Wilson, who is the founder of "Purity Balls' at which girls as young as four dance in cross formations and pledge to stay virgins until they marry.

The trend doesn't seem to have caught on in Switzerland, although some young people here do opt for pre-marital chastity. Tages Anzeiger spoke with one young woman, 28-year-old Esther G. (not her real name), who met the man of her dreams at 16 in a Zurich Pentecostal group – but waited a decade before finally sleeping with him. Still, she doesn't identify at all with the Purity Movement, which in her opinion "makes a circus out of abstinence."

I fell in love with Daniel when I was 16. He was 19. I would have married him right away, but I realized that I was way too young. Everybody in our youth group knew how we felt about each other, and Daniel was as much in love as I was – but we were just so young. In our circle, early marriages are not recommended. Relationships aren't encouraged either unless two people want to see if they really could work together as life partners.

But at that age, how could I know if Daniel was the right one? I was so in love, the issue obsessed me, but we only actually saw each other at youth group get-togethers and vacation camps. I decided that the best way to deal with my uncertainty was to maintain a certain amount of distance from him. And I did that until I was 19. Then we had a serious crisis: Daniel said he couldn't stand my ambivalence anymore. I decided I would trust in God to show me the way. He knows what's best for us. If Daniel was the right one, God would bring us back together.

Three years went by and I couldn't get Daniel out of my head. We saw each other occasionally in church, but usually avoided each other. I prayed a lot, and one day it suddenly came to me I needed to get things going. And I did something that's unusual for women: I made the first move. I wrote Daniel an e-mail and asked if we could meet up. He was reserved at first, but after a while the old trust came back. We started meeting, mostly in groups, and talked. A lot. We wanted to find out if we would make good life partners.

Avoiding "unpleasant surprises'

When do people who believe in sex before marriage start to think of themselves as being ‘in a relationship"? After the first kiss? After the first time they have sex? When they're publically considered a couple? For people who share our belief in chastity, it's when two people decide to seriously figure out if they would work as a married couple. And that means intense discussions. It amazes me when I see how little other couples discuss their plans for the future. A friend of mine just split up with a guy she's been with for eight years – for the first time, she brought up the issue of kids, and it turns out he doesn't want any. She was heartbroken. I feel really bad for her – she's 33, and now she has to find somebody else and build a relationship all over again. At the same time, I can't wrap my brain around the idea that two people could be together that long and never have faced a key question like that.

Some people think that approaching a relationship the way we do is heavy, unromantic. But it does mean you can save yourself some unpleasant surprises. Daniel and I talked about everything – kids, where we wanted to live. He wanted to live in the countryside. I wanted to be in the city. So we compromised on a community that's just on the outskirts.

The thing about abstinence is that it's a kind of protection for both body and soul. You give so much of yourself when you have sex, that wasting it on somebody you don't have a future with hurts. That's why I really believe you shouldn't have sex before marriage. If more people believed that, there would be fewer problems STDs including AIDS, unwanted pregnancies.

"A Sleeping Beauty kind of situation"

But of course there's a lot of temptation, so you have to figure out ways to avoid situations where sex could happen. In short: you minimize risk. Don't spend the night at each other's place. Don't go on vacation together unless it's with a group where the women room together and the guys room together. It was very tough sometimes.

Every couple has their own chastity definition. We stopped at kissing. I think it must have been harder for Daniel: he had had girlfriends before, although he hadn't slept with any of them. But I trusted him; he's very solid. And since I didn't know what I was missing, I didn't have physical cravings. It was a Sleeping Beauty kind of situation. Also, I was doing it voluntarily because I wanted to please God. The Bible says it's immoral to sleep with somebody outside marriage. It's important, though, for both men and women to respect this – not just women.

And after a two-and-a-half-year courtship, when Ester G. finally did lose her virginity?

I was able to enjoy it, because there was absolute trust. I knew my husband, and I love him. It's about spirit, soul and body. I really liked my husband's spirit and soul, so I just assumed I'd like his body too.

Read the original story in German

Photo - mark sebastian

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