Originally published Feb. 14, 2008

Single guys and gals across the dating universe are hoping to get lucky with a Valentine tonight.

Not Kim Trostle.

A divorced mother of three and a Christian, Trostle, 47, is saving sex for when she's married again because she believes that's what God wants of her.

She has been chaste since she and her husband split 11 years ago.

"When I tell someone that I've not had sex for 11 years, sometimes they look at me like there's something the matter with me," said Trostle, who lives in Spring Garden Township.

She's struggled at times. It hurt when relationships with men ended because she wouldn't sleep with them.

"But I know that's not the person for me because our values weren't in the same place," Trostle said.

Some observers say single adults like Trostle are part of a trend: More people of faith embracing chastity outside of marriage.

Chastity and its challenges are frequent discussion topics at faith-based singles ministries, whose popularity are expanding as more Americans remain single for longer than in the past.

Margot Carmichael Lester of Carrboro, N.C., writes relationship features and the Ask Margot advice column in the faith-based section of Love.MSN.com.

"Judging from the number of letters I get on the subject, I'd say that Christian singles of all stripes are dealing with this issue more often and more thoughtfully," Lester said.

Some young singles hope to hold onto virginity until marriage. Other inquiries come from the divorced or widowed who are either unsure of the rules of the game or feel pressured to have sex despite a commitment to hold off until remarriage, Lester said.

Dave Sloan, a Catholic who leads seminars and talks about chastity all over the country, said the adult journey into chastity involves drama "of the highest order."

"It's not simply a decision, because the living out of the decision turns out to be very difficult for those who simply don't know how, no matter how good their intentions," he said.

Popular chastity books such as "Every Young Man's Battle" by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker helped Addison Roberts, 18, of New Oxford decide where to draw the line with girls he dated.

Even passionate kissing is too far if it causes you to lust, he said.

"Of course, you find yourself tempted," said Roberts, who's studying to be a youth pastor. "But if you're dating someone who cares as much about your spiritual life and understands their own temptations, they will understand when you say, 'This is more important to me.'"

Donna Marie Williams offers practical tips for coping in books such as "Sensual Celibacy: The Sexy Woman's Guide to Using Abstinence, Recharging Your Spirit, Discovering Your Passions, Achieving Greater Intimacy in Your Next Relationship."

When hormones rage and loneliness throbs, chastity can seem impossible, said Williams, who admitted she's "fallen off the wagon" a couple times since her commitment in 1998.

"Cold showers will only take you so far," she said. "You've got to develop a life."

Use the time, thoughts and emotions you're not devoting to a sexual relationship and invest them in your family, your relationship with God, even travel or a new hobby, she said.

Web editor Anna Broadway, 29, was living in New York City four years ago when she started writing the blog "Sexless in the City" about her romantic misadventures as a Christian woman, a virgin and an urbanite.

Broadway, now in East Bay, Calif., will publish a book based on the blog this spring subtitled "A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity."

"'Reluctant' because that's what it is," Broadway said.

"It's not lack of libido. It's about this profound uncertainty about whether God's really right on this and should I be glad I obeyed him."

Broadway's not questioning what the Bible says about purity but how sex fits into her self-identity when she's not having it.

"The crisis for me was: If my identity is rooted in my sexuality but I'm never fulfilled sexually, does that mean I'm not living life to its fullest?" she said.

"I was wrestling with that question of how I look at myself . . . and realizing (my) life is about more than sex."

ON THE SHELF

-- "Sexless in the City: A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity," by Anna Broadway (April 2008)

-- "Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good," by Wendy Shalit (2007)

-- "Virgin: The Untouched History," by Hanne Blank (2007)

-- "The Thrill of the Chaste," by Dawn Eden (2006)

-- "Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity," by Lauren Winner (2005)

-- "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk," by John Van Epp (2006)

-- "Every Young Man's Battle: Strategies for Victory in the Real World of Sexual Temptation," by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (2002)

ON THE WEB

Sexless in the City blog, http://annabroadway.blogspot.com

Sensual Celibacy, http://sensualcelibacy.blogspot.com

Dave Sloan, www.godofdesire.com