March 4, 2019
“Who here plans on saving themselves for marriage?”
One hand goes up. Mary Wacker, junior, can see the girl’s raised arm across the health classroom. Mary’s hand should be up, too. She is saving herself for marriage, but she doesn’t feel comfortable letting people know her future plans for fear of being labeled as “That Catholic Girl” or a weird prude who doesn’t want to have sex.
“I’m ashamed to admit it,” Mary said. “But [back] then I was too ashamed to raise my hand.”
Growing up in a Catholic household, Mary and her siblings were taught from birth that they would be saving themselves for marriage. This is because the Catholic church considers premarital sex a sin. As a teenager she still holds this value close. She has affirmed her own beliefs throughout the years by examining the advantages and disadvantages of saving herself for marriage. She concluded that saving herself was the choice she wanted to make for herself.
“Hookup culture is prevalent in society,” Kelly Wacker, Mary’s mother, said. “I do my best to educate [my children] and I encourage them to educate themselves. I don’t preach. Kids don’t like to be talked down to.”
Kelly taught her children to save themselves for marriage for many reasons: for God, to be financially stable, to be sure they have kids with the right person, to teach them to respect their bodies. While Mary and her siblings are all solid in their beliefs, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some tension. Eighty-one percent (252/311) of KHS students don’t plan on or aren’t sure they will save themselves for marriage. Mary said she does her best to not judge anyone, but since her church says premarital sex is a mortal sin, it can be hard not to judge. She also believes it doesn’t help that judgement can go both ways.
“I definitely think there’s a stigma around not having sex,” Clare Wacker, Mary’s older sister, said. “It almost feels like people look down on you, like you aren’t able to ‘get’ someone.”
Clare said sex is much more common in college than in high school. As a freshman at Truman State University, she’s seen a rise in the amount of her peers engaging in intercourse and a rise in her insecurities about her beliefs.
“At the end of the day, I’m proud of who I am and what I believe,” Clare said. “But it’s hard to [stay true] to myself, especially when everyone else is having [sex].”
On top of saving herself for marriage, Mary has decided to shelve dating until college. She said she doesn’t see the point in dating in high school, and instead dedicates her time to sports, academics and friends. Mary said she wants to date someone to eventually marry them, not just for fun or for the physical aspect. Her family and friends have been supportive of her decisions and, according to Mary, a great support system.
“The beauty in when or if I get married is that I know the man I’ll be with will love me and never leave me,” Mary said. “I know that because my religion ensures it, and I’m thankful for that because I know not everyone can be so sure.”
Mary has a large family that all share the same values and support each other in their faith. This has made things easier on the her, and she said she appreciates having like-minded people to speak with.
“Love and responsibility go hand-in-hand,” Kelly said.